Next Up: Five Ones to Watch in September 2022

BY Langston Thomas

September 06, 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 just a few months, and lives have been utterly transformed time and 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 September edition, we’ve curated a list of five ascendant talents who are poised to make significant waves in 2022.

Alizé Jireh

Alizé Jireh is a 22-year-old self-taught photographer and filmmaker who has worked in more than 25 countries on a range of promotional and documentary projects in the past six years. She explored self-portraiture during the pandemic, and crafted her own unique brand of conceptual photography — designed to reflect someone eager to explore the rawest and most sensual experience by wandering through ordinary environments with curious eyes.

We spoke with Jireh, and asked a few questions about NFTs, and her artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

My friend Summer introduced me to the Twitter community and NFT world a little under a year ago. I was being shadow banned on Instagram at this time and felt a little lost and rejected as an artist in that space. I quickly fell in love with the Twitter community that very openly welcomed me into this space and offered reflection and support in ways I had never experienced before. I started dipping my toes in the NFT waters at the beginning of 2022. I’m grateful to the collectors that have supported me so far and am now ready to dive all the way in. I feel inspired and uplifted by this digital art world and am excited to keep learning and growing in it.

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

I would describe my art as an exploration of the human body as lifeless nature, as an inanimate object that mixes with its surrounding landscape. I study the intensity of human emotion through surrealism and dreamscapes. Solitude, observation, sensuality… the soul. I spend as much time as I can wandering in places and trying to recreate visions I’ve had in daydreams and am often inspired by the aesthetic/emotional analysis of a space and how my body feels in it. Then I set up my tripod and put on the timer, then mold my body with whoever or whatever is with me, and start shooting.

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

I still have one piece available to collect in my NFT collection SENSUS on Foundation, and a small photography NFT collection that will come out this month featuring work I have been quite anxious to mint. After this, I’ll be working on releasing new works that I am excited to curate as collections in the very near future.

Lewis Osborne

Lewis Osborne is a freelance illustrator/animator from Bristol. He first became interested in design at age 15 after stumbling upon YouTube tutorials on “making cool backgrounds.” After going to school for graphic design and securing a job in the field, Osborne continued to illustrate/animate in his spare time, eventually becoming a full-time freelancer in October 2021, leading to him gaining notoriety in the NFT space.

We also spoke with Osborne, and asked a few questions about NFTs and his artistic process.

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first heard about NFTs from someone who sent me a DM on Instagram in 2021 saying that my work would do well on a website called Hic Et Nunc on Tezos. I had no idea what NFTs were, and I was seeing some people hating on NFTs quite early on so I was a bit hesitant about giving it a go. Eventually, he explained a lot more about it and convinced me to give it a go. I absolutely love the Tezos community and the stunning art that I’ve discovered from it. I couldn’t be more grateful to the guy for sending me that DM.

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

I would describe my work as playful and hypnotic. I like to play with my signature happy and sad faces in unusual environments that draw on this relatable feeling of feeling confused in this weird world. I feel like a fair few of my ideas stem from me being generally quite an anxious person, so I’m always trying to think of weird ways to visualize my thoughts and express how I’m feeling. I find that my best ideas pop into my head while I’m going for a stroll around Bristol and simply taking the world in.

My actual design process is generally bog-standard. I’ll start by sketching out an idea, then I’ll create the vectors in Adobe Illustrator, and then I’ll animate them using Adobe After Effects. I always finish my pieces with a texture overlay and export them out at 12 FPS as I love that it adds to the retro feeling of my work.

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

I’ve actually just been accepted by SuperRare which is extremely exciting, so you can expect to see my debut there soon! Other than that, I am planning to carry on adding to my Moving Cities and Balloon Fiesta collections as well as creating further random loops, all of which you can find on my OBJKT profile.

Niall Ashley

Niall Ashley is a Bristol-born, London-based painter and performance artist taking the NFT space by storm with their unique, multidisciplinary works. Having first found a knack for creation early on in life, Ashley pushed their artistic prowess aside throughout grade school out of necessity.

Eventually, they became a personal bank advisor as a means to pay the bills but quickly found the desire to venture back into the creative realm around the age of 18. First through video editing, then through painting, Ashley has continued to build up an impressive catalog of physical and digital pieces.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

NFTs introduced the possibility of performance art being able to exist in its final raw form as an entity that constantly reinterprets itself from digital wallet to front-end platform to LED screen to transaction. In the past, performance breaks down into collecting stills or compressed video in physical formats as an afterthought to creating work. This new provenance change excited me as an artist, and I immediately dove into the space.

