Features

Next Up: 5 Ones to Watch in May 2022

BY Langston Thomas

May 02, 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 May edition, we’ve curated a list of five ascendant talents who are poised to make significant waves in 2022.

Daniel Allan

Over the past year, Daniel Allan has become one of the most prominent names in the music NFT market. First turning heads with the completion of a nearly 50 ETH ($140,000) crowd-fund for his EP, “Overstimulated,” the producer/artist and general Web3 enthusiast has carved out a unique niche for himself within the NFT ecosystem.

Having sold a laundry list of impressive releases via curated music NFT platforms like Catalog and Sound, Allan exists as a frontrunner in the movement to ditch legacy music labels for a career in Web3. His endeavors thus far have undoubtedly inspired others to become involved in the music side of NFTs and have even led to him being featured in TIME Magazine.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first got into NFTs in March of 2021. I was playing a show in my friend’s backyard and had invited my new friend Cooper (known in the NFT space as Coopahtroopa) to stop by and check out the music. The whole point of the show was (ironically) to find a record deal but after having some entry-level conversations in the coming months I realized that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for: the deals weren’t very artist-friendly and I didn’t think I’d be able to be creatively happy. Around this time, Cooper told me about a platform that was just starting up called Catalog and I immediately started experimenting, minting my first NFTs.

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

My music is definitely all over the place — which I like. A lot of my older stuff was me learning and experimenting with pop and electronic music but the next chapter for me is starting to really lean into alternative and rap music while still maintaining modern electronic production elements. I don’t really have a go-to creative process but a huge part of it is collaboration: as a producer, nothing I create would be possible without the incredible artists I’m able to work with.

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

I’ve always prided myself in experimentation and being involved in projects early on. In May, I’m dropping an art project with Beatfoundry that was a pretty huge undertaking for me creatively. The project features six demos of mine that were all reimagined six to eight times each to fit the generative algorithm the Beatfoundry team has in place. I’m stoked for the drop but lowkey nervous about hearing all these random stems together for the first time.

Grant Yun

In 2022, Grant Yun has easily become a major facet of the NFT community. While he insists that his entrance into the NFT space was somewhat of a leap of faith, his art is undoubtedly here to stay, with his Neo-Precisionist style continuing to stand out in the now PFP-saturated NFT market.

With his 1/1s continuing to fetch a pretty penny via SuperRare, Yun’s soft, serene NFTs seem in staunch contrast to his fast-paced past as a competitive breakdancer. Even as Yun studies to receive his Doctor of Medicine degree, his output of incredible pieces hasn’t lapsed, and his status as a prolific crypto-artist has continued to bring him critical acclaim throughout the NFT space.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first became interested in NFTs after discovering a couple bigger artists in the space in 2020 started selling their art as tokens. I have been a huge advocate for cryptocurrency for a long time now and so the transition to creating NFTs was quite easy. In February of 2021, I actually had my wallet stolen and all my crypto drained. A few days after the incident I got accepted to SuperRare. I took whatever money I had left in my bank account to pay for the gas to mint my genesis on the platform and well… let’s just say it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. Looking back had I not taken that leap of faith, I would not be where I am today.

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

I describe my art as “Neo-Precisionist.” Precisionism is a movement of art that was native to the United States during the 1920s. I think much of my art shares similar qualities to these early 1900s artists and in light of our evolving art landscape of web3 and I want to help create a landscape for unique emerging genres of art.  My art focuses heavily on showcasing the beauties of ordinary life [including] simple concepts such as a house, a landscape, a road, etc., and yet I think the pieces still can bring out powerful emotions. It’s this idea that there is beauty all around us and sometimes we just need to see things from a different perspective to appreciate things. I love incorporating a touch of minimalism in my work too. I try to showcase just how far negative space can go and the power each and every color has on a composition. Sometimes I think my style is defined not by the actual illustration but by the colors I pick. Ninety-nine percent of my illustrations just come to me and I never sketch things out or anything. I just sit down and go. 

