We are excited to have the interdisciplinary crypto-arts organisation, The Guild, join us as an Unifty Gallery Exhibitor and today for an AMA!
Warm welcome to Shinji Akhirah, Rutger van der Tas, Mehak Jain, LUVRworldwide, Okin, The Perfesser and Ytje Veenstra !
Ytje Veenstra: Hi everybody!
Rutger van der Tas: Hi.
Mehak Jain: Hey everyone.
Shinji Akhirah: Hi all!
The Perfesser: Thank you so much for having us, Michael.
Okin: Hey thanks for inviting us.
Unifty: Let's start with a short introduction, can each of you tell us how you discovered NFT technology and what motivated you to start building and creating in this space?
Ytje Veenstra: @Rutger van der Tas introduced me to NFTs. Haven't left the space since.
Mehak Jain: So I wasn't into crypto before NFTs but someone reached out to my art page and introduced it. Honestly I thought they are scamming me but it turned out to be true and an amazing world. And then there was no going back hahah. Found amazing people to share my art and stories with.
Rutger van der Tas: I already made digital art, but printed it out, in editions. I found that was quite stupid. All these things you have to take in consideration: editions, price, size, do I print all at once, or every time a few, where do I sell it. ??? Then NFT's came, and creating value on the internet. It was May 2019 when I first minted on SuperRare.
Shinji Akhirah: I discovered NFT as phrase shortly after CryptoKitties but then it disappeared back into my memory bank. It rekindled my curiosity last year around May/June after an interesting rabbit hole journey on YouTube. Caught wind of a clip called - NFT, The Gamer Changer (or something similar). Had around 15 views at the time but had been up for about 2 weeks.
LUVRworldwide: Thx for having us:) I started nfts with the first WOCA (women of cryptoart) all female exhibit:)) the SHE ART exhibit ... is still up in cryptovoxels.
The Perfesser: I discovered NFTs circa 2018. I think the first I ever owned were some blockchain cuties, a crypto kitties style game on eth and tron. Shortly after I started hearing about more applications through conversations with people like Andrew Prell and Joey Chips and others that I've run into at crypto conferences. I didn't really discover the art side of it until late 2019, and I started minting in the spring of 2020. I had posted a piece of art, pen and paper drawing, on Twitter to see if people could find the hidden Bitcoin symbol. My friend iH0dl told me I should mint it, so I did. Sold it for $10 in a matter of minutes to a good friend Alon Goren and down the rabbit hole I went. I initially minted on Rarible so the early Rarible days before rari token are super nostalgic to me. Then once you fully discover the NFT community you fall completely in love and there's nothing that can be done to drag you back out of that rabbit hole.
Unifty: Amazing story! Also selling NFTs for $10, what a memory! #RIP GAS FEES
The Perfesser: Right?!?
Okin: I'm Okin, I'm a multi disciplined artist who works across 2d, 3d and immersive arts. I've been creating digital art since the dawn of time, going all the way back to the old C64.
NFT wise I actually made the natural transition from crypto blogging back in 2018. Having stopped blogging for a while, I discovered NFTs just over 1 year ago finding Rarible and Knownorigin.
Question: Can you offer more details about how The Guild came to be and how the Pandemic has been a catalyst for this organisation?
Rutger van der Tas: Being online, in Telegram, Discord, Twitter, spending days inside, not allowed outside, Lockdowns and all. We found ourselves in the need of contact and grew together since our first piece on Rarible, Aug. 2020.
Mehak Jain: So the most amazing thing about cryptoart is, it's not confined by any boundaries and differences and the best way to present it is through Collabs. Guild took it a step further by involving so many artists on one canvas. It initially started with just a fun experiment honestly but it turned into something massive with time.
The Perfesser: This again takes me back to the rarible days, because I think the majority of the guild initially spawned from artists mostly In AGAH or the Rarible TG / Discord. Talos had the idea to do a huge Collab, sent a DM to some of us. 10 accepted and off we went!! Hot damn it's been a hell of a ride.
Unifty: But the hell of a ride was worth it.
The Perfesser: Yes, the whole time has been absolutely amazing.
Ytje Veenstra: I can't believe how fast times pass in the NFT space!
The Perfesser: Seriously! Feels like just yesterday when the first Collab happened! Before we even had a name. I think I titled the folder on my computer "10-artist collab" lol
Question: What inspires you most about working with The Guild?
Rutger van der Tas: The core group. Lovely people. The artist, Awesome spirits. Creating together. Thinking about new pieces, and how to structure them. Planning this, blueprint. Making something together is an amazing experience. We work on many things at the same time, but we only get snippets in every now and again. This makes the jigsaw evolving a journey on itself. Until........... all the pieces fall into one place.
