‘Genuinely life-changing’: Aussie artists defend NFTs from online backlash
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As a backlash to the NFT craze intensifies, several Australian artists whose work will be highlighted in a groundbreaking new Sydney NFT exhibition are coming to their defence. They want people to know the new medium has been “genuinely life-changing” and empowering for many creators.
Jessica Ticchio is the Sydney-based art director of Studio Messa, a creative studio that works with brands including Nike, Vogue and American Express, as well as a 3D NFT artist who sells her work on Foundation.
As an artist, Ticchio says she’s trying “to spread awareness of how genuinely life-changing NFTs have been for so many — including myself.”
“Digital art being recognised as ‘real art’ has liberated digital creators to transform their practice from a ‘passion project’ or ‘side hustle’ to a viable career,” she tells Stockhead.
“With my art now having the ability to be both collected and exhibited, I finally feel a sense of belonging in the art world.”
Ticchio is one of 11 Aussie and 16 international artists who’ll have their work showcased at SATELLITE, Sydney’s first-ever physical NFT exhibition at a Bondi gallery beginning in March.
While NFTs were the belle of the ball for much of 2021, a fierce backlash has erupted over them in recent months over everything from their energy consumption of Ethereum to the quality of the artwork of many hyped collections, to their alleged role in fraud and money laundering.
Indie gaming company Team17, chat software company Discord and the ‘The Last of Us’ voice actor Troy Baker have all had to cancel NFT projects in recent days and months because of the community backlash.
Every NFT bro says the same, “you just don’t understand.” Nah we understand mate, that’s why we hate it
— Girlfriend Lover (@Tekken3Enjoyer) January 28, 2022
Ticchio says that being in a pandemic has obviously “accelerated our journey towards the metaverse, and it’s easy to form negative connections between this new digital world emerging and the world as we knew it — some days — feeling like it’s falling apart.
“But during this time of physical isolation, NFTs have been able to facilitate a new sense of human connection. Even though we’re apart, new communities have formed and the metaverse has become an exciting space of limitless potential to explore and discover.”
She says she’d tell people who hate NFTs not to give up on them so soon.
“We’re only at the tip of the iceberg and the full scope of future benefits and potential for positive change will just continue to grow and evolve as time goes on.”
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Another Sydney-based artist whose work will be displayed at SATELLITE is David Porte Beckefeld, the creative director of web3 development studio Run it Wild. He says that as a 3D artist who sculpts his work, NFTs “have allowed authenticated ownership of my works beyond physical prints to support me and many others as creatives to do what they love”.
“Many people think NFTs are just about big art money when in actuality it is a new medium.”
The internet itself went through the same cycle of fear and doubt over its capabilities in the 1990s, Beckefeld notes.
“I think the unknown or fear of change is a very human thing,” he said. “I’d like to hope that once people see the genuinely beneficial utilities that NFTs offer to make their everyday interactions with products and services more rewarding they may change their tune.”
NFTs can provide the world with positive change with regard to transparency, rewarding time and loyalty and by rewarding individuals for using products and services, he says.
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Serwah Attafuah, a multidisciplinary artist and musician based on Dharug land/West Sydney, has been commissioned by top brands including Nike, Mercedes Benz, GQ and Adobe, as well as Paris Hilton.
“NFTs have helped me in numerous ways. I’m able to connect with a whole new community of friends and to me that’s priceless,” she said.
“I’m able to finance my workflow and upgrade my tools without having to rely on client work.
“Creatively, I feel heaps inspired because I’m exposed to so much amazing work I never knew existed.”
Attafuah last year collaborated with English singer/songwriter Charli XCX on a digital artwork that raised funds for GLAAD, the LGBTQ civil rights group.
“Having focussed on client work for the past decade, this is a huge shift for me; to be able to put the power in the hands of creators, myself included, is really great,” says Yambo.
“Second, the community aspect of NFTs is majorly different from anything I used to know. There’s so much going on everyday, and people are starting to focus on the digital world faster than I ever imagined.
“Beyond their economic significance, NFTs have also enabled me to learn a lot about blockchain and cryptocurrency,” says Yambo, who also founded the NFT marketplace Dissrup.
“Building a dApp from scratch has been particularly eye-opening in this regard. It’s great to fully dive in, understand it in all its wonderful complexity.”
I am a woman, raising 3 daughters under 6, still breastfeeding my youngest. I built and run a multi million dollar project & brand from my home, changing my life and my children’s lives. I am my own dreams come true and herein lies the power of NFTs.
— BΞTTYᵍᵐ (@betty_nft) September 27, 2021
The other artists whose work will be exhibited at Satellite are Australians David McLeod, BossLogic, Jonathan Zawada, Mikaela Stafford, Chris Golden, Greg Cooper, Tim Grove and Martine Emdur, as well as international artists Beeple, Trevor Jones, Boldtron, LIRONA, Wes Cockx, Brendi Wedinger, NewColossal, Crea.St, Studio Brasch, Kitasavi, Ines Alpha, Alex Trochut, Chris Labrooy, Gonzalo Miranda and Rik Oostenbroek.
The exhibit runs at the Twenty Twenty Six Gallery on Bondi Beach from 9 March to April 3. Admission is free, but because of capacity and COVID restrictions, tickets are required. For updates on tickets, follow Satellite on Twitter, Instagram and subscribe on their website.