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.
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 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.
The dry paper hand is back with two small GIFs I made for you today. I am very happy because I welcomed my nephew over the weekend. It was also my birthday so the gif(t) bags are not random.
I find the TV scroll below oddly relaxing. It is also a great throwback to the good old days when people sat in front of square boxes. I hope you enjoy playing on Photo Mosh. I really enjoyed creating this installation.
On Sunday, I was experimenting with some design ideas and on Monday, I wondered what would happen if I glitched out some images. The software is stable but the file sizes are about 20MB for the GIFs. It’s necessary to compress them. The “Glitched TV” above is 7MB and “Warped thinking”, below, was shrunk to 10MB.
You will not get uniform results for every single kind of image. And though the video files are super heavy, the software I used doesn’t render jpg images large enough to print on a 16″ x 24″ poster. I need a workaround.
Hope you enjoyed the bursts of colour and the weird lines as much as I do.
Updated and edited: 2021.04.08. Thank you for viewing.
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