Ytje Veenstra: I'm an illustrator and I like to make personal work. I draw a lot. I was focusing more on digital art and NFTs are perfect for that. The Guild feels like a playground. It's serious in its artistic goals, but there's so much room for one's own personal artistic vision. I feel like my work is becoming more playful because of the interaction with the others in The Guild.
The Perfesser: I've learned so much and been forced to go outside of my comfort zones due to specific challenges etc so many times that this has definitely had a massive impact on who I am as an artist. Most definitely for the better.
Question: Hey @mehakjain your piece is centered around Indian myth. What's the story behind it and its importance in your culture?
Mehak Jain: Yess it is based on one of the two Indian epics. It is about Satya (truth) and dharma (righteousness) And it conveys this message through the beautiful tech of AsyncArt. It depicts the battle, and how any change of layer would have still resulted in a fight, in the same result. https://async.art/art/master/0xb6dae651468e9593e4581705a09c10a76ac1e0c8-1763
Question: Do you like to draw upon spiritual themes in order to explore and illustrate your curiousity?
Mehak Jain: I have. And it is amazing to find out these stories tell a lot more than what's heard. Sometimes even a small detail would be symbolic of many other things. Our lives are like puzzles hahah, created based on many past stories, inspired by others too, and it's a thrill to solve it or atleast believe that we are going somewhere.
Question: Can you explain what your values are and how they influence your artworks for The Guild?
LUVRworldwide: My VR art is driven by the light:) and my best work is sharing the light in hopes to help uplift others. The Guild mirrors this intention and are an inspiring group to co-create with.
Shinji Akhirah: For me, it's about bigger pictures. Bigger ideas, a place where we are all represented and find ways to connect. I see Art as a vehicle for positive social change and the combination of technology meeting at its intersection offers such incredible opportunities for collaboration and broader economic change through CryptoArt. As for values, it's important that we as artists understand our privilege and responsibility to communicate ideas that could change the world and in the process, create and inspire others to find their voice.
Question: Are there any artists who have inspired you? What do you like about their work?
Ytje Veenstra: I take a lot of inspiration from movies, sci-fi books. I try to build worlds and moods within those worlds.
LUVRworldwide: I am inspired by art that helps elevate the soul. And that comes from too many sources to mention.
Shinji Akhirah: There are too many to place into a response without feeling bad for leaving any out. I find inspiration in the rebels of the graffiti scene having run those same paths, the storytellers that can convey emotion using form and light. In the CryptoArt movement, there are countless to mention. I'll be sure to have this answered in more depth as our site updates in the coming weeks!
Question: Can you offer us more details about how the artists are collaborating? Do you have a process in place for this or is it more of an organic thing?
Ytje Veenstra: At some points there is a process in place, like when it is a collab with a partner. But it kind of organically develops, I must say.
Mehak Jain: It changes based on ideas. So a different process for every piece.
Question: Can you guys kindly share with us one of your best, most memorable experiences during your artistic journey?
Ytje Veenstra: The Charged Particles Box of Pandora was a great way to work together. I got to know the CP people better, they're so nice to work with!
Aside from the Guild ppl, who are awesome of course.
The Perfesser: Yea!!! This was so much fun. Massive shout to Mango and everyone at CP for the hard work getting the nesting feature built so we could mint it!
Rutger van der Tas: https://async.art/art/master/0xb6dae651468e9593e4581705a09c10a76ac1e0c8-0
Mehak Jain: My first Collab- which was with guild. I was very new, and I no more felt like a stranger.
The Perfesser: Getting the invite from Talos at the beginning was special, felt like a huge honor. All of the collabs have their own everlasting memories that I could talk for days about, but honestly just the countless amounts of amazing conversations and laughs with so many awesome people make this the best possible experience it could be.
And then waking up one day to Max Osiris having gone on a late night buying spree collecting our first Collab "Palimpsest" for like $20k was a mind-numbing out of body experience that gave a sense of validation to everything we'd been working on.
Mehak Jain: Omg I remember, legendary told and we couldn't believe it.
That was like highest sale on rarible at that time, if I am right.
Rutger van der Tas: I think it was, Mehak.
LUVRworldwide: For me it's when I first started painting in VR. I was invited to participate in an art festival in Costa Rica and they asked if i wld b interested in VR painting live. I only had 20 min experience in VR prior.. and so I arrived 2 weeks before the fest & taught myself how to do it and performed on the main stage opening night:))
The beginning of this vid shows that performance... followed by a portfolio of some of my NFT work https://youtu.be/fQmi3A1bBOg
Okin: I can say I absolutely loved working together with the Guild on the 'Year of the 0x', from the process through to the creative energy from everybody it really has been a highlight for me as an artist. Its also one of those things that you just can’t visualise exactly how it will come together which adds to the excitement. It had been really well structured but also very organic in its output and storytelling.
