WHO ARE YOU?
I’m a modern pop artist exploring the theme of ‘the ordinary and every day; my work focuses on the things that form our identity yet are seldom given much thought.
’m a documentary cinematographer doing most of my work with the ABC and a few Sydney agencies but something happened to me just over two years ago that totally spun me in a different direction and so I decided to transition into being a full-time artist; it’s all happened really fast and I’m incredibly happy with how things have evolved (but I still get imposter syndrome and think I need to keep sending "thank you" emails to the person who just dropped three grand on one of my pieces; I’m like, “Is this even real?”)
DO YOU CREATE YOUR WORK DIGITALLY OR THE TRADITIONAL WAY?
I’m a traditional artist – I draw and then paint. Last year was the first time I tried acrylics and it took me a while to learn not to dump loads of acrylic paint on the palette … But I’m also a child of the digital age and the last month has seen my learning curve with creating digital works of art rocket, and I’m also getting lots of creative fulfilment integrating the two. And it’s a lot easier for me now switching between using oil and acrylic paint.
WHEN DID YOU START WITH NFT'S AND WITH ART OVERALL?
The freshwater Five
March 2021 was when I got into it, I was ploughing all my time into getting things ready for my drive to Sydney for TOAF and the drive allowed me to push a lot of thought-time into which direction I wanted to take post-TOAF.
So, when I returned, I spent a week or so getting my head around it all and then I jumped right into the deep end (do it once, do it right); and now I have thirteen pieces on my Rarible NFT account, and my goal is to ultimately have all my work on the platform. It’s also been fun learning new ways of presenting my work as digital assets – marrying my paintings with digital identities such as making the fish in my painting ‘The Freshwater Five’ dance, heaps fun :)
I decided to get real as an artist just over a year ago; almost everyone usually says in their bio that they’ve been “painting and drawing since being a child” but, to be honest, who wasn’t doing that as a child? To me, it’s a redundant term. I started this path just over a year ago and I’m really happy about what I’m doing, where I’m going.
I’d got to a point in my career where I had so many online gallery representations that doing the admin for each of them was close to a full-time job which began to affect how much time I had left for painting.
So, I decided to streamline things – dropped all of them except for two (Saatchi and Artfinder) plus my website and my NFT presence. With NFTs you can bake into the piece being sold a commission for yourself on the secondary market – for the first time, royalties were being addressed properly for the artist. You can vary the percentage, even going up to 30%; so that means, in perpetuity, you will get royalties each time your work is sold on. So many people think that the notice “10% of sales will go to the creator” means that the artist pays 90% commission but that’s exactly not what it is! Another factor was I was being asked at least once a week to be on yet another online gallery and of course, that’s something good for self-validation; one of them (from Singapore) promoted themselves as the first gallery offering art as NFTs and so that got me introduced to the idea.
Gertrude Stein's Coffee
The push though was when someone had seen my work on my Insta page and instead of getting in touch with me about the piece they went through Tricera – a Japanese gallery I was with – and so now I have to pay commission on a piece that wasn’t with the gallery, plus bear the cost of shipping and insurance to Taiwan which ultimately cost me nearly 50% of the sale. I was like, “why am I doing this?” And so that’s what got me seriously considering the NFT marketplace.
HOW MUCH TIME GOES INTO YOUR WORK?
Usually about 12 hours every day – I spend the first couple of waking hours drinking coffee, reading, and bonding with my two black cats ‘Charlie’ and ‘Trouble’; and then I’m straight into the drawing, painting, admin side of things. I’m an intensely creative person so I need to be doing something with my art business every day and into the night.
WHEN YOU SELL AN NFT, DO YOU GET THE SAME RIGHTS OVER IT AS WHEN YOU'D SELL IT THE NORMAL WAY OR ARE THERE DIFFERENCES?
I assume all rights to the work I create. I do license my work for reproduction in other areas, but I never give away or sell my rights as an artist.
It’s interesting because I was having this exact discussion on an NFT forum with someone just two days ago who had the opinion that if they buy an NFT then they have the right to reproduce as they wish because they automatically get to be the copyright holder.
CAN YOU SELL THE SAME ARTWORK MULTIPLE TIMES ON THE SAME OR DIFFERENT BLOCKCHAIN AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OWN AN NFT?
You can sell editions in the same way you can already sell editions of your work but if I set a piece to be one of a kind then I’d never reproduce it, but this definitely widens the debate on simulacra/simulation.
An NFT can be anything – it can be your house, your car, your art, and, of course, a digital asset. Because there has been an explosion of the platform with people buying digital pieces it’s assumed societally that an NFT must be digital to exist at all. But that’s not the 4 cases.
