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Artist Spotlight: Vabyvel
Weekly spotlight on a new artist in the NFT ecosystem
This is the sixth instalment of a new weekly series in which I will spotlight a brand new artist along with their works while getting to know them better and understanding their creative processes behind the pieces in more detail.
My name is Boffin and alongside flipping JPEGs for profit with the members of “The One” since day 1, I’ve also been collecting and connecting with these artists. The passion for their craft and the stories they have to share have been nothing but a treat to experience, and it’s with that intention, that this series is being started to share those stories with the wider NFT audience.
This week the spotlight is on the American/Indian Artist; Vidya, also known as “Vabyvel”. She is primarily a 3D animator and I had the pleasure of chatting with her about the topic of diversity in Web 3, being featured in a physical NFT gallery and inspirations from her heritage, while also showcasing a small preview into her creative process. You can (and really should) browse her entire portfolio here
Boffin (B): Can you please introduce yourself and what style of art you like to produce/specialise in?
Vabyvel (V): Hello, I am Vidya ( a.k.a @vabyvel). I am an artist living in San Francisco. I primarily create 3D animations and sometimes dabble in other art forms. As a digital artist, I spent years refining my style while representing my culture with a modern lens attributing to the highly popular ”Crypto Ranis” Series on Super Rare. This is an ongoing collection of fearless, incredible queens living on the blockchain.
Rani = "Queen": The collection plays on sensual, feminist imagery and the goal to create more representation for women in this space and see the beautiful, sexy side of them we can sometimes be afraid to show. This collection aims to empower women and bring up more uncomfortable topics. I want more women to feel freer and talk about their sexuality, their desires, identities, menstruation, and normalize those things.
B: When was the first time you heard of NFTs and why did you decide to take a leap into this world?
V: I first heard of NFTs from a close friend. He had been following crypto markets for a while and heard of NFTs in January of 2021 and thought I could put some of my art on the blockchain. I loved how there was a recognition for individual artists in the space. That’s something that wasn’t really as common before with digital art. I definitely was intrigued by the money I saw people making as well, mainly because it has always been a dream of mine to support myself with my own art. The idea of the ability to create something meaningful to me and make a living off of it is so fulfilling to me. I also realized that I could create more work that represents my culture. I really feel like south Asians are some of the least represented in western entertainment and I think it’s important to change that so people growing up can feel more comfortable in their own skin.
B: Let’s delve into the culture a bit more. While you have already explored a lot of different themes and topics in your pieces, are there any themes that you have tried to explore earlier but couldn’t do “bring it justice” so you didn’t pursue them further? and if so, what do you think you need to do to finish the creation this time around? (You already could have had this done with an existing piece now, so that could be that)
V: I am continuing to explore more difficult themes as I go further along with my Crypto Rani series. I have quite some ideas lined up including, portraying more inclusive body shapes and imperfections and hoping to bring some more stigmatized topics into this space. I am also hoping to expand the world of Crypto Ranis also known as “Raniverse” and create collections of worlds inspired by the future and the architecture of ancient Indian temples, & palaces and dig deeper into the beauty of our culture.
B: On the topic of Ranis specifically, all the Ranis don not only Indian clothing but are also accessorised with intricate jewellery. As much as the clothing is important, I’d argue that the jewellery on each rani is what gives them their personality. There is a lot of importance given to Gold by South Indians and traditional south Indian jewellery shows this by being very gold-heavy and intricate. As such, when designing these Ranis, what is the rationale/methodology/philosophy while you accessorize them? and how do you feel your heritage/culture plays a role in this?
V: When I think of the word “Rani”, I immediately imagine a female figure adorned in gold. I think gold is such an essential part of our south Indian culture and I grew up wearing gold jewellery to temples and ceremonies, which were inspired by India’s classical dance form also known as “Bharatnatyam”. The gold signifies the beauty and confidence of these powerful Rani figures. For Instance. The Jhumka (“The Bell Shaped Earrings”) are quite prevalent across all the Crypto Ranis, this is an iconic piece of jewellery originating from Southern India and I grew up wearing my own set of gold Jhumkas as a kid. They come in many different styles, but I kept to a more traditional representation of “Juhmkas” with an all-gold regal look for these Ranis. Crypto Ranis embrace both the modern and traditional so it is important for me to include elements like these that are important to me and my culture.
B: Taking a step back from culture, There is a general consensus that there arent enough female creators in NFTs and Web3.0 in general. Apart from being a female creator in the space, you also have a South Asian heritage. As such, what has the experience around the creation of "Crypto Ranis" been for you? The things that surprised you, some things that you didn't expect, etc?
V: When I got accepted to SuperRare I knew I wanted to create something original just for that. My main goal for the series is to uplift women of colour in the NFT space and spread the representation we don't see enough of. I am really proud of my Crypto Ranis series. Honestly, I am still in awe of all the support and people that connect with my work.
I can’t believe how much it’s grown since I started it and I am so grateful that I have had the chance to work with so many great projects and artists. I just can’t believe how many great people I have met and I am really looking forward to collaborating with even more artists. I know that there are statistics that there are fewer women than men on Web3 but there are still so so many amazing women creating to support in the space. I knew that was the case but I was almost a little surprised to hear how big the gap is because my Twitter timeline is filled with so many inspiring female artists from all different backgrounds. The positivity and support in the space is just always refreshing. I have met so many awesome people and was able to collaborate with World of Woman and had my art airdropped to their holders. Recently, Steve Aoki bought my "Kinky Ranis" piece and that has been quite eye-opening and still is quite a shock. An achievement that really takes it home is being able to donate a portion of my sales to "The Pad Project" which is such an important cause for me. My incredible collector @NinjaBoffin also matched my donation and I was in awe of how powerful this space can be. I am so excited to contribute to more causes and bring exposure to women in the NFT space.
B: You recently got invited by SuperRare to their first physical gallery in which you had your work featured there as well. You’ve gone from applying to SuperRare in 2021 to now being one of the first-ever physical featured artists by the same platform in such a short period of time. Firstly, the heartiest of congratulations! Is there something that you wished you did sooner knowing what you know now?
V: Thank you so much! It has been an overwhelming amount of support and work in the past couple of months since everything in the space is evolving so fast. I honestly wouldn't have it any other way, It has been an incredible ride so far with the opportunities I have been given by such an amazing platform such as “SuperRare”. I appreciate how much they are doing to feature and uplift women in the space. If anything, I wish I had engaged sooner with my audience and the women in the NFT space. At first, I did feel a bit intimidated to reach out and talk to other artists, because of how well known they were, but everyone is just as kind and always looking to help out.
Thank you to everyone for tuning in to read this. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have to craft this. Tune in next week when there will be a new artist spotlighted and new conversations to be shared.