According to the Daily Beast’s Kevin Fallon, stories like 365 Days serve an important purpose. They allow us to watch as the inversion of our values play out in real world scenarios. And as we watch the scenes play out, our tablet or TV screens shield us from the consequences.
Now, I think that as we broadcast disapproval of fan-fiction hot sex, we are avoiding the real hot topics. We might tell ourselves that we are staying neutral on those issues. But there is no political fence, not really.
Based on my experiences on social media over the past year, these are some questions I feel like asking people I am meeting for the first time:
Are you all in on a multicultural society? Can same-sex couples get married if they want? Can people with wombs please get a prescription filled without a pharmacist asking them to pee on a stick so their religious rules are not broken?
Neutrality is a nice word that means we are scared of saying what we think in case someone screams in our faces. Being human is already a lot of work, which is why we elect public officials to help us out. Yet, we keep electing representatives who won’t let us get on with living. They create legislation on matters that should remain private; and drag their feet on issues that are in the public’s interest. This is precisely the reason why more of us are speaking out.
With all of that in the background, I now ask you to consider the artist’s work during times of struggle. One of the best things about being an artist is that we usually end up collaborating to start a movement. The movement is whatever we choose to call it. We make noise as a collective, and people pay attention to our message.
Unfortunately, the creative space is most vulnerable to interference. Because we artists are living in a society filled with outrage, our worst enemy becomes what we think others want from us. Fear stifles our productivity. But if we don’t make things, we cannot refine our process and become better artists.
Artists are people with feelings, and this makes us easy targets. And people use their own reactions to our relatively benign creations as an excuse to avoid the draft.
If you are a hobbyist critic, should you pack up and leave? Not so fast. There is still time to get some real work done.
Here are some people who will benefit from your support: Women, children, minority ethnic groups, refugees, the homeless, the starving, the physically challenged, the mentally unwell, recovering addicts and the orphaned. Dial up your voice to the usual strength. Vote for representatives who can help. Keep writing letters to them until they mobilise resources to alleviate pain and suffering.
The revolution calls you to the draft. There is no need to burn your old scripts. Find a new cause, make some edits, and read them again. You might need a change of costume. Maybe a haircut. Or perhaps a 15-minute session on IG Live will get the ball rolling. The energy expenditure will leave you exhausted and restless. But soon enough, someone will hear you. And then, they will listen.
Good luck out there.
Postscript: Big shout outs to my lovely friends, Charlie Esposito, Medusa Marie, MHBB, and Simply Veronica. Thank you very much for responding to that last-minute request. Keep inspiring everyone with your activism and hard work.
Intro Happy Thursday, everyone. Today’s post features nude photography. In addition to that, we learn more about photographer Sephi Bergerson’s philosophy of “One”, evolved minds, and how religious beliefs shape our perception of the world. Today, we invite you to catch a glimpse of this surreal collection with the religious motifs enfolding each subject. And what about you? Are you searching for your own divine source?
Sephi Bergerson Looking for God in a church, synagogue, or mosque is religion. Looking for God inside is spirituality. This is what I believe. And you may be surprised to learn that I was born in a secular Jewish house. Yes, they really exist. And that is what I am referencing when I say that I believe in God, but I do not follow any organised religion.
I feel that religions have historically divided humanity, while spirituality is universal and brings us together. Many people take great comfort in the teachings laid down by the religion they follow. However, in my opinion, religions are all based on half-truths. They also tend to bind followers to a set of core assumptions and dogmatic thinking. And thus, in most cases, do not encourage free thinking.
There is one truth. I believe that evolve minds understand this truth even though they call it by many names. What I mean is that we can all speak about the same God. But because of our upbringing and environment, we use different names for the same deity that so many religions speak about. Those who are not restricted by their religion usually agree on this idea.
My work is an exploration of the emotions triggered by various religious symbols. I believe that inspiration is divine grace, and I am searching for a connection to this source of inspiration. I am particularly interested in how people perceive and react to the use of religious items in art and specifically connected with the human body.
I create photos using religious objects as styling for nude photographs. By doing so, I want to reclaim these worldly objects and alter their original religious purpose to question the attitudes, fears and unwritten rules which have formed religious dogma and people’s behaviour within it.
I focus on the three most influential monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as they were all born in the Middle East and are all inextricably linked to one another. Christianity was born within the Jewish tradition, and Islam developed from Christianity and Judaism. Growing up in Israel, I was surrounded by the monuments and realities of these three religions that formed the background of my upbringing and my visual language.
I am aware of the controversial side of this body of work. Some people might find my work offensive to their religious beliefs, and voice their protest accordingly. I would like to have a conversation about God and inspiration, but I know this subject brings out a lot of emotions. I have not experienced any violence with regard to this project, but a few people on twitter did say they find it offensive. I expect more of this once the project gets more exposure.
For example, we have also witnessed violence against artists who chose to depict religious items or subjects in their work. It is not uncommon that museums and galleries are forced to take a stand or forced to remove controversial work from their exhibition walls due to public outcry. There will always be those who oppose these ideas and rush to the defence of religion like white blood cells rushing to fight a virus.
I feel that God is everywhere, and the one I believe in does not require any protection, yet I think there is a high chance that gallery owners or museum curators would think twice before showing this work. This is why I believe that virtual galleries, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens are a good fit for this work.