Leopold Bloom's Breakfast of Kidneys
I have pieces that are tangible alone; tangible and digital combined; and, digital alone. It’s a great new and wide-open landscape to explore and be involved with. But if what’s being asked is referencing the digital asset then that’s where simulacra/simulation comes into its own; this is because while it’s the blockchain itself that is unique, it doesn’t make what the blockchain is attached to unique and it can be reproduced as many times as people would like to but it’s the knowledge that you own the uniqueness of the piece that is the value of the piece. It’s often said that millions of copies of the Mona Lisa have been made but we all know there’s just one original.
DO YOU JUST SELL OR ALSO BUY NFT'S?
I’m a collector of art and my home is full of pieces from other contemporary artists that I like and admire – my love is for the essence of humanity; for example, you might show me a photo of a wide-open landscape featuring the edge of a cliff that will mean nothing to me; but as soon as you put a sneaker with someone’s leg laying down right in the bottom left corner then you’ve got me – I’m sold on the story and want to know more about who’s leg that is and what’s about to happen (in the image) but has already happened (IRL).
And so, this will also cross over to me for wanting to buy the work of other artists selling NFTs. I’ve just come across a piece I love that I thought was digitally produced but, chatting with the artist, I learn that it’s actually a scene she’s created and then photographed! That’s her thing and it totally flips the concept of photorealism :) You can see it here http://bit.ly/LunarVoyage
DO YOU THINK IT IS A LONG-LASTING INDUSTRY?
Yes, I do. While there currently is an exceptionally large group of people jumping in for some action, I don’t believe that will last as, like all endeavours, you don’t get into it for a get-rich-quick scheme, but there are so many others like myself who are in it for the longterm.
A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK NFT'S ARE OVERRATED, WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THAT?
The pleasure seeker
There will always be those that choose to not educate themselves before having a manifestation of negativity over change that is happening or about to happen. There is nothing preventing people like myself to sell their tangible work in a new marketplace and that, fundamentally, is what it is – just a new arena in which to sell your art.
CRYPTO, BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
There is no doubt that, currently, minting an NFT uses an equivalent amount of energy as one person living in Europe for a month. If that seems shocking, because it is, then one needs to consider just what is it about modernity that we have issues with?
We are shocked because to learn of that truth we automatically equate that a person living in Europe for a month must use up a lot of energy, yet those of us that live a westernised lifestyle in the 21st century seem not to have a problem with how much energy one needs to live. But mining for the creation of NFTs and the associated environmental impact is at the forefront of the minds of those people driving the concept forward.
Cheaper energy for processing power will be sought and that ultimately will lead to solar energy being used. So, offsetting the carbon cost will decrease in time as the server farms doing the mining move to renewable energy sources. Conversely, it is estimated that the servers needed to keep the internet happening generate a carbon footprint that is 2% of the total energy used globally. But those decrying NFTs for their current energy use will happily snap up any online gallery that pops up each week without considering just how much energy is used by being on and available all of the time; equally, they’ll change very little of their habits in respect of living a westernised life right now.
YOUR PRO'S AND CON'S OF NFT'S
The economics of decentralised finance is the number one reason why any artist needs to be involved with this marketplace. Imagine, an identity on the internet in which not only do you pay less than 3% in commission, but you also finally get royalties from the secondary market!
It’s a no-brainer and reminds me of the Netflix/Blockbuster wrangle in which Netflix, in its early days, was offered to Blockbuster for USD$1M and Blockbuster replied, “no thanks, streaming will never catch on for two reasons – connectivity is shit and people love coming to a store to choose movies and buy popcorn.”
The Madhatter's Teapot
How many of us got stressed by the local store not having the new movie we wanted to see and ultimately, by the paradox of choice, grabbed the nearest disc just to get out of the store we’ve been wandering around in for 45 minutes?
So, I think the online galleries need to wake up and get smart because this new way of life might see the ending of theirs. Two of the biggest cons are the current ecological impact and getting your work in front of the eyes of the people that might want to buy your work. The latter is currently the case anyway as we have a saturated market – especially in the “abstract” group – that’s keeping things incredibly difficult for those that want to be professional in their art practice as a business.
And just to end on that note, I must echo an earlier thought in being fed up with galleries earning more from my work than I do – how on earth did we let this happen and why on earth do we think “it’s just the way it is and we lowly artists have to put up with it.” No. We don’t.
WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU AND YOUR WORK?
Click the words to get magically beamed to those platforms
Ian Flemmings Mar-Tinny