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Gone are the days when artists used to struggle to sell their art work. Owing to the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a whole new range of possibilities has opened up for artists—particularly for digital art creators—to successfully monetise their artwork. Even more interestingly, there is no age limit to exploring the field of NFTs.
Analytics India Magazine recently caught up with the 15-year-old digital artist Laya Mathikshara of Chennai Public School, who has successfully sold NFTs worth $1 million. One of her artwork titled ‘What if, Moon had life?’ listed a reserve price of 0.384400 ETH (which is the token of the Ethereum blockchain) inspired by the distance between the Moon and the Earth (3,84,400 km). The artwork was sold for 0.39 ETH (₹90,500) on the platform called Foundation.
AIM: What inspired you to dive into the world of NFTs? Could you tell us more about your journey?
Laya: All of this began when I had joined the social audio app, ‘Clubhouse’. I used to jump in all kinds of rooms and labs that were there related to different topics, just to listen to the speakers. Honestly, I don’t know whether this was accidental, but when I jumped into one room, I realised that all the people who were present were digital artists. However, they weren’t talking about art as such, they were talking about different things like crypto, NFTs, and Ethereum. My first reaction was like, ‘Okay, what’s even going on?!’
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The hardest part is not talking about art, which was quite shocking. Slowly, I started following other speakers who were digital artists which led me to learn about the term ‘NFT’. There would be discussions on how to use NFTs and guidance on how one can buy or sell them. And that’s basically how things started. I began to join different rooms and I just wanted to know more. I connected with a few people in the very same room in clubhouse and they are still my friends today. I just jump in and try to contribute whenever possible.
AIM: What was your mantra for bagging the $1 Million?
Laya: My very first NFT was sold because of one of my folks from the clubhouse. Later on, my first piece hit another collector, causing a major domino effect. Honestly, so many connections were made from those rooms, where I met so many new people. I then slowly began working on the metaverse. I sold my first work to another young girl, who had collected my work. Later on, she connected me to a person who basically works with metaverse, AR and other related areas. That led me to learn more about Meta, where I worked on so many architectures and constructions. I also hosted a gallery or exhibition of sorts by pulling up 20 global artists who curated art pieces of their own.
Later on, I started minting my works on different platforms and marketplaces. I started with Foundation and slowly moved into platforms such as Superrare, Makerplace, and Async. I also started mentoring by sharing on Instagram.
I used to play with Lego and eventually thought that it would be interesting to combine art and tech and generative artworks or artworks with a mixture of code, curating another sphere of art itself.
AIM: How do you think crypto and NFTs will provide new opportunities for digital artists?
Laya: I was only nine years old when I started programming, majorly experimenting with Python. To be precise, the entire learning experience was an eye-opener. People were talking about NFTs on social media or one could read news on NFTs being bought for $69 million. It amused me that we could actually be a part of it. The past two years have been about connecting with people in terms of exploring new skills around the intersection of art and tech or playing around with metaverse. There is also another marketplace called Async, where users are allowed to play with different datasets. With these, one can make their art change—which would appear brighter in the morning and darker in the night—within a given time or any part of the day. Moreover, I have also worked with an Indian marketplace called Hefty.
AIM: How do you think NFTs will revolutionise the Web3 ecosystem?
Laya: Well, there are different perspectives to look at. First, metaverse could be the next social media. It could be a 3D version of today’s Facebook or Twitter, ushering in a different level of interaction. In terms of technology, there will be a rise in the power of decentralisation.
And speaking of art, people before used to question whether to pursue art as their career. However, things have changed now. People are excited to take it up. This is a scale of human development. They say, “Go take art, there are NFTs right?” Moreover, NFTs in the crypto world can also change a lot of aspects.
AIM: What does metaverse mean to you? How do you see yourself growing with creative tech?
Laya: As I said earlier, Meta is a 3D version of social media, where you can see people representing themselves through avatars. It leaves us with a fresh start, and it’s up to you to choose anything that you want. It’s just another level of stringent media that gives a 3D-based interaction. You can either go talk to people if you feel bored or even go to a restaurant.
Speaking of growing in the field, well, that’s a question that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit. I hope to explore more through the creative technology space and see where it goes. The technology could be AR and VR, art, or any related creative-tech spectrum. At times, art can be quite plain and simple but tech is completely opposite. Besides that, I will be appearing for my 10th board exams in a couple of months! But I will try to pursue creative tech as much as possible. A combination of that would be fascinating. So, you would probably find me exploring such courses.
One of my works that was sold on super rare was the artwork called ‘breathe in breathe out’, a snapshot representing Amazon Rainforest’s Vegetation Optical Depth—VOD, a measure used to estimate changes in vegetation biomass over a decade. It mainly consists of data visualisation in an aesthetically appealing form of art.
AIM: What are your plans with the $1M?
Laya: Everyone who was a part of my journey is an inspiration to me. There are so many artists who have helped me in my work, where I have collected a couple of them as well. It was a pleasure to connect with them. But when I was really young, around four or five years old, I used to joke that I’m gonna help my sister fund her higher studies. Now I think I might really consider doing it.