Interview by Colin Devroe.
NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, have seen an enormous amount of growth in 2021. The blockchain-based technology that is being used by artists to sell ownership of their digital assets has been minting overnight millionaires while at the same time drawing the ire of many environmentalists due to its heavy energy usage. If you are a watercolorist and haven’t been keeping up on this space, I recommend this article by Coinbase that does a fair job in explaining what NFTs are and what has been going on.
My own opinion on NFTs is still being formed. I wrote in March of this year that I believe the energy usage problems that plague many blockchain-based ideas will be addressed in time. The faster the better. But there are also parts of the NFT culture that are a bit off putting like the overwhelming hype that artists and collectors seem to be trying to pump into NFTs only to show off that many have flipped their collections for huge sums. This also I believe will wane over time and become much more palatable.
I decided to interview AnimaToey for The Watercolor Gallery not only because he is an amazing watercolor artist – you can see his work on his Facebook Page – but also because he is selling some of his art via NFTs. I’m fascinated by this new way for artists to sell their work and I think it is important to give voices to those that are giving it a try, success or fail, and get their perspective on what is happening. It is very easy to form an opinion of something you haven’t tried. But talking to people that have and trying it ourselves may be the only way to truly understand what is going on.
Let’s get started with the interview with AnimaToey.
Where did your interest in art come from? And when did you start using watercolor as a medium?
My interest in art starts from simple things like reading manga and watching animation. Back when I was in university studying in the faculty of Architecture, I saw many excellent watercolor books in the library and got inspired that I would like to do watercolor too. Since then that I started to be interested in watercolor.
However, I paused my interest in watercolor for a period of time because I was into and fascinated by animation instead.
Until 2012, I started to do watercolor again, created the Facebook page ‘AnimaToey Watercolor’ and continue to do watercolor works till now.
I’ve seen a variety of your work. You currently have an exhibition in Bangkok – and the piece you have there are really great. What draws you to the urban scenes that you create?
Thank you. Actually, there is another exhibition I currently have in Japan as well, which goes around in 8 cities there.
For inspiration in doing my art work lately, it comes from my favor to an old-style Japanese building like Showa era buildings or buildings in the 80s-90s, as I read a lot of manga in my childhood.
After I went to travel to Japan and got to see the buildings in front of me, I was impressed by those scenes. So, I would like to create and convey them through my style which I would put a character and story into my works just like doing animation.
Recently you minted an NFT for your “Dinner with Gobo” piece which is using watercolor as the medium but the piece is animated. What drew you to try selling your work as an NFT?
There is the senior I am close with introduced me into the NFT world.
As I currently do watercolor painting and have some skills for doing animation. I mix these two passions then it becomes my NFTs.
Honestly, I had quit doing animation for quite some time because I didn’t enjoy them anymore. But NFT brings back my passion, the feeling when I first started doing animation.
How was the experience of minting and selling your NFT? Do you think other watercolor artists should look into it?
I got to experience every taste, including a swing in the first 4-5 months after entering into the NFT world.
For watercolor art in NFT, I think we have to create works that are different from what we have done. We are entering a new era.
The uniqueness showing that you are different is the main point of doing NFTs.
For other artists, once you enter into NFT, you are going to face many new challenges but if you can pass the first state, there are lot of joyfulness ahead.
Do you have any favorite piece that you’ve done recently? And do you think you’ll end up selling more NFTs of your work?
There are 2 NFT works I would like to present
1. FishHead izakaya is from one of my favorite watercolor pictures in my art book called ‘FishHead’. I had been thinking before entering into NFT, that I would work with this piece for sure.
2. Meet Sabamurai is from my art book ‘FishHead’ as well. Sabamurai is the favorite character of many people including me. And this piece is the opening scene of this character. When I was working with this picture, I was very satisfied that I found the way to animate the tree shadow which enhance this art work more lively.
And lastly, the work that I recently minted.
3. Travel with Gobo is the last picture from ‘Gobo the frog’ series out of 3 works that have the continuous stories.
I will definitely keep doing NFT works.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Perhaps you could mention one or two artists that you’ve been inspired by lately?
Their works are impressive both in presentation and animation.
My takeaway from this interview, and from my research in the NFT space to-date, is that to be successful in selling art – whether on the blockchain or IRL (in real life) – one must put in their time, build their skills and audience, and each piece should have a story. Yes, there will always be overnight successes. But as many will tell you, those are very rare. AnimaToey has obviously earned his recent success in the NFT space.
My thanks to AnimaToey for taking the time to do this interview despite the language hurdles. I sincerely appreciate it.