Lost Souls of the Metaverse #1

NO, THAT IS NOT A SELF PORTRAIT, OR BASED ON ONE!

I haven’t been nearly as active here, because I’ve been wrangling with the NFT sphere, which is the best place for digital artists to make money. The halcyon days of unknown digital artists getting rich selling NFTs may be over. Inevitably, the market would be flooded, and not only does that make it much harder to stand out, there aren’t all that many people that can tell the difference, or prefer it, if you do. That said, hard working artists still might be able to make enough to cover the bills, if they are lucky.

Detail

When I first saw NFTs selling for millions I couldn’t make any connection between evident, inherent quality as digital art, and selling price. So it took me at least a year to get involved with it at all. From what I can fathom so far, within the last couple years there were a couple periods where collectors were buying up the work of less known artists, perhaps as a speculative investment in the hopes that later on they could flip the art for an astronomical profit. They were making what some thought were smart bets. But I get a feeling that those bets might not have paid off as well as investing in already established art tokens.

I think it’s a grave mistake to conceive of the NFT marketplace as a gallery-type system that was set up for showcasing quality digital art. Rather, art is just one thing that can be an NFT, and it’s completely up to the buyers what they want to invest in, support, or promote. As I commented in a tweet, a seasoned digital artist trying to break into NFTs is like Bob Dylan auditioning for a boy band and expecting to have an advantage.

And participating in the NFT sphere on Twitter feels like being in one of those movies where an adult goes back to high school undercover and pretends to be a kid.

So, I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of work I can make that might be appropriate for the general zeitgeist of the NFT universe, that I can do reasonably quickly, and that I find fulfilling.

This piece represents a possible direction using AI, Photoshop editing, and digital painting. This work took 2 days. I could also do digital paintings completely from my imagination, or 3d works using Blender. I probably need to work on a concerted body of work in order for people even to put together that things they are seeing are by the same person, and who that is.

Below, on the left is a head I created by playing around with an AI art tool called “artbreeder”. Usually people make pretty but vacuous portraits, but I wanted to go the opposite. And then I mutated the guy’s head in PS, and made a digital painting out of it, with that separated eye that suggests some sort of fleeting thought, or a glance, but also happens to just be a pretty cool effect.

If I move in this direction, it’s all about portraiture, and what that is or can be in 2022. The theme is people sort of not fitting in, being on the margins, and being “lost souls” when it comes to the metaverse (which is a kind of communal virtual universe).

I may do a couple more of these to see what kind of reaction I get

Before that I did this one, which is maybe too difficult to be the first in a series, though it’s better than I remembered it. I mean, it has a little girl, and some might interpret the blossoming splotch of painterliness (which just happened to show up in the original Ai as a glitch) as some sort of violence. So, I could be starting on the wrong foot if I chose that one.

And before that there was this one:

Also a good digital impasto painting, but perhaps not the right kind of feel.

I thought it would have more impact to focus most on heads — as in close-ups, and then after the second one I thought to make them more photo-realistic but with painterly sections. If it’s all painterly, then it doesn’t read as a fresh digital feel. I don’t really want, in this instant, for the art to look like it’s 100% a painting. And I think portraiture that is addressing NFTs and the metaverse would look different, so I’m abandoning the first two as a part of the “Lost Souls of the Metaverse” project, and I need to make a couple more just to have a sense of the potential as a series.

I also made this animation, in a day, as part of another possible project.

And you all have seen this one:

Of course there’s a video version.

I AM thinking of working on two series at the same time, though that is generally a no-no, and also requires the cognitive ability to do so, as well as the time and energy.

As you can see versatility is an asset but also a curse of sorts. I could be perfectly happy making plein aire seascapes in oils for a half year or more if I had the opportunity and could pay some bills with it. Others, and collectors will tend to see this as a lack of commitment or faith, but it really represents having a broader scope in some senses. It’s a bit like being fluent in more than one language. You could say you are less invested in you native tongue, but you could also say that you have a greater understanding and appreciation of language overall, and including your native tongue.

In the analog and NFT art world you can’t really get away with that kind of divergent production unless you are already established and respected as an individual artist. If you are just trying to break in, versatility can work against you, and strongly.

My solution to that is just to do series of works in one style/medium (and a bit loosely to allow for maximal creativity). I’m at a bit of a quandary about which series to produce. I can completely change my mind within probably ten minutes. It’s a difficult Twilight Zone area to be in as an artist, and I know another versatile and seasoned digital artists who is going through the exact same thing, and for the same reasons. If you want to make those table scraps as a digital artist in the NFT world (and if you are lucky do better) you have to evolve, mutate, and adapt to it, and you want to do it in a way that you believe in. Ah, but there’s also a time element, and the door is slamming fast.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to recently.

Until next time…

7 replies on “New Work & Update

  1. Hi, Eric.
    One thing occurs to me…
    If you publish an image ANYwhere it can be found by google so if I’m in the market for NFTs [I’m NOT!] and someone advertises an image, I can search by google image search and see if there are already other copies out there and if there are similar images.
    I don’t know what similar means so it may not be a giveaway but there is the possibility.
    I also don’t know how sophisticated NFT buyers are.
    I don’t know much
    but I do know that!
    I enjoy y’r man’s head with extra floaty eye. Good subject.
    Y’r ol’ Bud, Fike

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d like to try the NFT world, but the high costs and lack of having a name probably would be a bust. If I can scrape the money to put one NFT up that would be nice. I hear what you say about keeping a theme, (or brand?) as a means to stand out. I was taught this in art college as well. To “find your brand”. I don’t know – “Finding a brand” is abstract expressionist-like (think of Pollack, Rothko, etc.). I rather like that. Great work by the way! Love the portraiture and that is a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can sell in places that don’t use Etherium and are comparatively very cheap. Some ppl are making decent money selling on Objkt.com, which uses Tezos as the cryto currency. Even I’ve sold stuff there. But you would sell multiple editions at lower prices. The key is you need to drive your own traffic there, which means you need to be active on Twitter, though other social media might work. Twitter is the most popular and effective by far.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like your explorations! But I feel a little guilty reading these posts bec it’s like walking in your footprints thru deep snow. You’re doing all the work. On the other hand, you’re directly benefiting mentally & emotionally from the attempts. My enjoyment is secondhand. So: I’m rejecting NFTs as a potential moneymaker, for me, and will visit as someone who simply adores watching someone try stuff bec I love doing that, too. //////// Re branding & versatility, etc., in general: Still figuring that out. Probably I’m too late and certainly I don’t want to do just one thing in just one way. Making better choices, tho, is always a good goal. Re making money: LOL! I’ve earned 81 cents in three years! Maybe it’s the work, maybe it’s my haphazard approach to social media, maybe it’s my lack of consistency, maybe, maybe, maybe. Whatever the reason, I can “fix” only what I can control and I’m waaaaaay to old to not enjoy trying to fix things. 🤗 I hope your NFT journey is successful (however you define that!). Thank you for sharing these experiences! 👏👏👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

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