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Behind the Network (BTN): September 16th, 2022

Sam Clover’s art elicits a palpable energy. Every Sam Clover piece carries with it a unique blend of dream-like environments and electric characters that combine to stir up something almost primal in the imagination. With their latest piece, a collaboration between Sam and her partner Nicole Ruggiero which was featured in a live SuperRare gallery in NYC, Sam and Nicole were able to explore themes of meaning, place and identity, without sacrificing any of their trademark flair and fun:

Had the pleasure of collaborating with @nicoleruggiero on this gender identity, gaming, and NYC chaos inspired piece. 💕

Recently shown at the @superrare gallery in Soho in the ICONS x SuperTrans exhibit.

— Sam Clover

For their piece “Achievement Unlocked: Touch Grass”, Nicole and Sam delved into the layers of a well-worn topic: Exploration. For Nicole, Fish (the eponymous hero of the piece) presented an opportunity to explore ideas of identity that she’s struggled with herself since a young age:

Growing up, video games were a big part of the way Nicole would spend her time. However, one thing always bugged her. The main characters of most of these games she grew up playing were male. She didn’t think much of it at first, until she started playing games that let the player choose the main character’s name. She thought it was a bit weird that a male character would be named Nicole, but she went with it, suspending her disbelief. Ultimately, both stereotypical gender options didn’t really resonate with her. Being the tomboy that she was, she wanted to play as a character that felt more like her, more androgynous.

Through Fish, Nicole was able to create a character that not only resonated with her personally as a character that she would have wanted to play as a kid, but allowed her partner Sam to work through a sense of space herself. Having recently moved from Seattle to NYC, Sam decided to set her and Nicole’s platformer in an NYC-themed space, while at the same time keeping the bombastic colors and more wild/natural world elements that fans have come to expect from a Sam Clover piece.

It’s clear that, similar to her partner Nicole, Sam has long used her art as a means of self-exploration, something she made clear when discussing the piece:

I use my art as a tool to understand myself, others and express ideas and feelings that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to articulate. I’m inspired most by others finding meaning and feeling something through my work, that meaning doesn’t always have to relate to the original concept of the piece.

I’ve been an artist to express my thoughts and emotions for as long as I can remember. Prior to digital art I worked with ceramics, oil paints, and graphite.

Like other Render Network creators like Isaac Udogwu who have used the Render Network as a means to empower and explore through art, Render Network has been proud to play a part in helping artists like Sam and Nicole find themselves and subsequently help find others in their art.

Twitter Spaces Recap:

Yesterday Render Network once again hosted a Twitter Space discussion, perhaps the most ambitious one yet. Hosted by Nick Campbell and featuring a roundtable discussion with artists/innovators Min Shi, Bloo Woods and Kyle Gordon, the discussion covered everything from the creative process to how to get started creating NFTs to what the Metaverse actually means and what is needed to build it. Let’s dive into the highlights:

Origins

While we have previously profiled Kyle Gordon in the first ever Creator Spotlight, Bloo Woods and Min Shi may be unknown names to some on the Render Network. However they are far from unknowns.

Based out of Atlanta, GA, Bloo Woods is a 3D artist and Motion graphics designer who has worked for the last 5 years with some of the largest fashion brands and musicians in the world. Combining elements from his past as a photographer and video editor with his passion for Afro-Futurism and surrealism, Bloo was inspired in 2016 to make the switch to digital creation after seeing a Beeple piece that, like many of the premier digital creators today, sparked that curiosity in him to figure out just how something like that was made. From there he began creating dailys like Beeple, and has since gone on to great success himself.

Min Shi has begun dabbling in her own solo pieces, building off the robust portfolio she has built off of years of professional work in Hollywood. Working as a part of the team at Elastic that created title sequences for movie and TV shows such as Captain Marvel, Mindhunter, and His Dark Materials, Min Shi has established herself as a mainstay in the professional world of digital creation for the last decade. More recently she has branched into personal creation, debuting NFTs on SuperRare. Originally falling in love with 3D after coming from the world of physical production, she realized that 3D design allowed her to create more fluidly on her own, without the constraints of time, money and collaboration needed on physical projects.

While all 3 have since gone on to become prolific digital creators, they have not altogether abandoned their foundations in the physical. Kyle began as a classically trained artist, and continues to use real world references from Instagram and Pinterest to help shape his thoughts; Bloo began as a traditional photographer and continues to use real-life references from his own and others photos in order to help him create; and while Min Shi has had “her eyes opened” by AI learning tools and AI generative art, she continues to reference individual live-action shots in her professional and personal work.

TechStacks and the Future of Web3

Digital creation has allowed all 3 of these creators to expand their creative capabilities, and that would be impossible without the increased availability of programs. While all 3 creators have different methods that combine to create their unique artwork, ranging across programs like Blender, C4D and OctaneRender to tools like ZBrush, Nomad Sculpt, various Adobe Suite tools and more, such a diversity in methodology would have been hard to obtain only a few short years ago. As Bloo Woods referenced, the financial barrier for entry for creative programs was prohibitively expensive, with licenses sometimes as high as thousands of dollars a year, let alone the price for hardware needed to render work at production grade quality. However, the subscription model that has been adopted by most programs like C4D, OctaneRender, and to an even larger extent Blender with their free tier, has largely broken down that pricing barrier, which Bloo credits with allowing himself to pursue and hone his craft. Similarly, Kyle has been able to drastically cut his production overhead down by using the Render Network for the majority of his large-scale rendering. He’s even downgraded his setup to a single 3090, as most of his rendering is now down offsite of his home-station through the Render Network, similar to Bloo, at a fraction of the cost as he previously could have.

Modern advances such as those above have allowed Min Shi, Bloo, Kyle and other artists to all expand their scopes into NFT art, which has been a hugely successful Web3-centered change that has opened the door for greater financial independence. But as Kyle waxed during the Space, the potential has barely been scratched.

While the explosion of NFTs has created the means for more accreditation for creators, open collaboration and financial independence outside of client work, the tools for intricate NFT drops are still not super accessible. While projects like NiftyKit are working on just that, which should allow more creators to follow in the footsteps of a SlimeSunday Shop-style drop, there is still an infrastructural deficit that needs to be addressed for the ecosystem to reach a true Metaversal state. As is, projects like Futureverse are working to build out that interoperable Metaverse of dreams, where all creators and users are able to truly interact frictionlessly. Until that has been achieved, the Metaverse has yet to truly arrive. While Kyle is excited by the current state and what it’s allowed, the future is even brighter in his eyes, a sentiment echoed by Min Shi and Bloo Woods as well.

Acknowledgments

The Render Network wants to thank Nick Campbell, Bloo Woods, Min Shi and Kyle Gordon for taking time to participate in this month’s Twitter Space roundtable, and to thank all the people who joined in to listen to the roundtable. As a bonus, all attendees of the Twitter Space received a POAP as a reward for participating in the space.

If you would like to receive an exclusive POAP and be a part of future conversations, be on the lookout for more Twitter Spaces coming from the Render Network. And if you would like to be featured in future Creator Spotlight pieces or potentially be a premier part of the next Twitter Space, fill out the following form and be on the lookout for a response from the Render Network Team.

Join us in the Rendering Revolution at:

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/rendertoken
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