An NFT Artist On How Realistic It Is For An Average Joe To Pursue A Similar Career

An NFT Artist On How Realistic It Is For An Average Joe To Pursue A Similar Career
This article is sponsored by Set For Life.

Serwah Attafuah is a Sydney-based multidisciplinary artist and musician, with a particular focus on 3D digital art. She creates “surreal cyber dreamscapes and heavenly wastelands, populated by afro-futuristic abstractions of self with strong ancestral and contemporary themes.”

She’s worked with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Nike, GQ, Adobe, Paris Hilton and Charli XCX, and recently was part of Sotheby’s ‘Natively Digital’: A Curated NFT auction and ‘Apotheosis’: a live motion capture experience with Soft Centre at The Sydney Opera House.

We caught up with Serwah to find out more about how she turned her passion into an actual career, the realities of living as an artist and chasing your dreams, as well as how difficult it is to get into the NFT art space.

LH: Hey Serwah, how did that all begin, if you had a superhero origin story, what would it be?

Serwah: Both my parents are artists, so they encouraged me to paint from a very young age. About 10 years ago we lost our studio space, and it just frustrated me to the point where I was like, “well, I need to find something that I can do anywhere and not have any restriction, and it’s a bit more independent than painting,” so digital art seemed to make the most sense — you can just do it on your computer wherever you want, whenever you want. 

I was also going to TAFE at the time. I was surrounded by a lot of illustrators and painters, and I didn’t actually know anybody who was focusing on digital art, so it seemed like a good way to stand out against my peers.

NFTs have kind of come out of nowhere and have evolved so much in their public perception in such a short time — and they’re still quite a divisive subject — how do you feel about the current landscape surrounding NFTs?

I feel good about it as a digital artist that’s been doing it for so long. I feel we’ve always needed something like NFTs, and I can totally understand why it’s hard for people that don’t exist in the digital art space, or even just the art people that aren’t into art, in general, can overlook the benefits of it, but I definitely think it’s needed. 

What is it about NFTs that intrigues you?

Well, as I said, I’ve been doing this for 10-plus years now and before digital art, I never had a way to sell my work in the way that it was originally intended. I’ve done prints of my work and stuff like that, but it’s never really the same. Digital art is supposed to be digital. It’s awesome to have something that I can sell, trade, share, and it’s trackable — and it’s all online.

Can anyone be an NFT artist? You did mention earlier that what attracted you to digital art is the fact that it’s so much more accessible. Does that mean someone like me could do it? Basically, how difficult is it to actually become an NFT artist?

It’s not difficult at all. You just have to have an asset or something to sell, something to put up, or an idea, a concept. It’s such an early space, such a new space, that you can really start to think outside of the box and really get experimental with what an NFT could be. I think that’s the beauty of the space — anybody can participate.

That’s actually really exciting, it gives me hope for the future that anyone who feels even somewhat creative has so much more access to share that with people.

Oh, for sure.

I want to talk to you now about the actual reality of making a living as an artist. The artist’s road is never an easy one — there is so much self-doubt and uncertainty that accompanies any creative pursuit — were there times you felt like giving it all up, or self-doubt creeping in, and if so, how did you deal with that?

Totally. Yeah. Well, I didn’t really want to become an artist, so I didn’t think that I was going to become an artist, which was kind of funny. I’ve had really amazing role models in my life of successful artists — my parents or their friends or people like that, but I just went with the flow until the point where I got a bit frustrated. 

I was in a bit of a dead-end day job, but doing art on the side, and it got to the point where I was just frustrated with late invoices and nasty clients and stuff like that. It got to the point where I was like, “I’m going to quit art, and I’m going to go to school and become a real estate agent and just not worry”. I was going through my own personal crisis. But it’s just about sticking it out.

It’s always good to have that creative outlet to even process any difficult emotions.

For sure. Success is dependent on how you want to see success. I felt I was having great success at a point where I was working a full-time job, but doing this on the weekends, that was success for me at the time, and it was awesome. And now, I see success in a different way, but I think it’s all relative. And also, just don’t compare yourself to other artists or other people because you don’t know how they got to that point or what’s keeping them there. I’m sure if you knew what was going on behind other artists’ lives, you probably wouldn’t like it as much.

OK now for a bit more of a positive look at the artist’s life — the flip side to the peril of the artist’s journey is the possibility of living your dream; doing what you love and calling it a job. That’s a pretty cool thing not a lot of people get to experience. How do you feel about it all?

It’s awesome, I’m really grateful. I’m grateful that I get to just chill with my dog all day and mess around on the computer. It’s a bit wild sometimes. I step back, and I’m like, “I really did not expect to be making art full-time.” If you’d asked me in high school, I’d be like, “Nah, I’ll probably work at KFC still.” It’s a bit crazy, but it’s just a matter of working hard and putting yourself in interesting and experimental places or points of mind.

What’s your advice for anyone striving to ‘make it’ in a creative field, or any field where the odds seemed stacked against you for that matter?

It sounds real corny, but you have to be yourself. Hey, I’m a black death metal musician from Western Sydney, back in 2015, 2016 when I was starting art and music, it was a very different political landscape or social landscape and that was very strange and frowned upon. 

If you be yourself, the community will come with you, and the opportunities will follow no matter who you are, or what you do. Whatever your vision is, just be yourself. Somebody will definitely appreciate that, and people can see when you’re being fraudulent in your creative vision. Yeah, just be yourself.

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