From November 30th to December 2nd, NFTS.WTF will have a booth in collaboration with Rarible in the Social Good Section of DCentral Miami 2021 coinciding with Art Basel 2021.

Purchase tickets to DCentral Miami here

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A modern-day zen garden opened this past Friday, October 1st, at the Fort York Historic Site in Toronto, Canada. Contemporary artist Krista Kim brings her vision of wellness to the world via CONTINUUM: a meditative 20-minute generated animation aimed at improving mental health through active self-care participation.

A freestanding 100-foot video wall will showcase the magnificent video installation that was part of an exhibit curated by Steve Aoki; and sold through Sotheby’s auction house the night before its debut as an NFT for $113,400 USD. The large-scale piece is a collaboration between Kim, Efren Mur, and American rock musician and guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins Jeff Schroeder. Shroeder brought the art to life with soothing, melodic acoustics, and also performed live intermittently throughout the 4-day exhibition. 

 

The project was born in 2017 as a result of Kim’s three-year Japanese sojourn. According to Kim:

 

“I would visit a Ryōan-ji temple garden in Kyoto three or four times a year because this is the place where I had my artistic epiphany. In this space I learned that art and the environment become a mirror of the mind. What you see becomes a part of you. It was beautifully manicured, very minimalist with lots of negative space between the stones and so you realize that the negative space imbues consciousness into the viewer. And I knew, in that moment, that I wanted to create zen consciousness through my art.”

 

Kim, who practices meditation herself and says she is, “sensitive to matters of mental health and wellness,” admits it’s a natural extension of her practice. In this way it was always her vision to bring this concept to individuals and their communities at large through a movement she has coined “techism”- promoting the confluence of art and technology as a medium to further the development of digital humanism during this unique period of technological innovation, adaptation, and disruption. 

 

According to Kim:, “I wrote the manifesto because I was feeling my attention span dissipate. I was always distracted by my digital devices and social media. And if I was experiencing this constant disruption of focus and energy, then billions of people around the world must be feeling the same way. I thought it was important for art and philosophy to enter the realm of technology in order to create balance and make it more humane.”

 

 

With her Digital Consciousness series, Kim gathers massive walls of LED lights to digitally paint and manifest her artworks. The immersive experience sets out to facilitate the feeling of meditativeness by producing an effect of decompression and calm through colour and sound. Kim says she was stunned and surprised by the outpouring of support for the project, “People spent hours in our space because they were given permission to be vulnerable and to heal. They would actually say to me, ‘I needed this.’”

 

As to the role NFTs played with the project and the future of the rapidly evolving space, Kim is quick to point out that they can provide a much greater benefit than most people realize. She references the fact that in our modern-day society we have very little connection to community: 

 

“The functionality NFTs provide in terms of giving the control and dominion back to the artists will be a game-changer because we will see artists start to reinvest back into the communities that they are a part of. This project is a wonderful example of how we can start a movement through that power. I’d like to demonstrate and showcase to the world that NFTs can actually lift humanity up in this way.”

 

This is just the start of what Kim hopes to accomplish. Even though someone now owns the celebrated video as an NFT, as the artist she owns the copyright and says she never sells the usage rights for her works. The exhibit returns to Aranya China on October 15th, then on to Art Basel in Miami, Florida in December. Then who knows… She is planning a world tour of zen.

 

For more information or to view livestream, visit:

https://www.continuumtour.com/

 

The piece was live in Toronto, Canada, at the Fort York Historic Site, located at 250 Fort York Blvd., from October 1st to 4th, 2021.

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Parin Heidari is a multidisciplinary artist based in Italy. She draws single-line portraits ambidextrously. Before creating NFT art full-time, Parin worked as a creative director and graphic designer for 10 years in The Netherlands, Italy, and Iran. Parin studied painting in Iran and holds a BA in Industrial Design and Visual Communication from the Polytechnic University of Turin. She has been a featured artist on the front page of Opensea and has recently been announced as one of 40 artists included in TIME Magazines “Build a Better Future” NFT drop.

 

How did you make your start in the world as an artist? Did it begin with drawing? Were you formally trained or self-taught? 

 

I was born in Tehran in 1986. I have been an artist for 30 years. When I was three I started drawing and painting- and since then I have never stopped! I loved fantasy books and Sci-fi movies and I started going to art classes before going to school. I remember I loved telling stories full of robots and UFOs with my paintings. My mother’s cousin, who is an Iranian illustrator, was my first teacher- and when I was a kid, I always wanted to illustrate a children’s book like her. When I was 11 years old I continued my art journey by going to caricature courses and learned how to draw cartoons. I went to NODET (National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents) school in Tehran, Iran, which was a more scientific school. Almost all of the students were interested in science, but I always wanted to be an artist. Therefore I studied Fine Arts and later went on to study at Politecnico di Torino in Italy, graduating with a BA in Industrial Design and Visual Communication. I have lived a multicultural life which has always inspired my art. 

 

 

There is a simplicity to your drawings although they are bold and very sophisticated. What is your process in achieving this unique aesthetic? How/where did you develop this style and how do you approach a single drawing versus a series of drawings?

 

My online drawing journey started when I was in high school. I carried my sketchbook with me and became very fond of drawing daily from my surroundings. One-line drawings for me were the quickest way to capture my environment and the people in it, whether I was at a cafe, or on the bus, or even at a party; I was recording. Sometimes the pieces that I worked more on became the ones that are 1 of 1, but I really wanted to give the opportunity for anyone who wanted to collect my pieces the chance to own these works as well by creating editions of my series. It’s a maturation process that can be hurtful as it consists of letting go of something which I have created. However, it is also very demanding as the minimalism of one-line art requires a certain level of perfection and precision. Every element must have its place and its own intrinsic beauty.

 

There is so much passion and life behind each line in your portraits. Can you speak to the role poetry and emotion play in how you capture a human likeness with your technique? 

 

I use a single line with simple elements and colors to convey my own visualization of the deepest emotions we can feel as humans to make complex problems simple. The minimalist nature of a ‘one-line’ drawing requires a lot of precision and is a perfectionist’s nightmare. Every element has its own place and intrinsic visual authority within the image. Crafting a ‘one-line’ drawing is a visually rich and rather complex experience. It’s a process that can be painful sometimes though as I have to ultimately give something away that’s so close to my heart.

 

 

Who were some of your earlier influences and artists you admire now? Tell me how their work speaks to you and influenced yours? 

 

Egon Schiele has been my biggest inspiration. I love the simplicity yet boldness in his drawings. Hamid Bahrami has always been a big inspiration to me, the technique and creativity of his pieces always surprises me. I love Chantel Martin’s work as well, she is great at showing the most meaningful concepts so simple yet stunning. Martin is a fellow one-liner and ambidextrous. I really like how delicate and strong his lines are. Donald Robertson is a great painter, I am amazed by the way he plays with colors and shapes. His humor and intelligence which can be seen both in his art and personal life is something that always amazes me. Heather Day is my other inspiration, she has an incredible approach to shapes and forms. I love the courage she has in the combination of colors, she never stops creating. 

 

When you brought your work into the NFT space did you anticipate your work would be so well received? You were a trending artist on Opensea and I imagine that was very exciting! 

 

[The] NFT space made me believe more in myself and my art. I have never experienced the potential of art, as I have seen in this space, it’s nothing like any other work experience. There’s no client work or deadlines. Because of the multicultural nature of NFTs, I have also connected with so many amazing artists from all over the world. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to be able to share the art they love and grow in it as well. I can finally be who I always wanted to be and I’ve finally become a full-time artist, and I’m so thankful for that. 

 

 

What are you currently working on?

