Over the last few months, we’ve seen a growing number of digital comic artists using MakersPlace to create limited edition and collectible copies of their comics. One creator we’ve been really excited to support on MakersPlace is Joe Chiappetta, known for his award-winning work on Silly Daddy Comics. Joe has been a pioneering artist in the blockchain space, since 2015. We’re even more excited to have Joe share his journey and wisdom as a successful artist, and how he’s embraced a growing digital world, particularly blockchain technology.
How did your story start as an artist?
I barely remember this, but my mom tells the story with great flair. We were in a fabric store and I was a very little kid. I started drawing Disney characters that were printed as patterns on one particular fabric. My mom was distracted buying other fabric. When she looked at my drawings of the Disney characters, she was surprised I could trace so well. I said, “Mom, these are not tracings! They aren’t even the same size. I drew them just by looking.” When I saw my mother’s pleasant surprise, I knew what I wanted to be: an artist. I was maybe 4 or 5 years old at the time. The cartoon influence stayed with me and I eventually went on to found Silly Daddy Comics, which is what I am most known for.
Were you always interested in art growing up?
Definitely. Art is like a second language to me. It’s an enjoyable language. In fact, I often prefer communicating in that language. But I do understand that there is a percentage of the population that will never speak my language. I am okay with that.
When did you decide to follow your path as an artist?
In high school I got extra-serious about making art. I had things on my mind that I wanted to express, and words just weren’t enough. It was also about exploration. I grew up reading comic books and soon became convinced that there were stories to tell that had not been told, and perhaps I would be the one to tell them. That turned out to be very true, and the story keeps unfolding.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
I am pretty prolific and I don’t stick to one process. Because we are in a postmodern aftermath (as in anything goes), I try not to limit how exactly I generate art. For example, some of my comics are traditional pencil and paper, followed by ink on paper. Some are little drawings using the stylus of a smartphone… or a full blown iPad Pro masterpiece using Procreate. Many drawings, in fact, are a combination of all of the above.
Sometimes I know exactly what I am going to create and I have a script in mind as to where everything is going to go. All too often, I just draw something based loosely on real life and then ask myself, “How can I use this image as a launching pad to communicate something that makes people remember that there’s joy to this life?”
Do you have a favorite artist who you draw inspiration from?
There are a lot of amazingly talented artists that have certainly inspired me. Since I am best known for my comic book work on Silly Daddy, it probably comes as no surprise that Charles Schultz (Peanuts) and Bil Keane (Family Circus) are certainly some of my biggest early influences. Both of those cartoonists are masters at the craft. They express things about humanity in simple and often silly interactions that so many can relate to in a positive way. I think that’s often what I’m going for in my comics, even to this day. There is a light-heartedness that these guys can express in their comics, and I aim for that as well.
Additional influences include the great cartooning of Dave Sim (particularly his early run on Cerebus), as well as John Porcellino on King Cat. But ultimately, I draw the largest core of my inspiration from God. He is the ultimate creator, and I could never compete with his artistry! Yet the things he makes in real life compel me to want to capture some of that creative wonder and essence. Even if my work contains merely a fraction of God’s creativity, there is a long tradition of artists working under a master. So I like the concept of me working creatively as a student under God — the real master.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in creating art, and how do you deal with them?
In most cases, artists need community to thrive. Being in this business for many decades, I have seen that communities shift, erode, and get restructured many times over. The landscape is constantly changing. So there have been times when I have been disconnected due to various life circumstances, as well as surprise market upheavals.
The challenge comes in accepting that it takes time to re-connect and find your tribe, in order to share art with them and grow together. Community seeking, community building, and community maintenance are not skills they typically teach in school — yet these skills are essential. Such relationships and connections need to be nurtured throughout the artist’s entire career.
Therefore I spend a lot of time connecting with people, because in the end, yes, we are going to make money at this (some more than others); but that is not the big picture. The big picture is that you can’t take your art with you when you die. Rather, our relationships, including relationships discovered through art, can be eternal. We should all be tasked with remembering that.
How do you see the art market and the art world changing?
I see many of the big institutions and physical galleries becoming less relevant, but not completely dying. The rise of crypto-collectibles as well as mixed and augmented reality technology will turn the art world into a whole new landscape. More people will become digital creators, and more of their creations will be immediately available for sale as crypto-collectibles. There will be a lot more rare digital art trading going on, whether that be blockchain gaming cards, crypto-comics, augmented reality objects, 2D images, memes, and other forms of rare digital art. Many more local tribes of creative collectors and artists will be on the rise because technology can make it easier to stay connected and find each other. That’s the good news.
The bad news, however, is that the introverts will be more likely to spend even more time alone in these virtual worlds. Too many people will get more anti-social, isolated, selfish, more addicted to technology, and just plain weird. So society in general will need to be much more disciplined about how to use technology. Education will need to increase, otherwise, we could become enslaved by the very tech that was meant to enhance our lives.
How has technology and an increasingly digital world impacted your work?
These elements have radically transformed my artistic footprint. With technology now, I have the equivalent of an entire art supply store in my tablet. And with a few clicks, I can publicize my work and bring it to great new art markets like MakersPlace, reaching customers very quickly.
I am reaching more people than I ever did before on a truly global scale. This is due to my longevity in the field as well as traditional online avenues and new crypto social networks like Steemit. Through these various sites, I am making frictionless sales of art and comic books, most of which take place in cities that I will never visit physically. That’s pretty cool. I’m at the point where feedback is even arriving in Chinese about my art. I have to run it through Google Translator to know what the people are saying. That’s a good problem to have.
How do you think blockchain and the ability to own digital art will affect the industry?
It will make collecting art much cooler, easier, and portable. In turn, that will produce more collectors, especially as gamers and mobile professionals move laterally into this space. These two types of people have been groomed to have most everything online. So owning art will become a logical progression for them as well as all the people that they bring on board with them. Consequently, I also think that the stuffiness of art will decrease, as it becomes a more normal part of our everyday lives.
Why are you excited about MakersPlace?
There are a few other good crypto-collectible markets out there. So before I found MakersPlace, I didn’t think much could be improved. Mind you, I have been on these other markets, with my art moving well in this space. Yet MakersPlace comes through with a surprisingly great combination of features for digital artists and collectors.
- Collectors can buy art using Ethereum OR a credit card!
- Artists don’t need to own cryptocurrency or any browser add-ons to issue rare digital art through MakersPlace.
Those two things alone show that it’s a marketplace really focused on user-friendliness and removing barriers to entry. I also like that the site supports animated images and that artists can issue their crypto-collectibles in however many editions they want: one of one, one of fifty, or whatever. These are nice features. Moreover, the site developers care about community and have a track record of solid events to prove it.
For all these reasons and more, I see MakersPlace being well-positioned for future growth. They are wise market-makers which is the perfect place for art-makers like me — in a MakersPlace.
Follow Joe Chiappetta
You can also collect Joe’s limited edition digital artworks on his MakersPlace store.
Follow more MakerStories here on Medium as we share more stories from digital creators like Joe. Next time we’ll be talking with long-time professional artist and another pioneer in blockchain-based digital art, Reinhard Schmid.