Per Kristian Stoveland: The artist behind The Harvest on self-doubt, recognition & story-building
"Getting introduced to the blockchain made me realize that I could justify spending a lot more time on generative art than I could before; it can be possible to make a living from it."
Hi there! Welcome to another edition of BTK.
When I saw The Harvest for the first time, it immediately took me to another planet. “That’s a cool way to get abducted” I thought. To this day, it is one of my favorite collections of Art Blocks Curated.
Naturally, I reached out to Per for the interview, and he had it ready after a couple of days. I personally love his insights on story-telling, how to overcome self-doubt, and more.
Hope you enjoy this one as much as I did. And thank you for reading!
Who is Per Kristian Stoveland?
Per Kristian Stoveland is a generative artist based in Oslo, Norway, and has dedicated most of his career towards creative coding.
His main practice is focused on Void, an alternative design studio he co-founded in 2015, working at the intersection of art, architecture, design, and technology.
Although his background is in design, his practice has been programming since the late 2000s. His interest in generative art has been the prime mover in digging deeper into the world of coding.
Per Kristian has now amassed a range of skills that he utilizes to breathe life into Void´s installations and explore his passion for generative art. His identity has its roots in the cities and towns of Kenya and Zimbabwe, where he spent much of his childhood.
Without that experience, Per Kristian might never have taken art seriously.
Behind the Keys: Per Kristian Stoveland
What is something you wish someone had told you before becoming an artist?
Don’t overthink, don’t wait, just start making art. Self-doubt is a powerful obstacle. It has taken me time to overcome it, so I would have loved to have identified this obstacle earlier in my career.
What does your creating process look like?
There is no defined process that I adhere to, but it often comes in the form of first getting an initial inspiration and then doing a lot of thinking.
After that, I normally have a phase where I just write code, test techniques and the ideas I initially had. This phase often ends up changing a lot of the ideas and premises of the project, depending on what results I get from my experiments.
Moving on from there is very dependent on the actual project, but this is generally the way I tend to work on my generative art projects.
What activity do you fall into when you are trying to enhance your creativity?
Hah, I have been known to sit staring into the wall, thinking when being creative, does that count? But seriously, I think having alone time is probably the most effective asset when I need to be creative.
What do you benefit the most when working with NFTs and the blockchain?
For me, NFTs make my art more ‘serious’ in a way. I’ve been into generative art since the mid-2000s and it would, for a long while, be considered more as a hobby for me.
Getting introduced to the blockchain made me realize that I could justify spending a lot more time on generative art than I could before; it can be possible to make a living from it.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
Being able to recognize when you have created something interesting.
This is something I struggle with a lot, and is tightly connected to the constant self-doubt going on in my inner monologue. Luckily my partner – my biggest fan and critic – is very helpful in this department. She is essential as my filter out to the world.
What skill should anyone harvest early in their career that will pay off massively for years?
This is a tough one to answer. I guess staying curious and hungry for learning more. You never know what opportunities will arise in the future. Keeping yourself curious and attentive will help you immensely down the road.
Why do you create art?
I think my biggest motivator is the fact that creating art is a large contrast to the repetitiveness in my daily life. Don’t get me wrong, repetitiveness can be a good thing, but I am glad creating art very often puts me on a ride where I don't know where or what the destination is.
What’s a book or an article that has greatly influenced your life?
It might seem strange, but I would have to say reading the old Dungeons & Dragons settings book at the age of about ten or eleven has had a big impact on my life. This launched me into concepts like world-building, narrative creation, and story-building which now have become core skills I utilize basically every day in both my personal work and in Void.
What does success look like to you?
Other than the obvious points like recognition from your peers and audience, and monetary success, I would say success for me is the feeling of fulfillment.
Looking back at previous work and thinking ‘Did I do that?!’ is extremely rewarding. This is especially true when I look at old code I wrote and have no idea how I wrote it. Yeah, success for me is more about how I feel rather than the result.
What is your favorite failure?
A few years back Void was to collaborate on scenography for A-Ha. They were having this one special concert in Oslo, and we were going to create a unique visual experience. The project required the use of the four largest projectors available in Europe, and we worked on this while A-Ha was on tour. Those two facts made testing extremely cumbersome, which again resulted in a lot of technical issues both before and during the concert. I was shaking with anxiety in the days preceding, during, and following the event.
If you could ask yourself one question every day to set yourself up for success, which one would it be?
“What concrete tasks can I do today to further my goals and feel productive at the end of the day?”
Which of your past experiences/learnings have set you up for success in the present?
I think founding Void has been a milestone for my present success. I often joke that I would never have joined in on starting up Void if I knew about all the blood, sweat, and tears on the way.
However, the process of going through all these obstacles on the way has taught me invaluable lessons about patience, willpower, and how to realistically be able to reach one's goals.
What is one strong opinion you have?
Pineapple on pizza is sacrilege!
What would you say to your 25-year-old self?
“Buckle up, you’re in for a ride. Be steadfast, believe in yourself, and don’t worry so much about the future. Stay focused on the task at hand.”
You see, I have always been quite good at viewing things from the macro perspective, often worrying or thinking about future issues or tasks that at some point will need to be sorted out. Being able to filter out these thoughts, and focusing more on the challenges of the here and now, is something that has taken me time to get better at. I’m not sure saying that to myself when I was 25 would have actually worked though. Knowing myself, I would most likely have had to learn this from experience anyhow.
Learn more from Per Kristian
Something to read: In Conversation with Per Kristian Stoveland
Something to watch: Art Blocks After Dinner Mints w/ Per Kristian Stoveland
Something to listen to: Artist Spotlight: Per Kristian Stoveland Creates Art with a Sci-Fi Narrative