Features

Next Up: Five Ones to Watch in July 2022

BY Langston Thomas

July 05, 2022

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. In our July edition, we’ve curated a list of five ascendant talents who are poised to make significant waves in 2022.

Ben Skaar

Ben Skaar, who goes simply by Skaar at times, is an 18-year-old photographer and videographer based in Massachusetts. When not in school, he spends his time outside, capturing the beauty of nature as a travel photographer and crypto artist. Having first picked up a camera at the age of eight, Skaar’s photography has since taken him around the globe, even winning him the accolade of being named a 2020 Youth Travel Photographer of the year.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first learned about NFTs in January 2021 on Clubhouse! I was constantly joining rooms and began learning about the technology and opportunities for artists within Web3. Although photography was not very popular for NFTs, I saw a lot of potential for it. Now a year and a half later, it has been so exciting to watch the trajectory of the medium within the space. I was 17 at the time, which presented its own set of problems, including not being able to even purchase Ethereum and being removed from Clubhouse due to their age policy. From there, I began to spend more time on Twitter, connecting with many artists and collectors through Twitter Spaces and one-on-one conversations.

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

My art is very experience-driven and oriented toward telling stories about my adventures. I’ve always been very passionate about documenting where I’m going and what I’m doing; whether that be a mountain in New Hampshire or a rooftop in Boston. Through photography and videography, I try to replicate the feeling that I had while at the location myself. The process for my work includes location scouting, road-tripping, hiking, shooting, editing, and more. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to create the final images and videos you see online. I really enjoy walking collectors through the efforts required for the piece they hold!

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

Yes, I do! This august when I turn 19 I am going to be doing my first edition, which will be an image symbolizing my past year as an artist. This is a tradition I hope to continue for each birthday going forward. I also am going to be releasing the final 20 images to my “Above it All” collection on OpenSea, which captures my urban exploring career in Boston. Down the line, you can also expect to see more of my travel photography and cinematography on my own smart contracts. There’s lots to come!

Beryl Bilici

Beryl Bilici is a self-taught 3D artist focused on character design and animation. Through her futuristic and cyberpunk-inspired crypto art, she aims to create alternate bodies and worlds that speak to her own personal experiences. A staunch supporter of the new creative economy being built via NFTs, Bilici has been quickly gaining popularity not only for her own works but as a major proponent of artists creating independent wealth through blockchain technology.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I heard about NFTs through a friend at the end of 2020, but I had a one-year agreement with a client back then, so I was so busy with work which caused me to lose out on getting into the space. I was working as a freelance artist for years before NFTs, both in digital fields with international clients and IRL as a content creator and stage designer doing visuals for festivals and events. At the start of 2021, I was overwhelmed by my working conditions and had so much belief in the promise of NFTs that I quit my previous work in February and started to get more familiar with NFTs and the community. The push to do that for me was the pure intention of freedom. NFTs [equal] freedom for me, in terms of artistic and financial aspects. I’ve been in NFTs as a creator since early March 2021, have stopped accepting client works since then, and have never regretted it even for a second. I’m here for the long run and enjoying the process so much.

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

I mostly focus on the struggle between the virtual and substantial worlds of being by mixing the warm, gentle and authentic side of humans with the cold, synthetic but powerful aspect of futuristic elements. I enjoy the process of creating my own digital avatars and try to reflect my interests in high fashion and cyberculture in my characters and the clothes and accessories I make in 3D. I first imagine a scene with the character in my mind and try to build empathy with my model by analyzing the possible feelings, thoughts, and reactions in a certain environment. After this, my main workflow goes: creating the poses/animations, the scene, and environment, texture painting for materials, camera and lighting setup, test renders, final rendering, and post-production. Generally, I use at least five different software for each work from start to end.

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

My SuperRare genesis piece is coming this month. After that, I planned another drop for a series of three works that will be minted on SuperRare again. I’ll also be working with FuturFestival, one of the biggest music festivals in Italy, and will be creating their Muse character for 2023 both for a collection drop and also for the stage visuals for next year. Another exciting project with a legendary fashion photographer is on the horizon too — but I will share the details later this year.

