Netherlands-based artist Rutger Van Der Tas uses layering to add meaning and intrigue to his traditional and crypto art. He experiments with lines, forms, and colors to transform his works as he creates them.

His avatar, Harry, is meant to be an all-seeing force in the metaverse. We chatted with Van Der Tas to learn more about how Harry came to be.

How did you discover crypto?

I have been making digital collages for a long time. I started printing them out in 2015, but that process is a hassle. You have to get a source file on your computer, print it out, make a copy on paper, and think about where you want to sell it and how you want to price it. I found out about Ethereum in 2017, and in 2018, I learned more about smart contracts. I started hanging around the SupeRare and OpenSea websites and thinking about how to use them. I began minting on SupeRare in May, 2019. It’s been a journey since then. I’m intrigued by the whole ecosystem and the counterculture that exists in it.

What does the process of layering allow you to do as an artist?

I don’t work fast. I enjoy the different stages that my work goes through. I like taking one layer and putting it onto something else, making that new thing resemble what I've been working on before. Everything is always changing. Working with layers makes it more visually evident that things don't belong to one object, person, or image. I have the freedom to play around with a lot of colors, forms, and styles and try to blend them into one image – or take them out and bring them into something new. I see my art more as progress of process.

Harry by Rutger Van Der Tas

Tell me about the use of eyes in your work. What do they signify – whether they’re opened, closed, mismatched, covered, moving, or still?

The face is an entry point for getting to know someone. And eyes are the first thing you see when you look at someone. There is some sense of honesty in eyes.

For Harry, I used eyes made by artificial intelligence. I wanted to take something I normally experience as honest, but have it be completely computer-generated. I also evoked George Orwell's themes in 1984.

Harry by Rutger Van Der Tas

What was your vision behind Harry?

Harry is part of a series of different characters I made on Manifold. They have similar setups, but their skin is completely different. I jumped into new settings in Blender, worked with my iPad on Nomad Sculpt, and used Mixamo to give Harry a rig and an animation. After that, I played a lot with Procreate to give it different feelings and toppings.

Harry is quite a character. His name comes from an experience participating in Glitch, an NFT Art Residency in France. There were cooks at the event, and they were like an art piece themselves. They took the time to prepare our food nicely and had a certain vibe. They played music all the time. I really connected with them, and one of them was called Harry.

What do you hope a collector experiences with your avatar?

It would be great if a collector walked around envisioning himself as the all-seeing eye in the metaverse.

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