RMRK Artist Spotlight #11: Ruben Topia and his Isometric Worlds

On this week's episode of RAS, we chatted with Ruben Topia, an extremely talented digital artist and illustrator from the Netherlands. His artworks are so loaded with detail you can't help getting sucked into them.

In our talk with him, we saw that underneath the simple complexity in his works is a refined mind that's not afraid to dream big--not just in the material accomplishment sense of the word, but also in its relation with higher human values.

Feast your eyes on his work below before reading the rest of the interview.

Q: How did you start your art career?

Ruben Topia:

Hello, I am Ruben Topia. My family name is Brown. I believe that family is our roots (brown), our grounding on earth.

Since I was a kid, I was a dreamer. Art is a broad concept, and personally, I have my main interest in imaginative works, art that is inspired and empowered by visions of the higher and lower realms. Works that depict the things we might not see every day but that we feel in our hearts. I always liked magical, psychedelic videos and paintings. M.C.Escher was my favorite artist and I was born in the city of Jheronimus Bosch.

I didn’t like high school. I went to study interactive graphic design and illustration at the art academy in Rotterdam. I graduated in 2018. Now I am free.

Q: How did you get into NFTs?

Ruben Topia:

It wasn't until February 2021 that I heard about NFTs. Maybe late seeing as platforms like OpenSea and Rarible had already been online for years.

At first, it was hard to get my head around it, but then I finally recognized it as a great tool for empowering digital artists. Once I understood it in this manner, I started sharing my work, trying to sell them for as much ETH as possible. But I also wanted to do them well and make them as interesting as possible in the form of videos--collectibles that are numbered and intended to be a series just like in my book where all the +200 illustrations are isometric and so match with one another.

Q: Tell us about your favorite project (client or personal) that you've worked on and why.

Ruben Topia:

My favorite project I have worked on is this ongoing series of personal illustrations. By the end of 2019, I combined all illustrations into my first book called ‘Inner Kingdom’. Recent illustrations till this moment of writing will be published into the next magic book.

These are created from an inner drive that is fueled by the idea of creating my own world. When you work for clients it can be because you like it or because it pays. Money should not be the focus. The paintings that I make because I want to are my favorite since I am driven to do it by the inner voice that wants to speak out and become visible.

I also like to work with festivals and play for the art director.

Q: NFTs have provided accessibility and exposure to various forms of digital creations. Do you have new artists that you follow and what do you find interesting about them?

Ruben Topia:

It’s nice to look around the NFT platforms and find interesting projects. But I am old-fashioned and so I follow the same artists that I did before on Instagram, in books, and in real life. The NFT context creates a new frame for art that is easy to consume, comparable to TikTok where the creator has to get the attention of the viewer in the first second. Because of this, the value of each work becomes similar and you tend to scroll through your feed. We should see each work of art as an act of wonder. But since there are so many, it’s easy to drown in the ocean of the internet.

Q: What is your creative process like?

Ruben Topia:

I live in a village. Then I walk around barefoot on the grass outside. I look around and see a bird. I don’t really know what all these animals outside are doing all the time. Maybe they have secret lives and secret underground nightclubs. Then I go inside and draw my ideas on paper. It’s mostly temples and buildings or things that I see in society that I find strange. Sometimes I paint. The best thing would be to get into a flow state and animate.

Then I go to the city to scan my work or I make photographs of them. The village is for playing, the city is for work. The village is open and the city is full.

Q: Who and what are your inspirations?

Ruben Topia:

All the artists who are heavily inspired by nature and transcendental experiences like M.C.Escher, Gaudi, Alex Grey, Waone Interesni Kazki, and much more.

The unknown artists (to me) from the middle east who paint temples and mystical deserts full of oases hundreds of years ago and thangka art from the east which is not about the painting but about the process of creating.

Also, symbolism like in the tarot cards, talks by Osho, walks by the river, and of course, meditation, which I find inspiring but don’t do too often.

Q: What are your goals in the NFT space?

Ruben Topia:

I want to create a digital country (let's call it: Rutopia) consisting of a series of isometric worlds different in size and shape but having the same perspective and handwriting. I already have such a series of isometric worlds and it would be a good idea to number them and put them online as a digital country where people can own parts of it. The goal of this would be to say that borders don’t need to be physical.

This imaginary country is an idea inspired by the book Codex Seraphianus created by Luigi Serafini, which is an encyclopedia of an imaginary world with textures, people, cities, nature, animals, and language.

Q: How do you see the NFT space shaping up?

Ruben Topia:

It is shaping up with a lot of hype and confusion. Beauty is personal, but the quality of work that is being released is very different. Without curation, a platform quickly becomes another DeviantArt. Platforms like Superrare are good because they only allow well-known artists.

Q: What would you most like an NFT platform to have?

Ruben Topia:

A virtual gallery to show and promote artworks for viewing online or with VR glasses; a curator who categorized everything in its value; and a use case that is linked to the real world.

Q: Have you considered making use of RMRK 2.0 functionality in your future works?

Ruben Topia:

Yes. I would be able to create an empty land of Rutopia. Then people can buy NFT temples and characters to put on the land. I haven’t started this yet, but I have part of the drawings ready to cut out and play with.

Q: What exciting new stuff can we look forward to from you?

Ruben Topia:

I have a new large detailed art coming up. I am also working on multiple animations for my new book coming next year.

We absolutely adore Ruben's work and would happily spend hours admiring his detailed pieces on his Instagram. We highly recommend that you take a look, you'll be amazed. You can also catch up with Ruben on his website, Foundation, and Singular.

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Content lead at RMRK.app and lover of $DOT

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