Anaroth: Welcome and thanks for taking the time to chat today. To kick us off, please introduce yourself, your work, and a little about your career so far.
BearBrains: I'm Natebear, otherwise known as BearBrains in the art space. I started my career doing a lot of illustration and design work, like i'm sure a lot of people did. The kind of things you do to make some money as an Artist. I’ve spent time doing Art Conventions like Comic Cons and Art Fairs, selling prints, pins and things like that. This had really been my Art life for the last ten or eleven years until I stumbled into the NFT space. I remember seeing a headline that Nyan Cat gif had sold for a lot of money and thinking to myself, hmmm I am making a lot of animated gifs. That's something I could do, maybe not for that much money, but it's a marketplace and I really love making animations.
That love for animation made me feel that this might be the right spot for me. I dove in and started creating this past year and it has definitely opened up a whole different way of working. Before NFTs I would think about where am I going, and what work I need to have for that event. If I was going to an anime convention, how am I making a few anime related drawings and prints and referencing the relevant material to that audience. With NFTs though, it has allowed me to rethink my process for creating art. If it is about the IP that you own and the characters you are creating I started to focus on who are my characters. What is my starting point to create this? What is my voice within this space? Questions like these helped me really rethink my approach to creating in general. That is actually what has been the best part of the journey, being able to tap back into that part of myself.
I found myself not really thinking about the market so much in my creations. I'm not pondering about trends. I'm just thinking, well I've got this collector base that resonates with my own passion points. It has afforded me the ability to create the things I love and have an audience that embraces that. It's not like I'm trying to fit copy into places, I just want to make something, there's no specific message that I'm tied to, I feel like I have a new sense of freedom. A feeling to just go for it, and I feel incredibly lucky to have found an audience that wants to support me in that.
Anaroth: I love that you touched on the feelings that your work can convey. Looking over your work prior to this interview to me I had a Saturday morning cartoon type nostalgia. Can you share some of the inspirations and influences behind your work?
BearBrains: Yea, I actually really like weird ephemeral type of illustration. If you wanted to imagine something like Beatrix Potter and how those illustrations make things look and feel older than they are. Pulling from drawings like storybooks like 19th century kind of stuff, there's some mystique to me that feels other worldly. I’m trying to draw that into my stuff as much as possible, but i feel like this style I’ve developed is more like you said like Saturday morning cartoon. I am working on getting there but am actively looking to infuse a feeling of mysteriousness into the work I am creating.
I enjoy having fun with my art, like when you can have like a sprawling image and just place details within the art that people discover. Like with my bicycle day piece it was 24 drawings but each layer was a little different. They are all tracking on the same motion of this character pedaling the bicycle but they are all different illustrations. I'm just putting all this weird detail in there, and I wonder if anybody's going to see it and then when it was released people found all sorts of details! They were pausing the video and taking screenshots and asking about little details they found. I am glad that stuff like that isn’t lost on people, that people take some time to look. In this age of social media it is easy for people to just scroll and go past your work, you always are trying to think of things that may be bite size. But with NFTs, this art is something a collector with have in their wallet forever. That is this extra little incentive to want to infuse the art with richness, more detail, more things to appreciate in a second viewing.
Anaroth: I want to shift topics to a talent of yours. Animation is one of the most sought after skills within the NFT space right now. What advice would you offer to those that are looking to market themselves as an animator? Where would you recommend someone to get started in animation if they haven’t before?
BearBrains: So the first thing that I thought was that I see a lot of stuff that's kind of copying XCopy, and I feel like it's getting done to death. So I would say one, don’t do that. It’s a cool effect but as far as animation goes there are some other places to start. As far as learning animation itself, I would really say its important to hit the books. Look up the twelve principals of animation to help build your foundation and understand how things track in motion. For me when I look at tutorials or things I find myself skipping over parts because I know how to do them, but I recognize for someone starting out how helpful things like that could be.
There’s some basic things like squash and stretch that are very helpful, so I would say do not overlook those. Even if you are not doing cartoonish work squash and stretch is good example of the things you will do to create natural motion. Unless of course you don’t want natural motion, then don’t do those things haha. You can feel it in an animation where it feels organic and touched by somebody's hand, adding subtle touches. The other thing is planning it out, the easiest way to animate something is put an object on one side of the screen and then draw where it's going to end up. Then you can draw everything in between, the timing may not be perfect, but at least you’ll know you can get from point A to point B. Taking steps to add key frames, and focusing on layout of the animation will add to it as well.
As far as marketing goes, I feel like there is a huge opportunity to collaborate with other artists. There's so many artists that have built up a career doing static images, doing paintings, doing murals, doing comics or whatever that have never really considered doing animation before. In this space you there is a demand to catch peoples attention, to have your timeline standout. You may want to branch out and pursue something different than how you have been portraying your work. If you have animations skills, know that there is always potential for collaboration.
An example of a collaboration I did earlier this year was with PopWonder. I knew him from the early clubhouse days when we were starting out in NFTs so we already had a relationship. I came to him and said I had this idea to see what his stuff looks like animated, and asked if he would be into that. I basically pitched him and laid it out with exactly what he would need to do. He took the time to put his own interpretation on it, but I wanted to make sure he had the bones of what I was going for, and that he wasn’t starting from scratch. I think a piece of advice is if you want to work with someone make it easy for them to work with you, have an idea of what it is you are offering.
Some advice to consider when you are thinking of who you might want to collaborate with for me is am I inspired by this persons art? Can you see what you would want to create or are you struggling to formalize an idea? What is the audience overlap and new audience exposure. Even if you and the other person have the same number of twitter followers you won’t have the same ones. The win win is that collaboration will allow both artists to grow their audience, bring exposure to new styles. Lastly it is important that you get along with the person. I think twitter has made it a lot easier because you can reply with a comment saying you like their art and strike up a conversation. The conversation you have should focus on constructive thoughts, not critical. That you actually looked at their art and had an opinion about it can go a long way in establishing connections with new people. Lastly, you will get better at talking about your art and how you articulate things, it just takes time. In the early clubhouse days I remember being in rooms where you are practicing shilling your work to people that may or may not be collectors. But I am far more comfortable talking today than I was a year ago.
Anaroth: I love that call out you had at the end there regarding perfecting how you articulate your work. When you can take nervous energy out of the equation and are left being able to share your authentic self, your work will always benefit. You have shared some solid advice throughout our conversation so far, could you share some of the best advice you’ve received in your art career?
BearBrains: Yes, the first thing that comes to mind is set aside cash. Reflecting I should have taken some Eth profits when it was at its peak that would have helped with some taxes. Brian Romero is an artist that I looked up to when I first got into the space, he always seemed to have a really calm demeanor. He is this successful commercial artist that made a transition into NFTs and taking time to identify long term trends vs hype were some lessons I took away from him. There was a level of strategy to how he structured his drops and when that has allowed him to have this as a career.
Anaroth: Before I give you the chance to share all thats going on in your art world right now, I wanted to ask if you have any advice or tips for overcoming the feeling of being artistically stuck?
BearBrains: Because there is so much going on in the space sometimes I feel like I actually need to slow myself down. There’s so many projects that I want to get out. I think I have ten or twenty concept sketches for PfP Projects if I wanted to pursue something like that. For me I feel like I have too many ideas I want to work with, and it is a lot more about deciding which ones to pursue. I think where I feel like I get the most stuck is when I do my daily GM drawings. I often question myself because i’ll look and see that I have drawn pizza, the sun and coffee all like twenty times. What else is a good morning picture?!
When I do get stuck, I find myself going abstract and start scribbling on the page, making shapes. It’s reminiscent of staring at clouds where the shapes start to look like things. Letting my doodles and scribbles lead me where I feel, and often that does lead to the most interesting or most pleasing work. Another classic way to help when you are feeling stuck is to change things up. Try a new 3D app, a new way to storyboard, but let yourself step away from focusing on finishing pieces and focus on learning something new. Challenging myself to work with tools out of my normal tool set. When stuck get outside, explore a little, if you have an active imagination like me you will find yourself inspired by the details around you. Inevitably all those details I see will help me and inspire me to create something based on what I have seen.
Anaroth: Lastly I wanted to give you some time to share what is going on in your art world. What do you want people to be aware of that you have coming up?
BearBrains: I feel prepared for this one, I actually made a Twitter thread earlier today for all the things I have going on:
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