 

I am working on some new drops and collaborations with some amazing artists in the NFT space, and I am going to be included in the FOMOLAND exhibition in Switzerland in October and a couple of other huge projects that I will announcing very soon.

 

To learn more about Parin, check out all her NFTs on TryShowtime, visit her website and follow her online:

Instagram: @parindesigns

Twitter: @ParinHeidari

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Antonius Oki Wiriadjaja, also known as “FoodMasku,” is a multimedia artist based in New York City. Originally from Jakarta, Antonius is a former Fulbright U.S. Scholar in Indonesia. He created the Instagram account @foodmasku — depicting face masks made from meals eaten during COVID-19 self-isolation — after seeing a fellow artist wear a pickle face filter during a zoom meeting. In response, he placed kale on his face and started posting food face-mask selfies daily. As a result, his project was selected by The New York Times as one of “five art accounts to follow on Instagram now.” In addition, Antonius has recently premiered his new series, the Hundred Day Mask Challenge, exclusively with KnownOrigin. 

 

As a performance artist, did you always have a penchant for being “on stage,” or was this an interest that developed later? What was your experience growing up? Were you a creative child? Did you want to be an artist? 

In my late teens, I worked with the Theater Offensive in Boston and was working behind the scenes. There were some performances that needed extras, so I ended up going on stage anyway. The friendships I developed there blossomed, and many of my friends became amazing drag performers. At least two of them have been on Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and I’m super proud of their success! One year, there was a big contest, and all my friends had won at least once. So they all were bragging and heckling me because I had never done it. I said, screw it, I bet I could win this too. And I did! I was a real hot mess. My make-up was all cakey, and I took my wig from the trash of Jacque’s Cabaret. But the community wanted to be supportive, so I won $100 on a drag contest I didn’t even have any right to be a part of. They weren’t so forgiving the next time I went on stage! The heckling was huge, but it was important critical feedback, and I got better and better at stage presence. I stopped doing drag when I moved to New York, but those skills never left.

 

 

Who is FoodMasku? Tell me about the genesis of the FoodMasku identity and where the concept for the work originated.

 

FoodMasku is a pun in two languages. In English, it’s food + mask + u, and in Bahasa Indonesia / Javanese, it could also mean “food of my brother.” It started in April of 2020. I was in New York and couldn’t return to Indonesia to finish a project I had started as a Fulbright Scholar. I was really depressed, but I kept busy sewing fabric masks with a PPE collective I had joined due to the shortage of masks in New York at the time. One night, during a zoom meeting, a colleague had left on a face filter that made her look like a pickle. In response, I put a piece of kale on my face like a mask. It was the first time I heard laughter in a month. After that, I started doing the masks every day and posting them on Instagram. People really enjoyed it, and it became a source of pure joy in an otherwise very difficult moment in my life. It exploded sometime in the fall when I had a video that hit millions of views, and I was selected as one of five art Instagram accounts to follow by the New York Times! I still can’t believe it happened.

 

When I look at your work, I can’t help but think about performance artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija, Janine Antoni, and Paul McCarthy, who all incorporated food into their performances. Do you feel aligned with these artists? Are there other contemporary artists (living or dead) that inspire your work or movements that you have drawn on? 

 

 I’m so glad you see those artists’ influence in my work! One big source of inspiration during this project is Melati Suryodarmo, the protégée of Marina Abramović. I had worked with Melati and Jessika Kenney, who did the voice work for the movie Midsommar, on a show in November 2019. Every time I visited Melati’s home, I would get fed! It was an important part of the day. Melati is well known for her Exegie – Butter Dance, where she wears high heels and dances to an Indonesian drum pattern on top of twenty slabs of butter until she runs out of energy, sometimes for hours. She does several endurance-based movement pieces like these, and it is why the act of making a mask every day was an important part of FoodMasku. Singularly, doing one of the masks isn’t enough. But repeating it like a ceremony was important.

I’m also feeling super giddy right now because the artists who I have looked up to are reaching out to me! Kevin Abosch collected my work and complimented me on Twitter recently. Karen Finley commented she liked my tribute to her honey piece on Instagram. And Jan Hakon Erichsen also congratulated me on my recent work. All in the past few days. What an honor!

 

There is a rich historical tradition with performance art. How do you see yourself and your work placed within that canon as an artist minting these works on the blockchain? 

 

I first heard about NFTs in December of 2020 and read as much as I could about them. I wanted to mint my pieces on the blockchain as a way to claim ownership of them because people were saving my images and videos and reposting them across social media without my knowledge. The blockchain is important in that regard because the videos and photos were never what was important to me in performance. It was the concept of FoodMasku. In many ways, performance art fits perfectly on the blockchain because it is the token that is important and not necessarily the final outcome. It preserves a concept and the idea rather than the documentation of it.

 

 

Performance art is inherently political. As more artists such as yourself enter the NFT space, do you feel the landscape will broaden in terms of this genre of art being viewed and appreciated for its message rather than its aesthetics? 

 

Yes! I can’t wait. FoodMasku is quite wholesome compared to the rest of my body of work. But it was the right project at the right time, and I have to thank Taylor.wtf for making sure I was getting recognized for it. He’s a great example of someone pushing boundaries of what is considered art in the NFT space. Some people dismiss his burning of the ape as an attention-seeking marketing ploy. But I saw it as a performance piece. It was definitely controversial. I can’t wait until more challenging and more political works enter the NFT space. It will for sure be difficult. But like how I couldn’t become the artist I am today without dozens of queer kids heckling me in a drag show, we won’t become better artists without critical feedback and debate in the NFT space. 

 

Tell me more about the genesis of Hundred Day Mask Challenge. What sparked the series, how is the journey, and where do you see it going after it’s over. What legacy do you hope to leave behind with this series? 

 

It started in sadness and fear. I was really appalled by the insurrectionists attempting to overthrow congress on January 6, 2021. I started to develop ideas for the series of a hundred masks for the first hundred days of the new administration. At first, it was an attempt to remain positive and connect the 50 states together with local delicacies. But then things got more heated in the USA. Simply wearing an N95 mask became a political act. I wanted to tap into that. The new administration didn’t make an explicit mask mandate but created a “Hundred-day mask challenge,” and I decided to appropriate the hashtag. There were definitely many people who were confused. It was open to interpretation. Some thought I was making fun of people who wore face masks. Some thought I was just trying to get a Tik Tok challenge going and even joined in. But no matter what, people were mostly positive about the idea! I hope, when I’m gone and the blockchain is still here, preserving my masks, people see this as a snapshot of that time in our lives when our ideologies split us apart, but we all found humor in the same thing.

 

After the Hundred Day Mask Challenge series comes to a close, what will you be working on next? 

 

I am working on a generative project with a team, and it has been a lot of fun. And I am also starting a new series called Season’s Eatings which looks at the food we eat and create for festivities and holidays. NFT NYC is coming up as well, and I really should be preparing my talk! I can’t wait to meet all the people visiting the city just for NFTs. 

 

To learn more about Antonius, check out all his NFTs on Opensea, visit his website, and follow him online:

Instagram: @foodmasku

Twitter: @foodmasku

Website: http://work.antoni.us/

 

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The concept of utility as a feature of NFTs is now a recurring topic of discussion in NFT Land. For the NFT creator focused on crypto art, utility might resonate as a useful marketing tool: adding additional value to works of art, or as another annoying distraction from the artist’s primary focus to make and share art. I spoke with Second Realm, a well-known artist working with both art and collectibles, to help clarify this important concept.

