From SNL to NFTs: Bryan Brinkman on his journey as digital artist

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Speaking to Cointelegraph, Bryan Brinkman discussed his journey as a digital artist from being an animator for Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show to accumulating a following of more than 1,000 collectors for his NFTs.

Brinkman, who specializes in animation, has attracted a following of notable NFT collectors, such as Pranksy, J1mmy.eth and WhaleShark. His work has been showcased at Christie’s Auction Houses and featured in fractionalized art auctions at Sotheby’s.

The artist recounted that before NFTs, he spent 15 years working in multiple industries, such as fashion, MTV shows and animated TV series.

He explained that with the advent of NFTs, animation had become a quantifiable and collectible medium, which resonated with him. He also emphasized that NFTs offered unique independence and control among various animation branches.

The Nebraska native told Cointelegraph that he identifies as a digital pop artist working with mixed media. He said he enjoyed experimenting with 2D and 3D techniques and exploring various mechanics and forms in his art.

Brinkman acknowledged the significance of marketing and community-building in the current landscape for NFT artists and recommended dividing one’s time into three equal parts – creation, promotion and community engagement.

Brinkman’s sources of inspiration, creating art process

Brinkman said that he learned from several established NFT artists who came before him. Those artists include Hollywood-based visual artist Sarah Zucker, award-winning mixed media artist Coldie, well-known digital artist Josie Bellini, crypto artist Alotta Money and artist/programmer Matt Kane.

The American also cited two-time Academy Award nominee Don Hertzfeldt and Winsor McCay award winner Bill Plympton as some of his significant influences.

He praised Hertzfeldt for his brilliant short films, while he looked up to Plympton for his work ethic and ability to sustain an independent animation artist lifestyle for several years.

Brinkman mentioned the late Keith Haring and Killer Acid as his sources of inspiration. He lauded Haring’s talent for balancing pop and commercial art while preserving his artistic integrity.

He attributed his entry into the NFT world to Killer Acid, one of the early SuperRare artists who inspired him to join the space.

Brinkman told Cointelegraph that he values the process of creating art on the blockchain because it preserves the record of the work permanently.

His art creation process usually begins with sketches on a physical sketchbook or digitally on an iPad using Procreate. As an animator, Brinkman believes in starting with thumbnails — similar to storyboards.

The artist explained that he starts with small ideas and decides whether it is an idea or opinion to convey visually. Then, he would go through a thought process to refine the concept and start building using animation software.

Brinkman said refining and tweaking are required to ensure the timing and motion are right.

He also has considered different elements to decide on the best way to present his animations. For example, the artist would reflect on whether the animation should be a video with sound or a GIF and consider the appropriate dimensions, such as tall, wide or square.

Missing piece in NFT space

When discussing the NFT space, Brinkman said that discoverability for artists was lacking. He believed websites and algorithms should be created to help users find new artists with similar styles. Currently, discovery is limited to word-of-mouth and curation by Twitter influencers.

Brinkman proposed a universal artist bid mechanism where buyers could buy any piece by an artist for a fixed price, providing liquidity on secondary markets. While some artists might disagree with this approach, Brinkman thought it could attract more people to view NFTs as liquid assets instead of long-term investments.


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