Artist Serwah Attafuah on digital art, NFTs, and working with Charlie XCX


When Sydney artist Serwah Attafuah senses an idea is forming, she does not sketch out a plan or make initial drawings. She launches straight into creation as fast as she can. “Otherwise, I feel like I’ve lost the spark,” she said.

Attafuah, who is also a talented musician, never planned to make a career in art. “My parents are both artists,” she says. “[But] I never really made the decision to say to myself “I’m just going to do art”.

She started with oil painting but found it limited. “Unless you have a lot of money, a big studio, or someone supporting you, it’s hard to put all the ideas on a canvas with just paint,” she says. “With digital art, it’s something you can do anywhere. ”

The shift from oil painting to commercial and digital work began with the occasional request to lend his vibrant, dreamy and futuristic works to posters or album covers. And when people and brands like Nike, Paris Hilton, and Charlie XCX (“We clashed and went back and forth trying to find an intersection between her previous work and mine. [She was] trying to reclaim her power in terms of artwork in her music and then combine it with my worlds ”) sought to collaborate, it quickly became a full-time job.

This style of working meant that Attafuah was ready for the growing digital art space – and the related industry that has now seen it flourish in the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which – for distill in their simplest form – are digital works of art that can be bought and sold online.

“Basically, it’s a digital asset that I signed, just like I would sign a painting or a print,” says Attafuah. “It’s great to be involved in something that is changing so quickly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything, especially in the art world, move so fast.

They are not without controversy – many people question those who pay high prices for a digital image, which is easy to reproduce online. But NFTs have undoubtedly changed the way digital artists are perceived and valued. “Before the NFTs, I probably could have counted the number of shows I was in on one hand,” says Attafuah.

Attafuah is one of the artists whose work will be showcased at NFT: Illuminated, a new exhibition in the Galleries. Attafuah will present his first solo animated NFT, a work titled Oracles. “[It’s] vaguely on some kind of technocratic [Orwellian] 1984 world where everyone is looking at you, but in a lighter way, ”she says. “This is the realization of many themes of the work I have done this year. [But] what I love telling people about my job is hearing their take on what I was doing. [They] seeing things maybe I haven’t even seen my own photos.

The rise of NTFs has also given credibility to the world of digital art. “It’s disgusting to see bigger artists or brands adopting not just my work, but digital art in general,” says Attafuah. “It’s fantastic. I’m super happy about it because I’ve been creating digital art for probably over a decade. It was always like we were outsiders from the art world. People looked at us. like content creators because they didn’t know where [else] that would be fine. So it’s great to have these kinds of opportunities to sell and distribute our work and be recognized.

NFT: Illuminated is at the Galleries until Wednesday January 5, 2022.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Les Galeries.