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  • Raheem Nelson

NFT NYC: A Conversation with Raheem Nelson

Raheem Nelson is the Creative Director behind No Starving Artists. Today we'll be talking about him participating in NFT NYC, a conference on NFTs (non fungible tokens) and how his artwork was featured in Times Square.

Rahisha: How did you get involved in NFTs & Can you explain to readers what an NFT actually, is?

Raheem: NFT means non fungible token. It's a one of a kind digital item that you can buy or sell. NFTs can be a digital image or even a song. They can also respresent a real world experience like a ticket to a concert or an art show. They're available to purchase through platforms like Voice, Opensea and Rarible.

I got involved in NFTs like two years ago. It seemed like a cool way to sell artwork and I was looking for a different avenue to market and sell my digital art. I tried many different platforms before choosing Voice HQ which is a NFT platform based in New York.

Rahisha: What's the value of a NFT?

Raheem: I think NFTs have value for both collectors and artists. Brands too. Artists can keep getting passive revenue with each resale of their work. This is different from traditional galleries and creates empowerment for the artist.

The collector can interact directly with the artist. What's more the artist can add "perks" to the artwork. Basically special add ons to thank the collector for investing in the work.

Brands can create NFTs as special tickets for events, concerts and conferences as well.

Rahisha: I'm glad you mention that. Your artwork was featured in the branding for NFT NYC. How did that happen?

Raheem: I applied last year and didn't get in. I didn't let that stop me and I applied to be featured in the conference for this year. I missed the initial email somehow and but caught the second one. They let me know that I was accepted into the showing and they inquired if I wanted my artwork to be used for ticket sales. It was amazing going on social media leading up to the show and seeing people become new fans of my work.

Rahisha: I think that so cool, that you applied didn't get featured, last year and didn't let that stop you from applying again! So many artist get discouraged when they don't fulfill something the first time. And I want No Starving Artists To Be A Platform where people feel inspired to keep going. What would you say made the difference in you getting accepting this year?

Raheem: I think what made a difference was taking the time to build community. Offline and online actually. Offline, I had speaking engagements in the community at places like KNOWN Coworking. Online, I share my work with other artists and share tips and tricks with the community. For me, Twitter has been the best place for building community in the NFT space.

Rahisha: Your artwork was also featured in Times Square as a part of the NFT Artist Roadblock. What was that experience like for you?

Raheem: I would say surreal and overwhelming. It's a life altering career milestone. Something that really affirms the path I've chosen as an artist. If I look, I have have experienced career breakthroughs after I graduated college from School of Viusal Arts, when I started creating artwork on an iPad and now when I started creating NFTs. Times Square is considered the center of the world and it's very humbling to have a moment like that.

Rahisha: What was the actual conference like?

Raheem: I went for the first day of the conference and I loved it. It was at The Javits Center. I went to a few talks on the main floor before heading to the rooftop for the Artists Village. The Artists Village was a gallery show featuring the work of many different NFT artists. It felt amazing not only seeing my work but the work of many different talented artists.

Rahisha: Talk a bit about the piece you submitted that was featured. What inspired you to create it?

Raheem: I submitted a piece that's near and dear to my heart. Its actually a big part of our Love story. When I was in Paris in July 2017 I loved the trip and there was the sense of loneliness. Being in this solo trip to Europe and noticing all the couples. I had a thought of "Where's my person?" I hiked to the top of Montmatre to view Sacré Coeur (The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris) and knew that I wanted to be in a relationship.

I got back to the states and I was invited to participate in an art show inspired by the music of Solange. I created a black renaissance portrait of Solange inspired by my visit to The Louvre in Paris. I consider it at the center of our relationship because you hosted this art event. (Seats at The Table at Artspace New Haven) and we also had our wedding reception at the same venue featuring the same painting that brought us together.

So to me it just makes sense that this is the piece that get displayed in such a big way.

Rahisha: That is amazing. It's like you manifested our relationship through traveling and painting. Where can people buy the painting?

Raheem: It's available as a NFT on Voice HQ and also on Fine Art America.

Rahisha: What would be your one piece of advice for other artists who want to gain notoriety in the NFT space?

Raheem: The great thing about NFTs is that they can be virtually anything. Digital photography, sculpture or fine art. Once you decide on that it's all about finding your audience, engaging with them and making your mark.

Raheem Nelson is a Creative Entrepreneur based in West Haven. He's the Creative Director of No Starving Artists and a featured artist for NFT NYC.

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