Inside NFTs: Nanu Berks
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Inside NFTs is a recurring column diving into the stories and people behind the NFT.
It is written by DanStone, who is a creator, writer, and investor in the space and the founder of Ethermore.xyz
NANU BERKS is an OG crypto artist, starting in the crypto art scene before NFTs were a thing. Her work is psychedelic, natural and spiritual. More of her work can be seen on multiple channels here.
DanStone: Describe your current NFT work in a tweet.
Nanu: Crypto art History and Creative Power expansion through planet positive tech
Do you remember a moment when you knew the crypto community was the place for your art to thrive?
I have had several of these moments. The first one was in 2012 when I realized bitcoin empowered my values of decentralization and freedom. The second, in 2017 when I sold my first painting at a bitcoin conference. Although, I have had moments where I questioned if this tech art space was worth my energy. In 2018 the scene was heavily male-dominated and I felt the few women in the space were being dismissed and disrespected. I took a break for almost two years, and in that time, the infrastructure and industry diversity/ appreciation for art as a means to mass adoption sped up. Coming back into the NFT space a few months ago, I felt that this is the perfect place for my art. For decentralized graffiti art, NFTs are the absolute best place to build a community of engineers, scientists and creators of all sorts that make it possible to bring to life the art I see in my minds eye.
What is the most exciting part of what you currently do?
The most exciting part of the crypto art movement is the brilliant collaborative community and the functionality that this tech provides to fully monetize the art in every sense of the way. I love being able to take an idea from my mind into a 2d painting and then expanding that asset into as many layers of interaction as I can. I want the art to be experienced in every possible way, creating an animation or video, adding music to it, even smells in art installations. I can use the animation to create an NFT and using that NFT video mix into AR (Augmented Reality) the painting I started with. I can then take the 2d file and make it into clothing, and even create 3d assets of my clothing to sell as gamified wearables. This allows me to connect with diverse humans with ample interests and many become friends and collectors.
Your art signature is high energy, colourful and full of eyes. What brings your creative energy out like this?
I am deeply inspired by consciousness expansion and nature. Tech is a part of our evolution. The internet is an extension of telepathy, a neuro network, just like mycelium, now especially with blockchain, it acts even more true to that connectivity. The eyes represent the third eye, the intuitive knowing and the fact that nature is always looking at us observing us. We are reflections of each other and we see ourselves in nature.
I love rainbow and gold colours as energy, these are high-frequency lines of creative power that carry the most light, I use these metaphorically in meditation as well as visually in the art.
I am deeply inspired by the healing arts movement and using visualization to envision my body mind and soul healing. I often add these messages encrypted into the art.
What single thing do you wish people understood about your art?
I make art because I literally can’t do anything else. Making art is the reason I am alive and that I’ve chosen to stay on this planet beyond my depression. Everything I create is from a place of pure love intended to help heal, bring light joy and education about consciousness expansion into unconditional love. Sometimes it is through promoting movements such as bitcoin and decentralization, others by simply amplifying self acceptance or reminders to connect with source and nature. The curiosity of seeing what else my creativity has in store is what keeps me motivated and thriving, as most of my art is channelled and often a surprise that appears in front of my eyes.
To you, what is the most important NFT you have ever created and why?
Some of my favourite ones are the most imperfect. My early animations and my genesis piece was an ‘OK’ quality still photo. I love the vulnerability and the rawness in the learning. Most of these pieces were acquired within 14 hours of posting them.
It’s easy to see which earlier works I was animating and how simple and raw they are. I had to teach myself about blockchains and software and it might look like these earlier works are simple, but simplicity is the highest form of art in my experience, the art is done when everything that could have been removed that was extra is gone and only the core of, what absolutely must be there remains.
Its interesting to see newcomers collect mainstream famous artists NFTs and miss out on the art that has been overshadowed by the NFT bubble. The art form the early creators of the crypto art movement is the art that is being called into museums and history books. I see behind the scenes, conversations with insiders and long term collectors how the crypto art co-founders are making a come back and stepping back into the main light. It’s definitely interesting seeing this shift. Feeling grateful to be able to be a part of this movement from the early days and seeing how crypto art is finally leading to the mass adoption.
What most excites you about the NFT space?
Finally giving creativity the quantification metrics and amplification it deserves. The functionality that allows us to monetize everything creative that we want to share with the world. This creative economy blossoming and reminding us of the types of jobs that are needed and that can be very profitable. Reinstating the value of art and creativity as a precious and important skill, as it would be engineering, medicine or others.
