How Social Media and NFTs Have Affected the Way I View My Art
tldr; they haven't
Social media: choose your adventure
A question for my fellow artists: when you think of social media, do you view it as a tool or a place for self-expression?
I believe the most common response would be using it for both. Expressing ourselves through sharing our art online is so fulfilling; we can connect with the world through what we create. And then, there’s always the potential of an opportunity arising simply by existing on the internet—so it’s like the “tool” part is almost there subconsciously.
The beautiful thing is that it’s truly a choose your own adventure.
Wanna toss the idea of upkeeping a personal brand in the trash and use social media as a way to capture your art at a point in time—all while embracing shitposting? Go for it! Or, use it purely for networking and as a means to spread your name. That’s cool, too.
I personally prefer the former.
Choose wisely, traveler
While having options may sound like common logic, I’m writing this because this year the line between “sharing art for self-expression” and “sharing art as means to create opportunities” became incredibly blurred for me.
When NFTs (more on this later) began to pick up traction in February of this year, I felt like I went through a creativity re-birth, but nearly at the cost of how I perceive my art. The sudden opportunity to monetize and build around my art (that was only ever meant to be a hobby solely for myself) began to take away from the real reason I was creating.
And for all of the years that I’ve been chronically online, there have definitely been moments that social media has challenged the way I think about my online presence. I personally never want to think: “Will tweeting this fit my personal brand?”
Perception is crucial
The past year has been filled with pressures to become growth-driven if you exist on the internet as a creative. Don’t get me wrong—this is an incredibly exciting time for artists, musicians, and creatives alike. But as someone that initially wanted to keep my 3D renders separate from my professional life, I’ve felt incredibly conflicted.
My path wasn’t clear anymore.
Through the trials and tribulations of this past year, I want to take a moment to reflect on how social media and the rise of NFTs have impacted the way I view my art—which, spoiler: is the same way I would if those things didn’t exist.
The need to create for one’s self
August 2020 came with the sudden realization that I had started to lose myself in my creative work—and not in a good way.
There isn’t much separation between my professional creative work and my personal creative life. This is due to the majority of what I do—web design, writing, content creation, whatever-the-hell-else designers do, etc—not only sharing a big part of my life but being shared to the internet.
If you know me on the internet, you know who I am outside of the internet. There’s no persona, no distinction, no alt account; find me retweeting some Final Fantasy memes one day and posting elaborate articles like this the next.
As much as I enjoy sharing so much of myself, I found that the lack of distinction between Online Kate and Kate started to eat at me. After 10 years of having everything I enjoy being shared and perceived, it all started to lose its color. Then, I began to resent it. I didn’t have anything that felt like it was my own anymore.
I stopped drawing. I played video games less and less. I switched from reading fiction to reading design/tech books. All for the sake of being productive in pursuit of this false idea of “success” and bringing value to those around me.
Truthfully, I should have seen this coming. The pipeline of edgy artist on Tumblr circa 2012 to workaholic in tech is very real. Though at least with shitposting on Tumblr, I knew who I was and other people’s influences didn’t seem so loud.
Long story short: I needed to create solely for myself again.
I started learning 3D as an escape
After some spiraling and deep reflections, I decided that I needed to separate myself and what I create from the internet for a while.
But, as someone that hates being idle, it became ✨new hobby time✨
If you know me, you’ll know that my fascination with tech started at a very young age with video games. Long before I stumbled into web design, I dreamt of working in the gaming industry as a narrative designer. But as with most dreams, it died. (jk)
As homage to the reason I pursued a creative field, I sought out learning 3D so I could recreate some of my favorite video game characters, consoles, weapons, etc. The catch: this would solely be for me. Just me, my PC, and some good ole learning for the sake of it being interesting.
Mini rant: why in this god-forsaken digital age does everything seemingly feel like it has to have a purpose??? Like, does everything need to be documented and shared? It’s draining. Anyway.
For the first time in a long time, my creative work recharged me. I saw limitless possibilities in this new world and all I wanted to do was learn, create, and repeat.
I was happy.
Enter Scene: NFTs
The reason you presumably chose to read this article. Right. Tragic backstory over.
In a moment of weakness, I decided to start sharing a few of my personal 3D pieces in a progress thread on Twitter. Yeah, yeah. It goes against everything I just said—I am embarrassingly aware. Even though I was only sharing a small amount of what I was actually creating, I felt shame…something about the internet being an inescapable void or whatever.
