If you need a boost of perspective to prop you up in this unpredictable crypto market, it's wise to speak with an artist like Joy Chiang.
Chiang's take on the industry is refreshing and will encourage you to think longer term. With her feet firmly on the ground — or rather, the polished corporate floor of her banking job — and her hands juggling two kids and dogs, Chiang's heart truly belongs in the creative realm. And that’s exactly how she likes it.
Chiang, who participated in one of BFF's most well-attended Twitter Spaces on the intersection of traditional art and Web3, did not get her start as a born and bred artist. In fact, her foray into art happened well into adulthood, when she started painting large scale canvases while pregnant with her first child. At the time, she was working as an urban planner. When she became a mum, art was a way to reconnect with self and to process some of the emotions of her new stage of life, which she found equal parts beautiful and overwhelming.
She carried on for a year of her maternity leave, loving her newfound self-expression and sharing her work on Instagram. When it was time to go back to work, for Chiang, it was also a time to find a new job that would allow her to better balance her work, family and her artistic pursuits. (And she needed this balance: By this stage she was getting noticed, fielding commissioned work and planning a trip to China for her first group art exhibition!)
Fast forward a few years: During Chiang's second pregnancy, painting on large scale canvases proved too physically demanding and tiring. A friend suggested she look into nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Chiang was no stranger to crypto, having dabbled in it since 2017, but this was the first time she discovered the more creative and idiosyncratic world of NFTs.
But instead of jumping in headfirst into digital art, Chiang took a more measured approach: "There is no rush to hone in on your craft,” she says. For the first six months of NFT-making, she was actually working for various NFT projects, doing creative work and learning about her new world from the inside. “It took me a whole year before I created art on my own smart contract," she explains. "It needed to be an aesthetic that brought me joy, not just a photograph of my physical art."
Her patience was a lesson Chiang took from her early endeavors in traditional art. She admits that in her early days she wanted to create more works, get herself out there and sell more pieces to build a name, but over time she learned to focus on a different type of growth. “The growth in yourself and the way your art shifts as you develop your skills is a beautiful process,” she says. With the ultimate goal of creating a consistent and recognisable aesthetic across all mediums, it's safe to say she is well on her way.
Since then, Chiang has experimented with various aspects of digital art including NFTs, 3D, animation and, more recently, artificial intelligence (AI). She joined DAO Under as its art lead and continues to be active in her offline commercial work. She is also a featured artist on Randi Zuckerberg and Debbie Soon's HUG.xyz platform, a community that she says has been invaluable for artists collaboration and support.
Many people aspire to turn their passion into a full-time gig, but Chiang questions the impact that going into art full-time might have on her creativity. “Having financial pressure on art will change my style," says Chiang. "There becomes this pressure to create volume." Like many artists, she feels that bear market is an opportunity to slow down and hone her skills, hitting pause on the mad pace of the bull markets, which can incentivize artists to abandon their authenticity to go after the cash.
“When I create without pressure, I get more joy and my art tells a better story,” Chiang says.
Besides, she truly sounds like she enjoys her day job in strategic communications at a bank and has no intention of giving that up any time soon. She likes the social aspect of traditional employment, along with having the opportunity to learn new skills every day. It is that constant switch between the practical and the creative that makes Chiang truly unique as an artist.
Chiang has also found new opportunities to commercialize her digital art: “In commercial real estate, such as office lobbies, you can have art displayed digitally, taking away the need to care for and preserve the physical pieces," she explains. Working in digital mediums also makes it easy to switch out and update her pieces among exhibitions and buyers. This philosophy guided her to accept a partnership with Sugar Glider, a company that leases out Chiang's art for commercial spaces for a commission.
"Your art is a reflection of you. It is unique like your handwriting."
For Chiang, this year is a busy one. It kicked off with an NFT exhibition in her home town of Melbourne, hosted by Arts Exchange. The exhibition features collections from women NFT artists and is displayed at the iconic Federation Square.
Beyond her usual creative pursuits, Chiang is also spending more time experimenting with AI tools such as Midjourney and is currently in the Beta testing cohort of the next iteration of the DALL-E generative AI art tool.
And because all her skills at this cross-section of art and technology are self-taught, Chiang has also started a YouTube channel to make it easier for others and teach the skills she learned along her journey. She discusses topics like how to mint your first NFT, or how to create a no-code smart contract using Manifold.
Chiang's piece of advice for people looking to get into art, be it physical or digital, is simple: Let go of the concepts you have in your mind of what art should be. There is no good or bad art. "Your art is a reflection of you," she says. "It is unique like your handwriting."
Liya Dashkina is a VC, contributor to a number of DAOs, web3 consultant, chapter lead at the Australian DeFi Association and an advocate for women in web3.
This article and all the information in it does not constitute financial advice. If you don’t want to invest money or time in Web3, you don’t have to. As always: Do your own research.