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#03 | Flamingos on Vacation

Upon meeting Gavin, one of the first things that has always stuck out was his desire to always please and entertain others, while making sure they were left with a smile. Hearing him tell his story about his journeys across the globe, experiencing diverse cultures in places like Paris, Japan, and New York was inspiring. You can see first hand taking a glimpse at his art that it is full of energy, always the life of the party, and begging to be turned up. With every project that he has started or worked on, there has always been one thing in common. That is he is always looking for ways to provide value, give back to the community, and connect with his fans. Take his VJ loop project for example that is set up so that users can sync his animations directly with the beat, creating virtual concert visuals to enjoy anywhere. He always puts the end user interest first, creating an experience for the viewers to enjoy wither it’s online or in-front of thousands of music fan attendees. His latest adventure “Something For Everyone” allows anyone to download the project files for his recent Nifty Gateway drop. By doing this letting other creators explore his complex labyrinths of designs, and even going onto highlighting the amazing work that other artists have and continue create.

After watching his success early on in the NFT space, and seeing the feed back he was receiving, I started to do a little digging around myself. During this time I noticed his name being brought up often in many social circles within the crypto community. Not only was he giving back to the community through his artwork and side projects, but he had also begun supporting other artists on the cryptoart scene as well. Often times I would be in a discord room or clubhouse and overhear how Gavin had bid on another artist’s work causing a frenzy in bidding wars. It just goes to show that you can put a smile on everyone’s face, it just takes hard work and providing back to those around you.

With hearing all of these great things, I knew I needed to have him back on Dope Rad Cool, and catch everyone up on his wild journey!

It’s been a little over a year since we last sat down. How have things been?

Hahaha things have been really great! Since we talked, I’ve continued to build my body of personal work, and then I eventually got into cryptoart and NFTs. And now I’m at the point where I was able to take a leave of absence from my day job to focus on creating art full-time.

 

How did you get introduced to Cryptoart and NFTs? What was your first impression?

I first got introduced to cryptoart in May 2020, when Nifty Gateway reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in trying out a drop on their platform. At first, I was definitely a bit hesitant – it seemed too good to be true! But after I talked with their team a bit they answered all of my questions and I felt like it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot. So I had my drop with them, and I refreshed the page 20 minutes after the drop to see how it was doing, and it was completely sold out. I couldn’t believe it. So I started diving a bit deeper into the community and set up a Twitter account and was just blown away by how supportive and passionate everyone was.

So my overall first impressions were, “wow, this has a lot of potential to become something really life-changing for digital artists”, and it’s turned out to be beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

I feel like I am living in an episode of Black Mirror.

 

So, you went from designing animated concert visuals for Yung Bae to creating virtual digital art galleries. Do they have similarities, do you take different approach in creating, and do you miss the concert scene?

I like to think that there are some core similarities for sure. First and foremost, the main goal of all of my work is to make people smile. I usually try to achieve this by juxtaposing “the serious” with “the absurd”. So I always try to combine some level of hyper-serious overcomplication with these silly dancing birds. With the concert visuals, I am trying to make something that looks psychedelic and hypnotic – something that you can get lost in wherever you look, but also is very ridiculous and lighthearted. I want people to go, “Why did he take the time to make this insane dancing bird video? How is this even possible? Why can’t I look away?” With the virtual art gallery stuff, like “Creating Infinity”, I’ve really enjoyed playing with ideas that blur the line between physical and digital realities, and have tried to make work that utilizes the strengths of each to create something new and unique.

So I’m trying to tap into the emotional response you get from experiencing “physical art” right in front of you in a museum, and combining that with objects and concepts that are only really possible with digital techniques. And in the end, all of this over-complication is just a way to show off some sweet dancing birds in a way you’ve never seen them before. I have a feeling that my work is going to ebb and flow between the experimental “art installation” kind of stuff and the “concert visual” style that I started with. After “Creating Infinity”, I felt like I had done enough experimenting for a while and felt it was time I re-examined concert visuals, so “Something for Everyone” was a step closer towards that direction. I hope that by going back and forth in phases like this, I can take learnings from each to evolve the next.

 

Seeing a lot of amazing artist emerge into the crypto world over the past year. Do you have any favorite projects, physical items, or artworks that you’ve come across?

