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.
Tell us about yourself, Ishika I am a self-taught abstract artist living in London. I work spontaneously and mainly for myself. It is something that heals me, gives me hope and makes me feel free! I am never myself without my colours. The best of me, the happiest of me, is when I am painting. Sometimes I paint only for the very reason people want to talk to communicate. Vibrant colours become my voice when nothing else works.
Is it difficult to create abstract works of art? My abstract paintings came naturally to me. Expressive abstractionism has been my comfort zone from the very beginning of my journey as an artist. It gives me much-needed freedom and I feel at home painting in this style. I feel that it unlocks the aspects of my personality that otherwise would lie dormant, remaining silent and nebulous.
Describe your art, style or process My art is mainly concentrated on abstract expressive mixed media (oil and acrylic). Each one is deeply reflective, and I try to make them fly beyond the borders of the canvases I paint on. Mixed media allows me to be spontaneous, and the whole process seems playful and adventurous to me. Often my subconscious mind takes over, and the process feels quite liberating. I do what I feel like, no plans, no rules whatsoever. This world is so full of rules, so I reach for that sense of freedom while painting.
Tell us more about your inspiration My paintings are inspired by music and poetry. Each painting tells a story from my life, including my own traumas or happy memories. Many of my paintings are inspired by Charles Bukowski, Ogden Nash, Robert Frost, Rudyard Kipling, Jibanananda Das or Sylvia Plath’s poems. The emotions and the messages I find from their powerful poems are what I translate into paintings.
Do you have a team or do you work alone? As a full-time artist, I have worked on collaborative projects, such as book and CD cover design, collaborations with a carpet company and also with an industrial designer who has designed chairs based on my artwork.
Tell us about your new home world, Twitter I joined the NFT community on Twitter a few months ago and have already sold a number of non-fungible tokens on the Foundation platform. Right now, I am collecting digital art as I enjoy being part of an amazing group of talented artists and creatives. For me, this is about having a family outside your family. I enjoy being in a community that supports me without judgment. This is a great place for artists who are not here for financial gain but who want to feel accepted. No other platform, no other community, can provide me with that support and love I receive here.
How do you establish your brand presence? Apart from Twitter, NFT, Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces, I am also curating an art promotion page on Instagram for Involute Magazine, which I co-founded with my talented artist friend Pratik Chitte. Pratik is a brilliant charcoal artist from India. Together, we feature artists from around the globe. Pratik also interviews artists for the magazine’s blog, which is hosted on WordPress. We do this to support the creative community internationally.
Any final thoughts? As editors and curators, Pratik and I believe that each work of art tells a beautiful story to our viewers. Art is like a powerful vessel that connects all of the scattered fragments of our innermost feelings. They make us look deeper inside ourselves. Now, if you happen to be on Instagram, please visit our profile page and let us have your feedback. We would love to hear from you.
Best wishes for All Souls’ Day, everyone, and welcome to a special photography showcase. In this post, I will introduce award-winning photographer, Street Spirit, Sreeranj Sreedhar. We became acquainted during a space (Twitter Spaces) and enjoyed some pleasant conversations. Then, after I asked 3D artists to hang out here, one of Sreeranj’s followers told me I had to create a feature here for him. I knew he was an esteemed photographer, so I sent him a message and held my breath.
I was relieved when he agreed to be featured. And then, we took our time and worked out the details. One of the things they never teach you about social audio is that a good host needs situational awareness. Social spaces tend to flatten hierarchies. Which means that if you are present, you are equal to everyone. But your authority as a host is defined by your ability to pick out the jewels from among the crowd. And you do that by listening.
Reading the atmosphere surrounding people is important because some of the most special ones have humble spirits. This skill will bring opportunities to meet and learn from the best and brightest. This was how I came to know about Sreeranj. He has a gift for capturing the colorful sights of his hometown, Kerala, India.
For the past three years, Sreeranj has worked as a full-time photographer. During this time, he has documented the culture and traditions in his hometown. Before that, for twenty-eight years, he held a corporate position in Dubai.
Sreeranj became interested in photography in 2011, when he became fascinated by unusual moments of daily life, including festivals all over the world. He has attended masterclasses by Magnum Photos and other respected photographers in order to fine-tune his skills.