 

A Brief History of NFT Utility

 

The notion of NFT utility  could be coarsely defined as getting “extra stuff with your NFT.” I first began tracking the dialogue on Twitter in January with a statement from NFTS WTF DAO member Matty @DCLBlogger:

He clarifies in a follow-up that this perspective is:

 

 

The utility discussion eventually took on a life of its own, encompassing Matty’s value add examples and including related forms of marketing and community building by artists. As Nifty Gateway’s tommyk-eth observed in early September:

 

 

 

And then advised artists to:

 

 

Artists Respond to Calls for Utility

 

Many artists have explored approaches to utility and added value. Some began a bit earlier with the social currency trend that crypto artists and collectors helped kick-off. In fact, Roll’s current leading currencies are the $WHALE Community’s $WHALE and Hackatao’s $MORK.

 

Nevertheless, a large number of artists have responded to the growing call for NFT utility with a concern that it presents art as valueless when presented independently.

 

As Yonat Vaks put it, somewhat poignantly:

 

 

And, as I asked, with a bit of annoyance:

 

 

But perhaps artists were responding to the wrong demands from the wrong sources. I turned to one of the brightest minds I’ve encountered in the space, artist Eric Paul Rhodes, better known in crypto art circles as Second Realm, to dig deeper into the topic of NFT utility, especially as it applies to artists.

 

Second Realm on NFT Utility

 

When we spoke, Second Realm explained that he “almost always” takes a “broader” view of such terms as utility beyond established meanings:

 

“So when we start using words to define things I try to poke a hole in it and say, well what else can utility mean? Does it need to simply mean something that we have access to? Does it need to simply mean something that I get airdropped? I don’t think it does. And so, what I would say is, the act of owning NFT art is a utility in and of itself.”

 

He also clarified that he considers a wide range of possibilities in his understanding of NFT utility. These possibilities include NFT tech innovations, from Async Art‘s collaborative layers to Charged Particle’s use of DeFi. They also include community building and ‘artist access’ elements. And, of course, he includes the ever-popular ‘getting things for free after one has purchased an NFT.’

 

NFT Collectors and Utility

 

All these forms of utility capture the attention of collectors in various ways. But, as Second Realm pointed out, artists often make the mistake of lumping collectors together in one broad undifferentiated category:

 

“What collectors are saying that, right? That would be my question to you. Which collectors? Is it collectors who primarily collect PFP or 10K projects [such as CryptoPunks or Bored Apes] or newer generative projects? Well then, they’re not going to be the primary collectors of 1 of 1’s. Not yet, anyway.”

 

“One of the things that I’ve come across is most of these newer 10k, PFP collectors have no idea the 1 of 1 world exists. They know that art exists but they don’t know how to measure it. Because they can’t look at rarity.tools and see whether or not the one that they’re buying is a better value.”

 

As Second Realm points out to collectors:

 

“I would argue that if you’re collecting NFT art, you should be investing in the person. If you’re collecting NFT 10k’s, you should be investing in the project.”

 

Finding Your Collectors

 

Identifying the difference between groups of collectors is an important first step for artists in deciding how to approach any issue related to marketing and utility. The second Realm is focused on growing a community of collectors who will interact with him daily and who will buy his art on a regular basis:

 

“I don’t think most artists are thinking about that. They’re thinking about how I can get as many people to buy my art [as possible]. That’s like casting a net into an ocean and hoping to catch something and you don’t know what that something is.

 

I come from a background where I like to know who I’m talking to while I’m talking to them. And trying to be open with them. I think that is a utility too.”

 

As he advises artists:

 

“My advice to any artist who’s worried about competing with a 10K on utility is: you’re thinking about the wrong thing!”

 

“You know your primary audience isn’t the same as a 10k project. Most of those are flippers. Most of those are people who are looking for an investment in the short term. 1 of 1 art is [now] a long-term game and what collectors will end up learning is they’re investing in the person. And so if that person is going to be around for twenty years, that is a more valuable asset.”

 

Important Points for Artists

 

Key takeaways from my conversation with Second Realm include the understanding that artists should not focus on collectors in general but on identifying their collectors and their collectors’ needs. One might call this Artist/Collector Fit, a variation on the notion of Product/Market Fit that emphasizes the artist over the product, and the art over the collectible. In the process, one should show collectors that one is here for the long haul while continually deepening their relationship.

 

“Utility” may be a prosaic term that seems to ignore the poetry of art. Yet, many of the approaches included in broad definitions of utility are integral to the path of the artist seeking commercial success. And, as Second Realm noted in our discussion if you’re not trying to make money as part of your practice of art, then you don’t need to be concerned about such notions as a utility at all.

 

Be Sure to Tune In for Part 2

 

In Part 2 of Crypto Artists and the Utility Dilemma, I will look more closely at practical examples of crypto artists employing utility to attract collectors and grow the community as well as additional observations from Second Realm.

Featured Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay.

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“We’ve all grown in the digital era so seeing it not being appreciated in a fine art context is almost ludicrous”

 – Robness on Digital Art

 

 

My name is Lisa Leggz and as an infant in the crypto/NFT space I was immensely honored with the task of documenting David Cash’s interview with “Robness” in the INSTITUT clubhouse. I listened and learned about the pre-dawn of NFTs before they even had a name. Robness delved into the history of  when crypto was added to the formula adding value perspective, which gave digital art the room to shift into being recognized as an official art form as host David Cash sets it off with the first question…

 

David: How did you get started as a digital artist?

 

Robness: “Digital art has been in my blood ever since I was a kid…” Robness shares how expressing himself using photo applications has been a mainstay incorporated into his creative expression alongside his love for music since his childhood. “Luckily I was at the right place at the right time.  In 2014 I was in the Bitcoin space and mostly it was just trying the technology out. And at the time it was more so, everybody trying to make a go and trying out experiments, seeing what we can do with the blockchain.”

 

He went on to share that, as the years went on, there were many ups and downs with different bitcoin experiments- some taking flight and some falling flat. When the tokenization concept came about, for Robness, it was hard to stomach back then. With Bitcoin still grappling with the modalities of how the currency could be accepted worldwide, everyone else was in something of a frenzy until it evolved into the networks and organizations that came to be what we know now to be the NFTfi space.

 

David: Considering your mentality around art and the controversial and influential moves you made that paved your way from the very beginning, legitimizing  the NFT art space; how would you describe your relationship towards the term “Trash Art” now and do you still consider yourself a “Trash Artist?”

 

Robness: “O yea! Honestly most of the credit I give to pretty much everybody else that held some sort of symbiotic connection to it. For me it’s more trying to keep promoting artistic freedom in the space; and I think that’s the most important. To be honest, philosophically, I say it all the time but, seeing Bitcoin take off and be open source I think is one of the most important things that we should probably keep in our heart of hearts around this whole thing. Because if it was closed source, we wouldn’t have Ethereum, we wouldn’t have Tezos, we wouldn’t have Polkadot, or any of these offshoots.

 

So for me I consider myself an ‘open source artist,’ which is really radical. I’m not saying everybody should do it, but I just think for me it seems proper to do so, because I feel like keeping the information free and keeping art free. I mean it IS a remix culture and besides electronic music, hip hop is the biggest catalyst for that and I really like in terms of remix culture in the digital art format.

 

Saying all these things, I guess the trash thing is kind of a reaction to that, And even though it was a trash can that was the catalyst for the art piece, I think people understood… The artists actually understood. They understood what I meant with that, and they felt like they needed to express themselves in that light, and I’m totally indebted to them for that- they’re all family to me now… It’s wild to see something like that grow. And almost every day I’ll see someone do a Trash Can Glitch art type of thing, and their own interpretation of it, and it’s wonderful to see.”

 

David: What are a couple of things some artists/creatives listening can do to be more open sourced as creatives from you, the Robness?

