Next Up: Fernando Samalot Rides Puerto Rican Tides in Multisensory Meditations

BY Matt Medved

April 12, 2024

Fernando Samalot’s journey to his latest release was anything but linear.

The multidisciplinary artist and musician overcame a chronic illness that robbed him of his ability to travel two years ago, honing his skills and drawing inspiration from generative art and AI while regaining strength. A long-awaited return to his native Puerto Rico yielded a creative breakthrough that combined Samalot’s love for nature with the code-assisted art forms he had embraced.

Named for the Spanish word for tide, “Marea” is a multisensory project combining meditative drone footage of Puerto Rico’s windswept coasts with calming original music. Billed as “organic generative art,” the collection, which consists of three 1/1 pieces in timed auctions and a limited edition of 10 minted on Transient Labs, is now live on Makersplace.

“Marea is a collection of video art pieces shot in Puerto Rico with original music composed and performed by me,” says Samalot. It’s a love letter to the coastal waters of my island and an ode to the generative and AI artforms I have been enamored with since joining the space. That said, this is not AI or generative. It’s 89% organic.”

Every week, nft now’s Next Up showcases a new artist from our curated list of ascendant talents who have been making significant waves throughout web3. This week, our spotlight turns to Fernando Samalot.

nft now: How did you first become interested/involved in digital art? 

Fernando Samalot: I’ve been a multidisciplinary artist for as long as I can remember. My artistic origins were originally in music and writing but later evolved into visual arts. I have always been self taught in whatever discipline I pick up and get inspired and influenced by the art I am exposed to.

I learned music by teaching myself to play my favorite songs, writing by reading mystic poets, and photography by watching amazing photographers on Instagram since 2012. I spent around nine years sharing this process of learning and developing my own style online in real time. 

To every extent, my life and my art have always been intertwined and they change and transform in response to each other.

The natural progression into web3 was inevitable.

It was the summer of 2020, amidst the lockdowns from the pandemic, when my friend JN Silva (The Godfather of NFT photography and wb3 onboarding, as he’s known to some) DMed me, saying something along the lines of, “You have to check out NFTs and get involved. It’s the future.”

I didn’t get it at all at the time and brushed it off as “Oh that’s too confusing.” I still beat myself up about having missed such a monumental entry into the web3 space, but all things happen exactly when they are meant to.

Fast forward to 2021, and I walked into my first NFT Event in Puerto Rico, gmoney’s METAVERSO.

I always joke that the event might as well have been in an alien language cause I didn’t understand a single word that was uttered that whole day.

Despite leaving somewhat more confused and clueless than when I arrived, that day was monumental in my journey because it set off a series of events that would lead me on the path that I am on today.

How would you describe your art? 

Regardless of the medium I work with, I’ve always considered my art to be an offering for healing. First, it has been my personal tool for channeling, processing, and embodying my healing journey. I believe that the energy we imbue our work with permeates through all those who witness and receive it.

In terms of artistic style, since my differing bodies of work span from photography to music, AI synthesis, and now video art, what I consider weaves them together is the energy and intention with which they are created.

As much as I am in awe and inspired by the capacity of some artists to create immediately recognizable styles and worlds- I also recognize that my approach is unique to me and reflective of my own multidimensionality. 

This leads to my latest body of work, Marea, which is my first foray into video art and a landmark on my journey. I have finally landed on something that allows me to incorporate several of my art forms into one, particularly my own music, which I had been yearning to be able to incorporate.

That said, I am sure six months from now this process will have also evolved into something else, and I am excited to see where these explorations and experimentations lead me.

What’s your process like? And where do you usually find inspiration? 

My process is ever-evolving and ever-changing in response to what is happening in my life.

When I was living in Puerto Rico and traveling the world between 2013-2017 I was taking photos of the people I connected with in beautiful and serene landscapes.

I’ve never been one to conceptualize or plan my photographs. I am more of the kind of person who arrives somewhere beautiful and then simply responds to what the light is offering me.

This improvisational approach ties back to my music which is created in a similar fashion. Usually on the spot, in one go and in response to what I am feeling.

“Being able to create in Puerto Rico again was a profound and healing experience and one I have poured into the creation of each of the pieces in the collection.”


When, in 2022, I suddenly became chronically ill and could no longer travel and adventure in the same way, life organically led me to experiment more with AI, which resulted in my project “Re:Parenting,” where I created a collection of vivid abstract moving artworks based on paintings my 2-year-old daughter made with me.