Eceertrey

Eceertrey is an enigmatic augmented and virtual reality artist based out of Colorado. A multi-faceted creator at his core, Eceertrey combines landscape photography with his love for exploration and a knack for bringing his imagination into the real world. From unique 1/1s to conceptual digital wearables, Eceertrey has continued to largely fly under the radar in the NFT space yet is a coveted part of many influential collections.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first became interested in NFTs in 2017 after being introduced to Ethereum and downloading MetaMask to try and get some CryptoKitties. I never ended up buying one, but a year later in December of 2018, a friend told me about the upcoming Ethereum Denver Conference and happened to be curating the NFT gallery there. I minted my first five NFTs for that show in February 2019. A few weeks later I was accepted into SuperRare (SR) and began minting my artwork there while working full time. I lost my job during the beginning of the pandemic and I noticed that some of my artworks on SR had gotten some bids, so I started to accept the bids. Accepting those first bids caused more bids and so I would mint more work. I decided to make being an artist my full-time job in November of 2020 and have been doing that ever since. Forty-seven of my 1/1’s have sold on SuperRare to a bunch of collectors so far and it’s been the greatest thing in the world ever.

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

I first like to tell people I work in AR VR photography. I often say I am ‘exporting my imagination to our reality.’ I would describe my art as augmented landscapes, but often my work goes beyond that — augmenting the people and the clothes in the images themselves as well. When I was younger I would do a lot of urban exploring and graffiti, and I like to compare what I do now to doing that in a way, it’s all about ‘looking for spots to put my artwork’ but in this case, it’s more like placings digitals things into natural landscape environments versus finding a dope spot to paint on a wall in a city.

My process combines three distinct parts. It starts with an adventure: hiking/camping in the mountains, the dunes, or near a beach. Once at a cool spot, I take a bunch of photos and imagine seeing abstract forms in various places in the landscapes. I’ll sort through my favorite photos in post-production, and consider which images I want to use for renders. I put on my VR headset and use the program Adobe Medium to sculpt abstract forms and shapes and export those out. I like to use Adobe Stager to place my 3D VR sculptures and composite render them into the photograph there. I use Substance materials or Adobe Capture to create materials for the 3D objects, then render those into the scene, and then edit the photograph back in Lightroom. This third part is the Augmented Reality part which involves me exporting the VR 3D model to my iPhone. Then I go on another adventure outdoors somewhere and use ARkit to just drop the AR sculpture on hikes or wherever else I go and record video of the sculpture there, also taking a bunch more photos on my camera, which kinda creates this feedback loop to the first part of my process.

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

I will be dropping some NFTs on GameStop’s new marketplace when they launch! Not sure of a date yet though. I think I am one of the few fine artists doing that and I will have some low-priced editions for the only time ever there. I also have 11 1/1’s currently available on my SuperRare, some really old pieces too, and a few various artworks listed on some of the other marketplaces as well. I actually think my first NFT, my original genesis from that ETHDenver 2019 conference, is still available on OpenSea, but I don’t know if I will ever sell it now 🙂

Laurel Charleston

Laurel Charleston is a multidisciplinary artist who uses makeup to transform faces into works of art. Taking inspiration from fine art and nature, Charleston creates looks that are not merely accessories, but rather an extension of a larger artistic vision. A prominent part of the Web3 ecosystem, Charleston has curated a variety of impressive NFT exhibitions and is seen as a major proponent of the queer art community on the blockchain.

Marco Mori

Marco Mori is a 3D artist based in Germany who prides himself on experimenting with new and unique tools and techniques. With a preference for weird over normal, Mori enjoys adding humor to his art, making a name for himself over the years through visual collabs with the superstars such as Kanye West, Gorillaz, Future, and more. Recently, Mori has been turning heads in the NFT space with his impressive 1/1s and Creepture series.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I saw a lot of people’s Instagram stories where they sold their works for cryptocurrencies and, as I am an artist myself that has done a lot of personal works, I was super interested. I send Esteban Diácono a message and he explained it to me, so thereupon I applied at SuperRare, created a Twitter account, and started learning about NFTs at the end of 2020.

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

A lot of people describe it as an accident: they want to look away but they can’t. My process when I started was mostly technical at first. I looked for a new technique to learn and when playing around with it some ideas hit me which I tried and further developed. Now my art is more conceptual. I am thinking about what I want to do first and then start playing around with software until I am happy with the result.

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

Yes, my first new drop will be part of CryptoCubes on July 18 on NiftyGateway. After that, I want to release Creepture Eggs, which will be a free claim for all of my Creepture project holders. My third drop is in September and it will be my third solo drop on Nifty Gateway.

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