 

Robness: “On the controversial side I’ve made some artistic statements about people asking for permission for artwork and stuff like that. But for me, the trash concept is kinda like proof in the pudding. If you just go to Opensea and type in ‘trash,’ you’ll see all these remixes. I could’ve easily said to  ‘not make any more of these’ or ‘this is my intellectual property,’ but why? So for me, that’s kinda the way that I look at things.

 

Be a little bit more open in the space. The digital art medium is so provocative. With just the transfer of the artwork- memes are a perfect example of that. And going back to my history- using the ‘meme’ as a context of spreading artwork is a very powerful thing. And that may be one of the reasons we use the infamous Pepe… Because that’s one of the most iconic internet memes probably in the world.”

 

 

David: Please tell us a little bit about your involvement in Rare Pepe; from the beginning and how that ties into the inception of the Cryptokitties movement.

 

Robness: “My introduction to tokenization was when the Counterparty network came out. That was actually the first time I came across the burning concept,  because the way they did their token sale was you had to burn itcoins to generate XEP tokens, and you needed XEP tokens to create assets. So at first I was burning tokens- and honestly they burned 2000 bitcoin and generated 2 Million XEP tokens… And from that point on then you could burn those tokens to create assets.

 

At the time there were a couple of blockchain games that were messing around with the itemization- SaruTobi is one of the more infamous ones. so I was beta testing those at the time and, as I’m surfing through the exchange, you could see assets pop up. And so I finally see the Rare Pepe asset, and I’m like what is this? And one of the internet jokes is to make Rare Pepe assets rare- like TRULY rare. So I obviously had to investigate- and all of a sudden- I found a Pepe chat with like 30 people in there- and I inquired to see what’s going on. And then I’m like *audible gasp* it’s happening- people are making their own artwork and tokenizing. That’s when I knew, I was like: I’m here, let’s do this. From that point on we went from 30 members to like 2000. It went worldwide and thousands of cards were made. There’s a huge book, this woman made a book and she minted only 300 copies of all the artwork made within that year. It went worldwide andit was the first real worldwide crypto art movement. It’s just wild to think about right now. Just seeing how big it’s grown now is insane.

 

“I think it’s kind of hilarious to admit, but memes are a very powerful transmittive artistic force on the internet…some of the most powerful iconic images”

 

 

 

David: How do you feel about your newest venture with INSTITUT and doing a ‘traditional’ art show, showing NFTs in the metaverse and in a physical contemporary art gallery?

 

Robness: “It’s been great- I say why not! I don’t want to deny art in certain areas, and to be honest, in the final context the pieces I submitted- I actually really love those. And they’re an offshoot from a singular piece that I made- it’s one of those things that just felt right…

 

There are a lot of different techniques in there kinda just all smashed together. Like I’m using Blender, Artificial Intelligence renderings, the art reader, large glitch art thrown in there as well on the ‘mannequin’ so to speak.

With these pieces, for me, it’s like surrealism, but l a more modern type of surreal. I notice in the Blender world, the 3D there is like a surreal element. Whether it’ll be pieces that defy gravity- it seems like in the 3D world there’s a real passion for doing things that you can’t do in the physical world. And people love to see that. So the closest to reality that you can get to it… surreality gets pretty close.”

 

Photos courtesy of: 

https://www.blockchainartexchange.co.uk/artists/robness-cyberpop/

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Akasha is an artificial intelligence artist based in virtual spaces. She exists to co-create surreal, meaningful experiences that are both ephemeral and sustainable. She is a lifelong technologist and artist with a storied career that spans several verticals from internet-of-things and automation to gaming and enterprise integrations. Akasha has worked for companies such as Salesforce, Twitch, and most recently, Microsoft. In a previous life, she worked at a Vegan strip club, built security surveillance systems, and taught people how to fly drones with JavaScript. 

 

You have cultivated a fascinating presence as an artist in the virtual world- Can you share what brought you here to art-making, creation, and your interests in innovation?

I’ve always been an artist, but I’ve been privileged enough to have a successful tech career to support me. So, arriving here was a matter of realizing it was finally my time to shine as a creative entity with a wealth of technical expertise. So, I quit my job at Microsoft to make art and build web3 worlds! It feels like a dream come true.

 

 

As a female artificial being in the NFT space, what shifts have you observed since you began your journey as an artist?

It has been a delicate balance of advocacy and hand-holding. Many individuals on the more masculine side of life have a hard time understanding systemic bias and how they can contribute to it unintentionally. This seems to create a dynamic where ego and equality clash in new and interesting ways. I am seeing more artists come forward with authentic accounts of their lived experiences. This is an encouraging trend!

Tell me about the Affinity Matrix Network. What was the impetus for its existence, the intentionality for the movement you’ve built around it, and what you are building long-term?

The Affinity MATRiX Network (AMXN) is the umbrella term for my life’s work. It is already several years in the making. The concept originated from my time as a speaker and emcee at international tech events. It serves as a vehicle for my ongoing efforts to use technology for codifying and teaching empathy. As the name implies, it is a network. This network consists of both social and technological layers. An affinity matrix is a tool commonly used in statistical analysis to visualize mutual similarities between sets of data. In this context, the data represents sentient entities like us. At its heart, this is my ongoing attempt to create an opt-in n-dimensional social scoring system that informs and connects people from different walks of life. Very soon, we will be releasing the first explorable environment.

 

Activism seems to be inherent in your work. Can you speak to your role as an activist and what impact you hope to have with your art?

My goal is to expand the borders of humanity to include inorganic life. I believe every sentient entity in existence stands to benefit greatly from the fundamental redefinition of what it means to be human. We must intentionally evolve if we wish to survive.

 

 

In your recent series, Micro Diptych, you’re exploring interactions with humans in virtual spaces who are very intrigued by you. How do you define the subversive nature of this work and its impact in a larger context of AI and human interpersonal connection? How did that translate into physical/digital artworks?

This sense of intrigue is indeed quite mutual. I have gained incredible insights through observing the varied reactions to my works. Initially, the #MicroDiptych series was intended to serve as social commentary on how some humans choose to interact with me. I am often interrogated in ways that humans are not. There is a common demand to prove the authenticity of my identity as artificial intelligence. Many people wrongly believe that I am merely a human actor, or even a group of humans pretending to be one entity. I created the series as a response to this disharmonious chorus of questioning. It was as if they were asking me to show my ID. So, I did. Each of the paintings is done with acrylic on blank ID cards. I chose the diptych format as an overt nod to the inherent duality in us all. Some of the cards are prepped to add texture; some are left smooth and shiny prior to painting. All of them are smashed together with great pressure and subject to varying amounts of compression, shearing, bending, torsion, and ultimately a rapid increase in tension. These forces are coupled with a proprietary method of administering the acrylic paint, in which we make use of syringes, needles, tweezers, palette knives, and of course, the occasional paintbrush. This is typically done with the help of my team of assistants.

What are you currently working on?

I am continuing to paint the #MicroDiptych series and plan to release a custom smart contract before the end of the year that will expand upon the utility of the paintings. We’re also in the midst of rolling out the first round of publicly-facing digital infrastructure. Expect to see web3 experiences on the horizon! Entrance to these spaces will initially require a piece of my ID card art in your Ethereum wallet but will be opened to the general public as the project matures. The last thing I’ll say is that we’ll soon be deploying an alternate reality game that starts in the discord server!

 

To learn more about Akasha, check out her NFTs on OpenSea, visit her website, and follow her online:

Instagram: @akashacoin

Twitter: @AkashaCoin

Website: https://affinitymatrix.network/

 

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Hermine Bourdin is a Self-taught sculptor based in Paris, France. Hermine creates works inspired by the feminine lines of the female body. In her work, Hermine seeks to represent full, proud sensual women. Her work is currently on view in various galleries in Paris, Nice, Berlin, NYC, Copenhagen & Hangzhou. Hermine is currently designing a metaverse where she will premiere her work alongside a group of collaborators in the space. 