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

I have my first drop with Nifty Gateway coming May 8! It’s honestly been such a humbling experience since I first started. I remember when I started February of 2021, I was struggling to make sales of even 1 ETH. Now I have the opportunity to showcase my work on platforms such as Nifty. It’s really honestly just been a blessing. The series will be called “Life In Japan” and includes 4 unique editions! As the prices of my pieces have been going up in the 1/1 world, many people have reached out asking if I’ll do a drop this year since they have been priced out. I think this will be the best opportunity to get a piece from me! I’ll be having a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Besides that, I’m just slowly making sales on SuperRare in the 1/1 space.

Guido Di Salle

Guido Di Salle has become known as one of the most prolific (and at times infamous) artists in the NFT ecosystem. As a self-titled provocateur, Di Salle seems to have become a reflection of NFT culture himself, with his personality and art aligning with the collective sense of community within the NFT space.

A hairdresser turned fashion photographer, Di Salle’s focus shifted from works in the physical realm to creating art in the form of digital, photography, painting, and collage. Since first becoming involved in the NFT space, Di Salle’s style has continued to evolve from surreal to candid, culminating perfectly in his recently released open edition “Sicilian Kiss.” He says that his art is the product of one simple rule, “make iconic imagery of cool people, places and things.”

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I was actually searching for some references online to see the best way to sell come old sports cards I have had since I was a kid. I was strapped for cash and looking to liquidate. I came across an article about collectibles and NFTs, and as they say: the rest is history.

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

It’s hard to define my art. I’m known in the space as a photographer, but I was also a painter and collage artist in the physical realm. If I had to define my photography I would say it’s uninhibited and timeless. My process is simple to be honest, at least to me. I typically don’t plan out things too much because I feel like when I do the photos have a very unnatural feel. So my process is really that I interact with the environment I am shooting in and it’s very ‘of the moment.’ Needs to be spontaneous or I am not too interested.

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

I just released my first complete collection after over a year in the space. I have been selling only 1/1s and a couple of edition pieces (including the free Sicilian Kiss open edition which saw 14,812 minted in a five-hour window) so I am excited about this collection. It’s called “Better Off Anon” and is an intersection of fashion & identity with pop culture and crypto. I shot it with an old Minolta lens and it’s very much in keeping with my style!

Ponygirl

Ponygirl is a photographer turned crypto-artist whose pieces live on the border of beauty and fear. Having first become involved in the weird wide world of nonfungibles in 2021, her artistic prowess has earned her accolades as a unique entrant into the growing sector of NFT photography.

With works riding the line between fantasy and introspection, Ponygirl illustrates her collections with contemplative descriptions that add an exceptional depth to her ever-expanding catalog. With many of her pieces still awaiting collection, she has mostly flown under the radar, minting new, innovative pieces here and there.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first heard about NFTs in late 2020. I noticed some of my favorite artists selling their art on SuperRare and began looking into it. My goal was to become a full-time artist for years and NFTs seemed like the first real opportunity to make that a reality.

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

My art is strange and dark and doesn’t really fit into the commercial world. My process can either stem from a specific emotion or memory I’m struck by and want to make a photo out of. Sometimes the vision is very specific. If it’s more of just an emotion I want to portray I will hop into my car and just drive, looking for the perfect spot to inspire me to make the emotion into a photo. On the other hand, sometimes if the fog is rolling through town just right that is enough inspiration to just go out and make stuff.

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

I’m currently a little over halfway sold out of my collection Somethings Not Right. All my other work is currently sold out but I plan to add a new piece to SuperRare soon. I have to make it first though. I want it to be new and very meaningful to me. I’ve got other ideas in the works but I’m not quite ready to tell the world about them yet!

SillyGabe

SillyGabe is a multidisciplinary digital artist who has become known throughout the NFT space for his intricate audio-reactive visuals. His pieces draw inspiration from nature and sci-fi futurism while presenting a somewhat synesthetic experience to NFT collectors and enthusiasts.

For over 10 years, Gabe has been amassing an extensive catalog of unique visuals. Having completed client work for musicians such as Flume, Ice Cube, Zedd, and many more, his artwork can be seen at festivals and events across the world, and of course, can be collected via many of the top NFT marketplaces.

We reached out to SillyGabe for a Q&A but did not receive a response.

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