Next Up: 5 Ones to Watch in June 2022

BY Langston Thomas

June 02, 2022

In Partnership With

In 2021, we witnessed the birth of a new creator economy on the blockchain. Since NFTs took center stage, artists have achieved NFT superstardom, billion-dollar brands have been forged in the span of a few months, and lives have been utterly transformed time and time again. Yet, the most inspiring thing about the NFT space is the number of artists of all creeds and mediums who have found community and support by embracing this technology.

In keeping with our mission to empower creators, we present Next Up — our monthly franchise dedicated to showcasing rising artists. Our June edition is presented in partnership with Coindesk’s Consensus conference as we’ve teamed up to create the Next Up @ Consensus scholarship.

We’re excited to be offering each of June’s Next Up artists two complimentary passes to Consensus 2022 as well as a stipend for travel and lodging. Artists will be featured on nft now’s Next Up panel at the festival and have the opportunity to showcase their work in the on-site NFT gallery.

Without further ado, here are our June artists.


Abieyuwa is a curator, multi-faceted artist, and part of the core team behind the African NFT Community. A creator first and foremost, she experiments with technology to explore her identity as a Black woman in contemporary society, while showcasing her Esan and Igbo heritage.

As a curator, Abieyuwa uplifts her fellow artists through a variety of unique exhibitions, including Paradise, which showcases 22 Black women from numerous regions in Africa and the African diaspora.

We had the opportunity to ask Abieyuwa a few questions about NFTs and her artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

During lockdown I was invited onto Clubhouse by my sister and I initially wanted to just join photography rooms and connect with other artists. I started seeing rooms that had ‘Crypto Art’ in the title and I was very curious about what exactly that was. At first, I thought it was a certain style of art and it was very confusing but intriguing to me. I kept listening to rooms hosted by Sirsu and others for about a month until one night in February 2021, I decided to just see what it was like to mint something. After that night, I was invited to be in a Black History Month show in Cryptovoxels by SellArtNotDrugs and IRLArt. Since then, I’ve gotten great opportunities that I never could’ve imagined and joined great communities in Web3.

How would you describe your art? What’s your process like?

My art is usually inspired by my lived experiences. I tend to use very vibrant colors and I’m always looking to push myself. I’m someone who likes to experiment and I usually try to learn a new skill with every work I put out. Usually, I’ll come up with a concept, create a mood board and then come up with the composition in my sketchbook. Once I’ve decided how it should look, I start creating on Blender and sometimes Daz to see what new techniques I can incorporate into the work. Oftentimes, my end result is completely different than my initial sketch.

Do you have any drops/collections on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?

Yes, I’m currently working on a collection in between trying to finish other art pieces by deadlines. I don’t want to give too much away but it will definitely show how much I’ve grown as a 3D artist/sculptor since I started in 2020. I’m hoping to have it finished by the end of June, maybe sooner.


Metsä is a multidisciplinary designer and musician who is focused on creating work that combines various artistic facets into one unique vision. Over the years, he’s refined his style to incorporate a wide variety of motion and sound design.

As a design professional, Metsä has worked with Microsoft, Uber, Instacart, and more. He’s even received a D&AD Yellow Pencil Award for a project he completed for Postmates. Although he’s only minted a handful of his own NFTs, in the space he’s aided in the creative endeavors of Reo Cragun, Daniel Allan, Coinbase NFT, and more.

We had the opportunity to ask Metsä a few questions about NFTs and his artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

Thankfully I learned about the existence of NFTs from RAC. I can remember the call clear as day back in the fall of 2021. I was on a group facetime with the Minerva team and RAC suggested I look into crypto and NFTs as a way to share/mint my work. I was already producing content and throwing it up on social media, so I had pieces ready to go. He said it would be the perfect combination of my audio/visual skills packed into one container. After that, I talked with him about what platforms to apply to and he linked me up with the SuperRare team and I was accepted there. The rest is history.

How would you describe your art? What’s your process like?

I play around a lot with sound and create little visuals most days. I find that, at a point, I’ve been swirling around a concept that’s been lodged in my head and all the pieces start to make sense. I’ll grab sketches I worked on months back and run with them, combining them with audio in Ableton I’d been messing with days prior. Other times it’s more deliberate — trying to pinpoint a feeling and then pushing that through various mediums. I find that everything pushes and pulls and plays off of each other. If I get stuck visually I jump to making weird sounds and then [go] back to Cinema 4D/Adobe After Effects. I love when I start to create little elements and match them up with sound. The end part of the process is where a lot of the magic and decision-making happens.

I also try to spend a decent part of my time away from a screen. I find getting outdoors and creating stories to write about is important to me. That’s part of the process that might not get enough credit. Getting clarity on a bike ride or at the bouldering gym. Driving home late at night after dropping off my girlfriend and finding a rush of energy in thoughts passing by. It’s as much as what you don’t do directly in relation to the piece, that makes a difference.

My art is driven by the world around me. I love combining everything I can get my eyes and ears on to create a short glimpse into a world I discovered. It’s an all-encompassing process from concept to visual, to audio. I try to be sure to also leave some interpretation up to the viewer. I hope the pieces are ones that people want to sit with and come back to. The work is usually vibrant, with cuts of motion and a score that fits the visuals. A rush of energy packed into 15 seconds or so that leaves you wanting more, or to watch it again.

Do you have any drops/collections on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?

Nothing major currently, been focused on my nine-to-five job along with trying to get outside as much as possible and absorb everything around me. At some point soon I’ll sit down and work on some new things, got some ideas floating around. However, I do have two pieces going up with Generative Gallery in a museum in Israel. Along with working on some tour visuals for ODESZA, so keep an eye out for that!


