Willea Zwey Interview

Willea Zwey Interview

Artist Interview – Written by Ben Thomas


There are few things in life that spark me more than discovering a new artist. Especially when they’re totally undiscovered, or just on the cusp of blowing up. There’s something so cool about being there early on and cheering from the sidelines as they hit certain milestones and slowly climb the ladder.


I stumbled across Willea’s work when she left a comment on my Twitter. Much to my dismay I had totally missed the fact she was following me. At the time, she was hovering somewhere around the 400 follower count. In the short time I’ve been talking to her she’s seen somewhat of a meteoric rise in popularity – and with good reason.


Her work has been picked up by some of the spaces big collectors and she is clearly on an upward trajectory on the NFT circuit. Although I suspect we will also see her break into commercial illustration at some point when the rest of the creative industry catches on.

There is a brilliant mix of super accurate line work and a much more fluid hand rendered drawing style that I haven’t really seen before. A precision I later found out that comes from a previous career in architecture – which totally makes sense when you find that nugget of information out. Willea pours everything into each of her concepts and she executes them using big, bold and bright colour palettes. It’s easy to see why she is currently enjoying so much success.


Willea was good enough to spare some time for a quick q&a for the site and I couldn’t be happier that she is one of our first features.


Willea, let’s start at the very beginning. Give us a bit of background about yourself. And when did you first realise you were going to be doing something creative for a career?

I have always been a creative kid growing up. I knew I wanted to work in the creative field ever since elementary school. Initially I wanted to become a designer of some sort because I think that’s the career that bridges the art and the practical fields. I studied architecture in university where I had chances to develop my design principles and explore the worlds beyond the discipline. It later on greatly helped me during my journey of being a digital artist.


What elements and disciplines from your background in Architecture have influenced your art?

The process of creating a drawing is, to me, very similar to designing a building. The same way I arrange and manipulate spatial elements for an architecture project could be used in creating an artwork. Studying architecture gave me an engaging eye to all the context within the built frame, and the ability to give orders and hierarchy within compositions.


What applications are you using to produce your work, is it all digital or are some elements hand rendered?

I combine linework and renders generated from 3d models and layer them with 2d hand-drawn elements.

Over the years which artists, or creatives from any medium have influenced you the most?

I am a musician too so I take a lot of influence from music, and the process of writing music is somehow similar to creating visual art so I get to cross-practice quite often.


One thing that really fascinated me when we first started talking was the polar opposite world you’re involved in with music. Metal to be precise. Which is a far cry from the bright and delicate worlds you’re making in your art (or most of them anyway). For everyone that isn’t in the loop, tell us about your band and how it was formed?

I actually started creating music before I ever became a visual artist. I’ve been making music since my teenage years and have been in a few bands ever since. I knew Eric from an old band I sang for and together we formed Aegius, my current band. We are currently releasing singles from our debut EP Gather the Crowd, in which we co-wrote all the songs and both took part in singing and instrumentals for all tracks. Our style is mainly melodic metal with a symphonic edge. I have a classical root so I love to combine classical elements into heavy music, I really enjoy the dynamics and depth they bring to our songs.

What is it about the metal that first drew you in and what was your first experience with the genre?

I was first exposed to the genre when I was like 13,14 ish through a friend’s introduction. (I remember he was trying to sell me CDs of Children of Bodom. (lol) And I was immediately drawn to it. Totally fell in love with the energy and emotions embedded in the music and was amazed by the level of musicianship that goes into the production. I was also blown away by how wildly expressive the characteristics from those musicians can be. Unlike most of the mainstream music back then, the rawness and provocation from the music and the musicians are totally outrageous but dangerously attractive to me as a kid (haha).


The worst question of them all. Brace for impact. Where do you pull inspiration from when beginning to think about new work?

Myself, haha. Honestly most of my work reflects my own thoughts consciously or subconsciously. I start with a little rough idea and it kind of just keeps developing itself from there.

Has the pandemic had any effect on your day to day creativity? Do you feel the weight of things happening in the world right now effects your work?

To be honest, not too much. I started creating last year around the time when the pandemic started. Spending more time at home means I have more time working on developing my skills which is something that I benefited from.


From your total body of work, which is your favorite and why? (Make sure you include this and I’ll link next to it) 

I don’t know if I can pick an absolute winner, every piece I created is the best I can give. So I guess I will go with my most recent minted piece. This one is called Angels Don’t Kill. It is a piece that pays tribute to one of my biggest music heroes and other legends who have greatly influenced the heavy metal scene. It is very personal and I have never done any piece like this.


Any particular stand out moments from your time in the NFT space yet?

Every time a collector told me that they have put a bid on my piece because they find it speaks to them and connect with it in some way. It’s such a powerful feeling.

What are your goals for yourself over the next five years with your work?

To keep creating.


Just to follow on from this question, what do you imagine the NFT space will look like in (let’s keep it realistic) 2 years?

From an artist aspect, I expect to see the ones who came in from the early days and had their success become the new collectors and give back to newer comers, and keep the whole circle going. It will lead to a collective success which is hard to achieve with a centralized structure.


While I feel the positives of being part of the NFT community are pretty well documented. Are there any negative elements of being part of this space you think should be highlighted?

Most of the time, only the successful stories are seen and celebrated in space, where the struggles and obstacles could be left out from the spotlight. I love hearing people succeed in this space but meanwhile, I hope we also pay more attention to different voices and be aware of the potential risks for the long-term health of this community.

If you could go back and give your past self advice before entering this space – what would that be?

Be patient and have faith


How do you feel about the raft of celebrity NFT projects that have been flooding the space? Good or bad for the space?

I think at this point, it is not hard to spot the ones who are here for the community and the ones who are here for quick money grab. While with the potential of increasing publicity, for the last one, I worry that the outsiders will then see NFT space as a money making machine which is definitely not the case. I really hope that the celebs who want to test their water in the NFT space at least do their research and have a good understanding of what this community stands for.

Last serious question. I see a lot of talk from collectors and other denizens of this space saying that artists should consider either adjusting their work to fit what sells in the market. Or that they should always have a strong consistent style across the board to appeal to collectors. How do you feel about this? Should artists consider minting experimental works, or always keep it safe and consistent when it comes to style?

I see a lot of artists are now doing both, where they mint their more “serious” work on the 1/1 oriented platforms like SR, MP, FND AND KO and the more experimental work on Hicetnunc. I don’t see collectors having big problems with that so far. Although I personally would prefer to see a more distinguished style from an artist, I’m not against exploration because that’s how you get one.


The single most important question in this interview. Tea, or Coffee?

I love both! But I have an ungodly obsession with coffee.


Favorite music you’re currently listening to? (give as few or many as you want)

Going through my Children of Bodom renaissance here, one of my all time favorite bands.

Also, new songs from my own band Aegius (find them here and here)


You can find Willea here:


NFT Platforms: KnownOrigin Foundation Hicetnunc

Socials: Showtime Twitter IG

Web: Homepage Behance


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