The NFT Art World Wouldn’t Be the Same Without This Woman’s Nightmares


Her creativity helped promote a technological revolution that she knew almost nothing about. The Bored Ape Yacht Club — now arguably the world’s largest NFT project — first appeared online in May and soon began selling for millions of dollars, but the woman who portrayed the protagonist searched for her name on Google. I didn’t know that the collection was a hit until I did. After a month.

These cartoon primates have since generated over $ 1 billion and have lassoed the mainstream cryptocurrency scene. Still, the 27-year-old Asian-American artist Seneca, who played an integral role in realizing the idea, has received little credit.

It’s bittersweet to see NFT enthusiasts scribbling every corner of the internet with variations of her work. Imagine casually stepping into a museum and encountering your own art hanging on the wall behind a velvet rope. Her eyes swelled when Seneca logged on to Twitter and saw Stephen Curry using the avatar that was born as her profile picture. “It really took me a while to wrap my head in all this,” she says. Rolling stone Overzoom.. She sits cross-legged in front of a small gray sofa on the floor of the living room of an apartment in Manhattan. Below that, a pile of pastel paintings is unplannedly stored. “I haven’t. It’s still pretty surreal.”

Behind the sofa is a small, usually cluttered workspace that Seneca calls the studio. Seneca was born to Chinese parents in the United States, grew up in Shanghai, and returned to the state to attend Rhode Island Design School. After graduating in 2016 and moving to New York as a freelance illustrator, this corner became her office. She bowed down and focused on designing vibrant and sometimes fantastic characters like 2D animations for marketing campaigns and advertising. (Although her paintings were more abstract, she was forced to find a “realistic” way to monetize her passion.)

When a creative agent named Nicole Munis found her college portfolio, and according to Munis, when she was absorbed in her technique, she gave Seneca a variety of health care, insurance, green energy and more. I started to connect with companies in the industry. And finance. Last year, Muniz, also known as her pseudonym V Strange, called Seneca. Her childhood friend started what was called the Bored Ape Yacht Club. He needed because she was boarding as an advisor. Graphic designers need to create some images before the NFT’s continued growth trend actually begins.

Munis immediately thought about Seneca’s chameleon’s abilities. “She is one of the few artists who can actually paint different pictures depending on the subject or project,” said Muniz, who recently became co-CEO of Yuga Labs, the Web3 company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club. I am. Rolling stone.. “It’s very, very, very rare,” said Gargamel, co-founder of Yuga Labs. He was impressed with the “expressiveness” of her character. “I have the whole mood to be conveyed,” he says. Rolling stone on mail. “For apes, we’ve just reached the mood we were looking for. It’s existential boredom.” Muniz agrees: “She’s particularly adept at bringing expressions and characters to life. . “

Seneca wasn’t familiar with NFTs at the time, but Yuga Labs gave her plenty of room to play in collaboration. “They said,’We want punk apes. What do you think it looks like? What style do you like? She’s ape in a dirty city where primates roam freely as citizens. I imagined myself as a neighbor. She saw “a kind of exhausted and tired of life, but an ape hanging on a metal rod with all the money and time all over the world.” , Ran through a fictitious interaction with creatures. “The idea came from that.”

Creating an ape aesthetic naturally poured from her: Seneca, a self-declared metal head, plays Gibson SG. But she was also a lover of Gross Out animation in the 90’s and was inspired by it. “I love all that essence,” she says.

For clarity, Seneca was not the only illustrator on the project. “I’m the lead artist in the original collection,” she says. She adds that the ape’s body itself is her painting. According to Gargamel, other production artists, “Thomas Dougley, Migwashele, and the couple who chose to remain anonymous,” dealt with their characteristics and environment. However, she points out that she has developed several key features, such as a grinning mouth, popping eyes, and beanie.

“Not many people know that I painted these pictures, which is terrible for artists,” she says. However, word of mouth continues to grow, and she hopes it will help her find more collaborations. Meanwhile, she focuses on solo works.

In December, Seneca dropped her debut series NFT under her own name as part of a collection called Iconoclast in Art Basel, Miami. The four works she contributed were created in Ethereum and hosted on what is called the Internet Computer Blockchain. (By hosting the NFT on an internet computer, we need to ensure that the NFT artwork will survive forever on the public blockchain without the threat of deletion or cloud outage issues.)