He now gives photo tours in addition to hosting workshops and being a mentor for aspiring photographers. If you are interested, you can register for them via his website. He is the administrator and curator for various photography groups from India and Dubai. Sreeranj is one of the eight members of the Indian street photography group, ‘In-Street Collective’.
Presently, he is working to document all the major festivals and cultural events of Kerala. He wants to help promote some of the dying art forms in the region as well as to encourage artists to continue celebrating them. Through his activism, he hopes to encourage people to engage in responsible tourism.
His photography has been exhibited all over the world. In print, he has been published in National Geographic, NatGeo Traveller India, Lonely Planet Traveler Magazine, Digital Photo Magazine USA and Wanderlust Travel Magazine UK, among others. He has also received many photography awards in this short span of time. His portfolio can also be seen at his website, sreeranj.com, where you can purchase photos. On socials, you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Notes: Today is Tuesday, November 2, All Souls’ Day, and this post is dedicated to the late father of our guest. Sreeranj lost his father right after agreeing to be introduced to you here, and because of that, he was not able to connect with me until this past weekend. To readers who have lost loved ones in recent years, this post is also dedicated to you.
Brissa “Breezy” Marina Page, co-founder of Cricket Ranch, is today’s featured filmmaker. She is an independent creative director, producer, stylist and content creator based in Los Angeles, California. She shares her outspoken love for civil liberties and social justice with friends, family and collectors alike.
From the filmmaker herself: Light Giver was a passion project for the Cricket Ranch, a production boutique and studio rental location. The Cricket Ranch is a five star location space I created with my partner, Coop Grafik. We are happy to work with artists in Los Angeles looking for a versatile location to shoot and create.
Follow our enchantress as she dances with the light as she reunites with her King at the end. Starring Aisha Anderson and featuring music remix by Therdchild. Shot in one night, we had a great time every second of the shoot and during post-production. I wanted to highlight my beautiful friend Aisha, and her belly dancing, costume and skills. She was brilliant.
My partner and I decided to create the Cricket Ranch as a location after noticing a need for more diversity on our social media timelines. The boring, thin cis-white model format was repetitive and we knew that we needed to be the change and inspire more photographers to do the same when they shoot here. We needed to see more black and indigenous people of colour, as well as strong, healthy body types from all walks of life.
Recently collected is the spectacular nonfungible token from Keith Allen Phillips on Hic et Nunc. The blurb reads, “Sylva and Tee – Nightmare. If you wake up to this at the end of your bed, do you run or do you stay? This is Sylva Hattington with Tee Marie modeling some of Sylva’s amazing creations.”
Will be checking my stats in about six hours to find out exactly how many eyeballs were clapped on this image, all 7MB of it. If you thought your eyes were going to fall out, wait until you see the rest of Keith’s collection. (Don’t look.)
And if you want to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth, I was drawn to the portraits because of the headdresses. I love headdresses and finding out these were designed by a woman made this token a must-have. Maybe it’s because I’m such an introvert and I need a shell in which to retreat.
Then, collected last Sunday, was Tea Time by Thai artist GIMME because I have a thing for skulls carved out of crystals. The artist was featured in an earlier post on 3D NFT artists. I thought that nothing could make them scream, but they freaked out when I told them I was going to collect this token.
Now, if you want a nightmare story for Halloween, it should be about my dysfunctional love life. Without making a confession of any sort, I’ll give you the rundown as if it were the treatment for a work of fiction.
The story goes, a woman who looks disturbingly young for her age has run away from her gilded cage where she is being courted by dozens and dozens of extremely handsome suitors. As night draws near, she stumbles upon a tower at the edge of her world. The steward of the tower is a monk who has lived there, alone, for nearly thirty years. Seeing an opportunity to have all of his knowledge recorded, he seduces the woman with a promise to share his ultimate secret.
In exchange, she must work with him to write down every miracle he has ever performed. The woman agrees because she is in love. And as she studies his alchemy, she suspects that his insights are pedantic filler. His proclaimed power over the material world could be the stuff of fantasy. In order to save herself, she embarks on a search for her true soulmate. Does he exist, and will she find him in time?
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