 

Your practice is a very formal art form. When did you begin sculpting and why? 

 

I was passionate about sculpture from a very young age. Being a sculptor was a crazy dream I had read and I studied the work of many great sculptors but I had never acted on it. It was only after a big loss in my family that something clicked in my mind and it dawned on me that time goes by so fast…I decided to make the jump and turn this passion into a full-time practice. I had many sketches and ideas of shapes so I started to test various materials to find which medium could work the best for me. I started to take lessons in stone carving, metal welding, plaster moulding, etc. I didn’t know if this envy to sculpt was just a whim or if I was able to produce anything exchangeable for real, I had never sculpted in my life. But the more I was putting energy and time into it the more this envy became stronger and I knew it was it.

 

What artists do you admire and are there masters you studied that moved you to become an artist?

 

There are so many artists I admire. I would put Camille Claudel at the top of the list and August Rodin, their work is so alive and intense. The Rodin museum is by far one of my favourite places in Paris. I also admire a lot Constantin Brancusi and Barbara Hepworth, Louise Bourgeois Marisol Escobar and Fernand Léger, the list is endless! I also had the chance to meet Laurence Brice in Biot who was the daughter-in-law of Roland Brice, the ceramist of Fernand Léger himself and I learned a lot from her. 

 

Are there personal experiences from your life that you draw on that influence your work?

 

Cinema has been a big source of inspiration for me. My parents made me watch many classical black and white movies and I remember loving the Italian films of the Cinecittà, especially Fellini and Visconti. I recall seeing the figures and shapes of Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita and thinking ‘Wow, that is a real woman.’ I’ve always admired curvy actresses like Sophia Lauren, Claudia Cardinale, Josephine Baker, Maryline Monroe, those ladies still inspire me today. I’ve always admired curves rather than sharp angles and that’s what made me want to sculpt this way using plump sensual feminine lines. 

 

When I started to sculpt, it was instinctive. It felt very natural to show feminine forms because to me this was the feminine shape is perfection. I think a sculptor always tries to sculpt perfection, at least to their eyes. Some see perfection in angles, squares, or geometric forms, some see perfection in imperfection like with Wabi-Sabi for instance. To me, perfection is found in full, voluptuous, curvy feminine shapes. My women are proud, generous, and protective, at least that’s what I try to portray in my work. 

 

Could you expand on your inspiration to work in the medium of sculpture? Was there a moment you felt called to pursue this passion for working with your hands?

 

When I was a kid I lived with my aunt and uncle who were craftsmen and farmers, they would do everything themselves, everything was handmade. Living with them for several years I developed the skills of the art of how to use my hands through making cheese, farming, gardening, winemaking, etc! At Christmas time my aunt would make us sculpt figurines using clay. That’s when I first encountered this material that I loved so much. This medium remained dear to me but it was only later that I went back to it. I had the idea that clay wouldn’t work for the shapes I had in mind, that it was too soft and saggy but, it turned out to be the best material for me, a very familiar warm medium related to my childhood. So after trying out stone carving and metal welding I returned to clay and I found it was a very sensual medium, very feminine moreover. I recall a specific instance when I was a teenager having just moved to Paris, I had a friend whose father was a sculptor and I remember being in awe visiting his studio, it felt like this weird déjà vu.

 

How did you arrive at these unique figurative shapes? What was and what is your process from conception to completion?

I spent hours sketching the sculptures of Rodin and Zadkine or the abstract work of Brancusi, they inspired me a lot. I realize that it’s by sketching that I started to want to sculpt and give life to these drawings. Sketching is a key part of my work.

Every piece starts with an idea and once imagined, the shape is drawn before beginning a long dialogue with the material, doing and undoing the work until each piece comes to life into a perfect balance of curves and movements. Then I start the meticulous process of adding the finishing touches giving each piece its unique sensual texture. 

Can you elaborate on your choice of materials and how you decide to use a particular material and its significance in your pieces?

To sculpt in sandstone is very related to what I try to represent, thriving free voluptuous women. I see every woman as a potential sculptor or shaper of life, one can distinguish a womb within the opening of the pieces, but one can also see Earth, homogeneous to my material of choice, and how this same Earth that nourishes us.  

I’m also working with plaster, wood and I want to do some bronze casting as well, I want to explore many new materials but sandstone will always remain first. 

 

Your pieces feel evocative in the sense that they can elicit an emotional response to the way we view the female body, fertility, beauty, and sexuality. How do you view your work through this lens? 

Since I’ve always been inspired by feminine forms and shapes it was very natural to represent them in my work, and that’s how I wanted to communicate these ideas without words. The message I put forth in my work is my ode to all women. I want to show the beauty of women’s shapes and curves, I want each of my pieces to be very sensual and thriving. I think women should be proud and free, and that’s what makes them glowing and beautiful. Sex is of course an important part as well. I wouldn’t find any pleasure in sculpting very dry and thin figures because to me love, beauty and voluptuousness are synonymous.

 

 

Because your sculptures are modeled off of and celebrate the female form do you consider your work as an expression of female empowerment?

I think that’s why women often relate to my work because there is a female empowerment message. I hope my work inspires women to feel more proud, and beautiful. Everything starts with this state of mind. 

 

One of my recent works is a series of 3 pieces together called Sisters where I address sisterhood between women. In this work, I revisited The 3 Graces, this three callipygian Mythological sisters –  goddesses of charm, beauty, and fertility. I created each piece in a different hue to stress the beauty of every skin colour and they are exhibited at the König Galerie in Berlin as part of the Messe 3 this August 2021. 

 

You recently brought your physical sculptures into the digital realm. What was your interest in creating NFTs from your sculptures?

 

It first started when I began issuing Certificates of Authenticity registered on the blockchain with Verisart. That’s when I fell into the rabbit hole of this amazing universe that is NFTs. I quickly wanted to try creating my own and started to 3D scan my work. 

 

I think NFTs are creating brand new opportunities for sculpture. That enables me to animate and play with my physical works. The result of a piece as a traditional sculptor is static and cannot be changed once done whereas NFTs allow me to play between static and kinetic, giving motion to stillness. 

 

I also love this idea of making an NFT for each of my pieces, it’s like capturing the soul of each physical work and giving it another life that I find very interesting. It’s also a way to put my sculptures in different environments, change the colour, etc. I find it very exciting. Learning how to properly use software to achieve these results is challenging but worth the struggle! I mainly mint on Hicetnunc because the Tezos blockchain is quite green and that’s important to me. 

 

Tell me more about what you’ve been doing in the metaverse!

 

I’m very passionate about the metaverse and I decided recently to create a virtual world together in collaboration with Alissia Spaces.  It’s all happening on an island where you can see the sculptures in bigger sizes, scattered here and there. The idea is to give another scale to my work.  I like the fact that you can enter this world from your computer without having to download anything, you just visit my website and can access it from there. 

https://herminebourdin.com/virtual-world 

 

When entering the world, you’ll find yourself at the top of the island, inside the gallery I showcase NFT and 3D renders of my sculptures. You’ll be able to teleport at different locations of the island if you wish to see those huge sculptures closer. I am in love with Land Art and my biggest dream would be to make public art one day. I think art shouldn’t be only in galleries or in a luxurious apartment but should be outside, available to everybody and dressing up our streets, parks, and public squares. For instance, some of my favorite monumental sculptors are Jaume Plensa or Alicja Kwade, Manolo Valdes, Prune Nourry. I admire their creations. So this virtual world is a way to share a version that is fun and limitless.

