Interview with Raja Nandepu

6 July 2022

Raja Nandepu is a freelance concept artist and illustrator who works in the gaming and film industry. He has worked in projects like Horizon Zero Dawn and has worked for clients such as Netflix, Animschool, Wizards of the Coast and many others.

My name is Raja Nandepu and I'm a freelance concept artist and illustrator. For my studies, I’ve done bachelors in fine arts and, even though I’ve been into drawing and sketching since childhood, I've only started doing digital paintings in 2014. After my graduation, I’ve been working in the entertainment industry as a freelancer since 2016. I’ve had the opportunity to work on a few games like Horizon Dawn Zero, Hitman, etc. and create promotional posters for Netflix shows like Stranger things, Arcane, Shadow and Bone, etc. 

I grew up in a small village in India so I didn’t have access to the Internet and the world of cinema when I was younger. At that time, everyone at my school would talk about the "Avatar" film and it really intrigued me. So, a few of my friends and I went to town to watch it and it was the first Hollywood movie I've ever watched in a theater. The visuals blew my mind back then and that film influenced me heavily to step into the entertainment industry. It pushed me to pursue studying fine arts and animation as my career and I had to convince everyone around me in order to pursue it. It was the most challenging thing since they had no clue about such a career (even I barely had any clue about it either). It was a very uncertain path but they all ended up agreeing in the end due to my strong interest. I’m very glad I made that decision back then!

I've been hearing about NFTs since late 2019 and some of my online friends started doing NFTs as well. Then I saw that one of my favourite concept artists sold his first NFT on SuperRare. It really intrigued me so I looked into that platform and applied to it myself. I also reached out to a few collectors to introduce my work because I had no clue how all of this worked. Then one of the collectors liked my work and bought a piece from me on Rarible. That's how my journey started in the NFT space.

One of my favourite NFTs is from the Maciej Kuciara X Steve Aoki drop on Nifty Gateway. I love their style so much and I hold one of their open edition NFTs. There are many crypto artists that I also admire like John Park, Ryan Talbot, Clement Morin, Ronald, Zhuk, Mari, etc.

One advice I can give is to not bother collectors by tagging them or by DMs. Most beginners probably do that and this is something which I wish someone had told me to avoid in the beginning. I didn't bother any of them but I had sent DMs to collectors to introduce my work because I had no clue about how things worked and thought it was the only way to get my work noticed. But eventually, I did it and it takes time to grow. 

You need to engage with the community, share your fellow artists' work, spread positivity and follow your favourite artists and collectors on social media. If they notice your work, they will follow you back. Say hi, introduce yourself and connect with them! Don't worry about the sales at the beginning, keep it natural and organic (avoid fake positivity). Bear market or bull market, if you are here for the long run, keep creating until you make it! Enjoy your work!

The painting I've made for 0x Society’s exhibition is part of my series called "Canvas of Life". It’s a collection of 7 pieces representing 7 different colours. This one is titled “GREEN” and it represents the colour that the title suggests. We all love green whether it’s in nature or in crypto! The façade of the mega structure here represents 3 large green candles lifted by the crypto angels and the roof represents how bullish the future is. Green is the spiritual symbol of harmony and growth. Here, it shows how we can build futuristic spaces while preserving nature in a digital age.