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

My art examines the context of avatars in a social media landscape and uses such containers to define content as high art. I present multiplicity as a vehicle for expressing tangents of one’s identity, an extension of Édouard Glissant’s “Opacité.” Through the flattening of topographic canvas and polygonal mesh, I aim to question institutional concepts of aura and what constitutes a work of art, as well as accepting the [matrices] of TikTok and Instagram’s interpersonal format as a paintbrush itself.

Creating starts with throwing up spray paint and oil stick on canvas, intuitively worldbuilding with a central painted figure to later be digitally immortalized. Next, I scan and lift off these painted textures into sculpted 3D and create an extended narrative via Unreal Engine. Then performance becomes a mechanism to bring life into a digital avatar, using motion capture to create a playful scene in my studio, typically including prop work and dialogue. Finally, I present a digital moving image painting in tandem with its physical counterpart, flattening the hierarchy between medium and becoming an affirmative one with my art practice.

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

Elixir is my next big project. It’s a series of physical and meta-paintings using Los Angeles as a case study for alchemy in the form of consumer goods and manufactured realities. I released the first piece last month, named regenerate+repair[2oz], and the following pieces will be dropping in tandem over the next two months. As an extension to this project, I also want to create avatar DAOs for each character presented in these works, following the Nouns model with some new twists.


Yinkore is a self-taught digital artist from Nigeria. Her art focuses on her lived experiences as a Black woman, highlighting her own personal struggles navigating mental health issues, sexuality, and activism through artistic defiance. After walking away from her job as a lawyer, Yinkore found success in the NFT space early on. Her collections sold out, she worked on group exhibitions, she engaged with brands like ConcenSys and Blockworks, and she also became aware of the need to reinvest into the NFT ecosystem, becoming a prominent voice in the push for inclusivity.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

It was through my friend Z4HIIR, an amazing 3D artist. He had been actively involved in the space and had told me how he thought my art would thrive if I joined back in June 2021. I was a bit intimidated by all the tech and art though, so I stayed away till he gave me a foundation invite later in the year. Back when those were incredibly tough to come by, I had just left my job, so that gave me the push I needed to at least give it a try.

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

My art is a love letter to Black women. In its simplest form, that really is what it is. Someone tweeted something about not really having an art style but having an artistic voice in all your pieces, and I related to that very heavily. I like to play around with my art in terms of styles, colors, and textures, but my central theme is always Black women. They’re the reason I create.

As for my process, it’s very chaotic. I’m very much in my maximalist era, so I have an idea then add fifty things on top of that. I have a general understanding of what I want to say, but honestly, everything, till I get to my final product, is often just trial and error. While I take my work seriously, I’m also aware that my work is very emotional so I often just have to trust my intuition and play around with textures, colors, and patterns till they feel right.

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

As an artist there’s always new work, so would love people to stay connected regardless. But majorly, I’m in an artist residency program with Wildxyz, they’re a platform, launching soon, that I think is really going to change things up because of their focus on building interactive experiences. The residency also paired me with a mentor as part of the program, Kate Vass. It’s been really exciting to access additional expertise as I move through the program. I’ll be dropping a generative collection with Wildxyz that I’m currently working on right now. I’m being extremely intentional, and it’s a lot of hard work so I can’t wait to see how it’s received.


ZafGod is a visual artist from Romania who lives and works in Bucharest. With a bachelor’s degree in graphics and a master of fine arts degree in painting, he has created his own eclectic style that encompasses both psychical and digital works. With his primary focus on digital media, ZafGod has continued to turn heads within the NFT space by consistently churning out eerie, intricate, and colorful animated pieces.

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

How did you first become interested/involved in NFTs?

I first got involved in NFTs at the beginning of November 2020 when I randomly searched one night for alternative ways to sell my work. I discovered OpenSea, and from there I fell down the rabbit hole, and a new world of possibility opened up to me. It has really helped me grow as an artist, it’s fantastic!

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

I wouldn’t say I’m interested in a specific style. Instead, I enjoy experimenting and learning new things. I make every effort to broaden my horizons. I call it “Future Mixed Media” because it’s an eclectic combination of traditional techniques and new media. So even though it is an outcome of my witnessing, my art is more about your seeing than it is about mine. I’m also enchanted by the sense of presence. That is, space in which you experience a presence, nearly akin to an entity. That physical sensation and power that space may provide.

As far as the process goes, it’s trial and error and a lot of freestyle. I’m inspired by the music scene and the idea of freestyle, so I wanted to bring some of that freedom to my process. Besides that, each technique has its own process, so I mix them up until I am satisfied with the results.

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

The first piece that I dropped on SuperRare: OMEN 17. It resembles one of my most predominant styles of painting.

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