The Perfesser: I think outside of the guild, discovering the AGAH Telegram might be my biggest happy memory of all. Some of the big sales and getting accepted to my goal platforms were cool, but the home I found at AGAH with @Danil Pan // Charged Particles and so many other amazing friends really set the stage for my journey through the NFT space.
Shinji Akhirah: Within the context of the CryptoArt and NFT space, it's definitely that feeling of someone buying your first piece (and subsequently every one after that). On a more event level memoir, I think the Cyber Watch purchase and the recent Year of the 0x work definitely is a highlight for me.
Also having people really connect with your work is a feeling that I never take for granted.
The Perfesser: This. There's this next level fuzzy feeling inside that you can't get any other way.
Ytje Veenstra: It's also the attitude of everyone. The space feels authentic.
The Perfesser: Yes it really does. I like to say the crypto space "grew up" into the NFT space.
Question: Is it difficult to work with so many artists at the same time?
Shinji Akhirah: The challenge more than anything else I've found is the difference in time zones. That is its own battle but as far as working with the artists - the members of the collective are real fun and pretty easy to work worth - we just seem to find a synergetic rhythm, surely some sorcery at play.
Question: @Ytje Veenstra When you were working on the back panel, did you think about how it would look in combination with the rest of the background panels the others were assigned? How do you go about creating a small part that will amount to a bigger background piece?
Ytje Veenstra: When assigned this back panel I thought about the Cyber Watch, the collab The Guild did earlier this year. I saw what artists did with backgrounds and I was inspired by that.
I wanted to do something with a land- or cityscape, and I played with the lopsided-like rectangle the back panel was divided into.
Question: Can you tell us a bit about your recent release Alicia in Technoland?
Mehak Jain: That's Guild's genesis on Superrare. Our first animated piece by 39 artists. It was quite a challenge but was worth all the efforts. We wanted to bring the nostalgia with tech style and work on something which shows the diversity of styles and talent within The Guild.
Question: What inspired the artworks in general? What is your best inspiration source?
Rutger van der Tas: I like to work a long time on my work. Working in layers and with different media makes the creative process a journey on itself. along the way I produce many new images that will or will not find their way in new works. My subjects are humans. In and outside. I mesh what I see and feel, and redo things over and over again. I create within the back of my mind the idea that it can also be something else. Everything is open to become something new.
Mehak Jain: Mine are mostly based on my life. I am a very curious person. So I ask too many questions and enjoy the process of finding answers. And I believe everyone has different answers to the same question but what is needed is a push to a space where they could be unbiased and seek the truth. So I just try to create that place through my art
Shinji Akhirah: I get inspired by almost anything - a shift in temperature on a hot day. A random bird whistling on the ledge outside my window. I think I have a problem ahahah.
I guess the most inspiring areas for me are in the fields of nature, abstraction of reality (imagining beyond the general function of objects) and music...moreso sound though, than music actually.
For my piece, Fall From Grace - https://knownorigin.io/gallery/257650-fall-from-grace - this is inspired by my curiousity around the merging of tech and humanity, the blurring of silicone and carbon based bodies and its inevitable enhancement due to biogenetic interference.
I think we're hacking ourselves into a new paradigm of existence and its exciting and somewhat frightening (in a good way).
Okin: For my own works, especially my immersive and 3d works they are often inspired by different elements of human psychology. Taking my Gallery Piece, "Masked" for example. This had been inspired from the idea of people using layers of emotions, or material objects to hide, protect or even change our status. To the point the perception that others have of ourselves changes. The trigger for this artwork’s creation had been the moment that crypto punks became the big PFP to have. The sudden change of the Status by using a new Mask so to speak. It is very open to the viewer however about what the 'Masked' artwork means however.
Worth watching the above with audio for the complete experience.
The Perfesser: TRASHHHHH!!!!! hahahaha Sounds crazy but I have fully found my place in the world of trash art. Sort of a psychological thing for me I think. Feel like trash? Make trash then you feel less like trash. I'm a nerd and always have been, so glitchy stuff, bright colors, the weird and unusual, math and numbers you name it all finds a place in my art somewhere.
At some point along the lines I discovered the aspects of my work I always looked at as mistakes were actually the features that create my unique style.
I draw inspiration from madness and chaos and randomness. Entropy is my best friend.
