AwareNow: Issue 25: The Light Edition

Page 139



T H E N F T F R O N T I E R : ‘ PA I N T I N G I N P I X E L S ’ What the heck is a NFT? The acronym NFT stands for ‘Non-Fungible Token’. And what the heck is that?! It’s a unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. What?! Just know this, the majority of NFTs represent collectible digital assets like digital artwork, music, photos, videos. In this article, our focus is on NFTs as digital artwork. In a conversation with the legendary artist, Laura Kimpton, we’ll see the world of NFTs through her lens. ALLIÉ: You are known for your monumental word art - iconic metal sculptures notably seen and touched in the desert at Burning Man, along with venues and exhibitions around the world. Unlike these sculptures, your work in the form of NFTs cannot not be touched, only seen. But in being seen, it does touch you. Two very different ways to experience your art. Laura, please share your thoughts on physical art vs. digital art, along with your preference.

LAURA: Well, I started out as a digital artist, so this has been beautiful for me. I started out as a Photoshop artist; I'm also a photographer. I remember that when I was trying to get into a gallery once, but they wouldn't accept my digital art printed, but they would accept photography because I could repeat it. I thought that was kind of odd. So, I started putting three dimensional pieces on my digital printed art. This is kind of where I started, not in the video form or the NFT form, because that didn't exist yet, but playing digitally. And then during the pandemic, I couldn't go to my big studio in LA. I got an iPad pro with a pen and I learned Procreate and started making digital art again. Interestingly enough, I didn't know at the time when I made over 30 pieces that they make a video of you making that art. Then I felt so in tune with NFTs. And I started putting them out digitally. I understand... when you're a photographer a lot of times you have to number your art pieces. You have to put a little piece of paper on the back of the photograph that says, if you sell it, you have to pay the person. But that never really happens. I mean I've sold a thousand pieces of art with that. So, I understand what's going on with the NFT, because a lot of my art, even that I've made before, like pillars with video in it or a big American flag where the stars would be a video with the eagle burning. Then when I went to Miami Basel this year, I noticed that people were making old clocks and putting video in them as their NFTs. And I used to do bird cages with me flying on a video in it. So, this is exactly up my alley and I'm a junk artist more than I'm a sculptor. I'm gonna go forward with when you buy my NFTs, you're gonna be buying an art piece that the NFT is in. One thing I love about it is... my sculptures are very expensive to ship, and this is nothing. You just push a button, except when I put it in an art piece. Also, I was thinking of making TVs with really interesting frames and getting into that business, which I might do. In the world of crypto, people that are buying this, they need something to use with their crypto right now. There's not many opportunities for things they can buy. And when you buy art, it's also a way to get around taxes. So I understand the love of it. And I have friends who had digital art already, before NFTs. So, they have TVs on their walls. It's kind of like an MTV video. I know it started in gaming and music, but my NFTs are more like MTV videos.

ALLIÉ: As an established artist, how do you feel about this newly established way of selling, buying and owning art?

LAURA: I love it. Right now, it's only going to crypto people and crypto people weren't buying art. So, it's a whole new art buyer. Some crypto people were, but it's generally a new art buyer. And I also love the responsibility that if they sell it and trade it, I get money. I get to follow the history of my art. I would've loved to for the thousands of pieces of art