The work finally produced 23.7 ETH. That’s about $ 84,000 when pressed. She says it’s enough to pay the invoice and then some, giving her the luxury of pure time to create the next series she hopes to announce in February. In addition, she unleashes a fascinating personal style that has been created and evolved over the years. “Her art is very inspiring for women in progress,” says illustrator Kenwon, who directed Seneca’s favorite video game with art. Alice: Madness Returns.. (Won met while working in Shanghai. Seneca approached him after giving a speech about his high school profession. She really introduced the world of illustration. [her].. “)” If you want to label Seneca’s work, [call it] It’s a pop surrealism, but it might be a little reducing … she’s exploring. She finds her voice in the existing voices. She has tried and evolved different art styles and I can really relate to it. “

Seneca’s work “Delirium” was exhibited at Art Basel in 2021.

Courtesy of Seneca

Despite the technological changes in her approach, her image often encapsulates a soft childlike wonder that contrasts with the harsh and existing darkness. “It’s a combination of being very personal and at the same time very pop,” says Wong. “The shapes she uses-these organic and flowing shapes are very dreamy with surrealistic color schemes-speaking how she sees things deep in her head. But at the same time, it’s through the lens of pop culture. It’s like she’s trying to rationalize herself in the context of the world. “

That feeling literally comes across a work called “Delirium” in the 2021 Art Basel collection. In this work, the girl’s unnaturally rectangular head gaps in the eye holes make the animals, plants and limbs busts. “That’s what I like,” says Seneca. “That is the work of your heart.”

Another work of the title “Can I be M0ther?” Shows the same girl. But this time, her insect-like eyes look like pastel and prism, with thick, shiny tears. It is unknown if veins, wires, or threads are slipping off them. The strands have fallen and wrapped around their outstretched hands, hugging what looks like a dysfunctional toy ape. “As a commercial artist, I saw myself as a kind of agent,” she explains. “Because art is your emotional extension, it’s very personal and to some extent you need to stay away from the work to give it. That work is what I’m saying. Is it possible to regain my identity as an artist? “

Seneca says that part of that identity is guided by the clear nightmares that have plagued her as far as she can remember. Her first memory is the nightmare she had at the age of three. “I was in a stroller,” she recalls. “I had this feeling of being small and vulnerable.” She doesn’t elaborate further, but finds that these themes consistently deceive her work. She says it was inspired by the horrors of the universe. In this genre, the overwhelming weight of small spots in the vast unknown world is the most terrifying. Rogue.

“I was more interested in my imagination than in reality,” she said when she was young, protecting herself most of the time, being silent for most of her childhood, and sometimes “awakening hallucinations.” I experienced it. “

She remembers experiencing all of her deepest fears before bedtime. I thought they wouldn’t show up in her nightmare if she talked to them head-on. “I didn’t want to sleep because I was afraid of this world I jumped into,” she says.


Rolling Stone Maria Wurtz

Most recently, Seneca has embraced “a part of that madness” -turning “surrealism and meaningless dark art” in her into something beautiful that she finds therapeutic. “That’s why I do what I’m doing,” she admits, saying that this isn’t something to share with many people for fear of being considered “insane.”

Fortunately for her, madness, or some version of it, is welcomed in Web3: Cryptography couldn’t exist without the urge to deviate from the norm. She hopes the sector will thrive over the years to come.Her experience at the Boring Ape Yacht Club “taught” [her] “Many life lessons,” she urges aspiring creators to understand NFTs and smart contracts, seek loyalty, and make sure they know their potential. “We will be strong in your beliefs and work very hard,” she says. “And be patient. Be kind to yourself. Things move very fast with crypto Twitter and this space. You’re watching it, but don’t worry, just focus on your lane As long as you are, you will eventually work. “

Of course, “fine” is relative. She can’t discuss financial details, but her rewards were “absolutely not ideal,” she says. But she claims to be grateful for the experience and the entrance to the realm where you can no longer imagine living without it. Since then, she has been obsessed with NFT ideas because she can certify and store art, provide loyalty to creators, and make the art world more comprehensive and less dependent on the gallery system. increase.

She sees her second series (digital but also in other media) as an extension of the surrealist foundation she built, but it’s more daring. She is keen to discuss ongoing work, but adds that she focuses on mental health and the power of strong women. The new work may also contain “some criticisms”.

“I’m very optimistic about the space,” she says. “I use it as a driver.”


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