With the rise of NFT artwork over the past year, many artists have floated my way through the Twitter content rivers. Defaced was one of these artists. His colorful and geometric designs transport me to another dimension and make me feel connected with the characters.
Defaced, like many digital artists, got his start in graphic design, initially developing his skills making branding packages for Call of Duty streamers and eventually getting a job out of high school for a small tech company. He realized quickly that if he wanted his hours spent behind a computer to be meaningful, he had to do something. After a brief stint in school, he decided to jump into freelance design. He was able to work for Namco and Apple within a year. He was able to take advantage of the NFT market early, which would eventually give him the funds to invest in his art and fund his next project.
I talked with him about the development of his style, his thoughts on NFTs, and what inspires his work.
Tell me a bit about Starman. How did you create this character? What does this mean to you?
Starmaker is the name of the project in its totality. Starman was born while creating a piece for Cinema4D. The character was created in Cinema4D in an attempt to create a memorable silhouette. It later became a consistent element in many of my works.
As I continued to create more work, I found myself using Starman more and more as a reflection of myself a lot of time. Jim Henson’s works and Shigeru Miyamoto were heavily influenced by Starman. Starman’s meaning is still evolving, but for now Starman is intended to represent the contrast between childhood and creativity.
How would you describe your relationship with your own art, if you had to describe what it’s like? This is one of my more experimental questions.
Love / hate I think is the main one, because I try and do a piece daily. You might be like “I’m going take the day off.” Other days, you may feel like “I’m taking the day off.” But, love / hate is the main one. I try to do a piece every day.
When you get into that, I suppose it’s a sort of semi-flow state where everything sort of slots together nicely, and especially my style is quite heavily shape-based. It’s almost Lego-like how everything clicks together. It’s almost like a Lego set. You’re looking at references for two hours and thinking, “What the fuck do I make?” That’s when I struggle.
When did you start that daily practice, and how has it worked out for you?
For a couple of months now, I’ve been really consistent. Last year, when I returned from France, I was struggling to find Wi-Fi to post anything. It was a difficult year.
I think just pushing through it on a daily basis sharpens your toolkit. You can improve your toolkit by just doing it every day. Even if it’s shit, and you put it online and someone will go, “Oh, that’s fucking cool.”
When do you have the most fun making your work?
I think it’s when you sort of get into that flow and everything comes together and it feels easy, almost like you’re not even trying. This is probably the best part. The end is the best part. I love seeing people’s reactions to it. It’s all about you. Art is a selfish thing. It’s fulfilling when people are able to enjoy it.
When you pull back, what’s your favorite way to relax and unwind and gain inspiration? They don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.
I like playing Xbox and stuff, but it’s just seeing my friends or my girlfriend and going out for a meal and chatting. You’re not interacting with other people, just exchanging ideas or chatting. It’s a way to switch off and get you in a different space.
Because the NFT market is on top of the crypto market, on days like yesterday when the market went to fucking shit big time, you can see people really fucking scared. It’s because you’re taking in too many opinions that it’s hard to process them all. You have to let it all go and enjoy a good fucking burger. It’s clear that it’s not the end-all be-all. We live on fucking floating rocks in space. It’s almost like whatever happens, fucking will happen at the end. It’s okay, you can figure out what’s going on.
What’s your experience of NFT’s been?
I think I sold my first NFT on September 30th last year. I think one ETH was PS300 or $500 USD, something like that, so I was like, “Oh, that’s good money.” Then I just thought, “Okay, I’ll just mint five other things just straight off the bat,” and I was like, “Oh, these aren’t selling like the last one.” I had no idea about the sort of scarcity idea, and I didn’t have any fucking clue about that, so that’s been a learning curve and adjusting my brain to analyze the market, analyze the business approach, and supply and demand and what makes stuff valuable, what doesn’t.
Now I have been able to make some ETH, I’ve been able to put it aside and invest into a bigger project and make something cooler, and hire people to make stuff I can’t do, like 3D modeling or like a dev or some more artists to work on something, sort of building a team and go, “Okay, we’re going to go fucking big on this one.” I think as more artists figure this out and put two and two together, I think there’ll be bigger projects and there will almost be like events, and you’ll have artist events.
The main thing for me is having a financial incentive to pursue a career in art, wherever that may lead and whatever opportunities you get from that, and however long it lasts, just making the most of it and being able to make good money doing something which you fucking enjoy. This is my top pillar stone. My dad lost his job last year due to COVID, so that helps put things in perspective. You can whine all you want about the carbon footprint. But there are people in Brazil I know who live in poor conditions and have been able get better. Some artists I know, who came from abusive families, have been able get out of poverty and saved their lives.
Are there any core inspirations or some things that hold a special place in your heart?
Yeah, definitely. Yes, definitely. I think Mario is my favorite, along with Shigeru Miyamoto’s design philosophy and all the characters from Mario. It’s amazing how they have survived the test of time. It’s also simple. It’s all just a bunch of nonsense. Jim Henson as well, the Muppets and Sesame Street and that sort of design philosophy, and even how he was as a guy and what he wanted to teach kids. They have a huge influence on my design philosophy. Kaws, Murakami and others are also inspirations.
You mentioned Henson as an inspiration, and I saw you on set (in a white bodysuit!) Starman. Was that an unforgettable experience?
The experience was surreal, the day was intense but overall a great memory. It was surreal, and I felt like an imposter sometimes. All of the people involved were there for me and my art.
Henson is one of the most overlooked artists in my eyes, the amount of people he has reached through his characters and storytelling is nothing short of impressive. He is pure vision and creativity to me. His example of how to follow an idea through to its conclusion can have a profound impact on my work.
Can you give us a hint of what’s next for Starmaker? It was said that it was the next Mario. This bodes well for your pursuit of your dreams. He’s already been used by artists to create their own versions. It seems like he is already striking a chord.
Next for Starmaker will be actually dropping the first NFTs on SuperRare as my genesis drop on there. Two short films, including 3D animations and scenes from the studio, will be available. The arcade game will accompany one of the NFTs. The winner will have the option to make the game available publicly. Each NFT will receive a box with physicals, which includes an art book, vinyl disk, bronze figure, comic book and comic book.
What role do NFTs play in this mission?
NFTs are the key that unlocks the door. This career path wouldn’t exist without NFTs. You can find a job that allows you to direct films, create video games, oversee manufacturing and, at the core, create worlds out of your imagination. This job is impossible without NFTs.
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