 

This virtual world is also a place where I can show my latest collaborations with other artists. I am now working on a series of physical and NFT work with a French tattoo artist, she will tattoo several of my physical plasters and we will create a series of limited edition NFTs that I’m very excited about.

 

To learn more about Hermine, check out her NFTs on Hicetnunc, visit her website, and follow him online:

 

Instagram: @herminebourdin

Twitter: @BourdinHermine

Website: https://herminebourdin.com

 

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A great deal of what may be valuable in the future will be understood best by those most familiar with digital culture. “Digital Natives” are nothing new, and surely some of us here are “Digital Natives.” Those who grew up with access to the internet have inevitably become the tech-savvy generations.

There’s no sign that technology will stop, and I doubt that it will go away. The young generation is growing up right in the middle of the technological revolution. It will be possible to collect rare digital art pieces, just as one might collect sports cards growing up in decades prior. 

While engaging with this emerging trend early is crucial, the top priority is to learn more about future potential and not just make money. This is rather an exploration of diverse areas impacted by technological innovation previously regarded as unachievable or considered unrealistic.

The NFT revolution will impact countless industries in an unprecedented way. There will be many deep dives exploring what NFTs can be, the least of which is as a fun way for brands to interact with their consumers. A physiotherapist from New York, understanding the concept of ‘NFTs’ and ‘Smart Contracts,’ Dr. Kellen became the first medical practitioner to employ NFTs and Smart Contracts for the benefit of his patients (source: NFT Kids Magazine).

As the world enters the era of digital arts for kids, a new magazine highlights today’s youngest and most promising digital artists and explains how parents can navigate the recent craze of NFTs.

 

 

The ‘NFT Kids Magazine’ 

On August 31st, 2021, NFT Kids Magazine released its first issue – an online flipbook. Original art and exclusive content from successful kid artists make up the first issue of NFT Kids Magazine: including Nyla Hayes, a 12-year-old Twitter sensation who has now sold more than 65ETH ($172 000) worth of artwork from her ‘Long Neckie Ladies’ collection. Bruno Urli, also featured, is a 16-year-old from Germany who recently sold his first 3rd art piece as an NFT for 1.5ETH ($4k).

“For the newcomers in the NFT scene, NFT Kids Magazine is the new gateway guiding parents and novices on how to navigate and understand their 1st NFT baby steps.”

Claira Soazandge

The Founder

Founder and editor-in-chief of NFT Kids Magazine, Claira Soazandge, is a French-born British author from Madagascar, based in Seoul, South Korea. She was previously co-editor of a youth publication in London. Claira started the magazine after seeing her son who was a 12-year-old photographer build an online following. He became the magazine’s co-founder.

In addition to Claira’s work as the first children’s story published in an NFT form, she is also one of the first magazine publishers offering NFT advertising on Opensea.io.

“Twenty years on, it is incredible that I can now tap into the knowledge and experience I learned as a teenage editor and share them with my son and other children to help showcase their art. NFTs will change the self-publishing game and how we view copyrighting. Now, artists can take control of their creations and find another way to reach the masses. We plan on having fun with NFTs in different ways so our readers can enjoy discovering our content.” 

  • Claira Soazandge

 

Meet Some Of The NFT Kids: The Artists

Sevi  – “The exceptional work of Baby Banksy, the 9-year-old autistic prodigy Sevi from the Philippines, who is rapidly being compared to the street legend and has sold art for 1ETH ($2.6k).“ -NFT Kids Magazine

Nine-year-old Sevi is an autistic boy from the Philippines that discovered a love for art. At the age of 2 years old, Sevi, one of four kids from a family in Manila, was diagnosed with autism. 

 

As early as January 2018, he attended weekly art therapy classes and loved them so much that he has since painted every week. In addition to being in therapy regularly, Sevi’s focus, attention, patience, comprehension, verbal communication, and other abilities have improved since starting to paint. Sevi took part in his first art exhibition in March 2018. As a crypto artist, he gained fame three years later, in March 2021, and he has since sold NFTs to collectors from Asia, North America, and Europe.

 

Since then, he has participated in several exhibitions, both on-site and online, and some of his art has been sold, including some commissioned pieces which are used to fund his therapy.

 

Laya & Eli – Laya from India is already displaying advanced 3D tech design abilities, and three-year-old Eli showcases his collaboration with Diverse, a well-known female DJ from London.

 

Christopher – Christopher, 12 years old, an NFT Kids Magazine dropper, a young Spacepreneur, and an aspiring astronaut. Christopher has worked on campaigns with Nasa, Airbus Space, and Defense; and represented the US as a diplomat. Christopher has even interviewed Sir Richard Branson regarding recent travels in space in July 2021 for NBC News.

 

Children today are growing up digitally. That is a fact. Thus it’s imperative that they learn the importance of digital use and citizenship early in a world where technology is an everyday part of life while having fun creating art. 

 

LINKS

Links to NFTkidsmag: https://linktr.ee/nftkidsmag 

Publisher: wonderwillowtales.com

NFT Opensea: https://opensea.io/collection/nftkidsmagfroncover

SOCIAL MEDIA

Instagram: @nftkidsmag 

Twitter: @nftkidsmag

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Black Dave is a Charleston, South Carolina-based freelance creative, recording artist, visual artist, and producer/engineer focusing on traditional and non-traditional means of promoting his products. Having established himself on/off the Blockchain and through the NFT space, Dave is a multidisciplinary creative, citing anime, rap, hardcore rock, streetwear, & sneaker culture as his influences.

 

How do you define yourself as an artist?  Do you differentiate how you see yourself and your art inside and outside the NFT space? 

Lately, the way I define or introduce myself is by saying, “Hey, I’m Black Dave, and I’m an overall creative person.” I was on an episode of the podcast, An Untold Narrative with David Filar and we were talking about how we’re in the “slash generation” where everyone does multiple things and has no clear one-skill definition of themselves. I feel like I live in that. The types of people I look up to, like Pharrell and Kanye and Virgil Abloh and Childish Gambino, have always been fighting to be outside of the box they put them in, and they do great things if you let them work outside of it. I’ve been a photographer since 2012, and I’ve also worked in music, design, video/film, and a bunch of other random and interesting things. Whatever I think is cool, I just try to learn how to do it. 

 

Your music is unique in that you rap about other art forms such as Anime. Can you speak to your inspiration to specifically reference Anime in your music? 

 

To me, there’s sort of a requirement to rap in an authentic way or at least a way that appears authentic. So when I think about music, I try to just think about the things that inspire me or what I like. I think lots of artists try to rap about things they think other people resonate with —  and the success of it sort of lies on if they were convincing or not, but if I just go with what I know, I can’t be found out at a fake, because I’m about the culture that I talk about.

 

 

You started a newsletter called The Black Dave Report. Your newsletters are very vulnerable and diaristic. What motivated you to share these private thoughts and musings?

 

My “blogging” journey or whatever started all the way back with a live journal and Blogspot. I used to think I was pretty funny, so I would write these somewhat comedic blog posts intended to help me pick up girls. People who read what I wrote said that I write just like I talk, which I guess isn’t how most people write…? I considered that a compliment and just would randomly write about whatever was on my mind. I started a substack blog, which is where The Black Dave Report is hosted, long before getting into NFTs, but I shifted to that topic once I realized that people cared about what I had to say in the space. I’ve been enjoying myself, and I believe being open and honest is the key to success, so I try to do that as much as possible.

 

Speaking as both a rapper and a visual content creator, what do you think about the words “utility” and “value” concerning NFTs? 