I personally have loved seeing artists play with the idea of a drop and use it as an artistic medium. You have all these really cool collections emerging that are formed around inventive ideas. Some that come to mind have been Beeple’s first drop, Roger Kilimanjaro’s “Sound Blocks”, Fvckrender’s “Fvkrenderverse”, Malavida’s “Heal the Deal”, Pak’s “The Title”, David OReilly’s “Mountain Time”, Toomuchlag’s “My Journey”, Reisinger Andres’ “The Shipping”, and Steven Baltay’s “Fisherman”.

“My Journey” By toomuchlag on Nifty Gateway

You just took a leave of absence from your day job. Last time we had you on here you were just starting there! How does it feel to be able to step away for a minute to have some creative freedom?

It’s absolutely thrilling! It’s also completely surreal. I don’t think I’m really used to it yet. I have all these projects in the works, and I keep thinking that I’ll never be able to get them done in time. But then I remember that I have an additional 40 hours per week to work on them, instead of just on mornings/nights/weekends. It’s such a privilege, and it’s extremely freeing, and I feel very very lucky to be in this position.

Watching the excitement unfold around your drops and auctions, how has the cryptoart community been? Do you receive creative support from collectors?

I’ve been blown away by how supportive the community has been. Everyone is very encouraging of one another and I only have good things to say. It’s been creatively invigorating, and never in my life have I felt so motivated to develop my craft, produce new work, and so meticulously consider how it might resonate with people. It’s been cool getting to know some of my collectors as well.

Shoutout to @CryptoSteveWand who was an early collector of 3 of my pieces on SuperRare. And @y_kymin who collected one of each of my limited editions (including the 1/1) of my most recent Nifty Gateway drop as well as a SuperRare piece. He wrote a really really thoughtful thread on twitter about me and my work. Also a big thanks to TheGreatMondo and @Noradio who collected my two recent pieces on SuperRare (One of which was a really fun collaboration with the incredible @jn3008). Everyone really has been so encouraging.

“It’s a style of collaboration I’ve never done before, and it may or may not involve physical artwork.”

Do the flamingos have any vacations planned with your time off?

The flamingos are gonna be super busy, I have lots of plans for them! Also some plans for the penguins to return. I have a ton of collaborations with other digital artists that I finally am able to get to, and I also may or may not have some exciting collabs coming up with some great people in the music industry that I can’t talk about yet 🙂 There is also another exciting collaboration in the works… It’s a style of collaboration I’ve never done before and it may or may not involve a physical artwork. I’ve said too much.

 

Last project you were working on was your animated BPM dancing flamingos. Now you have “Something For Everyone”. How did this come up with this project? Do you have any favorite works that you have seen?

Fun fact – everything I make is 120 BPM so they all still fit into the dancing flamingos VJ project. I came up with the idea of “Something for Everyone” because I wanted to make some kind of art project that everyone could be a part of. So I released the project file of the base animation with the hopes of empowering artists and giving them this tool that they could use to easily make something that looks really cool and complicated. I thought that instead of making the project about me, the artist, what if I could make something that was focused on the project itself as a concept – something that could be utilized by any artist who wanted to articulate it through their own voice and style. I wanted to start a conversation and put something out there that could become bigger than me or anything that I could do on my own. And at the same time, I love the idea that people might learn from the project file and be inspired to do something creative.

I really liked the book “Homo Deus”, in which the author suggests that all human behavior can be broken down into algorithms, and then he goes on to discuss what role humans play in a future where AI can run algorithms better than we can. So I thought it might be interesting to essentially convert a piece of my artistic style into an algorithm so it has the potential to outlive me and evolve on its own. I also don’t have kids yet, and I’m not sure if I want to have kids, so I suppose one could argue that this is a way that I am navigating the “Generativity vs. Stagnation” stage of my life. Big shoutout to @Index_3D who made a few really beautiful animations with the project file and also converted it to Blender so that Blender users can have a shot at it as well. @SnowShughes made a great animation too, which really takes advantage of the 4-second time offset of each triangle. I also loved Matt Chiama’s version – he made it “break” in his signature style. There are so many great ones! I really recommend going to somethingforeveryone.art and clicking on “SFE Gallery” to see them all in one place.