For my latest collection, “Marea,” having regained some of my strength and health, I traveled back to Puerto Rico and serendipitously and almost accidentally created this new body of work. A foray into an art form that is new to me but, at the same time, feels as natural and organic as every other phase of my art journey. Being able to create in Puerto Rico again was a profound and healing experience and one I have poured into the creation of each of the pieces in the collection.

Surrendering to the ebb and flow of my life as it changes has gifted me the opportunity to explore different aspects of my artistic identity. That, paired with being exposed to some of the most incredible artists in the world who I now get to call dear friends like Samantha Cavet, Eva Eller, soulthesea, Cath Simard, Cowboy Killer, Summer Wagner, and countless others, this space has become an infinite source of inspiration for me and completely transformed the way I create, relate to and experience my own art. 

What was your breakthrough moment in web3? 

There’s one moment I always remember as a huge catalyst. It was June 2022 and my first NFT NYC. Half a year into my web3 journey, I didn’t know many IRL people outside my inner circle, so it was a huge leap of faith for me. I went to an event called NFT SEA at the Seaport and was blown away by the incredible art featured there and the powerful sense of community that enveloped the space. At one point, I walked into one of the several rooms in the movie theater, which happened to be filled with some of my favorite photographers in the world watching a slideshow. What impacted me the most was that the crowd would light up whenever a new photo appeared, cheering and celebrating each other. You could feel the love and camaraderie between everyone. Even though I didn’t know anyone at the time, I was enamored by the energy. It made me feel like I was a part of something truly special and it cemented my desire to go all in into the space and invest in IRL web3 experiences.

That day really lit a fire in me and I promised myself that the next NFT NYC, I wouldn’t be in the audience anymore. I would claim my place in this new world and prove to myself that I was just as capable and worthy as anyone else of sharing my unique perspective, experience and art with the world.

This burning desire led to me moving to New York City, which set off a series of synchronistic and life-changing events. From being invited to be a TimePieces Artist on a drop with Deepak Chopra, to having my art exhibited in galleries around the world as well as on Times Square in NYC for two years in a row- I owe so much of my growth and expansion to the communities that welcomed and nurtured me since day one, particularly JN Silva’s The Animus Lounge, Gmoney’s Admit One, and Dave Krugman’s ALLSHIPS.

“The sovereignty and decentralization that crypto art provides also means that artists have to assume the roles of creator, publisher, and marketer.”


What are the biggest challenges facing rising artists in web3? 

Online visibility is definitely at the top of the list for me. Relying solely on an active presence on Twitter can be not only overwhelming and demanding but also draining and detrimental to mental health. Especially when you feel like you’re screaming into the void, as they say.  That leads to another challenge, which I consider the inevitable burnout artists often experience. The sovereignty and decentralization that crypto art provides also means that artists have to assume the roles of creator, publisher, and marketer. Not everyone is built for that, and managing multiple roles paired with the volatility of social media algorithms can make you feel like you’re constantly trying to stay afloat in a sea of noise. In many ways these hardships are rites of passage that teach us where our energy belongs and where our focus should be, as well as helping us develop the skills required to thrive in this space.

At this point, we could write a guide on this. Call it “From Breakdown to Breakthrough: The Web3 Artist Survival Guide.”


What advice do you have for rising artists in this space? 

Find what brings you joy and lead with it.

After experiencing my first burnout early on, I was really disillusioned with the space. I was struggling to get noticed or make sales and to top it off, Twitter had taken away my Spaces bar for over seven months. 

Way to make me feel invisible there, buddy. 

I could feel with all my body that this “trying to be seen and make sales” approach wasn’t just completely unnatural to me; it was downright miserable.

That’s when I had to ask myself. “What aspects of this space make me come alive? That make me feel full and satisfied?”. The answer was clear to me. I loved the people. The community. The artists. 

“The greatest gift this space has given me is the connections I’ve made. Some of my greatest photography heroes, whom I’ve always looked up to, are now not only my peers but also dear friends.”


The greatest gift this space has given me is the connections I’ve made. Some of my greatest photography heroes, whom I’ve always looked up to, are now not only my peers but also dear friends. How amazing is that?!

So, I decided to completely shift my approach and solely focus on investing time and energy into attending IRL events and spending quality time with the friends I’ve made along the way.

You know what happened then? Things started falling into place. My communities and relationships grew deeper and richer, and countless opportunities started manifesting. All simply because I had shifted my energy into what felt natural to me—what actually brought me joy—which was to wholeheartedly show up as I am and lead with love and gratitude for the gift of getting to be here. 

In summary:

1. Chilling with friends > Shilling to strangers.

2. Invest time and energy into building IRL relationships whenever possible.

3. Show up just as you are and trust your journey but even more so, take each step with love and gratitude!

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