Dia al-Azzawi, Freddie 1.0 #1
Dia al-Azzawi, Freddie 1.0 #2
Dia al-Azzawi, Freddie 1.0 #5

For this special edition of 79Au, we are highlighting Freddie 1.0, the genesis NFT collection from pioneer Arab artist Dia al-Azzawi.

For over half a century, Dia al-Azzawi’s work has celebrated Arab culture while blurring the boundaries between art forms and embracing new technologies. His iconic paintings and sculptures have been exhibited all around the world, and today at 12pm EST, his first NFT collection drops on Mint Gold Dust

Dia al-Azzawi in front of one of his paintings - Courtesy of the artist

Ahead of the launch, we talked with Dia about his jump into NFTs and the inspiration behind the collection as a whole. Check it out below:

Tell us about your new NFT collection, Freddie 1.0.

This collection of eight digital sculptures is inspired by my grandson, Freddie, whose enthusiasm for playing and interacting with the world around him is a source of constant joy to me. I have attempted to capture this enthusiasm in the form of a toy that any young child might want to play with, which also reflects the energy and passion of youth itself. Instead of realizing these works as physical objects that could become irrelevant and be easily discarded, I decided that the idea of creating sculptures that can be stored forever on a Blockchain would be more relevant to Freddie as he grows up. They can be passed down to future generations. 

What inspired you to create an NFT collection after finding success in the traditional art world over the past few decades?

I am best known for traditional artforms, such as painting on canvas and cast bronze sculptures, but embracing new technology has always been one of the most important ways in which I keep my practice relevant. For example, I have been creating artworks and designing other objects on Illustrator and Photoshop for many years; so the computer often replaces my traditional sketchbooks and has therefore become an essential part of my work. I have also used non-traditional techniques, such as 3D scanning and printing, to realize some of these ideas as physical sculptures, so it seemed a natural progression to start realising them as NFTs. 

A Dia al-Azzawi sculpture - Courtesy of the artist

Can you walk us through the process of creating these digital artworks? How did the creation process vary from painting or sculpting?

As mentioned above, I often design sculptural works on the computer and I originally intended to realise these sculptures via 3-D printing: this is how this NFTs collection started. When I learnt more about digital art, I understood that the possibilities of changing the sculptures were boundless and I found this freedom exhilarating. Even though bright colours are a key part of every part of my practice, I enjoyed exploring eclectic and vibrant colour combinations in this series due to this freedom.

Do you have a favourite piece from this collection?

The first one (which is entirely gold except for some red highlights) is my favourite as the overall form is the essence of any sculpture, while varying the colours and surface design comes later. 

What advice would you give other artists looking to get into the NFT space?

I have previously advised other artists to be modest but always be ready to challenge yourself with a new idea. The idea of making NFTs is extremely new so just try to make something and see how it goes!

Dia al-Azzawi

Dia al-Azzawi’s Freddie 1.0 launches today, 5/5, at 12pm EST on Mint Gold Dust. Click here to learn more about each piece and the collection.

Catch up on last week’s edition of 79Au where our community manager begins to break down the value of collaboration in Web3. Next week, she’ll be doing a a Part 2 focused on the importance of competition, collaboration’s counterpart. 

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