Things like Tim Burton's work and Adam Savage's don't overthink it philosophies have really helped me develop, and I think I pull some inspiration from Basquiat style work for the calamity level in my more recent trash work
Question: Who’s your biggest inspiration in the Trash art movement?
The Perfesser: Definitely Robness. The 64 gallon toter inspired my descent into the trash world.
But iH0dl drug me in first and got me looking at NFTs from the art perspective causing me to discover all this, so he's made this whole thing possible for me really.
I'm actually in the middle of a Collab I just started with Robness and about 12 other legendary artists where I'm actually mailing them each a box of random stuff to see what they create, post processing allowed. Gonna be crazy to see what happens. Let's see if this can stay only as public as this Discord (ssshhhhh) ;)
Question: Can you tell us about the project you are working on right now?
Ytje Veenstra: I'm forever trying to work on my own projects since joining the Guild lol
LUVRworldwide: Im currently producing an exhibit in partnership with AGAH & CODAME. Its called AGAHnomaly in the spirit of peace, unity and diversity. We will have an exhibit in Altspace and simultaneous live auction. It will be a collection of abstract 'gems'. Soon to be released & can learn more @cryptoLUVR on Twitter, my other profile.
Thank u for having me! I am going to step into a meeting. Sending LUV from NYC!
Unifty: Thank you for your time! Great having you here!
Shinji Akhirah: I'm working on some music as I sit here with the AMA, so that's the most up to date answer...Am currently working on a project with the Angel Baby Hit Squad along with King Debs - a soon to be released ETH-ADA bridge & artwork project.
On the personal front - I'm working on my Async Genesis as well as a few surprise artworks in between.
Question: What kind of music do you make?
Shinji Akhirah: It's fairly broad, between long explorations where I just hit record and start tuning oscillators to some electronic and darker toned hip hop beats. I'm busy compiling a selection of beats for a personal animation short story of mine. I write a lot of poetry and short thoughts, so the beats are usually relative to those.
Question: Do you have plans to collaborate with one of the guild members? If so, who comes to your mind first?
Ytje Veenstra: I'm in the process of doing a series with Tom Abbink, he has this 80s inspired idea, full of satire and humor. I'm excited to start that.
Tom is also a Guild member.
Yeah, we are full of ideas already, it's going to be about the world around us and what sticks out to us. I've done some political cartoons some years ago, I love to get back into that as well, or at least get that urgency into my creative work.
Question: You guys are belting out projects regularly - personal and Guild-related. What are some time management strategies you use to avoid burnout?
Ytje Veenstra: Taking weekends off.
I've been on the raod to burnout, and as much as I love working and drawing, I have to take health into account.
Shinji Akhirah: Airplane mode on devices. And the occasional Pomedoro technique.
The Perfesser: None. I'm a disaster.
Mehak Jain: Same. I think it goes for 90% of the people here.
Okin: Personally it’s understanding when to say no. Sometimes though being an Artist does mean you push way too hard. It can be difficult to manage.
Question: Guys can you envisage a future where the most valuable NFT space is on the Internet Computer? Why do you think NFTs have become so valuable in such a short space of time?
Rutger van der Tas: The world was waiting for blockchain and smart contracts to make this possible. It was the missing part of the internet.
Mehak Jain: It wasn't that short I guess. Took years and a strong belief by many artists and collectors.
Okin: The Key here is accessibility, suddenly art work that can be purchased is easily and readily available in a way and at a speed that's not been possible before. Breaking the walls down that the traditional market had.
Shinji Akhirah: The medium is the message. NFT provides a layer of connection to your audience that is beyond censorship and can really help you find your tribe. It also facilitates so much more than what we've even seen so far. Its value is its ability to help you see who your audience is, something that traditional methods haven't always gotten with such precision.
For me though, it's always about the art first. Utility second.
Fortunately you don't have to sacrifice the former to use the latter.
Okin: 100% this, and it's also what can be seen with all of The Guilds projects.
Ytje Veenstra: I think for the mainstream public it comes in waves. As soon there's hype, everyone has an opinion. After the hype is over, ppl are like 'NFTs are dead'. For the enthusiasts, it's the sheer number of possibilities that an NFT offers.
Question: What about your opinion, what will NFT achieve in 5 years from now?
Ytje Veenstra: It would be nice to have cut out the unnecessary middlemen.
Question: Apart from art, what other creative outlets do you guys have?
Rutger van der Tas: Parenthood.
Mehak Jain: I play chess.
Ytje Veenstra: Dnd, but I was planning to do a VR piece on that, so it always comes back to drawing I guess.