Outro Thank you for reading. Sephi Bergerson is an award-winning documentary and corporate photographer, and author. Follow him on Twitter. And of course, you can find the full range of his photography work on Instagram. After living in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, New York City, San Francisco, Paris and New Delhi, Sephi set down roots with his wife and children in Goa, India, in 2002. After moving to India, he started taking documentary assignments for corporate clients, international NGOs, and print publications.
Several years ago, I watched a video clip on my Facebook feed. It featured an augmented reality exhibition which inspired me to pay closer attention to the future of digital art. Later, I was spurred on by an artist whose journey into Web 3 (decentralised platforms which use blockchain technology) I watched unfold on Instagram. As I was researching blockchain technology, I decided to list digital versions of my physical works on the Open Sea platform. This was how I got started with creating digital and hybrid art.
It was a natural progression for me because I am fascinated by anything innovative. I was mesmerised by the vast potential of virtual reality. This is because I realise that I could use this to overcome the barriers to owning my own physical gallery.
Then, I discovered Spatial, which is a great platform for creating free VR spaces. Using that platform, I was able to realise my dream of starting my own gallery. This was incredible because my gallery space can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It really is an invaluable tool because it can help artists to independently reach a much wider audience.
Artists can set up and curate galleries themselves and hyperlink to their online shops. They can create any number of events and bring in people to network with. Virtual galleries are also a great way to host collectors, and hold artist talks or educational workshops.
More recently, I decided to set up a gallery for my own Web 3 community. I wanted to do something to elevate others and I wanted to provide a completely free exhibition opportunity for artists. The Charlie ART Community Gallery went live over the last few weeks.
There are endless possibilities for VR exhibiting and experiences. I eventually want to develop and make my galleries more immersive, and I’m looking forward to expanding into other platforms. I urge all other artists to discover and learn more about art in the Metaverse.
Thank you for viewing The Lotus, a short film by Australian filmmaker, Bernadette Walsh. It has been a while since the last short film Friday. When I caught up with Bernadette in Twitter Spaces the other night, I knew her activism would resonate well with you. Read on as she opens a window into her project.
The Lotus: Behind the scenes with director Bernadette Walsh
My name is Bernadette Walsh and I wrote and directed the short film, The Lotus. The film tells the mythical story of a brother and sister who were rescued from the darkest of places, and given a future with hope. I wrote the story in 2019, because I was inspired by the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, an NGO based in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was founded by Australian philanthropist Michael Brosowski in 2004, when he saw the need to rescue children from exploitation by labour and sex traffickers. Michael founded the NGO to provide these children with the care and support they would need to help rebuild their lives. In 2020, Blue Dragon rescued the 1,000th survivor of human trafficking. Today Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is still working with over 10,000 children and youth from around Vietnam.
Transforming the lives of children who were trafficked is hard work. And I knew that I wanted to support the NGO in any way I could. Working together with Blue Dragon, I raised funds through the Australian crowdfunding platform, Pozible, to make my film project a reality. My family and friends also chipped in to offer support.
The Lotus was brought to life by sand animation artist, Kseniya Simonova who rose to prominence in 2009, after winning Ukraine’s Got Talent 2009. Ten years later, she participated in The Champion on America’s got Talent. And on Britain’s Got Talent, she was the only act to receive two Golden Buzzers. Kseniya is an extraordinary artist who brings to life moving stories through incredible sand art. Having previously seen her work online, she immediately came to mind as the person who could breathe life into the story.
The other wonderful, creative and talented people working on The Lotus included fine artist Kate Walsh, who created the storyboard visuals for Kseniya. The original music was created by Australian film composer, Robert John Sedky. And as the narrator, my 11-year-old son, Michael, was happy to offer his voice.
I enjoy testing new narrative styles in storytelling. This is why my next film project, Navigating a Pandemic will be testing more boundaries. For this project, I will be using artificial intelligent software to animate pandemic-related data into a 3D pigmented sculpture. I am fortunate to have the support of a high-performance computer company, which is supplying me with the computing power I need to render the project.
Next stop? Raising funds to produce the project, and I will do that via the sale of non-fungible tokens. For me, token sales to multiple buyers works in the same way as traditional fundraising platforms. Supporters will be funding the project with the proceeds of their crypto investments. In the meantime, I am working to focus my fundraising activities within the community of crypto investors. The possibilities are both exciting and daunting. Wish me luck.
The Lotus has received the following awards:
Special Jury Animation Award at the Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles (Oct 2019)
Finalist at the Rome Independent Prisma Awards (March 2020)
Award of Merit at Best Shorts Festival in California (Apr 2020)
Finalist Mescalito Biopic Fes (Nov 2020)
Finalist JellyFEST Season 6 (Feb 2021)
Humanitarian Award at the Best Shorts Competition 2020 (2020)
What does it mean to be a visual storyteller? My fine art nature images are real and also a part of my imagination, where the color of the water is sometimes pink instead of blue, where birds and other animals speak to me when I speak to them. My work is a result of more than 25 years of photography, thousands of captures, endless waiting for a single perfect moment followed by months of post production to bring my world of imagination to you.
And your signature style? There are a lot of talented photographers in the world, and I was told that I needed to distinguish my work from theirs. So, I chose not to be known as a nature photographer. I wanted to see myself as a visual story teller who uses animal fine art to share my imagination.
