On March 11th I will walk across a figurative stage and virtually graduate from a school I had to geographically leave. The road to getting my bachelor’s degree has been an odd one in the age of pandemic-learning and new technological frontiers. I freelanced, decided to stop freelancing, began to heal my brain from past trauma, learned 3D animation, met some incredible people, created my first NFT and discovered the benefits of Web3 for artists. I will break this down into four unique seasons that each had their own significant lessons. Read on to reminisce with me.
In 2019 I moved to LA alone. Made the famous trek in search for the successful monetization of my passion. It was a cold New Year in Connecticut and I was on my way to the Los Angeles Film School, preparing to be an Animation student while advertising myself as Maddie G online. I was freelancing as an animator in New York City and that was my stage name. Animators have stage names? In my case, yes, I did. Maddie G was wild. She took chances. She didn’t care. She created animations for rappers with songs about cocaine alongside professional clothing line advertisements. After Effects was her tool and the world was her project. The ball was rolling and she had a steady stream of clients to appease, so what else mattered? There was no end to the work that could be done, and this was all very exciting.
Upon arriving at school, though, this became more challenging. Working freelance every day while also trying to learn new software didn’t work. A tug-of-war for my attention ensued and eventually I broke. I wanted to learn modeling, particles, and 3D software, but I was key-framing in 2D on a loop. I took a long, hard look at what I truly wanted for myself and dismantled the solo company I’d created that was just barely supporting me. “If I take all of the energy I’ve been using to freelance and put that toward learning new software, my work will move in a new direction”, I thought. So I let go of my ego, shifted focus, and boy, did my work shift into some very new territory.
What does it truly take to manifest something enormous? Or, should I say, complete something you’ve never attempted before? It takes commitment and consistency. “Without commitment, you’ll never start. But more importantly, without consistency, you’ll never finish” - Denzel Washington. I learned this during my days of sleeping in the lab at school. Well, not really, but I might as well have lugged a sleeping bag and pillow along with me for nap breaks. In this time I created my first 3D animation Check Mate, and formed the skeleton of a music video for my original song, Better If We Don’t Speak.
This weird virus in China cropped up around February 2020, but most of us brushed it off. Something weird was in the Hollywood air, though. We could all feel it, it was eerie. Signs about washing your hands and hand sanitizer stations started popping up around the school, but I felt safe in my computer lab bubble. Little did I know what was coming.
Full pandemic mode. An email went out to all students; no more in-person classes. I crawled into my studio apartment on North Cahuenga Boulevard and took shelter from the invisible monster they were calling Covid-19. Things got a little scary. Grocery shelves were emptying and I started to feel very alone. Since all of my classes were virtual, it felt like right thing to do to move back home to Connecticut, So I did. My loneliness continued, though, and I looked at my life and the way I was treating myself in ways I never have before. Over a period of 2 years at home, I attended treatment for an eating disorder and started attending meetings to help with drug and alcohol abuse. I am now clean and sober with a clear mind. I am free to operate at the highest level in whatever I choose to do. Sometimes you have to put everything aside and take the time to heal so you can be better for yourself and others in the future. Nationwide quarantining opened many eyes to this very concept, and I believe has helped us heal as a collective.
In February of 2021, multidisciplinary artist Grimes dropped an NFT collection that saw nearly 6 million USD in sales. This was baffling to many across the globe. People are buying JPEGS?! For HOW much?!?!? Wait - can’t I just right-click save the image, and that makes it mine?
NFTs are a new technological phenomenon. Whether you understand them or not, they are gaining momentum quickly. NFTs are pointers to digital assets of any type. These pointers are enforced on a blockchain; a public database that anyone can access. Ethereum currently wears the crown as the most used token to mint, buy and sell NFTs. All transactions on the Ethereum Blockchain are publicly viewable on Etherscan.
Before NFTs, digital Artists could post their work online, but there was a slim chance of monetizing the item without a large following. Now, when an artist mints a piece of CryptoArt in Ethereum (ETH) or Wrapped Ethereum (WETH), anybody with a crypto wallet can purchase the unique hash attributed to that piece and compensate the artist directly.
The more you know about CryptoArt and NFTs, the more you don’t know. The learning curve is ‘only up’, as DeFi hopefuls would say. I am excited about the NFT space and Web3 because I believe as digital assets attribute more and more value, we will need the tools that are being created such as decentralized applications and DAOs. I highly recommend this reading list from Web3 investor Gaby Goldberg to jumpstart your research, if you are so moved to conduct some of your own.
As I graduate from one educational experience and move into the next, I acknowledge that my industry is one of the most valuable to be a part of. Digital art is deeply woven into the fabric of our future and I can’t wait to see where it goes next. I want to thank all of my classmates that have nerded out with me in the hallways and shared ideas with me in the labs, and to all of my instructors that took time out of their day to make sure my questions were answered.
This is only the beginning. Into the metaverse, we go…