Patron of the Digital Renaissance: Robek’s Collection of Art and Artists
JL Maxcy
November 14th, 2021

I knew of Robek very early in my NFT journey. I love curating, and Robek’s name kept popping up. They seemed to collect a lot of the same artworks that caught my eye. I admired the then 125 artwork collection on Foundation and followed Robek on social media.

When writing this article, there were 469 artworks on FND, including a couple of my paintings. Since March, Robek has continued to add to their collection. I am grateful that I chased enough rabbit holes to bump into Robek on my NFT journey, a sentiment that seems to be shared by many.

JL: Would you do a blog article about your collection? I would love to curate something and ask you some questions.

Robek: Yeah, I love this. I LOVE IT.

JL: Yay! I will jump right in!

Left: 家 ʜᴏᴍᴇ Right: ʀᴏʙᴇᴋ ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ by Kami on FND
Left: 家 ʜᴏᴍᴇ Right: ʀᴏʙᴇᴋ ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ by Kami on FND

JL: I love the drama. Can you tell me a bit about the artists?

Robek: I think Kami’s work is really unique in that it captures the esoteric energy of the subject matter she’s inspired by. She’s a self-proclaimed Yōkai artist, a term that generally encompasses a specific kind of spirit in Japanese folklore. I love her work because it’s got this sort of punk rock 70’s vibe that feels like a fantastic mashup of noir & grindhouse films and weaves in the aesthetic created from films like House. There’s a good bit of Japanese Anime inspiration, but she owns it in her interpretation, and her works all feel a part of a cohesive universe.

JL: How do you find the artists you collect? Is she a friend of yours?

Robek: Originally, it started from just browsing the timeline on Foundation. If I hadn’t done that, I’d probably not even have a collection as I do now. I followed the artists I collected and the artists they are connected with, which eventually led me to side channels for discoverability. I’d consider many artists I collect as friends, but it’s not a friendship to collecting kind of thing. It’s more organic in that I try my best to engage with the creators I’m digging into and discover more about their work and techniques. Now my discovery happens through various ways — social media is infinitely helpful, and people send me work directly (though I’m pretty niche in the styles I collect. Right now, it’s mostly anime, glitch/trash, surrealism, and cultural commentary (with some painting mixed in). Discord is also big for discovery, and I’ve found artists through collectors that share similar tastes and artists that share similar circles.

Left: Starseeker by Jessica Luna Right: Drawing star by LatenightOT
Left: Starseeker by Jessica Luna Right: Drawing star by LatenightOT

JL: These are Robek-esque, but I don't think they were made specifically for you. Is the red and blue something you got from somewhere else?

Robek: Actually, it’s interesting you ask about the colors because very, very early on in my collecting, I tried very hard to stick to a specific color palette in the works I was collecting. I generally love pinks and blues together. As far as Robek’s colors, I don’t think there’s a specific reason I picked red and blue. Red hair, for sure, was because of a throwback to some old work I used to make — but the blue shirt was to stand out from the other character personas writing for my old publication. I’ve shifted away from a specific color thing in my collection, but I think that kind of bubble pop is a vibe in the anime scene that doesn’t disappoint me.

JL: Can I see your old work?

Robek: Hmmm, not yet. Not until I’m done working professionally.

JL: If I saw Starseeker by Jessica Luna anywhere else, I would think Robek should own this. I believe very few collectors have such iconic taste as you do. Do you still feel drawn to artworks featuring red hair?

Robek: Not entirely sure. I think sometimes, but it's not a prime reason to collect. There has to be a little bit more going on.

Left: Warrior Kitsune Right: WELCOME TO MY WORLD by Ancient_Man
Left: Warrior Kitsune Right: WELCOME TO MY WORLD by Ancient_Man
Provenance for WELCOME TO MY WORLD
Provenance for WELCOME TO MY WORLD

JL: You seem to overbid the reserve often? Is this an auction strategy?

Robek: I bid over reserve 99% of the time. But, no, it’s not a game mechanic for trying to win. It started when I realized that every single major platform takes a 15% cut.

JL: So you overbid to cover the fees the artists pay?

Robek: I try to. I also will overbid if the artist undercuts themself. Not always, but especially with newer artists. 1eth = 1eth is a bit pervasive. I think it’s philosophically a good idea, but also, the longer I’ve participated and the obvious stalls when eth runs, it’s not beneficial to the artist’s sales momentum. It mostly only benefits the collectors, I’ve concluded. So it’s obvious why they pitch that angle.

But I think changing price is okay for many artists that are trying to grow in the space. Sometimes, they undercut too low. It’s not a race. Some artists don’t mind the wait, and, in some ways, that benefits them, but at the same time, as long as you’re not undervaluing the amount of work that went into a piece, it’s okay to shift prices when being collected is more important.