In other words, you paint images in your imagination and bring them to life in photos. And how long have you identified as a photographer? I have been doing photography for 25+ years using a large and a medium format film before switching to digital. I was a landscape photographer at the beginning but then my interest expanded to include wedding and portrait before settling down in fine art nature.
You enjoy photography competitions. Tell us more about those. One of my proudest moments was being chosen to represent the United States in the prestigious World Photographic Cup. Olympics of professional photography. I brought home a gold medal in Nature category and also won the Best of Nations. But I remember where it all started. I entered my first professional competition in the Australia Institute of Professional Photography where I got my first awards. Then, I began entering major professional competitions like the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography, Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, Professional Photographers of America, and Master Photographers International. In total, I’ve won 150 awards so far.
One hundred and fifty awards is quite an accomplishment. You must have many adoring apprentices. Thank you, it is an honour to be considered a mentor, and yes, I have helped fellow photographers to develop their skills. The feeling I get when I see them doing very well has been satisfying.
Is there a signature style we can see with you and your students? My current photography style is a combination of what I learned and experience as a landscape and wedding/portrait photographer. While landscape is quite dependent on natural light, wedding/portrait can be manipulated using man made. I “light” my animals using the same principles as how I would light a human either using natural or artificial light. The event that brought me to my current style was actually a casual conversation with one of the most reputable wedding photographers in the world. I attended his workshop and during a break he told me that I needed to be my own not just a copy of him. This is something I tell the photographers I mentor, too.
And how did you enter the world of cryptoart? How have you done so far? I started minting NFTs in mid January 2022 after receiving an acceptance letter from the curated photography marketplace @sloikaxyz. I sold out Vivid, a collection of ten photographs, in four weeks. And now, I am presenting my second series on the same platform. This collection is about celebrating life. The collection is brought together from thousands of captures, and the endless wait for a perfect moment. This life is my unique vision.
A work in progress. Still drafting the story, even though I am about six months behind in writing. The best part is that this delay has allowed me to rethink the story I am trying to tell, and build more rounded characters.
In mid-January, I drafted two scenes to show faith intersecting science and politics. This is an important theme in the story because the politics are influenced by a religious doctrine. Blending them will be interesting, because I do not plan to make anything obvious. In this untitled scene, the science is explained in a conversation between two government officials.
“That was their colossal cock up,” shouted the health minister. The minister was not inside his study, so Sebastian was talking to an empty desk this afternoon. The health minister was speaking from a different room, and he was shouting even though his voice was transmitted over voice activated smart mics in his home.
“Sir,” replied Sebastian, “Treasury does not have jurisdiction over private medical cases.”
“You can revoke their funding,” was the minister’s surly response.
“True, but taking away funding from medical research into fertility treatment would be tantamount to a human rights violation,” said a smirking Sebastian. He was rather pleased with himself. “And may I remind you that overseas investors are plugging large amounts of cash into the research and development?”
“Money, money, money,” said the health minister. “She is suing me for lack of oversight. Me, personally. The research shows that uterine cells never generate fetal tissues even when exposed to a massive cocktail of hormones.”
“It was an act of God,” said Sebastian. He was laughing silently because he knew the statement would annoy his colleague. He stopped laughing and raised an eyebrow because he wondered if the health minister could see his face on a monitor somewhere.
“An outdated notion,” was the swift correction from the health minister’s voice.
Sebastian rolled his eyes, slightly relieved that his mocking behaviour had not been noticed.
He said, “She is with the Congregation, so those notions are alive and well. And support, across the world, has been universally positive. Also, remember that this is a giant leap forward for fertility research. The value of stock portfolios of biotech investors have skyrocketed. Absolutely everyone loves her.”
“Fine,” replied the health minister. “She is raising her daughter, and enjoying sainthood, but why is she suing me … and the government for the near fatal heart attack she suffered minutes after giving birth? I feel sorry that she had to go through that, but the same technology reprinted her blood vessels that were damaged. She is alive because of us and is suing us? Yet, everyone believes her actions are justified. Especially after that fiction!”
“Creative non-fiction, sir,” corrected Sebastian. He glanced over on his screen to review the article published in the National Gazette, in which the woman recounted the experience of giving birth to a girl less than a year after male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. Bloating, swelling and discomfort were normal after these procedures. She and her doctors did not know she was pregnant and there were no sperm or egg donors. Her doctors guessed that because of the hormone protocol she received, some of the cells in her ovaries had changed to reproductive cells. After exhaustive tests, they concluded that the most likely explanation was that one of the cells moved to her uterus and started dividing spontaneously. The hormone protocol facilitated the pregnancy, and the fetus was delivered at the six month mark.
Sebastian looked at the highlighted text of an email which was opened in another window on his screen. His cousin, Gala of Vale, was the first person he contacted when the health minister asked him for a meeting. She had replied to him with a voice message. Reading the transcription, he saw that it had everything he needed.
“Technically,” Sebsastian continued, “she cloned herself but this not a flaw in the medicine. She is reproducing, which is, biologically, what her body is supposed to do. Ask your team to focus on that argument and petition the tribunal to force a settlement on those grounds. But while you do that, tread softly. Her story is about family, faith, and the belief in miracles. Something that is lost in our world. People like hoping for things. We shouldn’t try to take it away from them.”
“All right,” replied the health minister with a sigh. “And what can I do?”
“Hire her as a special health advocate,” answered Sebastian.
“Even though she’s suing me,” retorted the health minister.
“Yes. Exactly,” replied Sebastian. He glanced over at the rest of the notes from his cousin. “And for the settlement negotiations, you personally offer money and resources only if she agrees to set up a foundation. Ask the Congregation to join the negotiations as an appropriate third party. As health minister, you will appoint an advisory board to represent the Congregation and the biotech industry. Instead of fighting her at a tribunal, we should help her to build a platform and set an agenda for the next three decades.”
“All right, Sebs. I am going to get legal on the phone, and I want another meeting with all of you before dinnertime today.”
Intro Greetings everyone, and happy Thursday because I have another guest post for you. Yesterday, February 23, was the Emperor Reiwa’s birthday and a national holiday. And I thought, what would it be like to spend 12 hours cohosting a Twitter Space for artists? Starting at 11:00 JST, I did just that. The energy in the space was warm, vibrant, and supportive. Because of that, I felt revived after three long weeks of burnout and autoimmune flareups.
One of our guests in the fourth hour was artist and community activist named Ron Schippert. As I listened to his story, I knew you would warmly welcome him here. Please read his story, and enjoy the cute Jelly Dood characters he created for a worthy cause. Thank you.
Hello everyone, my name is Ron Schippert and I am a 45-year-old artist from Pennsylvania, USA. I am an addict in recovery and I celebrated 10 years clean on February 10. At an early age, I never felt like I fit in anywhere, whether at school, sports or just outside playing. As years went by and I got older, I turned to other substances to feel like I belonged. In reality, I was walking down a path of self-destruction. After spending years in and out of hospitals, detox clinics, psych wards, and rehabilitation centers, I decided to go into treatment one last time. I had no idea what the future would hold. That day, February 10, 2012, marked the day of my rebirth.
After completing full treatment, I moved to South Florida. There, in the early days of my recovery, I felt a strong desire to help others who were struggling with addiction. That meant spending sleepless nights sitting in waiting rooms, and driving people to detox clinics or hospitals. Doing something to help others made me feel whole again. Because of that, I continued my work with recovering addicts. I have supported hundreds of addicts as they got clean but unfortunately, some of my friends did not make it. In spite of that, I am committed to doing whatever I can to help.
Even today, ten clean years later, I still see the many obstacles that recovering addicts face with health insurance or finances. There should never be a reason for someone to be refused the help that they need. This is why I have created a fundraising project using non-fungible tokens. The artwork is called Jelly Doods NFT. Proceeds from sales of these tokens are used to pay for addiction treatment for people who cannot afford it.
And why did I choose art? Ever since I was young, art has helped me settle my mind and feel all right with myself. Making art takes me to a place of peace and serenity. This is the purpose of the Jelly Doods characters. They are simple, fun characters created to bring a smile to your face. If this project can help one more person receive treatment for substance abuse, then it will have served its purpose.
In life, I have only a few passions. Art has remained number one because it is something that I do for others. And my dearest wish is to use my art to give someone their life back. I live by the motto, “I can only keep what I have by giving it away.” And I give you Jelly Doods.
Outro Thank you everyone for reading this presentation and for viewing this gallery of art. Ron may be reached on socials at the links below. Please be sure to follow him. I imagine that you were sending him your positive thoughts of appreciation while you were reading. I know that Ron appreciates the support you have given him with your attention today. Thank you.
Hello everyone, I am Alberto Ballocca, a self-made contemporary painter from Italy. Through my art, I am trying to catch my spark. I work to emulate ancient customs and combine them with my futuristic ideas. In the present, I attempt to breathe new life into antiquity by balancing dimensions of time within myself.
On a technical level, my process is based on the mixing of different types of mediums on canvas, panels, glass, aluminium. My pigments include wall enamels, acrylics, oil, natural pigments, charcoals, graphite, collage elements and gold foil.
If you are familiar with digital image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, you could imagine that I am emulating that process by applying one layer on top of the other as I allow interesting shapes to appear. As I paint, I am trying to catch these new shapes on a spark of intuition. For me, creating art is a game of balancing abstract themes and realistic figures.
On a conceptual level, I read a lot of books and meditate on what I’ve read. My favourite subjects include Aristotle’s poems, ancient Egyptian symbolism, Greek mythology, Plato’s writings and anything concerned with the deep nature of reality.
Using that energy, which I believe is the source of our modern-day culture, I try to crack emotional codes so that these energies can resonate within my paintings. And from then on, I pass these to the observer. Follow me on Instagram to see more of my creative process.
As for showcasing my work, I am in love with the interactions on Twitter Spaces because I have met a lot of amazing new people. I can interact with people all over the world with very little effort. I believe it is super important for us as artists and creative people to be connected in this way.
As for the future, I am looking forward to collabs with well-known and respected artists in the art world. Many of them are my friends in the Metaverse.
Thank you for taking a walk with me today. I hope to see you again soon.
. . .
Postscript: Digital versions of my physical paintings are listed on several sales platforms. Each collection is separated by theme, and you can find links to the galleries below.
Hello everyone. This is a followup to my post last year when I realised why IG was sending me followers though I did barely anything. As opposed to the year before. At that time, I reached 300 followers even as I posted infrequently, and used zero hashtags. Shortly after publishing that post, I reached 500 followers.
