David Rees NFT Artist Interview | NFT CULTURE | NFTs & Crypto Art

Written by moushouar

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Can you tell us about your background and what lead you down the path to becoming an artist and ultimately experimenting with NFTs?

I’ve been working full time as an artist for almost the last decade. I studied Art History at University before starting a career in International Development, however after seeing an exhibition by the artist Andrew Salgado I quite my job to pursue painting full time. My work has traditionally been as an oil painter, creating bright and colorful portraits and expressive wildlife paintings.

I was picked up very early on by the largest art publisher in the UK, Washington Green. It was a great break as it meant I could paint full time but it did pigeon hole me as a commercial artist, working with the constraints of what the galleries wanted me to produce. I had multiple shows around the country and sold out large editions of work. I left the publisher a few years ago to gain more independence and work directly with galleries.

I had been following NFTs for a while and I realised not just the importance of digital provenance but of a new type of art market. I saw it as revolutionary to the art market status quo and spent many more months learning about the culture within the space.

When did you mint your first NFT? What platform did you choose and why?

When I first learned about NFTs I wanted to show other trad artists how useful it could be to access this new digital market place. I used Opensea to create a collection of 200 NFTs based off 10 of my original oil paintings, using some generative art style variations to make each unique. I used it because it was free and easy, although I learned an important lesson… times had changed! It was autumn of 2021 and the world had discovered NFTs, I was shouting into a void where I was never going to be heard unless I figured out a way to connect with the people within in.

Can you tell us one thing you cannot live without? (and why)

I’ve got two young kids and a wonderful wife, so they are obviously top of my list! Outside of that just being creative is probably the answer. I learned from 10 years of repeating the same types of painting that there is a big difference between creating something and being creative.


Who is your favorite artist(s) (Non NFT)? What about their style resonates with you

Andrew Salgado is a portrait artist from Canada living in London. His work introduced me to loving art rather than just appreciating it. His style has changed a ton over the years but he still maintains a chaotic exuberance in his application of paint but it is all underlined by an incredible understanding of form and shape. I’ve spent many years trying to be like him only to realise that you can’t strive to be someone else.

Who is your favorite NFT artist? What makes this artist unique?

Claire Silver was the first NFT artist I bought and her work still inspires me today. She manages to bring a classical feel to much of her work, inspired by the same artists I am, whilst juxtaposing it by using some of the most advanced technology we have to create it. It was one of the first times I saw an NFT artists work I immediately could understand and relate to. Her work builds the future of the art world that she wants to see exist, in a way she is part artist, part prophet.

Pindar Van Arman is probably the artist who has taught me the most. His story telling, real community engagement and understanding of all of this as an art historic movement is quite brilliant.

What made you pursue NFT art?

This question requires a long answer… I’ll try to be brief!

I see this as an art movement similar to the impressionists or abstract expressionism. It’s more than just digital provenance or blockchain technology. It is the artistic identity of a new digital culture, and that is incredibly powerful and important. The first generation of people who have lived their entire lives as digital natives (ie born after the internet) are now defining their social systems, their holdings.

The impressionists rejected the classical ideals of Renaissance art and with it the beliefs it was built upon. It was more than just a change in artistic styles, it was the emergence of a new era of culture defined by its art. The same thing happened with Abstract Expressionism in America. The US was a becoming the worlds super power in the 1950’s. It had supreme wealth and power but it was jealous of Europe’s culture. It wanted to become a world cultural leader too but in an American way. Abstract Expressionism rejected European ideas of what painting could be, instead it was immediate, physical, masculine. Jackson Pollock wore denim jeans and a cowboy hat, he painted on the floor of his barn whilst smoking a cigarette. This was the image America wanted to project to the world, it rejected what had been before. It was as much about American identity as it was about art.

Which leads us to NFTs, once again rejecting the notion of what art can be by allowing provenance to give rise to digital art. But more importantly creating a 24/7 liquid art market which connects creator to collector. This rejection of 2000 years of how the art market operates is not yet fully appreciated by most people in NFTs. It isn’t necessarily better but it is disruptive and quite ground breaking. The very foundations of how the art market functions have been attacked.

So I want to create art that understands this. That relates to an emerging culture based on technology, finance and digital art. That positions itself to connect the importance of these issues and raise awareness of the huge shift that is taking place.

What is the one NFT you wish you had purchased but missed out on

Red Light District by OSF. I saw him selling them for a while at 0.069eth but didn’t feel like glitch art was something I properly understood. What I missed was that he isn’t an expert in art, he is an expert in understanding markets. The NFT became an artwork that would get you free airdrops for life from him. It wasn’t about the images but about understanding the transformation of the NFT art market.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go? Why this location?

I could really do with a holiday so probably either Mexico or Thailand!

What are your other passions besides art? Why?

My family and friends, rugby, food, skiing, travelling, exercise, books, sci fi, economics and politics. I’m interested in most things but there isn’t enough time in the day!

Do you make other forms of art?

I’ve been creating oil paintings for 10 years

Are you self taught or trained?

Self taught

How did you come up with your specific style?

My style is changing, most recently exploring different ways I can use AI to transform my work

How has your style evolved over the years?

It’s exploring different things now, namely culture and digital identity

What is coming in the near future?

I’m building towards a big collection based around the transformative nature of our digital identity. It references lots of the concepts I’ve previously mentioned. The first step towards it will be a release based on four physical ‘painting sculptures’ combined with AI.

If you could cooperate with one artist who would it be? (and why)

The painter Ryan Hewett, his geometric portraits really connect with me and my developing interest in our digital identity.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?

When I first left my publisher I expected going solo to be far easier than it turned out to be. I realised I was a very very little fish in a very big pond and that people can be very fair-weather friends in the art world. I realised the market I was working in was stacked against me and I’ve been trying to find a path for myself ever since.

What is your biggest piece sold

My ‘Emergent’ pieces ““A Relic”” and ““Infancy””

How much did it sell for

NFT I’ve sold two pieces for 1.5eth. The most expensive painting was £5,000

Do you have any upcoming drops?

A small collection based on 4 physical pieces which if it goes well will be the seed for a much larger collection.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Thanks for reaching out to me, there is a lot more I’d like to say on a number of the topics but trying to keep it fairly succinct. If you’d like to chat further or want any clarification on what I’m talking about please let me know!

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