But because of it, I started receiving DMs from people telling me that my work would make good NFTs.
I had no idea what an NFT was, and after multiple google searches, I was still clueless (this was in December 2020 - a bit before it started gaining traction so there were virtually no resources available). It was clear to me that NFTs were still in their infancy, but instead of digging to learn more, I shrugged it off. I had already decided that any spare time would be spent in Blender working on my art.
Little did I know the two would go hand-in-hand.
Fast-forward to February 2021 and NFTs are all over my timeline.
“alright i’ll bite what’s an NFT”
“anyone have a spare FND invite?”
“i just left my trad job to work on web3 lfg”
It was at this moment that I realized I’d be doing myself a disservice by not, at the very least, learning about everything.
I learn best by just doing (otherwise I’ll sit here and think myself into a void), so I listed my first two pieces on FND thanks to an invite from @jstn. These are two pieces that were created before I even knew what an NFT was.
The evolution of my involvement in NFTs
To put it simply: what started as “oh wow this whole blockchain thing seems pretty cool, but I’m really trying to avoid seeing this creative outlet as work” avalanched to reigniting the creative spark I had been so desperately trying to find.
Since February, I’ve listed and sold my first few pieces on Foundation; I gave a talk about the creator economy at Webstacks, my full-time job, with my good friend and coworker Brady; started doing contract web3 design work for MintSongs (an NFT marketplace for music), and I was recently accepted to Friends with Benefits—a DAO focused on the intersection of culture and technology.
I was also honored to see that I was listed in a group of amazing artists as Cooper’s prediction for creators that’ll make it big in a year.
As amazing as this all was, I needed to figure out how to approach this long-term. I knew that if I went 100% in with a hobby that I fell in love with, I’d grow to resent it as ideals would become attached.
NFTs 🤝My Art
While it’s enticing to go all-in on NFTs, I’m deciding to take my time with what I choose to mint. I have never made something with the sole intention of it being an NFT, nor do I plan on it. I will always start with the art itself; if I think a piece belongs on-chain, I’ll decide that once it’s complete.
My art and learning journey will always remain my priority when spending time in Blender. I personally don’t ever want to start a project by thinking “to mint or not to mint?” To me, that’ll make it work—here for vibes, not burnout.
And, sorry, but I’m not going to be pressured into going full NFT artist to make another one of my passions feel like work for the sake of social status or capital gainz.
I’m not a brand; I’m more focused on my longevity as an artist and human being.
What if I miss out on an opportunity?
Don’t get me wrong—I’ve spent the last few months really overthinking that question.
Am I missing out by not going all-in on web3 and the emerging world of NFTs? What if I regret not positioning myself and my art better? Why can’t I just sacrifice another hobby when it’ll likely bring so much into my life?
And the answer is: diamond hands on my integrity and what makes me happy 😤😤 (lol ew that was stupid) But really, it just doesn’t feel right for me personally. Gotta go with my heart on this one.
My latest piece ‘overthinking’ captures exactly what I was going through and what I was feeling. If I decide to mint this piece or not is still up in the air as it’s incredibly important to me.
Vibes and ~the grind~
Everyone’s take is different. And my personal take isn’t meant to discount artists that are on the grind—the NFT movement is one of the greatest steps towards creative freedom in our lifetime. The excitement and energy around this space are unlike anything I’ve experienced; it’s hard not to want to go all-in.
Nothing makes me happier than supporting my friends in this space. The creativity and hard work that’s being put into this community are truly inspiring.
And if you’re looking for some new artists to follow, please hmu! I’ve got you.
What’s holding me back?
For a while, I would wonder: “Why can’t I just be like the rest of the community? What’s holding me back from grinding like they are?”
And after a bit too much thinking, I realized:
Opportunities to grow into new ways of thinking are good; sacrificing my personal morals because of FOMO is not.
This space is what you make it
If you’re feeling pressured by social media or NFTs, remember you’re always in control of your narrative. You know yourself best—not the thousands of overly opinionated people on the internet.
And for me, well, my story remains ever-changing, ever-growing, and rooted entirely in curiosity. So, I’m going to take my time and take it slowly with my art and NFTs. And if that means I’m ngmi…well…so be it.
You can find me gmi in other ways.