The following is a transcription of the weekly artist spotlight series from @HyypeHQ. Read below to see the advice PopWonderNFT shared throughout our conversation, and walk away with new insights and approaches.
I'm not just here to sell some pieces and then do whatever else, I'm here because I'm doing this forever.
Anaroth: Welcome and thank you for joining us. To get us started I would love for you to share your journey within NFT's and a little about who you are. Afterwards, we will move into some questions to help give our readers and listeners some perspective.
Pop Wonder: Yeah, I'll just dig into how I got started with this and art in general. I had been a working musician for my whole career, with art and drawing being something that had been more on the side. One day I figured that music wasn't quite cutting it, even though I was working a lot, I wasn't quite making the income and the moves that I had wanted. I started adding in some graphic design on the side. Doing designs, posters, logos, and things like that for my friend's bands or businesses that approached me. That was really cool to go back to the visual art side of things from when I was a kid. I put effort into getting my illustration chops up and kept pursuing illustration.
In 2020, when all the tours got cancelled, I created this PopWonder World Universe. I had more time then because I wasn't playing every every night or going on tour. After about a year of building those illustrations and my experience up, a buddy texted me out of the blue one day. He shared that people are creating NFT’s and thought that I could do it. Next I went to twitter, checked out SuperRare and OpenSea, and was like oh yea, I am fully into this. Ever since then, that was the beginning of last year, i've just been super into every aspect of the ecosystem.
Anaroth: Thank you for sharing a little about who you are. I have been in some of your spaces recently and one of the common things I hear you reference is the benefit of the artistic community here. Could you share some of the experiences you've had working with other artists that have shaped the confidence that you have today?
Pop Wonder: Well, we can start with LurkLovesYou who right when we got into NFT's started the lowbrow art collective. This was a morning chat on clubhouse while we were all working and getting going for the day. These rooms were really important, all these amazing artists were coming through, and then eventually becoming friends. For them to take me in and treat me as one of their own gave me a lot of confidence, and I think some legitimacy. People think if i'm hanging with them maybe i'm good enough for whatever, so that was huge.
We all were entering the NFT space at the same time, it's almost like our little class that we have. I encourage new people to find those people that are your crew, where you all are helping each other out. Even the very basics of the technology we were helping each other and we still do with MetaMask, OpenSea, Minting whatever issues we are working through as artists. The knowledge and experience of everybody together was very helpful in the beginning when we were all trying to figure that out. As far as artists go, the people I found myself working and collaborating with were these established artists. It was inspiring for me to be working alongside them.
Anaroth: You mentioned how the proximity of other artists was giving you confidence and inspiration. Could you share a little more about when you reached the point of having a lot of confidence in releasing digital art, and knowing that it was gonna be successful?
Pop Wonder: When I first started putting up 1/1’s I did sell a couple pretty quickly, but then there were weeks where I wasn't selling any and they were sitting there. It would take some sort of event or exposure for them to sell at times. Even then after some success I would put another one up, and at this point I am turning down graphic design jobs, I am wanting to do NFT’s only, and it would just sit there. Your mind starts wondering oh maybe I should have taken that logo job. Then I did my first edition, I remember pacing around my backyard the entire time after it dropped. Watching them start to sell and I remember thinking ok this is even more doable. The point is that I was always looking for a working class situation with this. When I saw the first article about NFT’s and that someone made 400K in a drop and I was like, well maybe I can make 400 dollars and that would be amazing.
As I saw the success of the edition pieces, recognizing it would take me a couple weeks to sell out, I was like OK well I think I can keep some income flowing. As long as NFT's are still popular a year from now, I will probably be fine. When I did my first Gutter Cat Gang remix, I was not confident that those were going to sell, I didn't know if anybody cared or wanted those. I only made seven of the first one, and then they sold out in like 3 minutes and i was like OK, people are into it. Even if it's just working class like I said, I'll be fine.
Anaroth: You mentioned that you started turning down design jobs as you focused on your own art. What advice do you have for artists on understanding how to select the right projects to collaborate on?
Pop Wonder: I definitely don't say yes to everything, and yeah, it's it's been the most challenging thing. Dealing with the idea of letting people down, or saying no to people in that regard can be hard. What does get me engaged in a collaboration first off is if I know the person, and we have been in the trenches together. That's basically happening as soon as i have the time to do it. The other thing is if they have a very specific thing that they do, or a very specific NFT collection like Crypto Climates, Made by Megan she hit me up and I did not know her. But when I looked at the collection, it's successful, and also it's a very specific thing. It's an isometric chunk of land that she does in different styles and different variations. I was like oh I can make my own isometric chunk of land easily, I already basically know what I’m gonna do. That's really the key, if I can wrap my head around it immediately.