Monaris is a Puerto Rico-born photographer who is based in New Jersey. Through her art, she combines her passion for visual storytelling and photography with her distinct creative style that focuses on composition and color theory.

As an Adobe Lightroom Partner, and a Sony Ambassador, Monaris acts as a champion for NFTs, with her art and career bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3. Her authenticity behind the camera has earned her accolades, with her Collecting Hands series catapulting her to become a coveted photographer and crypto-artist.

We had the opportunity to ask Monaris a few questions about NFTs and her artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

About a year and a half ago, my very good friend Dave Krugman introduced me to NFTs. I remember him telling me that “it was the future of art” and that [they] would give more power to artists. I’m so glad I listened! I bought my first couple of NFTs on Nifty Gateway, started studying the space, building a community, and selling my own photography. I’m also a proud collector of many beautiful photographs. It’s extremely important to support other artists in the space. We are stronger together.

How would you describe your art? What’s your process like?

I am a photographer with a passion for visual storytelling. Throughout the years, I’ve developed a distinct creative style focused on composition and color theory that lives to transform brief instances of reality into movie-like scenes. My editing style tends to be very moody and cinematic.

Do you have any drops/collections on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?

I am getting ready to mint a new 1/1 photograph on SuperRare called “The Nightwatcher.” It’s a moody cinematic snowy scene from a magical night in New York City.

Nicole Ruggiero

Nicole Ruggiero is a 3D visual artist whose work concentrates on tech and culture. Her pieces are deeply inspired by the emotional, social, and aesthetic facets of technology and how that culture also manifests itself in the physical world.

She was one of the first artists to sign up for minting on Foundation in late 2020, which quickly led to her becoming a force in the space, and speaking at 2021’s NFT NYC. With her whimsical style evolving over time, Ruggiero’s NFTs continue to be highly regarded throughout the space.

We had the opportunity to ask Nicole a few questions about NFTs and their artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I became interested in NFTs years ago when I heard about the ability to sell digital work through crypto. I didn’t get involved at the time because it felt a bit too confusing for me but when I was asked to join Foundation for its launch, I was pretty excited. Before NFTs, I was showing in museums and galleries but was not able to sell any of my work because there was really no way to sell purely digital works of art. The work needed to have some physical component, like a painting or even a print, except for some rare exceptions. I was so excited when I was finally able to sell my artwork as NFTs because my dream has always been to live primarily as an artist, sell my work, and continue creating as my main source of income and I have finally been able to do that!

How would you describe your art? What’s your process like?

My art usually deals with technology, culture, and the internet. I like observing how people use the internet as a meaningful and positive outlet to create their own identities and connect with others. Lately, I’ve also been into video game culture as well as retro game culture. Since I started doing 3D in 2015, I’ve been making “art experiences” which are essentially AR and VR video games. I’ve been doing a deeper dive lately examining video games and gender as well.

Do you have any drops/collections on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?

The U.S. premiere of my solo show opening is on Friday, June 10 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn from 6-9 p.m. ET. [RSVP here] We also have an NFT NYC Brunch at the gallery on Thursday, June 23 from 12-5 p.m. ET. [RSVP here] For the opening, I’m dropping a bunch of new edition NFTs on OpenSea. It’s a big project I’ve worked on for years called ‘How The Internet Changed My Life’ and I’m really excited about it! I hope everyone can come out and try some VR! The artist David Henry Nobody Jr. is also having his solo show simultaneously at the same gallery.

In addition to that, I have a collaboration I am releasing with Planttdaddii called ‘Achievement Unlocked: Touch Grass.’ It’s a work about a non-binary character overcoming local battles in New York City visualized as a chaotic platform-style video game. This work will be included in a SuperRare group exhibition that Planttdaddii and I curated which opens Thursday, June 9 in Soho and is currently available on my SuperRare.

Planttdaddii (Sam Clover)

Planttdaddii — AKA Sam Clover — is a multidisciplinary artist whose work involves an electric blend of flora, fauna, and her own unique characters. Her pieces explore the navigation of mental health and human complacency when faced with the collapse of the natural world.

Having become involved in NFTs early on, Planttdaddii’s style has continued to iterate on her past experiences as an oil painter, creating colorful and meaningful 3D pieces in the process. Although at times underrated, in 2022 Planttdaddii exists as an important member of the NFT ecosystem.

We had the opportunity to ask Sam a few questions about NFTs and her artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I joined the NFT space in October 2020 after a friend suggested I look into it. NFTs had crossed my radar years prior to this but at the time I was working with oil paint and not yet practicing digital sculpture or 3D art at all. When I heard about NFTs again in 2020 I was sitting on a large body of unsold digital artwork, so it felt like it was the right place and right time. I messaged SuperRare, was onboarded shortly after, and my life was altered forever.

How would you describe your art? What’s your process like?

Up till this point in my life, my work has been a way to process life and purely as a channel for my emotions. I would describe my work as manifestations of a feeling that I’ve pinned down to understand that exact feeling better. Moving forward I want to work on larger world concepts by using this same technique I have used to work inward — and in fact, I have already started doing that with two of my most recent pieces.

Do you have any drops/collections on the horizon we should keep an eye out for?

Next release: ‘Achievement Unlocked: Touch Grass’ a collaboration with Nicole Ruggiero (listed on her SuperRare). The piece shows a non-binary character bounding through New York as a chaotic platform-style video game. It was a pleasure working with Nicole on this and I hope that it finds a wonderful home.

I’m currently working on a series about mankind’s impact on the Earth. Specifically the downfall of countless plant and animal species as a result of industrialized food industries’ negligence and human complacency. The first artwork in this series will be released in late June or early July 2022. The 1/1 is sold, but there will be sister pieces sold as editions that I’ll be gifting to my collectors and a few will also be available to new collectors.

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