I’d love to close with a message to those who are finding success as crypto artists: Please pay it forward. Being able to do well in this field is such an immense privilege. If you have the means, consider supporting causes that could make the world a better place in whatever way is important to you. And please do your best to support other artists, either by collecting their work or even just drawing attention to them. We all had help getting where we are, and the community won’t be able to grow and evolve unless we give others a fair shot as well. We can use this gift to change people’s lives.

GIF CONNOISSEURS BEWARE

In the early days of the internet, before there were special keyboards, and vast searchable databases of files. People would store their GIFs on their desktop in a folder like true connoisseur. These would be organized collections by type, characters, messages, and even by overall color. This would be your digital art collection at the time that you would show off to your friends, as people would gaze in wonder. People would ask “How do you have a GIF for everything?!” Little did they know you had a detailed folder layout that took years of organizing.

Fast forward to modern day technology and you can have those results, but right at the touch of a screen instantly. Things like GIF keyboards, in-app GIF stickers, and online GIF databases are now used everyday by almost everyone.

But does anyone ever stop and wonder where all of these gifs come from? I’ve sat down with John Karel in the past to talk about his historical contributions to the GIF community over the years. Some of his most recognizable work could be something you glance at everyday and you wouldn’t even know it. But that’s because when you use a GIF to send to a friend you aren’t thinking about who made it, or that you are claiming it to be as your own. You are just using it as a way to express how you are feeling at the moment, an enhancement to your message.

When things do start to become tricky, is when the idea of ownership comes into play. As social media websites and apps started to develop in the past, artists started to see their art work claimed by phony-artists as their own. While this was never a problem in the past as art forgery was never a “perfect fake” but yet a very detailed plagiarism. With technology it is has become almost possible to create the identical a perfect copy of ones artwork and pass it off as an original. But with things like metadata, watermarks, and now the use of the blockchain, creators can put their digital signature on their works of art to protect in the future.

How does this affect the digital art market? The art world has seen in the past that the replication of art for profit has been around as long as art has. But with traditional physical art you are able to trace it’s origins, have samples tested, and compare to other similar works from the artist. With digital media this isn’t always to easiest thing to do, and with the speed of how things move in the digital art world it sometimes isn’t possible.

I asked @jjjjjjjjjjohn if he could offer a bit of insight on how buyers can protect themselves when buying digital art. He shares some advices to artists about his personal experiences in the past with seeing his artwork being used without his permission throughout his career.

Have you recognized stolen work on NFT marketplaces? Have you come across any of your artwork?

 J: Yes, someone messaged me on Instagram back in September alerting me that my work was being sold on Rarible as a NFT by somebody else. I sent a few messages to Rarible about it and received no reply, but the NFT was eventually removed. Its actually what prompted me to start posting my work to Rarible, if someone is going to profit off my work it might as well be me. The only other time I’ve come across my work being sold as NFT is by the Marble Cards platform. They allow anybody to create an NFT from any existing web link, and there are a lot of artist’s artwork that is being turned into NFTs without the artists prior consent. Marble Cards gives the NFT space a really bad name, its the poster child for artwork being stolen and sold as NFTs.

Have you ever had to deal with your artwork being stolen in the past? How is it different with NFTs?

J: My work has been used without my permission more times than I can count. I’ll usually just call it out on social media, and contact them asking to cease and desist.

Do you see stolen or use of copyrighted material being used in the NFT space as a lasting problem?

J: I don’t. It’s in the best interest of NFT platforms and collectors that stolen work isn’t an issue so I believe solutions will arise. My only concern for NFTs long term is that artists don’t end up getting the short end of the stick, because its also in the NFT platforms and collectors best interest that artists don’t profit or have as much control as they deserve to.

What can platforms/marketplaces do to prevent the sale of copyrighted material or stolen artwork? Is it the artist or platforms responsibility to take action?

J: It’s definitely the platforms responsibility to police themselves. The best thing platforms can do is take talk to artists. Platforms need to actively talk to artists and partake in their communities, so that when work is stolen and sold through their marketplace there’s an easy line of communication to deal with the issue.

What can buyers look for or do when buying artwork to insure it’s authentic?

J: Most NFT platforms have some sort of verification system for artist accounts, if the artist isn’t verified on the platform that’s a big red flag. Beyond that it’s definitely important to check the artist’s social media pages or contact them to make sure they’re the one who is selling the work.