I have since that point started using hashtags. I also hid reels and archived posts to create a tight, focused grid. At some point, I will take down most of my current grid so I can keep the focus on installations of my artwork.
My Instagram account is attached to Clubhouse (and Spotify Greenroom). Quite a few of my early follows were coming from there because I participated in room discussions. I was also asking people in Twitter Spaces to join me on Clubhouse, and they found me on Instagram as well.
A few weeks ago, I was discussing the above results with a friend, and I came to understand that by posting to my Story daily, I was creating space for Instagram to place ads between accounts. People are used to tapping on the right side of their screens to see new stories, and that gives 5-second ads a place to breathe. I believe that my steady gain of followers daily had something to do with that. In other words, Story is where active accounts thrive, and you raise the likelihood of IG recommending your accounts to people interested in your niche.
By the end of 2021, (CH/Twitter) collaborations with some larger accounts were also boosting my account. Accounts with massive followings were talking about our collabs on Clubhouse and they reposted my stories (about them) to their stories. I have also been mentioned in their IG Live broadcasts. Remember that I am using IG for business and these were my goals all along.
Step by step, let’s review the method I used, with an updated set of 8 enhancements. These are also low effort and consistently applied, with focus on the Story feature.
Share the work of other artists First, do for others. Instead of scrolling, think about whether you would like to share a post in your Story. I recommend that you share posts to Story if (a) the account supports you or (b) if the account is somewhat popular. In the latter case, a story mention (using the mention tag) ensures that you stand out in their notifications.
Keep it up in messages Socialise via text and voice messages. The more time you spend sharing accounts in a meaningful way, the more you find yourself receiving kind notes from creators in your messages. And sooner or later, you will feel like you’re talking to your friends. Follow up by explaining why you like their work. Be interested in their methods or techniques, and ask them what other projects they are working on.
Follow and share accounts that look like yours If an account is doing work that you want to do and it is not too big (over 100K followers), you should try to show that you have something in common. Show your followers that your ideas have been brought to light by another creator. Use the text or drawing feature in notes to make it obvious why you like the post you’re sharing. Be adventurous and you will find support.
Pay attention to accounts with great content and few comments When a new post bubbles into view, look for comments first. Then, if this account is familiar to you and you know they will respond, leave a comment. Comments are precious, so offer them generously and try to keep them light and positive.
Check stories and comments Quite a few popular creators schedule their posts and no matter how amazing your comment is, they (or their team) might never see it. One way to make sure that an account is active is to look at their Story. Active accounts may be more willing to engage with yours, and this is what you want.
FL!RT This is the one time when I will advocate making the first approach. On the account of a popular creative (artist/writer) in your niche, look at comments on their most recent post. Did the post author reply to comments? If not, among the replies, look for accounts that engage with their followers. Come back to the post and reply to their comment. Then, heart some posts on their account, and wait.
Mute There are accounts that produce amazing work, but a swath of posts down your timeline two days in a row is no bueno. Mute the account so you can see other posts. Or, if you feel so-so about a single post, hide the post so Instagram doesn’t keep showing more of what you don’t want. You can always see other posts from the account later.
Unfollow What’s it like when you notice a live broadcast or a post that seems out of left field? It pays to do regular checks of accounts that you are following. Use the “most/least interacted with” feature in Instagram to check for accounts that are far outside your interests. First and foremost, focus your attention on accounts actively supporting you. From there, branch out with confidence, and bring new friends with similar interests into your fold.
Thank you for reading this post. I imagine you might realise that a low effort method of using social media takes … effort. Overnight, you could have great results, but that’s because you were consistent in the past. None of these methods require you to spend a whole day scrolling. Based on what I have shared so far, create a plan that fits comfortably with your needs and objectives. Never give up on your dreams, the saying goes, but you should be prepared to work for them. Best of luck.
Hello, I am Ralph Khoury, a Lebanese artist. My artistic journey started around three years ago when I decided to take my art seriously and push myself to create something new every week. This led me to grow my portfolio made up of illustrations, paintings, doodles and animations tackling mental health, my different thoughts and current events in my country and the world.
Although it was fulfilling to be able to create like this, it wasnt really paying the bills especially living in my country where art is not really appreciated, and where the minimum wage has dropped drastically because of the huge inflation that the country went through since 2019. The prospect of having to take a full-time job that would be underpaying me, would still be a better form of income then selling my art.
That outcome was becoming an eventuality until the NFT space came to my attention and basically changed my life in every way for the better. Finally, I was able to value my art for what it was worth. I was also able to showcase it on the international stage, and people all over the world supported me. I am happy that I have gained so many friends in the community.
And after selling my art as non-fungible tokens, I realised what a powerful tool blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can be for my artists in Lebanon. If they can bring themselves out of the depressing cycle our country has thrown us in, they will be able to make a good living doing what they love. Hopefully, their collective strength will lead to reforms on a larger scale for the whole nation.
Through my art I was able to make a decent living in a short time, and I have earned what I would have only been able to achieve after many years work in a regular job.
Even though Open Sea recently banned Lebanon from being able to access their website, and my government already bans cryptocurrencies in general, these two bumps in the road will not deter me from onboarding more people in this space.
We have become early adopters, hopefully putting up the building blocks for a brighter future that our current political class could never dream to achieve.
At the end of the day, I truly believe that even if art is bigger than artists, individual artists will always find a way to stand out. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
I am waiting to hear more words. Certainly, she had a working vocabulary and used them to acquire her fancy credentials. Over fifteen thousand followers on social media as a filmmaker, public speaker, and academic who barely speaks. What was her magic formula? I needed to retrieve that algorithm and save myself hours socialising online each week.
I had never heard her speak in more than three full sentences in the two months that I had known her. In my memory, her voice is a deep vocal fry of utterances that I cannot spell out. My brain is trying to make sense of what sounds like a guttural “ghehaaaaa” strummed on a loose D string.
A split second after I decided to leave the space, I noticed a name floating below an avatar. I hopped back in immediately because a few days earlier, she had told me and sixty others that he was her boyfriend. Actually, all she said was, “Lyyyyyyyke, uhhhhm … weeee … him … aaaah.” We grasped the situation when he said, “She’s the wife.”
Scrolling through his media folder, I soon discovered that he was a blond dude bro covered in tattoos. He looked young enough to be her son. He had an alien face for a head, which was fine, but the croaking sounds he was making left me wondering how their relationship got started in the first place.
“… was supposed to fly out to see her this Thursday, but the sex dungeon is closed,” I heard him wailing to the host.
“I didn’t saaaaay you couldn’t caaaaaahm,” she fried, nasally. That was the second full sentence I had ever heard from her.
I waited to hear more words but I gave up and left after fifteen excruciating minutes of silence punctuated by croaking sounds and vocal fries.
The next morning, I learned why a cohost’s microphone was muted. I read his messages to her in the screen capture she sent me, and I understood that he was doing something with his dominant hand.
“No,” I thought. “How was that possible while her boyfriend was sat there talking to them?” But before I could ask any more questions, she sent me a fresh message.
“Holy shit,” it read, “That hot guy you were talking to the other night? His body is like wow. He’s in a room with me now.”
“You should say hello,” I offered. I was still somewhat confused. And I would learn later that the hot guy was married and that his wife was newly pregnant.
“Oh, I already messaged him,” read her smug response. And I was gobsmacked. But what else should I expect from a thirsty girl?
Not every artist’s origin story begins with the artist falling unconscious to the floor. But mine does. My name is Sophie. I am a Bulgarian mixed media abstract artist, TEDx speaker, and mental health advocate. Until I turned 32, I was an artist in denial. And I say that because I never had the courage to admit that I wanted to make art.
After a very challenging period in my life, creating art helped me sculpt a new self-identity. I was also able to redesign my reality. The process saved me, and every day, I share my story with others to help them find their true calling.
I call myself Octophina because I’ve always felt like a human octopus, who like a real octopus, has at least three hearts and nine brains. Art helps me to use my “bugs” as features. This way of thinking enables me to see every challenge as an opportunity to grow. My path to becoming an artist was an unexpected journey of healing through inner exploration.
If my life had a prequel, it would be my corporate background as a trained journalist specialising in graphic design, PR, and IT. I was also a prominent international food blogger, a certified Mind Body Eating coach and founder of a social enterprise. And yet, despite everything I achieved, I struggled with depression for over a decade. Navigating the world through this brain has been a weird experience. Today, I capture all of that in my art.
In recent years, after numerous traumatic events, including the pandemic destroying my business and leaving me broke, moving alone to a new country to restart my life at 31, and my mom getting diagnosed with breast cancer, I was emotionally, physically, and psychologically drained.
On May 8, 2021, I fainted in my kitchen and when I woke up, I felt completely apathetic about the projects and initiatives I had been passionate about for years. It was as though my entire identity had been wiped out. Over the next four months, I was trapped in major depression. And it was difficult for me to articulate what I was experiencing internally. I felt terrified.
My therapist encouraged me to start making art to clear my mental cache, improve my emotional metabolism, and practice self-care. Today, almost six months later, we are working on a start-up which will merge psychotherapy, art, and blockchain technology. We started this business to help people improve their mental health and financial well-being.
In celebration of this resurrection of life, presence and hope for the future, I launched a collection of NFTs on Open Sea called Pain to Power. This is a constellation of reflective artwork I created between November and December 2021. The date of the release is January 19, 2022, is the date my mom got her breast cancer diagnosis last year. After almost a year in hell, my mom recovered completely and is doing well. Sharing my transformational healing art with the world on the anniversary of her diagnosis is for me a celebration of resilience, which is what makes the human experience special.
Art has helped me discover my identity outside of social conditioning, peer pressure, and others’ expectations. As I create art, I am healing emotional wounds and building a healthy sense of self-worth. I invite you to stay with me on this journey.
Intro: I remember meeting Luchong in Twitter Spaces a few months ago. Not long after meeting more of her friends, I decided to post an African artists’ showcase here on Saint Joan Creative Studio. I remember receiving a very excited note when she noticed I plugged her photo into the post. Today, I call her “boss” because she is a verified blockchain diva. Her Thea Collection is the 7th highest trending collection on Open Sea as of late December, 2021.
Open Sea is the biggest platform for NFTs. The platform has reached a trade volume of over US$720 million in the past three days alone (January 3 ~ 6), so imagine the scale of her achievement. Trending is not easy for any artist. Hers is a phenomenal achievement due to her talent, bubbly personality, and the support of established artists around her. Congrats, boss. And now, let us hear from our muse.
Hi, I’m Luchong, a 20-year-old digital artist from Nigeria and the creator of the Thea Collection of art which is available on Open Sea. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.
