Redlion is blessed to have relationships with some of the best CryptoArt creators in the space. Kreum is one of the creatives we are lucky to consider a friend. From his latest art (currently available for auction on Quantum), to the Artdrop Kreum did last year for Gazette #92, the artist’s style is immediately recognizable. His placid pixel vistas are like portals for the mind and body. The art transports the audience to a peaceful state of mind within the Land of the Rising Sun.
Q. Can we talk about your pseudonym? What does Gutty Kreum mean? Or what does it symbolize to you? I know Gutty as an adjective. When I looked up Kreum, I found some references to a Pokemon character—is that reference relevant to you?
A. I got 'Kreum' from a random name generator, and inserted 'Gutty' in front of it because I liked the meaning. Nothing super special, at the time I wanted to start creating art under a pseudonym so I put something together to work with.
Q. I read somewhere that you are Canadian. But obviously you have a strong connection to Japan. Is your ancestry Japanese? Or what draws you to Japan/Japanese culture? Looking at your SuperRare collections, the caption of some of your work sounds like you live or have lived in Japan—like “After-Hours: Motoyama, Kochi. On the other hand, there’s the work, “Memories Unlived,” which clearly states the images are not from your irl experience. Do you draw upon memory for some but not all of your work? Where does the inspiration come from for the un-lived images?
A. I am a Canadian with no ancestral ties to Japan. Back in the early 90's when I was in Elementary school, we had an exchange teacher from Japan over for a family dinner. He showed us examples of Japan and Japanese cultural practices, which I was intrigued by. He was also asked something about foreigners living in Japan and/or western ideals in Japan (I can't remember exactly what), to which he said "Japan is for the Japanese". That had me even more hooked. Since that time, I've learned a lot about Japanese society, I respect it and I try to celebrate Japan as much as I can with my art.
I have visited Japan and some of my inspiration and references have come from places I have been. An older piece of mine, “夏: Nara,” is special to me due to being based on my trip, and using a photo I took in Nara as reference.
Most of my art is the creation of memories not directly based on my lived life, but pieced together from bits of memories/feelings and inspiring locations. I often use google maps street view to find locations in Japan that inspire me.
For the most part, I create memories I wish to have, and that help bring some joy.
Q. Continuing with your SuperRare work, images of Tokyo (and NeoTokyo for that matter) dominate the cultural landscape of the world’s vision of Japan. Yet you completely ignore the capital. What is it about the Japanese countryside that captures your interest?
A. While I do enjoy Japanese cities and the architecture/engineering used to put them together, I find more inspiration from rural and lesser known locations. Vast open skies and horizons free of sprawling skyscrapers bring me more joy when creating. I grew up in a more rural/suburban location, moved to a large city for over a decade, and then moved back. That cycle somewhat inspires my art.
Q. There is a serene, meditative quality to these landscapes. Perhaps it is the absence of people that adds to this feeling… are you attempting to make “calming” art? Where have all the people gone? What does that symbolize?
A. I intend to make my art calming and relaxing, and I hope that comes through for most people. Concentrating on the atmosphere of the environment itself in the absence of people is something I prefer. It's up to the viewer to decide where the people have gone, and personally I can only relax when alone or in the presence of a handful of people, so I suppose that's tied into my art.
Q. Continuing with the themes from above, despite the lack of people, you go out of your way to show powerlines, clusters of buildings and all the evidence of human existence. And you often frame perspectives that go deep into the distance—high skies with dramatic clouds, the sun and/or moon are repeated as well… is there something you’re trying to say with your choice of frame?
A. Indeed most things I focus on (besides the sky) are created, managed and maintained by people who do not appear in the art. The buildings and roads are all based on reality, while the skies are not. However, I do plan out the sky/clouds based on how the buildings are arranged. So the landscape is reality, and the sky is not. Working on the sky happens to be my favorite part in the process of creating a piece (besides finding inspiration). Not trying to state anything with the framing, I find it works best for me.
Q. Why pixels? I really enjoy that you can achieve photo realistic results when you choose to—even within the intentionally limited medium of pixels. What got you started with pixels and why are they your medium of choice?
A. Part of my past. I grew up escaping into video game worlds, which were mostly all pixel-art at the time. It brings me a fond nostalgia to work with pixel-art.
Q. I know you have worked on video games in the past. Do you still actively work in the video game industry? If not, would you like to? Or is there a game series or publisher that would be your dream collab for a project that used your art?
A. I don't actively work in the video game industry. Although I don't plan on stopping the creation of pixel-art video game assets for public sale altogether. I also don't rule out working in the video game industry again either, but it's not something I am actively aiming at and working towards at the moment. If we're talking 'ultimate dreams that would never happen' collabs, I would love to work on a new EarthBound/Mother related game with the original devs.
Q. Are there any hidden messages or meanings that you’ve implanted in your work that no one has found? Or is there something you are trying to convey with your work that you’d like to share with us?
A. I can't think of any hidden messages, unless I've subconsciously implanted them. I want to convey a nostalgic memory, or at least give a few moments of peace to the viewer.