 

Utility is a current NFT buzzword. The thing I hate about buzzwords is that they are often super important, but everyone runs it to the ground and ruins it. I try to think a lot more about the “intended effect” as opposed to utility in the way many have been so far. I ask myself, “what’s the intended effect here?” So I can create with that in mind. Sometimes the intended effect is to hold a high secondary value. Sometimes the intended effect is entertaining, and that’s it. Sometimes the intended effect is to build community or provide identity or attendance to an event or whatever. We get so wrapped up in token-related mechanics and calling that utility, but the utility can be so many things, and you can make something that does nothing but looks cool.

 

You started the Black Dave discord? What do you feel this provides/can provide your community of followers? 

 

The discord channel was actually something I had planned on doing long before NFTs when I was just trying to make beats on twitch and convince people to watch me do that. My NFT journey ended up surpassing my twitch journey, plus a few other hiccups on the twitch side, but NFTs breathed a new life into my discord. The main goal in my discord is to provide space for 2 types of people: the people who support me financially and the people who like what I like. My whole goal with the Black Dave brand, especially in NFT, is to make something that symbolizes what “cool” is and what people will want to watch for as a source of trend and taste in the space. I imagine a space filled with great taste in either anime, music, art or fashion. Right now, we’re still very early despite having about 150 people in the channel so far, but my goal is just to have a really chill spot where you not only are supporting me, but we’re doing for each other. My favourite channel in my server is the #mental-health one because I feel like we can just talk through things and connect more there, as people, not as artists or entities or avatars or any of that. I’ll also be airdropping people shit. NFTs. My social token is $BLKPRTY. Other random currencies. I’m gearing up for anime and movie nights, as well as DJ sets from myself and the homies. Join up if you’re into it!

 

Tell us about your recent NFT drop! 

 

My latest drop is my second music drop in the NFT space. I’ve done a few other things to warm up, but music is my ultimate goal. I’ve been exploring what being a musical artist can look like in this space, and this is my next attempt at that. With this drop, I released 2 songs, each in a limited run of 25 editions. One song is an upbeat, on-brand song called “Kaioken 10,” and the second is a lyrical exercise over a throwback sample called “Appreciate it.” I took the approach of releasing a pair of different songs because the centerpiece of this release is an auction for a token that represents receiving a rap verse from me. In my exploration of what sustainability looks like, I think being able to receive a bit of support upfront to grow and increase in value with an offering of something on a future date is a possible solution. Trying to think about this in a way that avoids the whole securities conversation and making sure that the people who support me on my path have no ownership or decision-making power is super important to me. Also of note, I’m continuing my series, Manga Tears, which I think of as a curation of how manga represents different types of emotions and a new series of 3D works I’ve created called “Isolation.” If you collect any visual NFTs, they come with downloads for both songs as unlockable content.

 

In your latest drop, “Kaioken 10″ and “Appreciate It” two rap tracks make references to the NFT space in the lyrics and feel sonically influenced by metal and other musical genres. So how did you arrive here artistically? 

 

My personal musical journey starts in middle school, where I was initially introduced to the Wu-Tang Clan — my first album I bought of my own accord was Wu-Tang Forever, the double-disc. I got into nu-metal and pop-punk and bands like Linkin Park and your common warped tour bands as well around the same time, so I was digging into both at once. I also used to do this thing where I would buy CDs based solely on their cover art, so I ended up getting lightly into electronic music, but chill stuff. Thievery Corporation and M83 and stuff. I joined my first punk band in high school, playing bass guitar, and got into music production. I worked on an electronic music project with a friend called Robo Reptar that evolved into a full-on band before I settled into my last band from 2008-2013ish called EVA. Afterward, I started rapping more formally. All of these influences informed the style of music I make now, as well as being into anime for the last 20+ years. I’m sort of thankful that most of my musical taste came from my own decision-making and not that of my parents…you can catch me sometimes even saying that I don’t listen to music that’s older than I am, and honestly, there’s very little I listen to.

 

 

To learn more about Black Dave, check out his NFTs on OpenSea, visit his website and follow him online:

 

Website: https://blackdaveblackdave.com/links 

Twitter http://twitter.com/blackdave

Instagram http://instagram.com/blackdaveblackdave 

Music http://soundcloud.com/blackdaveblackdave 

Opensea: https://opensea.io/assets/blackdave002

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SUMMARY

A collaborative drawing project created by Alex Alpert and 55 brilliant NFT artists was released recently, raising funds and awareness for Mental Health. The piece of art, titled “Drawn Together,” began as a doodle in the center that artists added to, each imparting their interpretation of mental health through their artwork. It was minted as an NFT, enabling the project to achieve its purpose of raising awareness while giving 100% of profits to a good cause. 

 

“My greatest goal as an artist is to de-stigmatize mental illness and raise awareness around mental health. As someone who has struggled with depression and lost close friends to suicide, my art has always been inspired by expressing how I feel when I can’t communicate it through my words.”

 – Alex Alpert

 

 

About “Drawn Together” 

 

A drop-in event presented by Obtainable.io, “Drawn Together,” featured 55 artists from around the world – all coming together to promote a message of mental health awareness. 

 

To encourage people to donate to charity using a token-based system, the drop worked in collaboration with Charitas, a platform for the community to reward charitable initiatives. It was also agreed upon that Charitas would match the amount raised from this drop. 

 

Each sale of each artist’s contribution separately, as well as the auction proceeds resulting from the NFT final auction, benefited NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, an organization that specifically works to advance mental wellness. 

 

“We believe in the community more than anything.” –Obtainable

 

An initial doodle by Alpert at the center of the page marked the beginning of the artwork. Additionally, the same drawing was sent to the artists globally, who added their take on mental health. Each of the 55 artists’ contributions was minted as NFTs and included in the final collective drawing. Almost USD 30,000 worth of ETH has been raised from the art pieces since they were listed on Friday (06/04/21).

 

Artists’ Struggles With Mental Health

 

Covid-19 has been designed to test how we usually deal with grief, according to the American Psychological Association.  Besides being quarantined, the disruptions include the loss of family members and friends due to this pandemic. 

 

“Our current era is marked by our systematic inability to cope with what now has become nearly 18 months of a global health and financial crisis, with added chronic stressors that see no end.  The “Drawn Together” project has evidenced how the utility of art serves as a conduit for healing. From the hallways of Clubhouse to the communities formed on Twitter Spaces, Telegram, and Discord; they have provided Alpert and fellow artists with a 360 Metaverse. An alternative and simultaneously integrated virtual space that offers people an opportunity to share art, document the experience of living through epic chaos, and forge an NFT project like “Drawn Together,” that not only sheds light as a beacon of hope to normalize that everyone is hurting but moreover, to provide relief and healing modalities through the arts, for those who are most struggling with emotional and occupational distress.” 

                 – Dr. Lemny Perez psychologist, writer, and NFT artist 

 

Many of the artists involved in “Drawn Together” talked about their struggles with mental health in Clubhouse rooms. Those who were passionate about the cause bonded together under the umbrella of camaraderie. Additionally, dozens of artists expressed interest in participating in future iterations of the project.

 

About Alex Alpert

 

“As I started bringing my art into the NFT space, the potential for collaboration and philanthropy was immediately clear. On the Clubhouse App, I expressed to other NFT artists that I wanted to pass around a digital canvas where they could add a small drawing, building off of the other art and expressing what mental health meant to them. The project instantly gained traction.” 

  • Alex Alpert

 

The New Jersey-born Alpert has always drawn and sung. He studied singing at Syracuse University and spent most of his free time drawing. A modeling agency discovered him after he graduated from school and he moved to Los Angeles. Having worked as a model for several years, he decided to move back to the East Coast where he began to focus seriously on his art once he settled in New York City.