Creativity is vital for our expression expansion and healing and it is how we evolve. I have been working towards this for a decade along with so many fantastic humans, it generates so much joy in me to see this actually elevating creatives and disrupting the antiquated and untrue paradigm of the broke artist.
Creative expression is brilliance in movement, it is highly valuable and extremely monetizable. We just needed the decentralized tech infrastructure to empower and support this.
What most worries you about the current NFT space?
The lack of integration with mainstream laws to protect the artists. Money Laundering and other risks for artists that might not be protected under the decentralized platforms. In a decentralized economy who takes responsibility for being roped into a clandestine transaction? If the NFT platforms don’t and the collectors don’t and the artists don’t have the tech skills or capability to track the hash of a transaction to see where the money is coming from, what happens? Thankfully there are great discussions happening amongst builders to come up with these solutions.
Other worries include mainstream artists coming in and not actually educating themselves on the history of this movement, how and why the crypto art movement that gave way to the NFT boom was created. We see many mainstream influencers, Hollywood power brands, representing and uplifting NFT artists as “OGs” that had nothing to do with building this movement or economy, we see this further obscuring and hiding the true builders that care about the values of this movement intended to decentralize, not to further concentrate wealth for those already leveraging the capitalist economy.
We do want mass adoption and everyone is welcome to play with this new economic freedom, I just think it’s important that people in power outside of the crypto space act with integrity and take the time to get to know and empower those of us who for years helped build this dream with hopes that one day it would help everyone else. The fear here is that all of these values and intentions get lost and that mainstream brands and money turn this sacred innovative space into the same outdated system that continues to cover up builders and smaller artists. The whole point is to distribute and extend opportunities to more people.
What about your life as a creative changed since the boom of NFTs?
Not much honestly, because I have always been nomadic and worked remotely. Sometimes writing, other times painting. I have always been able to sell art online through word of mouth and social media, but the NFT boom helped amplify my sales. I believe most of my success is due to building a community, brand and integrity for 6 years, not to this sudden explosion. I am in a sense now getting paid for all those years working for free.
I am definitely creating a lot more digital art than I ever thought I would. I am enjoying continuing to bridge the metaverse, hence why some of my NFTs come with physical objects, paintings or prints. I also appreciate the push to get acquainted with more tech I was resisting such as animation because it has expanded my creativity and empowered my marketing skills.
“I am in a sense now getting paid for all those years working for free.“
Any Advice for creators or collectors new to NFTs?
New creators: before you onboard onto the blockchain understand why you want to make NFTs. Is it to sell ? to make money? To connect with like minded individuals? All three of those? Why? This space is all about authenticity and transparency, it is driven by inside jokes and memes, and by true love of bitcoin and decentralization. In a few years from now perhaps this will matter less, perhaps nfts will be a tech layer underneath most tradable assets we play with and simply a standard in how we communicate with our online world, it might be like venmo to cash, we might not need to understand how it works to use it. However your art will hit sell and connect very differently if you care about then movement and if you learn to love the tech for what it can do for humanity. Its ok to want to get in for the money, this is in part one of the great gifts that NFTs has for the world, a better economy for creators, just be honest about your mission and intention because it certainly shows through. People will love you and connect with you through your truth, even if controversial. Like in any other industry, don’t conform, stay genuine to your art. Find a way to make these systems work for you while educating yourself on the meme and value culture.
For collectors: Part of enjoying the NFT and blockchain movement is amplifying the new ethos that hold the evolution together. Learn about crypto art history and how important it is to get to know and collect works from the builders that put love and time into it before it made profit. By empowering their art and making sure their voices get heard, listening to why this all started, we can continue to build in the right direction, instead of letting our human blind spots repeat.
What is the future of Nanu in this space?
I am so excited about continuing this integration of art into all of its possible layers, from taking my physical crypto art clothing into VR, to developing interactive art installations that are beginning to emerge and map out into reality thanks to the hyper collaborative nature of the crypto art world.
We have several needs in order to survive and thrive, food, water, problem-solving, connection, many more as they are also evolving, but one of them that has been neglected for too long is beauty. Beauty, joy and play; these are the things that fuel our souls this is how we are able to cope and thrive through everything else. I am so grateful to be able to add a little bit of this back into our society and experience.