Curated Conversations: POST WOOK
Natasha Chomko (b. 1995), aka POST WOOK, is among the most recognized NFT collage artists of today. Born in 1995 and currently based in Los Angeles, she has been creating her distinctive and mesmerizing collages full-time for the past 3 years.
Combining elements from photographs of impressive landscapes, space, and sometimes geometric compositions, the artist hopes to create narratives through subtle symbolism. Her work pays tribute to Surrealist obscurity whilst striking a melancholic tone, wrapped with a psychedelic flare. Upon seeing her work, one often questions what is real, imaginary, or a blend of both.
SuperRare Labs digital editor Shutong Liu asks Natasha about her creative process, symbolism in her work, and the future of POST WOOK.
Shutong Liu: Did you always create collages digitally? How did you make that transition?
POST WOOK: I started making analogue collages when I was about 12–I was initially inspired by my childhood friend’s older sister and, ironically enough, the Burn Book from the movie Mean Girls. I started by getting magazines at the grocery store and cutting up everything and anything I could use in them to make art. Eventually I got more involved in my life, then college, and never really considered myself an artist. I did creative things but didn’t consider myself creative enough to be an artist–I thought artists had to look a certain way and be able to draw. I was so wrong. I made the transition from analogue to digital in 2018, when I needed a creative outlet but didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have enough space, time, or money to take up the other artistic mediums I’ve done, like set design, costume design, ceramics, or printmaking, so I turned to digital work because it was free and fit right in my pocket at the time: on my phone.
SL: You are a self-taught artist, and studied Political Science in college. Did your studies impact your art in any way?
PW: I learned how to write, speak, and research in school. Political Science is more about understanding the history of policies and the cyclical nature of humans than current events, so I learned a lot about the past and how to communicate old ideas into the future. I think my process is similar in that aspect but different everywhere else. I have absolutely no issues researching something til I pass out or writing long and emotional descriptions for my pieces though, I definitely think school helped with that.
SL: Can you walk us through your creative process-from a blank canvas to the finished product?
PW: I work in a few different segments to create a piece of art, and while assembly might feel like the only part that counts, it isn’t in my book.
Before even getting to a blank canvas, I need photos to work with. I have a large library of assets at this point, but I either need to find new photos or take them myself for new material, edit and cut those out, and save them accordingly. Sometimes the process of finding new material leads me to inspiration, but if it doesn’t, I need to find concepts and dig internally for feelings to make work about. Ironically enough, sometimes the process of finding inspiration takes me away from my studio and into the real world.
I am a big believer in mindfulness and find a lot of my inspiration through the world around me. Being outside, in a museum, or even driving home without music playing can inspire me and give me an idea for a new piece. The smallest things can lead to inspiration in my eyes. I find that the best inspiration comes when I least expect it, so I have to keep myself primed and alert to those little moments in life to find it. Otherwise it would feel pointless.
Once there’s an idea, I need to assemble the pieces that swim around in my head to make the art. Usually I start with one specific layer that inspired the piece and work from there. Sometimes that initial layer doesn’t even make it to the final and that’s okay. From there, I assemble the scene that I want to convey, make sure the composition is exactly what I want and then I color edit.
I did JUST get an iPad though, so I’m excited to see where I can expand my process to include things made with a tablet. So far, I really love it and can’t wait to see where it takes me!
I am a big believer in mindfulness and find a lot of my inspiration through the world around me. Being outside, in a museum, or even driving home without music playing can inspire me and give me an idea for a new piece.
— POST WOOK
SL: Talk to us about subjects that frequently appear in your works: stars, moon, nature, wild landscapes, and geometric shapes. Is there symbolism behind them?
PW: There absolutely is symbolism in all of my work, whether I outwardly talk about it or not. Sometimes the piece comes together in a way I absolutely needed without even realizing it until after the fact. My subconscious desire to create is so strong it sometimes scares me.
The sun represents the source–of all life and light–of everything. Without the sun nothing else would exist as we know it.
The moon represents perspective–without the sun (the source) the moon would not be illuminated on earth. But we see the moon differently every day, month, and based on where we are, like our perspective on situations, people, and events. Our perspectives are ever changing and I think the moon is the best signal for this dynamic energy in my work.
Mountains represent time–similar to the time needed to create and destroy mountains, everything we do requires time as well. The Rocky Mountain range was not created overnight, how can we expect our lives to go any differently?
Above land images of oceans and water represent patience, stillness, or calm–I grew up on a lake and found a lot of solace there. I also crave large bodies of water in moments of calamity, and find that water appears in a lot of my work when I’m feeling unsettled about something. It’s like a message from my subconscious to calm down.
Underwater scenes represent our need to get out of our own way–I often like to think about how the ocean exists solely without us–fish swim, bacteria grows, sponges protect life, coral sustains it. The whole system works with or without me, and if I want to observe it in its rawest form I have to get out of the way. Life is like that, too. If I want to enjoy life, I can’t meddle with it. It just has to unfold naturally.
Outer space and specifically stars represent time, just like mountains do, but more like lost time. Every star we can see has already burned out, yet we still celebrate stars and their beauty. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating life as it was, thinking back on it fondly, and letting it go. Stars are often one of the last elements I add to my work for this reason.
Deserts represent solitude and the need for independence. When I was 13, I found myself in the middle of a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon exhausted, bored, and longing to go home. But the only way I could go home was by getting out of the canyon, and no one was coming to save me. At that moment I knew I had to keep going. I’ve revisited that moment in my head many times over since then, and reflect it in my work often as a reminder that despite all odds–geologically speaking with deserts–you can survive and you must keep moving forward.
There are specific places that I revisit frequently in my work as well, like Arizona, the Badlands, and the general American southwest–they draw me in. There’s something magical about Arizona and I hope my work reflects that.
I like circles because of what they represent energetically. Typically a circle is seen as the symbol for feminine energy, the beginning and end of something that truly has no markers. I like to use circles in my work as a reminder that things can and will continue to happen and it’s not the “end” of anything.
Lastly, I use color in my work to depict emotions. In my mind every color has a subsequent emotion behind it. The more vibrant and multicolored the piece, the more emotions were felt.
At that moment I knew I had to keep going. I’ve revisited that moment in my head many times over since then, and reflect it in my work often as a reminder that despite all odds–geologically speaking with deserts–you can survive and you must keep moving forward.
— POST WOOK
SL: What do you hope the viewers feel or think when they see your work, or are you happy to open it to interpretation?
PW: I hope people just feel or think when they see my work. In my eyes if art makes you feel something, it did its job. I don’t really mind if people interpret my work differently than how I see it, I want people to see my work in a way that works for them. This is so much bigger than me at this point and there’s so much that can be said about creating art in the first place, so I’m just happy if I can impact someone on any level today.
SL: What is the future for POST WOOK?
PW: First and foremost, I want POST WOOK to be a household name. I want my work to continue resonating with people all over the world and feel connected to themselves, their pasts, and their emotions in a new way when they look at my work. People often tell me my work looks like their dreams, or a place they’ve been but can’t remember and I think that’s the highest compliment of all. I want to continue making art that inspires people to feel that way.
I want to push my boundaries for what I think is acceptable for me to create and let my imagination run wild. I am very drawn to the color red right now, and will continue to explore red work until it no longer feels right to do so. I will also keep looking inward to find the darkest corners of myself and make art about them so I can release the old feelings and let light flood in. I want to get more vulnerable, raw, and honest with myself in order to create even better work.
I’m interested in getting back into the world of physical art and have ideas on how to do that, as well as expanding how and where I create my art digitally. It’s important for me as an artist to keep creating and finding new heights.
Objectively speaking, I am very focused on creating my best work instead of the most work at this time. I am making work based on collections and not just stand alone pieces, and I am focusing more on introspection to make the best art I possibly can.
If you want to hear about mechanics, you’ll have to follow along.
SL: Talk to us about the works you are dropping with SuperRare this time?
PW: I’m dropping two new pieces into my Red Season series. I love this series because it was inspired by curiosity, and the deeper I get into it the more significance is revealed to me.
The first piece is called Red Desert, 2023 and depicts one of the fantastic red rocks in Sedona, AZ. I am so incredibly drawn to Sedona, and bringing it’s otherworldly influence into my Red Season series feels very fitting. This piece lends more to the aesthetics side of the purpose behind Red Season.
The second piece is called La Luna, 2023 and is meant to represent my interpretation of how my partner sees me. La Luna is his nickname for me, so I wanted to make a piece that really reflects how I interpret his love. This piece lends itself to the emotional side of Red Season, but is one of the first pieces I’ve made about love in an endearing way. Call that healing!
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