Zack Ritchie — Interview
For my paper on the documentation of Maltese Illustration, there is a substantial amount of research that needs to be primary, mainly because there isn’t much to read on Maltese Illustration, much less on contemporary Maltese Illustration. This isn’t just because of the niche nature of industry but also as it’s still something that’s still gradually being built.
Today I’m publishing an interview with Zack Ritchie, who I believe is at the forefront of contemporary forward-thinking Maltese Illustration. On his website, Zack describes himself as “a 28 year old Illustrator from Malta who enjoys thinking and drawing.”
“I started my art journey as a kid doodling on napkins at restaurants with family. I decided to give the napkins a break and moved into the world of commercial creativity and design.”
He is however, much more than that. Zack has recently been delving into the NFT community and this has evidently broadened his creative boundaries. He’s also just launched a beautifully playful collaboration with the distinguished Maltese fashion-duo, Charles&Ron.
Zack, what, in your opinion, will be the future of illustration?
I really believe the future of illustration lies in the adaptation of new technology. At the moment I am very keen and optimistic to see commercial illustration be integrated on the blockchain & metaverse. Since we spend most of our time on our phones being bombarded by media, content and ads, it only makes sense that we will continue to be more immersed as tech advances.
I can picture in the near future, commercial artists creating and licensing out IP using smart contracts. Creatives in the next few years will become more valuable as the work we create will be more comparable to digital assets. These Assets will be integrated into multiple ways, whether for brands to promote their campaign, or personal designs to customise a user’s profile, avatar or digital real estate.
What do you think about local illustration? Are we doing enough?
Malta has always been a very artsy island housing great talent. If you look around you can see amazing traditional architecture including beautiful baroque in our churches. On the other hand it seems like Malta is too focused on promoting and bringing awareness towards our past and rich culture instead of pushing modern day living artists and innovation. There are just a handful of communities that empower the local and foreign creatives on the island. One of the most prominent being Artz ID, by Maria Galea and the Malta Community of Illustrators founded by Moira Zahra.
What I love most about the MCOI community is the way we empower creatives. We have built Malta’s very first Illustration Annual collecting and curating some very good quality artists on the island. But best of all is the community effort we bring, by creating campaign art around causes. I do feel we need to start shining a light on the local living artist and pushing them. I also have noticed being on a small island there seems to be a lot of competition and secrecy. Friendly competition is always a good thing and let’s be open and push each other. Together we can grow the digital and modern day art scene.
You are involved in the world of NFT art. What can you tell me about it? Why are so many artists against it? What has your experience been like so far?
Nfts are Non Fungible tokens, a smart contract on the Block Chain that is immutable showing proof of ownership. They are super cool because the smart contract allow us artists to build digital art with the mindset that it is now a digital asset, one that can generate us a passive income in perpetuity every time it is rebought. So every time an artwork is sold, royalties are paid out to the original creator.
It’s also good to know that Nfts is just a medium and not a type of art. We don’t say Canvas art or photoshop art. I have been exploring the space for over 12 months and have fallen in love with the tech and community. There is no community like the nft/twitter space, they are all so supportive and encouraging.
Like all things that are new, there is backlash. Some of the common arguments are that it’s bad for the environment and it’s a money making scam business. Yes both these arguments are true to an extent but not all blockchain networks are bad for the environment and some are improving at a much faster pace than most tech. No one really brings up the environmental impact social media companies like Facebook cause to keep the servers running. Yes there are a lot of “nft” projects out there that are out to make big money and leave. Do understand that like all things in this space there will always be good and bad. The good projects are the ones that are leading the industry like Veefriends, Boredapes, Metakey and many more. They are pioneering the space and making their projects true digital assets worth investing in to the extent that owning the Nft is like having a membership pass to exclusive events, merch, benefits and meet ups with like minded people. Think of nfts as a way to filter out followers and fans and only bringing together super fans.
We would like to thank Zack Ritchie for taking the time to answer our questions. He is, by the way, also an MCOI board member (lucky us), and once again a quick reminder that we presently have an open call for the next Malta Illustration Annual 2022.
Are you a Maltese illustrator or a non-Maltese illustrator who is based in Malta? We are documenting the best Maltese illustration year after year! Submit your work here.