This hasn’t only been brought to the attention of artists as well as platforms, but also content provider services like GIPHY have taken notice. Will this be a change in the tides of content being used illegally or will it only keep things quiet for now?

I reached out to GIPHY to see if they could elaborate on the tweet that was making it’s way the crypto art community. Below is what the GIPHY spokesperson’s had to say:

Q: What is being done to stop illegal use of GIPHY content?

A: If any NFT content is flagged to us and its use of GIPHY content violates our Terms of Service, we take immediate action to notify the involved parties and work collectively to remove the content as quickly as possible.

Q: Who are you talking to get these things taken down?

A: We prefer not to disclose specific names as some of these companies are working to resolve this immediately and we want to give them the privacy to do so.

Q: What can be done for artists to protect their artwork?

A: Artists should be able to issue takedowns (per DMCA) on sites when their content is being used in ways where they haven’t given permission.

Q: Can artists use artwork that is on GIPHY for their own NFTs?

A: Artists continue to own the IP to any original content that they upload to GIPHY so they are of course free to do whatever they want with that IP.  That said, at this time, GIPHY does not have a way of supporting NFTs in accordance with our ToS, and therefore any NFTs cannot contain a GIPHY URL/metadata.

Q: Will GIPHY release their own official NFTs such as Taco Bell?

A: GIPHY has no immediate plans to release our own NFTs.

Collectors Corner

This issue we will be taking a look a not just artists, but digital collectibles. As the NFT technology is becoming more readily available for people to navigate, and even make easier for people to create their own as well. What was something that required in-depth programing knowledge on writing smart contracts and deploying them to the blockchain is as easy as uploading a piece of art and adding some description to it.

With this we are starting to see a lot more creativity in the digital collectibles space. It is allowing for people to experiment in product design, develop digital toys, and even start community games around the artwork. Below I will highlighting a few digital collectibles, some new collections just being release, and some being resurrected with the insurgence of new collectors.

MoonCats Rescue

What might be explained by some as an digital archelogical find, others look at as a gold mine in unminted treasures. I’m talking about the resurgence of Moon Cats.

MoonCatRescue is an exploration of user-discoverable blockchain assets. Users “mine” for MoonCats in their browser. After MoonCats are “mined”, they can be put up for adoption, adoptions can be requested, they can be given away, and they can be permanently named.”

MoonCats is one of the original NFTs dating back to August 2017, the project went somewhat unnoticed and didn’t gain much traction. That is until recently where people were a thread on twitter alerted people of the project. Leading to a rush to help rescue the cats from the moon and adopt their precious cats to their wallets.

Enter the market of digital product and toy design. What started out as a project for @TrymRuud for his bachelors degree quickly became a household name in every NFT collectors wallet. Experimenting with product design seeing how a speculative idea can create value in an unknown market Trym has been able to sell out of all of the Rude Boy releases.

Rude Boys are entering it’s season two with the release of #51 Light Angel. As with all his drops, this one sold out in minutes with an edition number of 128. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming collabs and projects within the community.

Everydays meet NFTs. The Rarebit Bunnies are spreading like rabbits! Starting in late December 2020 this project has set out to release 1 new Rarebit Bunny illustration every day. Early on in the project most were themed around crypto trends, but as time ranged on we started to see more of the creative artistic side come out.

Collabing with many other talented artists such as Nathan Head on a vibrant special edition collection, featuring Nathan’s signature art style. Another favorite collaboration among collectors was the Rarebit Bunny #100 with Trym’s Rude Boys. There is expected to be a new bunny every day until the end of 2021, we have yet to be disappointed only delighted and surprised.

“Besides my professional life, I create visuals to challenge myself. Creating these visuals have started to be an escape point for me. It is the only place I can move freely and without concerns.

I think being a consistent creator is the way to awaken your inner artist.”

What is CryptoHouses?

In the physical world, an architect is a service provider for a client to have a shelter. Each project has a different location, context, program, and even a story for the architects to consider. The design is shaped around these constraints to create the “best” outcome for the client. However, mostly the client cannot have noticeable effects on the result. The architects force the client with only one iteration.

The CryptoHouses are available now! Homes are waiting for you to move in. Here you can see the collection on OpenSea: CryptoHouses OpenSea Collection