Palis addressed the bid thing in August.

JL: Did you set out to be legendary?

Robek: No. I just didn’t think it was equitable to cash out on a very low-risk investment from 4 years before. It seems to me that if we want the space to grow sincerely, we should consider how much risk it takes for a small artist to decide to onboard. Sure, whales can throw whatever amount at whatever celebrity enters the space or whatever silly meme of the week is popular, but there’s no longevity in that. It creates a vacuum. Artists are more likely to grow the culture forward and leverage their ‘gains’ to more artists and creative endeavours. If the only thing worth collecting is what the influencer suggests, then the antis are right. We can do better.

JL: Do you get fan art every day?

Robek: It feels like it. But I’m sure it’s probably a little less frequent.

JL: That has got to be weird and somewhat awesome.

Robek: It’s really incredible and humbling. Someone asked how I get the artists to do it and if it’s part of a deal for starting bids, and it’s nothing like that at all. I used to get fan art before I even got into NFTs again. Not sure what the secret is; I just love the interactions. I spend a significant amount of time engaging with the artists.

JL: Most of your collection seems to be 2d illustrations and animation. This one stood out to me. Can you tell me what it is about this artist that called you?

Left: #001 — Sakura Right: #002 — Robek by Vixpora
Left: #001 — Sakura Right: #002 — Robek by Vixpora

Robek: Vix’s work is super clean and hyper-stylized and also looks a good bit 2D. That’s challenging to do, and that’s what drew me to him.

If you’re looking at Foundation specifically, yeah. In that case, there’s not a lot of 3D work in my collection. Still, funny enough, weeb3 (a collection of work by an artist named SaltSeaCake) baked a discord into the unlockables, where I ended up meeting a lot of new people and making some forever friends. Weeb3 is like a digital version of the statue/figurine based stuff otaku collect, but it takes a pretty good deal of technical talent to create a good sculpt with a lot of personality and style. I think the 3D figure artists will be significant in the long run if the proverbial metaverse actually happens.

JL: What’s an ‘otaku’?

Robek: Basically means a fan, but specifically, it’s related to a fan of Japanese culture. Otaku are frenetic collectors of merchandise.

JL: Are you an otaku?

Robek: I wouldn't consider myself one, no. When I was a teenager, probably, but these days, I don't participate broadly in the commercial anime scene.

Left: Lilux Rex Right: Man, I love fishing! by DON
Left: Lilux Rex Right: Man, I love fishing! by DON

JL: What can you tell me about this artist?

Robek: Don is a young artist out of Thailand, like 18, I think. I think his work is fantastic, though. It’s very soft and is themed around a character named Lilia, who transcends time and space. She lives many lives and is pretty gender flexible/neutral. Don’s done something like 600 paintings of Lilia, and so the universe is quite extensive. Just a lot of detail and creativity here.

JL: Do you actually like fishing?

Robek: I haven't fished for real in over a decade. ‘Gone fishing’ has become a bit of a joke but, initially, I was setting my status to ‘gone fishing’ when the mental load of participation became too great for me. I've enjoyed how my art friends have taken the meme and run with it. It's amusing considering the gentleman who recently passed me and now has the most artworks collected on Foundation is an actual fisherman. I usually just say I'm a "metaphorical fisherman."


JL: This is different in your Known Origin collection. How did you come across Patternbase, and why did you select this piece for your collection?

Robek: I found Patternbase through RATS.ART, and I think she is a tremendous asset to the NFT space. I love her work, but I also love her participation and advocacy. She has the vision. I’m a Patternbase maximalist, so I try to collect as much of her work as possible.

JL: Do you really smoke cigarettes?

Robek: No, not anymore. The cigarette came from a derivative of my persona drawn by my (now) good friend @HybridGan. I was an early supporter of his project j48baforms, and he drew me a custom 'relic'. The new artists doing avatars took the cigarette from that, and here we are.


JL: So, this is the first appearance of the RWX cigarette?

Robek: Yep. Well, there was another one. The other is from Ksenia who did a profile picture prior based on my Hunter S. Thompson article cover.

JL: Is ROBEKFROM also based on Hunter S. Thompson?

Robek: No, it is just a coincidence. All of j48’s forms have a cig.

Left: 結晶 Right: RWX by P1u3m
Left: 結晶 Right: RWX by P1u3m

JL: I chose this artist because of their sound design. How important is sound in your collection?

Robek: I think proper sound design can enhance a piece like these with subtle movements. I am always curious where the music comes in work like this. Also, lowkey, I think P1u3m has a chance to become one of the significant fine anime artists in the space. I see a lot of really unique stuff going on in their work, and just pushing their compositions to the extreme may lead to some really breakthrough work.

