Sonoma County artists and businesses enter NFT world of digital art

Watts, who has 32,000 followers on Instagram has since released 19 NFTS of original abstract art featuring vibrant fluid shapes and psychedelic color patterns.

He said his NFTs have surprisingly not received the traction and feedback he expected.

“I have somewhat of a following in the mural and painting world, but when I enter the NFT space— I’m nobody,” he told The Press Democrat. “There are so many artists trying to sell their work as NFTS right now so it’s as if I’m starting from the bottom again.”

“I feel like I’m missing out or being left behind if I don’t try and evolve and adapt to what is happening culturally and how things are shifting more towards digital platforms,” Watts added.

A new found hobby

In March 2021, Sondra Bernstein, former Girl & the Fig restaurateur announced she was taking a step back from the restaurant’s daily operations.

After 24 years as a restaurateur, Bernstein has begun creating NFTS and metaverses in her free time.

“I asked myself, who am I without the restaurant? What do I love?” Bernstein, said. “The NFT space has given me something to focus on in my transition. The space really captured me.”

She created a virtual version of the Girl & the Fig in November 2021. As an experiment, she plans to sell the restaurant’s famed “Sea Salt Chocolate Chunk” cookies in the restaurant metaverse next year.

“These are tests,” Bernstein said. “It’s another way of marketing. You have the naysayers and then you have the people saying this space changed their lives. But it is also the wild, wild west.”

Four months ago, she joined SearchLight, a team and organization that helps artists enter the world of NFTs.

“The metaverse is what life could be on a digital plane,“ Bernstein said. ”People can include things in their metaverse they think they lack in the real world. You get to create the world you want to see.“

Artists ready to ride NFT wave

In November 2021, The Press Democrat spoke with local mural artists MJ Lindo-Lawyer and Joshua Lawyer. The founders of The Mural Project, a Roseland-based nonprofit, said they’re brainstorming ways to implement NFTS into all their businesses.

That includes their annual Mural Festival in which a group of artists create multiple murals at the same time in one location.

The couple’s idea is to create and sell an NFT of each mural.

“You get an NFT to sell, trade and collect but you also get to fund this mural project that gets to pay artists that create artwork for communities in the real world,” Joshua Lawyer explains. “We’ve been slowly educating ourselves on what this all means. It’s a hard concept to wrap your head around.”

Wedlake, San Carlos crypto NFT consultant also advised Ledson on how to turn her paintings into NFTS.

“People who are entering into the NFT space now are considered a ‘pioneer,’” Wedlake said.

Joshua Lawyer said artists often feel they aren’t being paid enough for what their art and time is worth. However, he noted that the NFT space brings agency to an artist.

“Artists of all forms have gotten the harshest end of the stick,” Joshua Lawyer said. “Musicians make the music but the label gets the money, sorta deal. This space allows artists to own their art and have control over it which is always hard to do the moment you start gaining success.”

The Lawyers are each planning to release a collection of NFTS in the next few years but are searching for the right team to help them do so, MJ Lindo-Lawyer said.

Local brewery’s non-fungible tokens

In a 31-second video, a close up recording captures a person pouring “Dope-alicious,” one of Shady Oak brewery’s beers into a rotating glass along with a description of the beer.

Though short, this video is one of five NFTS that Shady Oak released and sent out for free in November 2021 for the taproom’s third anniversary.

At the event, they put up a sign up sheet and friends and regulars in attendance were sent the file for their “crypto wallet.”

Steve Doty, the taproom’s owner explained that including an NFT with every beer sold is a way to engage customers.

“I have zero idea what’s going to happen with the NFT space in the future,” Doty said. “We just hope it remains an extra thing that can be a part of what we do. It’s a way to engage with people and for people to be a part of the company.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mya Constantino at @searchingformya on Twitter.

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