Where do I start? Last year, 2021, was definitely a wild and interesting year for me. Although it didn’t quite start out on a good note, it ended in a very beautiful way, and for that, I am thankful.
I joined the NFT community in September, 2021 and it has been a life-changing experience for me. This is because of the community and friends I have made here. The community is something I am extremely thankful for because I have found the unity and support I really needed in my life. The best way to describe it is to say that I finally feel like I have found my place and my family. I am happier today than I have been in a while.
The NFT community space has made a huge impact on my life and I say that because I have seen so much growth and improvement in myself and my art. I consider this community to be a true blessing. I am especially thankful for my collectors, specifically my first collectors, those who found me and fell in love with my art, those who believed in me and my art. I am especially grateful to Prince Ude, NFT Lover, Lord Olu, Kel Savage and Bolusowe. Their love and support have been unreal and I am extremely grateful for them all.
Looking forward to 2022, I can say that I am happy and excited for the year ahead because there are a number of things I want to achieve during the course of this year. First is that I want to grow and evolve so much as an artist. I want my art to reach more people and evoke emotions in them. I want my art to effectively communicate my feelings to people and I want more people to truly resonate with my work. I also intend to dabble in 3D art and more traditional forms of painting. My passion for art increased so much this year, I am grateful and excited to create more.
May I mention a few brilliant artists I intend to collaborate with in future? You may have heard of Kel Savage, Torera, Freddie Jacob, Pascal Okafor and Design with MJ. If you haven’t, please get to know them. They are amazing.
And I guess that’s a wrap. I have a really positive feeling about 2022 and I feel this will be my best year yet. I am thrilled to start the year with this newfound drive and love for art.
Outro: Hello everyone, I am fine artist and author Lily Nicole, and as you can see I am back from a very long break. My domain was renewed automatically (thanks WordPress) and Saint Joan Creative Studio is alive and well. Let us pretend that thing you never saw didn’t happen.
Intro Hello everyone, and welcome to this showcase of contemporary art which features fine artists from the African continent. This past Sunday, I hopped into a Twitter space hosted by Apah Benson, Black Mamuu and Xader. I knew it was my chance to uncover the fabulous work that has been hidden under lockdowns, cryptocurrency restrictions and social media bans. But that is their story to tell. Read all about it as you scroll through.
As you browse the showcase and read the stories presented here, remember that social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram are helping artists to move into the mainstream. I invite you to support my guests today by browsing their portfolios, and sharing them with your friends and acquaintances. Thank you.
MAX I am a digital artist from Nigeria. My work is heavily inspired by portrait photography and surrealism. I create abstractions using mostly female characters to express my way of seeing the world: as an blend of contrasts and opposites. I present that vision using black and white, dull and glossy textures, or vibrant and soft colors. Follow me on Twitter.
Elisha Nyong Hello. I am Elisha, a traditional painter and visual surrealist also based in Nigeria. I am known as a pro women’s rights and mutual representation activist. My artwork explores dreams and I use dry-brush techniques to accomplish that. You can find my work listed on Foundation. I am also showcasing my work on Twitter.
Apah Benson I am Apah Benson, digital artist and poet based in Nigeria. I am a graduate of the University of Benin, and work as a digital marketer. Below you will see one of my creative photography portraits, Mystique.
Black Mamuu I am a photographer and artist based in Warri, Nigeria. My work features portraits of people with heavy contrasts and colours. I use colors to explore different forms of identity. I started selling digital art about a month ago. As I did so, I found out that the two biggest parts or processes are currently banned in my country Nigeria.
A Twitter ban and a cryptocurrency ban prevent Nigerians like me from joining the world of digital art (the Metaverse) at this revolutionary time in history. But as usual, we found loopholes in the form of VPN software. We used them to access Twitter, and we used peer to peer (p2p) trading to access the cryptocurrency markets.
Neither is ideal, but it’s our forced reality and we have to work through it if we want to be part of the global art community. Last year, both Twitter and cryptocurrencies were instrumental in the successful #EndSars (hashtag End SARS) protest against police brutality in Nigeria. You might have seen it on the news. It is my firm belief that Twitter and crypto are banned because of the effectiveness of the campaigns.
Recently, there has been an aggressive crackdown on peer to peer trading and the banks are shutting down accounts thought to be used for trading cryptocurrency. So, for a typical Nigerian to access cryptocurrency trading platforms, we have to be very creative.
I find that the NFT community is the easiest and fastest way for Nigerian artists to get recognition and value for their work. I made my first sale a few weeks ago, and it was life changing because it felt like I was finally being rewarded for all my years of hard work.
Luchong I am a digital artist from Nigeria and I make art on my mobile phone using the Autodesk Sketchbook software. My art comes from a deep place filled with many emotions that I often times cannot explain or express. I love creating beautiful paintings to show that there is beauty in everything we experience as humans.
Above is a recent painting of mine which I call “I have rollers in my hair”. I created it to express what it is like to be in an environment that tries to bring you down and crush all your efforts. This is about struggles we face in our daily lives.
Being a digital artist in Nigeria and getting into cryptoart, I have been faced with many challenges, ranging from the crypto ban and Twitter ban. In spite of all this, my love for art pushes me to keep creating and showing my art to the world however I can. That’s me in that tweet below. I thought I would show myself to my friends and colleagues. Mentioned in the tweet are Benson and Gus, two of my artist friends who are also featured in this post.