Left: R3D #001 Right: robek by GARRID
Left: R3D #001 Right: robek by GARRID

JL: Garrid’s artwork is very expressive. Can you tell me a bit about this style?

Robek: I discovered Garrid when... he reached out to me! He’s in tertiary circles to some of the other artists I collect. Garrid’s work has a lot of energy and he prior to NFTs had some incredible Araki inspired work (as well as a very nice portfolio of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure fan work). I like the colors in the experimental pieces you’ve shared. I think that profile rendition of me is one of my favorites. Captures the chaos I feel in my head frequently. But Garrid is actually a quite varied artist and excels at a variety of styles. Huge fan of their recent NEK-0 drops on Makersplace.

 Left: ✨Eternal tranquility✨ Right: RWX by FidJey
Left: ✨Eternal tranquility✨ Right: RWX by FidJey

JL: There is quite a lot of animation in your collection. I selected these artworks because of their subtle and sublime animation. Do you feel more connected to static or dynamic art?

Robek: I don’t think animation for the sake of animation is important when translating pieces to NFT art. I believe static work is just as powerful as anything animated. I do like the artists that consider loops in their dynamic animation work. Julia (fidjey) is really awesome. She spent a lot of time doing her 3d work but has shifted back into 2d work. Both are great for their own reasons and is an excellent example that a solid technical foundation can let an artist use NFT space as an experimentation space for their artistic discovery. Another artist that makes loops really well and tastefully is thisisbadbird.

Left: Reverie Right: Robek by Rylen
Left: Reverie Right: Robek by Rylen

JL: I love the glow of these. What story can you tell me about Rylen?

Robek: Rylen was an artist I found early on in my re-entry to the space. Dreamy nostalgia of 90’s computing was the original draw and still is. I also appreciate Rylen’s approach to sharing work. She hasn’t put a large number of NFTs out in the year but with each one, she has been very intentional about the process and storytelling behind each piece. Her new DreamJournal collection is also like little nice appetizers of that wistful nostalgia. Rylen’s super cool. People should reach out and talk to her - lots of good insight and awareness.

Left: ✧・゚*DON’T TRUST*・゚✧ #1 Right: RWX by Tonakai
Left: ✧・゚*DON’T TRUST*・゚✧ #1 Right: RWX by Tonakai

JL: What’s the significance of glitch art to you?

Robek: I originally got into glitch art through RATS.ART. It helped me understand a bit more than just the glitch, for glitch sake. From there, I’ve met and become friends with many trash/glitch artists, and when you sit and watch the process from start to finish, it’s tremendous how much goes into the final products. I think glitch work is nostalgia for web natives, but it’s been a lot of fun learning, through the artists I’ve connected with, how the intent helps realize the final product. I have a lot of glitch work in my collection, and I could do a huge separate write up on each of the artists I love and why.

Left: 𝚑𝚎'𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚋𝚊𝚌𝚔 by 0010 Right: The Physical Art Fallacy by Robek
Left: 𝚑𝚎'𝚜 𝚗𝚘𝚝 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚋𝚊𝚌𝚔 by 0010 Right: The Physical Art Fallacy by Robek

JL: 0010 seems extra special to you. You have collected numerous works by them. They even feature in your own artwork, The Physical Art Fallacy. Are they your favourite?

Robek: 0010 is one of these people you meet that kind of changes your future, at least for me. Among the first ten pieces, I collected on Foundation, he and tonakai are a big reason I am so focused on this anime as a fine art thing. Early on, I had no idea how I was supposed to act as a collector and didn’t even realize there was this big culture behind it. I just found their pieces and bid because I thought they looked really interesting - like it was anime-inspired but also had the something of something more. Tonakai’s use of colors and patterns is exquisite, and 0010 has a great eye for ratios while leveraging limited palettes. Both artists have a lot of emotion in their characters. I just love them both so much.

After buying 0010’s piece, we started talking regularly, and he’s become a good friend. I feel like a major 0010 simp, but just seeing his growth from his beginning start to now has been incredible. He also doesn’t drop often, which I think helps him. 0010’s consistency for drops, as well as, his drive to “make every piece 10x better”, is apparent. It’s taught me a lot about patience in the space, the value of doing your own thing, and also, I’ve gotten to meet a billion amazing other artists through the rabbit hole that simply bidding on his work has brought. There’s a joke we are the same person, and some people think it’s true, but in reality, I’ve never been able to create the kind of amazing work he does. Seriously, if you are a collector and just starting - I can’t stress how important and valuable it is to get to know the people creating the work. This has been my takeaway for the NFT space, the genuine personal connections between artists and the people who value their work.

JL: Has 0010 ever made Robek art?

Robek: He hasn’t. Maybe that’s why I’m still simping so hard. Where’s my 0010 profile picture?! Hilariously, I’ve made him fan art.

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