There are many reasons to feel like the world is different coming out of the COVID 19 pandemic. We understand the virility of trends in a new context. Globalization has taken on new meaning. But the one thing that hasn’t changed is how important connection and community are to us. Even when we were apart, art brings us together. In a time of social distance, it helped us bridge the physical gap between us.
One aspect of the NFT art revolution that is both a blessing and a curse is its global nature. On one hand, it brings people together who may not have ever met. On the other hand, it means that we experience our community through the lens of a screen. Pulling back the curtain (or the screensaver), we might find that connecting is the most tangible thing in the world, no matter the medium.
The artworks included in the Mint Gold Dust exhibition “Portal Realms” explore the theme of transformation in many ways. Today we can think about the power of community and how it transforms us into the best version of ourselves.
Lianna Adams on Community, Education, and Inclusion
The work of Lianna Adams is full of vibrant colors and natural imagery. Instead of shading and blending, she uses detailed imagery to create depth in each piece. Having spent the early days of her career in broadcasting, she has a unique ability to tell stories and to blend mediums.
“I spent my childhood and youth learning embroidery from my grandmother,” she told 79 Au. “That played a huge part in developing my love of art movements like art nouveau, aestheticism. Also my interest in symbolism and the arts and crafts movement.” Like embroidery, her work revels in the beauty of the natural world placed atop a simple surface. Using her unique aesthetic, Adams has worked with digital mediums and physical ones. She has paired her art with design to create unique items like bags, clothing, and pottery.
But one of the things that makes Adams a powerful force in the Web3 ecosystem is her ability to bring people together through art and to use art to spark conversations. “I am always looking for ways to step in and speak up for what is right,” she said. Then she added, “I use art as a way to create dialogue and to cultivate a humanity-first culture within different communities to hopefully build bridges that fosters understanding and compassion.”
“I use art as a way to create dialogue and to cultivate a humanity-first culture within different communities to hopefully build bridges that fosters understanding and compassion.”
Considering the technical nature of Web3, one of the biggest challenges to artists–to anyone–trying to get into the space is a lack of understanding of how it all works. Adams has made a concerted effort to lead people into Web3 and to create a space where people can feel comfortable to ask questions. In the same vein, she has created space for people to voice their struggles with mental health.
Chazz Gold on Connecting Time and Space
Chazz Gold joined me on a video call from a spaceship circling an orange planet. He had just finished working on a new piece of art. It was sort of a request for a piece with a new color palette from one of his collectors. He was so inspired by the idea that he woke up early to make it before hopping on our 8AM call.
“I went to bed and then I had a dream about, like, blending and making darker ones,” he told 79 Au. “I woke up and I went straight to the computer before I even had coffee.”
Chazz approaches everything this way: with unbridled excitement. Since launching his career as an NFT artist in 2021, he has sold over 1,000 pieces. If you look at his Twitter timeline, he is talking about art and AI all day long.
Many of his artworks are modern takes on portraiture, which makes sense because he began his career in photography. In one folder that he showed me, he had over 60,000 photographs. “So I can take those and put those through AI and then build on top of them,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t always come out right. And in the early days using stable diffusion to get something dream-like, it was hard.” He began training his own models, running and re-running them. It took hours, even days or months, to get one good image.
But as AI art tools have evolved, so too has Chazz’s style. Inspired by the duality of cyborgs as both machine and human, he explored the cybernetic. In recent years, he has gotten into the aesthetics of psychedelia. Throughout, his basic technique has remained the same. Beginning with live subjects, he has a photo shoot, and then transforms the human into something metahuman.
How Connections Change Lives
The life of an artist is difficult, especially when you add the stress of minting NFTs. The pressure of being an artist in such a fast-paced environment is apparent. However, until recently, most artists have not felt comfortable talking about burnout, anxiety, or any of the other challenges that they face trying to make it in this space. “When I started the Weekly Mental Health Check-Ins [on Clubhouse] in 2021, there weren’t that many rooms for people to just share how they are doing, really,” she said. A pioneer in helping NFT artists take care of their mental health, she continues to host weekly check-ins and to help others find their strength in community.
“If it wasn’t for the NFT community, I would not have been sober in the pandemic. Honestly, I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have made it. Because nobody would’ve known that I went out and used again.”
Right: “The Dark Starchild” by Chazz Gold
“If it wasn’t for the NFT community, I would not have been sober in the pandemic,” Chazz told me. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have, I wouldn’t have made it. Because nobody would’ve known that I went out and used again.” These stories, and so many others like them, show us the life-changing power of online communities. And the connections we have made virtually will only continue to prosper as we begin to meet out in the physical world.
We have created a global community the likes of which have never been seen. And if we can tap into that community, to share our successes as well as our failures, then we will thrive, together.