Okin: Parenthood for sure.
I'm also a very technical artist so I code and create procedural systems. Creative coding for visual output.
Photography has been a big part of my life as well.
The Perfesser: There are lots of things I enjoy doing, but I think some of my favorites are coding and experimenting with electronics and doing mechanic work. Building cars and motorcycles. Anything hands on really.
Rutger van der Tas: all my creative activities become part of my work in one way or another.
The Perfesser: This. Everything I do seems to roll into art In the end.
Okin: That's because Everything is Art if you look at it the right/wrong way.
The Perfesser: EXACTLY!!!!!
Question: How are you guys democratizing the NFT space and creating awareness amongst your peers in the traditional art scene?
Ytje Veenstra: @Rutger van der Tas and I were doing workshops earlier this year where we introduced NFTs and how they can help artists.
The Perfesser: Love this!
Rutger van der Tas: Getting youngsters in 45 minutes introduced to NFT's and having them mint their genesis piece on HEN .
Ytje Veenstra: Some artists jump right in and others are more wary. Which is not a problem, they know we're here to help. Rutger has on boarded so many artists already!
The Perfesser: Are you doing these IRL or online?
Rutger van der Tas: RL. having a screen, going through Async, Showing kitties, SuperRare and Objekt...ETC
The Perfesser: Beautiful.
Rutger van der Tas: Its amazing how quick they pick it up.
Question: What advice would you give to anyone trying to enter into the world of NFTs?
The Perfesser: Don't try to create what you think will sell. Create what you love, believe in yourself, and be patient and persistent.
Ytje Veenstra: Always. Long term survives.
I am nostalgic for working focused on my own stuff without a cellphone, without socials. Granted, the NFT space wasn't there either.
Mehak Jain: Make friends and have fun first, otherwise this space could also become challenging.
Ytje Veenstra: I feel very blessed in that regard to be part of The Guild.
Okin: This is often stated on social media, but I stand by it, Art and NFTs is a marathon and not a sprint. You will see artists leave the space upset they haven't sold at crazy prices instantly, it just doesn't work that way. Work hard, create what you love, connect with the community and just be true to yourself.
Shinji Akhirah: If you're in it for art - Be in it for the LOVE of creating art. Learn to understand patterns of market activity though. This is a sea full of waves and it's important to realize that it never sleeps.
It connects you to so many possibilities, so maintain an open mind but always double check and do your research. There are unfortunately plenty of bad actors to go along with the gems in this community.
Stay hungry for knowledge and step outside your comfort zone...often.
Question: What memorable responses have you guys had to your work?
Mehak Jain: One time my collector (who collected that piece) tweeted that my work and its description made him cry. And that made me cry lol and that piece was so personal.
Okin: I love feedback from artists, of course from collectors too. But artists have a connection with how an art has been made and they often appreciate the art in different ways.
This is why we now have the artist collector.
Mehak Jain: Yesss!!
Ytje Veenstra: I was working on my genesis piece for Async Art and when it was finished I got contacted by a guy who knew the sci fi writer on whose books my piece was based. He gave me the email address of said writer (Alastair Reynolds) and the same day I sent Reynolds an email about how I made this work he responded and told me he was so happy that I understood what he was trying to tell in his books. According to him I got it exactly right! I was so happy to hear that. Alastair Reynolds' books are great btw
Okin: One moment for me that just can't happen anywhere else. I tweeted that I would do a 30 min speed painting one night and would mint whatever I created no matter what on HEN. I finished the work and there had been two awesome folks, stalking my profile to try and catch the nft. It sold before I tweeted it was minted. Still makes me smile that both collectors had been hitting F5 to catch it before anyone else.
Unifty: We thank Shinji Akhirah, Rutger van der Tas, Mehak Jain, LUVRworldwide, Okin, The Perfesser and Ytje Veenstra for joining us today for a great AMA!
Ytje Veenstra: Thank you for having us.
Thank you all for your thoughtful questions and everything that was shared!
Rutger van der Tas: TY! Great talking to y'all.
The Perfesser: Thank you so much for having us and for showcasing our work! We appreciate it more than you could know. Much love to all of you and everyone who was here hanging out today long love TRASSHHHHH hahaha
Okin: 100% Thank you so much. Great questions everybody !!
Shinji Akhirah: Thank you Unifty and @Michael Stev for having us here today and allowing us to share some of our stories!
Mehak Jain: Thank you for having us.
Check out our intro piece on The Guild: https://www.unifty.com/blog/announcing-the-guild-an-interdisciplinary-crypto-arts-organization
Stay up to date with The Guild work here: