NFD Interviews: Kat Darden

One of the last written interviews I did from within the NFD community, was with Kat Darden, another OG feisty artist. As a physical artist first and foremost, her words really resonated with me - especially in that we have to draw a balance between the real world and our digital lives.

One of my favorite parts of this interview was Kat’s pleasant and honest breakdown of her journey through art, and how NFTs just made sense to her. Keeping an open mind and being able to hop across different media is truly a talent, and she has found a way to bring it all together with her digital life online!

Orb: How long have you been making art? How did it start?

KatDarden: In 2011 I used to make polymer clay jewelry and design stickers to sell at my local crafts fair. In 2017 I began doing acrylic pour art and filming the process on my IG page. The following year I began using alcohol inks, epoxy, and metallic foils. If you scroll to the beginning of my IG art page you can see some earlier works/videos. The first piece of acrylic art I sold was in 2018. Digital art began in early 2020 when I discovered Blender. I created my first digital image NFTs in 2021 (my Kat Darden Musings Collection) and the first NFT that I ever actually sold was also the first animation I had ever made, at the “Dogeverse” event in Decentraland, this guy:

And here’s the first acrylic art I ever sold. A paint pour:

O: I love the transition from physical to digital. Beautiful work! Speaking of transitions, how did you get into crypto / NFTs?

KD: In 2017 I had downloaded the Robinhood app to invest in a few stocks- a negligible amount. In 2019 I came into a little bit of money and was looking for something new to invest in and RH was pushing crypto pretty hard, so I invested a more substantial amount into the top cryptos and saw much more significant gains in a short amount of time compared to the stocks, so I was hooked. I immediately began researching everything crypto related and soon learned the old adage "not you keys not your crypto" so I transferred all of my money out of RH, got a hard wallet and that year connected with a local crypto group through my tax lady. My first introduction to NFT's was in early 2021 through good old Crypto Twitter. The first NFT I ever bought was a Rare Pepe (Pepethagoras) because I wanted to purchase the oldest NFT I could afford (I collect antiques and vintage items, so I understand and appreciate the value of older things, being the first of something, etc). Once I grasped that I too could create NFTs I knew it was something, as an artist, that I wanted to do. TBH I was mostly motivated by the hyper awareness of how short and fragile life is and I wanted to create something unique and beautiful that would be eternally on the blockchain.

O: Wow, I love that - I too have a penchant for antiques/vintage items. Thanks for sharing this insight into your journey into NFTs.

Relatedly, how did you find yourself at $NFD, and what made you stay?

KD: I'm trying to remember...I think I discovered Uponly podcast as one of those Youtube recommendations since I was mostly watching crypto content. He had an episode with Path (I tried to find the episode so I could look at the time frame to help my recollection but I can’t find the first episode I remember watching, I could swear it was with more than Path as the guest tho), anyway, I just really liked him and thought he seemed incredibly smart so i think I found him on Twitter and began following.

I wasn't as religious about Twitter then as I am today (kek) so I missed his initial $NFD announcement but a couple weeks later I saw his tweet about it so I joined the Discord. $NFD discord was one of the first Discords I was ever a part of, with Rare Pepe being the first. I didn't really get Discord then. I was super intimidated by the people posting that just seemed a lot smarter than me. I immediately learned about the "Alpha channel" (Feisty Doge chat) so I converted some Eth into $NFD so I could join. I've felt a kindship with the community ever since. I made a weird NFT project with a mannequin that referenced NFD a couple months later and Path DM'd me on Twitter after I posted it saying he liked it and wondering if it was for sell (it was not as I had yet to mint). In the meantime, the NFD Auction site was just getting started and someone from the NFD community reached out and asked if I wanted to auction that piece off. There was little marketing for the auction site at that time though so there wasn’t much interest, but Path did buy it 🙂

One of the shining moments of my new NFT career, that someone I admired and respected so much actually liked my art. So, I'm a die hard, NFD girl for lyfe lol. Here's the piece I'm referencing:

O: I love how crazy and wild the journey has been for everybody I've spoken with, especially in creative circles. You have mentioned your experience with physical work, so I'm sure you also love the beauty of having somebody connect with your work that you probably would not have connected with if NFTs did not exist. Can you tell me a little about this piece you made, "new here?"

KD: So Memedoll Show Collection...Ok I had ordered a Doge mask for Halloween so that I could dress up as my NFT, here:

And I've had this antique mannequin that I got at a thrift store like 10 years ago just sitting in the corner of one of my rooms (ppl frequently weirded out by hahaha) and Idk I was just trying to come up with a new and original NFT project and felt inspired by my mannequin and the Doge mask. I had already begun my Time Capsule collection where I was piecing together film and I’ve always photographed or recorded close ups of things I find to be strange or beautiful or gross or provocative or whatever. So, the first thing I even filmed of the entire project was my daughters clay that I had formed into eggs and bacon, and then it’s just sort of evolved from there with me writing out a whole story.

The markets were tanking, and everyone was being dramatic on Twitter, so it just seemed fitting to have art imitate life with this story about someone breaking down over the markets and then the story was going to be (by the 5th episode/NFT) about her finding love with the fractionalized Feisty Doge dog after BTC/markets/wojak had betrayed her. I actually still have clips that I filmed saved on my phone that were going to be used in the final scenes with the mannequin giving a piece of herself (a finger, because my friend had recently gifted me a set of realistic wax finger candles for my birthday lol) to the Feisty Doge who had given a piece of himself, a fraction, to her in reference to the fractionalized NFT, ha! Then my life went chaotic, and I had to move and went broke, and I just never finished the entirety of the project. I did mint 3 "episodes", but the last 2 remain unfinished since my dear mannequin is in storage.

O: I love love love that your response to markets tanking and everybody's heads exploding was to make art. Sounds like a project awaiting your return!

I appreciate your lighthearted approach to all of this, so I want to know, what is the significance of NFTs for art, for you?

KD: This significance I guess, is just creating something that that can exist in a digital rather than physical space; something that wouldn't be at risk of being destroyed with the passing of time. I also felt that NFTs were going to be popular eventually and I wanted to be in that group of people that were some of the first to create them. With my Philosoverse collection, I was tired of seeing corny af animal pfps and thought Philosophers would be much more interesting. (Not sure if I need to add the part that this was not entirely my idea but at the suggestion of podcaster Justin Murphy over a phone conversation). There was a lot I didn't know back then though (late 2021) so the project was not executed properly (should have had traits, should have created more, should have made it a project that you mint and been better at promoting)

Something else I guess to include somewhere in here is that I like the viewer to have an emotional response to my art. I suppose that's why I add music to a lot of my projects and why I include some things that are controversial (ie: bottom floor of my Soylent Dream NFTs reference to gender ideology obsession, or images from My time Capsule collection that alluded to the dystopian psychosis we were all entrenched in the start of the pandemic.)

O: I think this is a great answer, because you are touching on what attracts artists to minting their work as NFTs, as well as the potential for communicating your intentions with your work through this "medium." Art is art, NFTs just offer a different vessel with which to present it, right?

Where do you see Crypto Art headed over the next few years?

KD: With Instagram following the lead of Twitter, incorporating the ability to show proof of ownership of digital collectibles, I think the rate of adoption will progress quickly. The introduction to NFTs for most people will likely stem from a desire to signal what community they are a part of as we already see widely in the Crypto Twitter sphere. So, mainstream adoption through pfp/community signaling. I think digital art will become more interactive with the incorporation of VR/AR, and that NFTS in general will be more widely used as admission token to events, qualification for different perks etc. Once digital frames are more accessible (currently they are not, many places display NFTs by using a computer monitor as a display) then I think people will appreciate 1/1 art to display on their walls at home. It will become normal to have digital pieces adorning the walls of family homes. Thats my hope anyway 🙂

O: This is a very elegant summarization. I also appreciate your recognition that there is still a physical element to all of this; we're still bridging art back and forth over all of this... so this brings me to my next question, but in the weirdest way possible.

We are essentially living through a peak in meme culture, both on web2 and on the blockchain. People are showing Doge and Pepe alternatives on their digital displays 😂
What is the cultural significance of memes to you?

R: Memes! Memes literally shape the world around us. They are VITAL, they are important, they are historic. Memes have the ability to change our world, one meme with enough virality creates a movement. Something about the idiocy of our surroundings and a great meme shining a light on that which we can’t convey sufficiently otherwise. Often pushing boundaries under the guise of comedy. Other times used as lighthearted comedic relief, but rarely without a message! When punk 6529 says "Seize the Memes of Production", he really genuinely means it. Not just as a tag line (not just a meme, ha). That if we want to change the culture, the best way to do that is to produce and share memes that convey whatever message/narrative we want to exist. Meme the culture/world you want into existence, I think.

O: I agree, especially in that they are an impactful part of our short but loaded history of the internet so far! Here we are memeing our future.

Final question! Very srs bsns. How many ideas a week do you think we can come up with during our weekly FeistyDAO meeting?

R: Good ideas? 🤣 kek jk, infinite I'm sure!

Kat’s point on how folks behave during bear markets (and when folks are down bad) are really resonant. We have to remember to touch grass, so that we stay connected to our humanity. And for artists, it’s important that we stay connected to our humanity, by doing what we do best: making art.

The market is always weird, so come connect with us over at NFD where we’re always engaged with each other! BRING MEMES.

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