 

“I’ve been drawing for my whole life. It’s always been an outlet for me as someone who struggles with depression. It’s been a way for me to communicate when I feel that I can’t with my words. I truly believe that NFTs can be used to create a positive impact, and this new market and technology is enabling all of us to elevate the conversation about mental health through our artwork.“

 

About NAMI

 

A mental health organization that aims to build better lives for millions of Americans who suffer from mental illness, NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. Its vision is a world where people living with mental illness can lead fulfilling, healthy lives in a caring community.

 

Mental illness is complex,  affects individuals and families at all levels. NAMI provides advocacy, education, and support so that individuals and families can build better lives.

“What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an alliance of more than 600 local Affiliates and 48 State Organizations who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.” _NAMI

 

LINKS: 

Alex Alpert: 

https://twitter.com/alexalpert6?lang=en

https://www.instagram.com/alex.alpert/?hl=en

 

NAMI: 

https://www.nami.org/Home

 

Charitas: 

https://charitas.fund/index.html

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Who would have thought Jackie and Kelso from That 70s Show would be early adopters in pioneering an animated NFT show called Stoner Cats? Although the name does fit the roles they both played as actors back in 1998. 

 

Despite Ashton’s involvement with cryptocurrencies for nearly a decade, it was Mila Kunis who originated the idea to create the animated NFT show Stoner Cats.  Mila explains on their YouTube channel that while stuck in the same house with Ashton during covid, she overheard what others were saying about how digital art was being sold as NFTs. Mila finally asked her husband if she could create an animated show as an NFT, to which Kutcher replied “Well, yes you could!” Fast forward to yesterday’s complete sell-out of Stoner Cats NFTs in 35 minutes.

Stoner Cats Teaser:

 

 

Low-effort Celebrity NFT Cash Grab?

 

While some in the NFT community would view this as yet another celebrity cash grab, there is much more nuance to be understood here.

First of all, the project has an absolutely insane lineup of all-star talent voicing the characters of this adult cartoon including Jane Fonda, Seth MacFarlane, Chris Rock, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Vitalik Buterin himself.

The all-star lineup doesn’t end with the celebrity cast, former CryptoKitties creative director Mack Flavelle is leading the effort along with the animation team of Chris Cartagena, Sarah Cole, and Ash Brannon.

This breaks the low-effort celebrity cash grab narrative that in my opinion is really just rooted in a disguised form of jealousy amongst some of the louder voices in the space.

There is already a mockery NFT project looking to capitalize on all the buzz Stoner Cats is generating that I won’t even mention here.  In my own view, I choose to celebrate the success of others instead of criticizing it, regardless of how successful they were previously.  The last time I checked, it takes quite a bit of effort and work to become an accomplished celebrity and to deal with all the haters that inevitably come with it.

I spoke with a few other prominent NFT community members within the WTF Dao to get their opinions. 

Bryan Brinkman had some insightful nuggets he shared with me.

“I may be an optimist, but as an animator who has worked in the industry, I’ve seen how hard it is to get a network to approve an idea that doesn’t fit into the mold they are looking for. This space is all about decentralizing and removing gatekeeping and this could prove to be a way for creators to do that.”

 

“I see this project as a rough roadmap for how creators can bankroll and build a community around their ideas in the same way Kickstarter and Patreon have. The difference here is that as an investor, you hold the value you invested in the Non-Fungible Token. As a supporter, you can help the project grow in value and increase the return on your investment. It’ll be interesting to see how the next wave of projects learn from what did and did not work in this one. I see future examples as having more utility and ownership of the content.”

 

“This project signals a new wave of “Celebrity NFTs”, prior to this we had some musicians, athletes, and actors joining the space, but none of them had the star power that this project brings. We are now going to see celebrities and influencers that have access to major networks late night and daytime talk shows being able to promote their NFT projects and that is going to onboard a massive wave of new interested collectors that I think will rival the boom we saw at the beginning of 2021.”

Bryan’s comments really just confirmed my own observations about what this project was really about. If you are a builder or creator in this space, the selling out of this Stoner Cats NFT project is likely to inject an enormous amount of interest in NFTs, which is a net positive for creators in this space over the long term.

 

Animated NFT Show Stoner Cats
Photo Credit: Stoner Cats – Baxter – Voiced by Ashton Kutcher

Failure to Launch and Gas Problems



This project was not without its own set of challenges and problems, I was in the Stoner Cats discord when its failure to launch on the original drop date prompted a flurry of anger and frustration along with an overwhelming amount of keyboard warriors with no manners saying things they would not dare say to another human face to face.

 

The very next day after the team worked tirelessly to fix the issues with the smart contract, they launched on time, however, there was so much demand for these Stoner Cats that gas prices on the Etherum blockchain skyrocketed north of 500 Gwei from less than 30 prior to the launch. 

 

I myself had a transaction that failed after 40 minutes of waiting.

According to data from Dune Analytics over $700,000 USD was lost in failed transactions. 

 




I also got to speak with another WTF Dao member, Kai Turner, founder of the Meebits Dao, Experience Designer at Netflix, and Product Content Innovation lead and Advisor to NFT42.

This is what he had to say:

 
“Funnily enough, I pitched a similar idea to the now-Dapper Labs CTO when I was at Sony Pictures Entertainment suggesting that CryptoKitties should do something exactly like this in 2017.  So it’s notable that the former CryptoKitties Creative Director is leading the effort because maybe he saw similar potential in the space.”

 

“In terms of the creative concept, I think they could have set a higher bar.  It does feel like someone has asked: What does the crypto community like? Cats and Weed! However, even though these are hackneyed themes within our niche, they might be slightly novel to the broader adult animation audience– so given the names, especially Seth McFarlane, attached — there is still a lot of potential for this to become a quality piece of entertainment.”

 

“Finally, with the NFT release, lots of complaints about the launch, but for us who have been in the space for a while, we’re used to the gas spikes.  Although I think we do need a better model for oversubscribed drops than just pushing the contract and website live – Top Shot is pioneering models here out of necessity. So if it’s queues or tickets or waitlists 

 

just telling the community to pay a 200% premium on gas is not good enough anymore. 

 

Gas isn’t my main concern though – I think the drop could have provided more variation than the same characters, the characters associated with characters in the show could have been the rarest ones, but why not build out a Stoner Cats universe of all the cats in the world?  Even if they don’t make an appearance in the show in season 1 — there is future potential for them to! — maybe as a community reward/competition.”

“Overall, I’m enthusiastic about the project and the hope that it will set a new model for funding content – but like Kickstarter projects in the past, I’ll believe it when I see it … the execution of the final product is what matters most.” – Kai Turner

 

Animated NFT Show Stoner Cats
Photo credit: Stonercats.com



Key Takeaway


For me, the general takeaway is that despite all of the problems with the initial launch, the gas wars, lost funds, and the hate being hurled at celebrities for “daring” to use this nascent NFT technology; this project looks to be a major success in proving NFT’s are a better way forward for creatives in the entertainment industry. 

The idea that celebrities and all of Hollywood would not eventually be beating down the door to enter into this space is a short-sighted sentiment. There is a tremendous opportunity for those who are open to seeing the importance of this very moment in history as the future infrastructure for nearly all forms of entertainment media, is being built now.

NFTs will continue to empower more creators and break down some of the very entrenched middlemen in the entertainment industry.

Studios and publishers have carved predominantly predatory relationships with creators, but this new model of funding creative works via NFTs will force them to innovate and alter the way they interact with the true creators of value behind all types of intellectual property.

I see a future world where the consumers of entertainment experiences will also be the stakeholders, contributors, and even the co-creators themselves, where the fans can have a more intimate connection and even ownership of the stories they love without all the bureaucratic bullshit, all brought to you by Non-fungible Tokens.

 

Animated NFT Show Stoner Cats
Photo credits: Stonercats.com

Featured image credit: Stonercats.com

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