The Queen Mother NFT depicts the Ivory Mask of the legendary 16th century Queen Idia of the Ancient Benin Kingdom. Queen Idia,known as the great warrior queen, after the death of her husband, raised and led an army to fight off adversaries and ensure the reign of her son as the King of the Edo people of the Ancient Benin Kingdom.
The Ivory Mask of Queen Idia was looted from the Benin Kingdom, among other artworks, during the British Benin Expedition of 1897. It is currently held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The Queen Mother (TQM) NFT will serve as a members-only access for holders as the project leaders release initiatives and rewards to bridge the gap between non-fungible tokens and the physical world. Tokens can be purchased on Open Sea via the Polygon blockchain.
Gustus My name is Augustus Poku Sarkodee (Gus Sarkodee on Twitter) and I’m a multi-genre photographer from the beautiful West African country of Ghana. My work is greatly influenced by color and composition and I explore many different techniques most of the time. I recently started listing my work as non-fungible tokens. It has been an amazing journey so far, because I get to meet all these talented artists. At the moment, my work is listed for sale on both Known Origin and Opensea.
Xader Hello, I am Alex, a Nigerian student who is working to make a name for myself as a digital artist. I took a liking to the anime style of illustration mostly because of how extreme it gets when describing pretty much anything. I’ve been actively drawing for three years now and only got into the digital space in October, 2021.
It is very difficult to sell my art as non-fungible tokens based in my country because of all the restrictions set up by our government. Trading in cryptocurrency is illegal. There is also a Twitter ban so we must use VPNs to access Twitter to promote our work. On top of that, there are major power outages, which makes it difficult for some of us to use electronic devices to make art.
Kiel Orji I am a digital artist and street wear designer from Lagos, Nigeria. I am exploring youth culture and radicalism with a colourful rebellion against socio-political nuances of life in my home country. I am the mind behind Odd Surface and the co-founder of an independent creative collective, Popartii.
My creative practice is an exchange between working over a variety of surfaces, from digital paintings and murals, to luxury fashion apparel and footwear. For my clothing brand, I create statement pieces that are a professional reflection of his cool, calm collective ideals and with specificity, which are pleasing to the senses. Currently, I create skull art NFTs, which I have listed on various platforms, like Foundation and Open Sea.
Ololade I’m a fine art photographer and NFT from Lagos, Nigeria. The journey to establish myself as a digital artist has not been the easiest for me and other creators from Nigeria as you may have read earlier in this post. Twitter and cryptocurrencies are the major means of putting ourselves out into the world and sharing our art. Regardless, we find unconventional means of promoting ourselves and our craft with strong beliefs in our creative ideas to spark conversations on topics around the world. There are many stories to be told.
Famous Umobuarie/Fame Identity I am a hyperrealist artist, and I create realistic drawings using a pencil and other mediums, such as a ballpoint pen. I was born in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria. I started drawing at the age of five on the back of my notebooks, chairs, doors, and on walls. I generally draw from the things going on around me and my environment, society, and circumstances to see if an idea, emotion, or critique can be communicated using bodies, symbols, and titles.
People around me are amazing and I use different amazing souls as inspiration when creating a drawing. Our need to effectively communicate with each other is essential. If we cannot communicate, we cannot truly bond with each other. This is why I use my work to communicate with others and tell their stories. Some of my portfolio work is seen on Art Station. Most recently, my artwork was featured on the Instagram account of Open Sea, the most well-known ethereum based NFT sales platform.
Godiva Omoyuri/4th Finger Studio I am a fine art portrait photographer and a collage digital artist from Edo state, raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I am the creative director of 4th Finger Studios. My artwork showcases the beauty in human diversity; self-love; equality, and other societal paradigms. My objective is to normalize weird and embrace what is different. My goal is to inspire those who see my work to live above the status-quo, to get off that labeling, and be our own standard of beauty while also letting people discover that there is beauty in being unusual.
Chuma Anagbado I am a multi-disciplinary artist & designer whose work cuts across traditional, digital, and emerging creative mediums. My work reimagines Igbo culture and identity. I am the co-founder of Nigeria’s first multidisciplinary design firm, and I work to shine a light on human capacity development, identity, and social impact. In my work, I reimagine functional ways of using both material and non-material aspects of Igbo existence in designing new structures and narratives that people can use to help build a sense of identity, spirituality, and community.
Special Guest: Subhash Nair My name is Subhash Nair, and I am a wildlife photographer from India. Currently, I am ambassador for Nikon India and Oppo Mobile India. Africa is one of my favourite places for photographing wild animals, and I travel there two or three times every year. Nature and its creatures are amazing and we can learn a lot from them. I am at my best when capturing animals in their natural habitats.
I think people who don’t love nature and wildlife cannot love anything. Places like Masai Mara and Amboseli are like second homes to me. I visit the Masai village when ever I travel to Masai Mara. My most recent visit was in October, 2021. Besides the wildlife, what fascinates me are the people, food and culture of Africa. Everything attracts me and I am happy to say that I have made many friends there and will be back to visit soon. Stories from the Wild is my collection of photography compiled from five years of exploring Africa, India and Indonesia. They are listed on the ethereum NFT platform Open Sea. Follow me on Twitter, or for a spectacular wildlife safari, find me on Instagram.