- Florencia Montoya
About The Artist
My Spanish is terrible. I speak two languages fluently, but for some reason my brain can’t compute Espanyol. Maybe my brain is trying to block out the traumatic time I had in a Spanish exam in school and was asked by the teacher in front of the whole class: ‘Dónde está la farmacia?’
I had a moment of panic, for some reason my mind went blank. There was a long silence and everyone waited with baited breath for my answer. After what seemed like hours, my mouth opened. Rather than answering with helpful directions or talking about medicines and ointments, my brain focussed on the word ‘farmacia’. In a moment of confused wisdom, I decided to try to proudly name all the animals found on a farm. My poorly crafted answer resembled a crap Spanglish performance of ‘Old McDonald had a farm’. Needless to say I got an ‘F’ for that particular test and my confidence in the language hit rock bottom.
Fast forward 20 something years and you can imagine the dread I felt when I contacted talented Chilean artist and native Spanish speaker Florencia Montoya Salvadores to request an interview. I was met with the reply “I’m only worried that my English is not good enough and that I have a strong accent”.
It brought the school memory and anxiety flooding back. What if I had to use Spanish to get my questions across? What if I accidentally offended her by misinterpreting? Weirdly, I rationalised that if I was interviewing her for an article for Farmers weekly or Classic Tractor, I’d probably be OK. But talking about the complexities of Bitcoin and art?
Turns out I had nothing to fear. Flo (as she likes to be known) was modest, humble and has a fantastic grasp of English. After a quick introduction, we sat down to talk about all the important topics: Bitcoin, Chilean Politics, Art and Baby Clothes.
"I can’t stop thinking about Bitcoin, it’s like not much of a decision for me, it’s like, it’s an obsession."
Talking to Flo about her Bitcoin journey was an absolute joy and heartwarming experience. Like many a pleb, she explains that, to her, Bitcoin means freedom. However for Flo, the orange coin isn’t just a way of disrupting the corrupt global financial system and investing in a revolutionary low time preference monetary system. It also means family.
When doing my research for the interview, the first image that came up on her Twitter feed was a picture of her immediate family in embrace, complete with Greyhound, wearing Bitcoin t-shirts enjoying a B shaped pizza for Bitcoin pizza day. My initial thought, besides how tasty the pizza looked, was how close and tight knit this Bitcoin family unit is. Flo explains that whilst the Montoya tribe have always had a great relationship, there wasn’t a mutual topic of conversation that all could contribute to until Bitcoin came along.
"My father, mother & brother are engineers, my sister’s a doctor & I am an artist. We have always talked about the topics that interest each of us. But now we have like one topic that’s really interesting for everybody – [Bitcoin]. And that’s awesome."
La Estrella Solitaria
Intrigued, I wondered whether the political or economic culture in Chile had a hand in the family’s BTC adoption? “I think we’re having a difficult time politically and this is causing faster adoption, because everything is changing and there are no certainties right now” Flo answers. Chile is an interesting case in Latin America as it has largely resisted the currency debasement normally associated with its nations. Nevertheless, there is a feeling that poor leadership, civil unrest and the rise of populism may lead to a similar situation of economic instability associated with its close neighbours Argentina and Venezuela.
"The system is completely broken."
This mix of factors would provide fertile ground for Bitcoin adoption as a hard money prevention to the ills of hyperinflation. With a refresh of the constitution due this year, does she believe her nation’s politicians will adopt a Bitcoin Standard? “The system is completely broken…it won’t take Bitcoin into consideration.” she answers in a resigned tone. It seems that just as in other parts of the world, the BTC revolution won’t be led by those in office, but by the global family of freethinking plebs.
Metal Engraving & Watercolor on paper
Three schools of art
Back to art, and I wanted to understand how Flo’s past has shaped the aesthetics in her work. She initially trained as a classical artist in an academy, before studying at university where her traditional thinking was challenged. As a result, Flo is an artist that is fearlessly willing to take on many mediums and styles such as pencil, watercolours and oils. This is summed up in a beautiful quote on her website:
"When I got rid of the pretensions & selfishness of the work to be able to experience the simplicity of the process of painting. Only then could I fall in love with the results."
Arguably, Flo has had a third institution that has shaped her artistic view – the school of Bitcoin. When I questioned on how she chooses her subjects for her art it’s clear that she has fallen down the rabbit hole hard: “Before Bitcoin, I was obsessed with, like real life, I could be like having a drink with friends, and I would stop, take a picture and then paint them like drinking a beer… [Now] I’m still very obsessed with real life. But I can’t stop thinking about Bitcoin, it’s not much of a decision for me. It’s an obsession.”
The consequence of this obsession is beginning to bear fruit as Flo’s Bitcoin art is hitting its stride. My favourite piece of hers is “21 MILLION” which depicts the Bitcoin Blockchain in 6.25 different ways. Each unique piece has gone through a laborious ‘proof of work’ process taking 4-10 days including metal engraving, hand printing and hand finishing with watercolour and ink. The unique style, a clever use of colours in mixed medium, would be a welcome addition to any serious Bitcoiners art collection. At the time of writing, only 4 pieces out of the 6.25 remain, with 2 going to collectors and the .25 piece gifted to her sister in gratitude for all the help she has given to Flo.
With her Bitcoin art journey still in its early stages, I wanted to know what is next for Flo? As well as a selected artist creating the label for the 21ism Have Fun Staying Pour project, she has also turned her attention to collaborating in creating traditional Bitcoin inspired jewelry. I personally can’t wait to see what Bitcoin bling she has planned.
"In Flo, we have a young, talented, orange pilling artist with a strong work ethic, engrained with wholesome family centric values."
As we sign off the interview, Flo drops the bombshell that she is planning a range of Bitcoin baby clothes – despite not having any children herself. Normally this would seem slightly illogical but in retrospect it seems completely on point. In Flo, we have a young, talented, orange pilling artist with a strong work ethic, engrained with wholesome family centric values. I am proud to call her a fellow creative pleb. For me personally, it’s validation that regardless of location or language used, the Bitcoin core principles of freedom and family, like the blockchain, are immutable the world over.
Gracias Florencia y familia.