I’m excited to be sharing a special edition MakerStory, featuring artist and the newest member of the MakersPlace team — Ann Marie Alanes. Ann Marie brings her extraordinary background as an artist and technologist to help manage and lead our community marketing efforts. One of our core values here at MakersPlace is, We’re Makers. Whether making art or world-changing technologies, makers make what may seem like the impossible, possible. It was only fitting for Ann Marie to share her MakerStory.
Ann Marie shares a unique look into her journey as an artist and her inspirations. She also shares her perspective on how a tech-forward world for artists and creators is enabling a much-needed, sustainable future for digital creatives of all disciplines. Let’s get started!
How did your story start as an artist?
The earliest I can remember drawing something worth showing was a portrait of my little baby sister that I sketched when I was 10. I guess my mom saw the creative bug in me, so in addition to buying me art supplies, she also put me in dance, music theory and piano classes.
Were you always interested in art growing up?
Absolutely. Art has always been like another limb to me, another way to express myself, not just to others, but to myself. Seeing something in my head and making it exist where it can be seen, heard, held and experienced is amazing to me. The ability to manifest something into one’s life, no matter what that may be…that’s powerful! Art to me is one of the easiest ways for me to manifest and communicate something beautiful and interesting into this life.
When did you decide to follow your path as an artist?
I never really made a decision. My paths happen and have happened organically. Perhaps that’s why my creative activities cover the gamut. I love creating mixed media art, drawings, beaded jewelry, singing & songwriting, and photography. I was even a professional hip-hop dancer for the Chicago Honey Bear Dancers and for NBC’s Jenny Jones Talk Show for a couple of months.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
I start the process by thinking about the things I love, or going with what catches my eye. I do my best to go out into the world and try to experience something new or gain a new perspective, steadily adding things that move me to my “experience palette”. I use these experiences as a frame for what message I’m trying to convey. For instance, I love rocket ships and piñatas, so I created 2-dimensional piñatas of rocket ships that can be positioned to point up or down depending on the state of the Bitcoin market.
Do you have a favorite creator which you draw inspiration from?
It’s difficult to name only one. My favorites include Slinkachu (miniature street artist), Twinkie Chan (crochet knit artist), Banksy (street artist), cryptograffiti (crypto artist), Mark Ryden (low-brow artist), and concept photographers, David LaChapelle and Gregory Crewdson. My love for 50s culture and Andy Warhol is expressed in my Ethereum Blockchain Butter piece where I use LEDs and peanut butter jars, re-labeled with references to Ethereum, to visualize how long it takes for data to be written on the Ethereum blockchain.
My inspirations can cross different creative categories. For instance, listening to 90s rap artists inspired a few of my beaded necklace creations. On my Etsy store, Pretty Miss Ninja, I have a line of beaded necklaces I created based on cheesy rap lines, such as “Ice, Ice Baby” (Vanilla Ice) and “Rabbit in a Hat with a Bat” (Skee-Lo).
What are some challenges you’ve faced in creating art, and how do you deal with them?
It can be challenging to work with a team of people. From my experience, the more people and personalities are involved in the project, the more I have to be alert at the wheel navigating around or over bumps in the road. For one project, I was lucky enough to find quality people in my network when there was a sudden shortage of hands in preparation for a fast upcoming show. As much as working with people can be difficult, nothing beats finding quality people to collaborate with. This is why I am constantly out in the world doing things and meeting new people. With an abundance of connections, I have leverage.
How do you see the art market and the art world changing?
Quality art is more accessible and affordable. It’s so easy to find talented artists online whose works are actually affordable. In many cases, you can even contact the artist directly.
Art is also branching into new territories, becoming more of an immersive experience. The arts have mostly been enjoyed looking from the outside in. But now art is becoming an immersive experience where participants can be in the art itself, surrounded by it or engaging with it. For example, there’s been an increase of Instagram and selfie museums like 29 Rooms, Museum of Ice Cream and The Color Factory. There are also immersive productions like Sleep No More, Meow Wolf, Speakeasy SF, and an increase in small to large-scale events featuring art mixed with emerging tech like AR, VR, AI and Blockchain.
How has technology and an increasingly digital world impacted your work?
In addition to being a creator, I help drive engagement and growth of the creator community as the Community Marketing Specialist at MakersPlace. I am also a Blockchain 101 + Art educator at a blockchain community hub called Starfish Mission in San Francisco. Whenever I teach this class, I often come across attendees who cannot see the value of digital art. How can digital art be valuable when it can be copied over and over and easily shared?
Let’s look at a physical painting or photograph. Why are these particular pieces valuable? They are one of a kind or limited editions. They have a history of authenticity and ownership. A majority of us agree that these particular pieces are valuable. These same things can be done digitally and more effectively with blockchain technology, which provides a live digital system to manage and store this information. If a creator digitally signs 10 limited editions of their digital creation, the system will not allow an 11th edition.
This concept can be hard to understand if not explained clearly, so it’s my goal to educate and change the way people think about digital art.
How do you think blockchain and the ability to own digital art will affect the industry
It will open up opportunities for so many artists AND art collectors — opportunities we haven’t even thought of yet because the technology is so young and people are still coming up with new ways to use it. This is exciting to me!
One of my class attendees told me that her niece decided to skip college because all she wanted to do was create digital art. Now that she has perfected her skills and has created all this fantastic art, she hasn’t figured what to do with it or how to sell it. Now she has new opportunities to earn money doing what she loves by selling limited editions of her digital art.
Another attendee, a logo and t-shirt designer, has had several unfortunate experiences with clients failing to pay for his designs after releasing them. He sees blockchain technology as a way to ensure that his clients pay for the work he does at the amount specified before his artwork can be released.
In September of 2018 for the very first time, Dadiani Syndicate (a London-based fine art gallery) and Maecenas (a blockchain-backed art investment platform) held a successful auction that allowed bidders to purchase a 31.5% stake in Andy Warhol’s “14 Small Electric Chairs”. In addition to the original owner who owns 51% of the piece valued at $5.6 million, following an auction, 49% of the piece is now fractionally-owned by several collectors for an additional $1.7 million.
There are so many other possibilities, not just for artists and art collectors, but for designers, gamers, musicians, music producers, writers, and more
Why are you excited about MakersPlace?
The artists, their creations, the platform and the customer support are what excite me about MakersPlace!
I feel absolutely lucky to be joining and serving a talented creator community that not only inspires me but really seems to enjoy MakersPlace. I see so much positive feedback on the improvements that the team adds to the platform, it really encourages me to want to support this community in the best way I can. Without that support, all of this can be needlessly scary and overwhelming.
I used to attend a weekly Crypto Art Meetup at a bar called Stookie’s Club Moderne in San Francisco. It’s currently the only bar in San Francisco that accepts Bitcoin at the register. One day there was an attendee that wanted to purchase a drink with Bitcoin, but after spending around 15 minutes trying to figure out all the steps he had to take to exchange his currency and then create a digital wallet, he changed his mind and used his credit card instead. MakersPlace does away with this friction for both collectors and artists by offering easy options, a beautiful interface and constant support.
Also, I have been working for MakersPlace since the beginning of March, and in the short time I’ve been a part of the team, I’ve seen them constantly work to add improvements to the platform. We’re always coming up with new ideas to make the creator and collector’s experience better, so I’m excited about what MakersPlace will become in the future, too!