Interview with Nikolai Fletcher
12 July 2022
Nikolai Fletcher, AKA Niko4696, is an artist who excels in multiple mediums, whether it is traditional or digital. He is the developer of a digital manga series titled UN:EARTH.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
I'm Nikolai and I'm a 3D artist, illustrator, and graphic designer based in Victoria, BC. My professional background is in corporate design and advertising, but I now work as a freelance illustrator and animator. Most of my art falls within the sci-fi genre, but I previously lived in Japan for several years and visit it regularly, so those experiences and memories also massively influenced my style.
What influenced you to pursue a creative path? What have been your biggest challenges so far?
I've always been the kind of person who, once I find something I like, I want to dig deep, learn everything about it and try it myself. In my teens, I developed an interest in graffiti, so I practiced that obsessively, which led to an interest in calligraphy, which then brought me into typeface design, then graphic design, and so on, and so on. I'm more focused now and don't pivot as much as before, but that excitement to constantly learn about new mediums and styles has given me a decent set of tools to work with today.
A regular challenge I face, and I think it's fairly common, is that I tie too much of my perceived self-worth to the quality or amount of art I'm producing. Emotionally, this makes for very high highs and very low lows. I try to fight this feeling by focusing on being someone I can be proud of even if I wasn't an artist. I'm not there yet, but I think I have the right idea.
How and when did you get involved with NFTs and the crypto art space?
In 2020, I worked for an advertising agency for about 5 years. When the pandemic started, half of my department got laid off, including me. At the time it seemed bleak, but it gave me something I'd been struggling to find for years: the time to elevate my personal art. Previously, I mainly worked with vector graphics, but I could finally study 3D modelling, and then I was producing art at a rate I'd never been able to before.
That summer, my best friend Totemical joined SuperRare, so he was explaining more about crypto art to me. I was already into cryptocurrency so I understood that facet of it, but the concept of NFTs was still difficult to wrap my head around at the time. He encouraged me to try minting some of my new art on Rarible, which I did, and it sold almost immediately. They weren't huge sales, but for a digital artist who was recently laid off and uncertain of their future, this was a revelation. I then made it my goal to be accepted to SuperRare, so I focused on producing my best work for my application. I got accepted in January 2021!
What is your favorite NFT of all time, and by which artist?
I think the NFT that wowed me the most is the piece "El-01" by Silvia Puff. The image is so serene and unique, it's always stuck with me. Some other crypto artists I look up to are Luna Ikuta, Daniel Isles, and Ivan Solyaev. There are hundreds more and I wish I could name everyone, but their art lives especially close to my heart. I don't know many artists in my city, so it's been great connecting with so many talented and supportive people through crypto art.
Do you have any advice for artists joining the digital art sphere or the NFT space?
Join the space with the intention of making friends! I think a lot of people will focus right away on trying to get the attention of collectors, but building connections with other artists is equally as important. If you support others, they'll support you.
Could you talk about the piece you've made for 0x Society?
The piece I created for 0x Society's "Côte 2 Coast'' exhibit was meant to reference different stages of my artistic upbringing. So it features type design, graphic design, manga art, and hard surface design. I designed the whole piece to look like a wheatpaste poster, in reference to my past in street art. It also combines several mediums, including 3D modelling, illustration, and vector art, which also point to different stages of my career.