‘It’s a huge message for the secular art market’: 18-year-old NFT star Diana Sinclair on how she’s tackling the top-notch art world

Auctions went live yesterday for the first time on Christie’s 3.0the auction house’s new NFT platform that allows sales to be conducted entirely on the blockchain.

To launch the new initiative, the auction house has teamed up with 18-year-old artist Diana Sinclair, a young digital art powerhouse who is selling nine NFTs, all minted just a week ago, on the platform until October 11.

Sinclair started making art as a pre-teen on the doodle app Draw Something before she started shooting psychedelic portraits in hues reminiscent of heatmaps. In November 2021, Sinclair worked with Whitney Houston’s estate on an NFT that featured never-before-seen video of the singer — and he sold for $1 million.

Last year, Fortune appointed Sinclair one of her 50 most influential people in the NFT space, and this week she joined UTA and its growing list of digital artists.

We caught up with Sinclair to talk about her early days in digital art, what the Christie’s sale means for her, and her hopes for the NFT space in the future.

Diana Sinclair, judgment Day. A frame from the 43 second clip.

Before experimenting with Draw Something, did you have the desire to become a professional artist? How did you come to photography?

In a way, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career in the arts. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I actively started following different career paths to see what stuck with me. I was working with traditional mediums when the idea of ​​a film career started to pique my interest, so I applied for a scholarship to join SVA’s Summer Intensive in 2019, and that’s when I discovered a camera for the first time. From then on, I had a kind of obsession with photo and video work and moved almost entirely to photography.

What were your hopes and fears going into NFTs early on?

Being an entirely new market with no established culture, I had great hopes for its transformation over time, but also worried that it would follow the traditional routes of exclusion from other markets. For me, as an artist who grew up working in digital media, I was very excited to find a space where digital art was celebrated. In the beginning, the space was in such an early stage of development that experimentation was rewarded, especially as a young artist. It has brought me so much joy to see artists of all levels come together in this way.

Do you consider “The Digital Diaspora”, an exhibition you curated at Superchief Gallery last year, your big break, or was there another defining moment?

I consider big breaks hard to define because the more you expand, the bigger your audience gets, the higher levels you reach. Everything then feels like the next “big break” as you continue to level up and grow. “The Digital Diaspora” exposed me as an artist to a much wider audience than I had ever had before. It started out as a project just for the community that worked in the NFT and crypto space, but I think the show’s message resonated with artists and people who may not have had any interest in the digital art space but who had an interest in seeing the work of black artists celebrated.

Was it intimidating working with the estate of Whitney Houston at just 17?

A little, but Whitney’s family was more than welcoming, and I felt encouraged to create works in my vision. As an artist, that’s the most liberating thing. I felt connected to Whitney’s career as someone who quickly rose to fame through her art at a young age, but maintained her values ​​and artistic integrity throughout. As someone who is now experiencing this in an entirely different space and time, I still think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from her.

How did this partnership with Christie’s materialize and why did it appeal to you?

After discussing various avenues of collaboration with Christie’s, Lesley [Silverman] from UTA stepped in when we started working together and laid out a solid plan that would allow us to create a monumental partnership. Christie’s taking this first step as a global auction house is a huge message to the rest of the age-old art market that digital art and blockchain technology is a legitimate form of expression. As a young artist, and especially as someone who grew up seeing artists in my family fired because of discrimination, I feel so much about being part of a moment that points to a bigger change in the arts .

Diana Sinclair, I am what I am. Estimate: 6 – 8 ETH.

Tell me about this series in nine episodes for Christie’s. Are they straight shots or do they have animations or features?

The nine-part series consists of four experimental video art pieces and five photographs, which are also printed on 10ft semi-transparent canvas. The four video artworks are dynamic and responsive to time. The beautiful thing about blockchain and digital art is that we are able to create art that can have a changing existence. For this exhibition very focused on impermanence, there was no better way to create these works.

For example, the work titled “River Over Stone” is a depiction of how our memories decay over time. By running the original artwork through OpenAI’s DALL-E, I created 51 new versions of the image. Each week the artwork will be updated on the blockchain displaying the next step in the series and over time you will see how this first captured moment completely changes visually, in tone and in meaning. It’s a visual of how the truth in life is just a perception.

What is new in your practice in terms of subject matter and style in this series? Did the opportunity push or inspire you?

This project was a huge growth step for me. The opportunity itself, I think, was a definite reason for me to seize the opportunity to create a series of works that spoke to the different conceptual levels possible with digital art. I spent a lot of time before creating, just sitting with my thoughts and unpacking what I wanted to say. Then, of course, the process was so experimental and difficult, but it forced me to practice this tolerance for fluidity that I was communicating with the very art that I was creating. Even now, as I let the work into the audience, I remind myself that the only thing I can control is myself and my perception. That the phase of just being something mine is over, and it’s okay to let that go and experience something new.

What impact do you hope this particular drop will leave on blockchain and the art world?

This is the first on-chain auction organized by a global auction house and is in itself a representation of a paradigm shift that is happening in the art world and the way we consume art. digital art. This is also why I think the themes [this NFT series] “Phases” look is so relevant to this culture shift. We are actively living this historic moment which is incredibly special. I hope the work will serve as a conversation starter for the presence we hold during these times, but also in our daily lives. There are so many changes, which can seem very scary, but if we are able to release our attachments to the permanent structures of life, I think our experience of these phases, which is so naturally human, will improve greatly.

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