So if you're reaching out to artists, don’t just be like hey, wanna collab? Have an Idea. Another great example here is BearBrains. He sketched an animation, we got on the phone for a second he said all you have to do is do your thing over each frame, and to me that just clicks. I'm like OK yes, and it was dope what he made, and it worked perfectly with my style. Those are the kind of ways for me, basically, if you make it very easy for me then it’s a better chance. But come with a vision.
Anaroth: There is a theme of muted, bright, vibrant colors that exists through a lot of your work. Could you talk a little bit about some of central themes and and what guides that similarity throughout your work?
Pop Wonder: When I was starting the whole thing I wanted to set up some constraints to make sure that it was cohesive. My influences of what I want to draw is a mixture of cartoons from when I was a kid, punk rock and skateboard art, but where the cartoony part takes over. The thickness of the lines, and how they taper off that I always noticed in comics and cartoons. In regards to the colors you mentioned, I use Cyan Magenta and Yellow and then mix them together. If you look closely, the bright green on the character which is called Poplins, is made up by having full yellow and then putting blue dots on top of it. But then the way the colors mixed they turn green and then you step back and you see it's like a bright green.
So basically my whole color palette is already predetermined, and it does make for a very cohesive look over all the pieces. Like the one that's at the top here Joyride, that's yellow with pink dots on top and turns red. It’s one of my go to color combos and I have a few go to combos. Then the subject matter of the art I was straight up just like yeah, Aliens but with goofy smiles, trippy outer space stuff and flowers. I was actually drawing a ton of flowers when I was trying to do pattern design, and that just kind of worked its way into my art. Basically, all of the things that I liked, I wanted to be a part of what I was making.
Anaroth: One of the things that I really enjoy asking artists isn't necessarily about a struggle that they've had or something that they've overcome, but rather would you mind sharing one of the moments in your art career that you're incredibly proud of?
Pop Wonder: I think this one's easy for me, it's when I was asked to be on the Duncan Trussle Family Hour Podcast. This is a podcast that was very inspirational and influential to me. I’ve listened to it weekly for years and then I got to be a guest on it. That is probably my proudest moment. Oddly enough I got to go see Duncan last night here in LA and got to meet him in in real life and that was like ok alright, I’m good now.
Anaroth: What advice do you have for people entering in the NFT space now as an artist? How they should define success?
Pop Wonder: The first advice that I give people is to be on twitter, to be coming into spaces like this, following artists that you like and value their opinion. If you're already established as an artist, if you already have your own voice and style that's great. But that's the next thing that I think is really important. If you've been kind of going back and forth between different things for a while and trying to figure it out I recommend picking something and going for it. That allows people to have something to expect from your work, if they liked the last piece they might like the next. But you got to be OK with some people seeing your whole style and being like, yea it's not for me. The people that do gravitate towards it though, they are going to just gravitate towards it so much stronger.
Also something I might have been overlooking this whole time, but I kind of was thinking about it. If possible, having some sort of story or symbolism in your piece that makes people feel a certain way. It isn’t something that is easy to do, or manufacture, but if you can it is a powerful thing to make someone feel a certain way. You can do that through super technical ability, getting somebody to go oh my god look at that! They are zooming in and looking at all the details. Or, you can just do it with some sort of concept or story told in the piece, because story is the most timeless thing we have and it’s not going anywhere. Story does speak to humans more than anything, so if you can have a little mini story in your piece, I think that's really big. I haven't really talked about that, or thought about it too much until recently.
Lastly, as far as grinding it out in the NFT space, put some stuff up, post about the work you are doing, and stay true to your style and personality. Put effort into making friends with people, share your opinion and collaborate with people that value the content you make. Prioritize that you are an artist first in the space. There's some people who I never even realized they were an artist. While I collect in the space and enjoy talking about projects my profile picture is art that I made. My bio on twitter is all about my art, I think it is important to make it clear to people that the art is what you are here for. PopWonder was taken on Twitter, so I did PopWonder NFT, but i’m actually glad I did that because it’s clear what I am doing here. I'm not just here to sell some pieces and then do whatever else, I'm here because I'm doing this forever.
Anaroth: Lastly I would like to give you a couple minutes to share with everyone listening in, and who reads this article later, what are some of the things you're working on right now? What do you want to make sure people are aware of?
Pop Wonder: Ok cool I am working on a project with WeinBagz & TerraNaomi that is generative project for music and art. You'll get a randomly generated piece and it the tracks fit together and everyone has a different combination. I am just one of a bunch of artists that are working with that project but am super excited for it. It's been months in the making but it's all culminating to happening right now. I have something else I am waiting to put up until after LA so we can have a spaces to talk about the art and then setup the auction. Other than that, I have various collabs coming out, and stuff i've been Gutter Cat Gang and their Football Team.
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