The future of art is digital

The benefits of doing digital artwork today, as discussed at NSAC’s Virtual Art Interact

For over five decades, Shell National Student Art Competition (NSAC) has been an avenue that nurtures and celebrates young Filipino visual artists, allowing the creative youth to penetrate the art scene.

Organized by Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC), the art contest persists with the same mission to further local arts. Aptly titled “Sulong Sining,” the 55th NSAC calls for young talents to be part of nation-building by “showing who they are, what they value, and what they envision through art.”

Part of this year’s NSAC is the “Virtual Art Interact” sessions, an activity now in its third year. 

These forums are organized to inspire and encourage artists who are starting to explore their gifts. The first of the series of discussions was “How to Navigate through the Crypto Space from a Digital Artisan Perspective,” which took place on Oct. 15. The webinar, as its title suggests, tackles the power of art and emerging technology to hone creative talents and shape the future of the Philippines.

A JOURNEY TO CYBER SPACE No One Left Behind, NFT, original collaborative piece by the Alarcon brothers, oil on canvas, 121.92 cm x 243.84 cm, 2019

Led by visual artist Julian Peter Arias, otherwise recognized as Jopet, and renowned painter Aldrine Alarcon, the workshop also delved into combining the visual appeal of GIFs and other virtual art with the power of cryptocurrency.

Jopet is known in the art industry as a digital nomad. He has worked for over a decade as a visual artist specializing in commercial art. Aldrine, on the other hand, is an art master who dabbles in non-representational renditions and glimpses of figures.

“ shows that creativity and art are alive, well, and growing despite the limitations brought about by the pandemic,” says Serge Bernal, vice president for corporate relations at PSPC.

“Art in the Philippines is becoming more mature,” says Aldrine. “We are now in the digital era. We’re rapidly evolving and artists need to catch up with the times and the changes in art.”

 ‘With the power of Web 3, because it is decentralized, you don’t need to have an extensive portfolio or to be accepted by an existing art organization to penetrate the market.’

The topic is timely because of the recent talks on metaverse all over the globe, as well as the newly adopted Creative Industries Development Act in the Philippines, which, as Pangasinan representative Toff de Venecia mentioned in the Creative Futures 2022 digital conference in August, is a “big, essential, and existential leap… A watershed moment in creative history.”

ENCHANTED Diwata at Kanlungan, digital illustration by Jopet Arias, 2020

The lawmaker explains that among the objectives of the enactment is to forge a well-articulated education system that fosters creativity and innovation. This can be achieved by building closer links between the academe and the industry to avoid job-skills mismatch. “We are finally investing in Filipino talent that we have long taken for granted or left to its own devices,” the congressman explains.

“A lot of people are trying to grasp this technology. It is something that we need to understand as it impacts several layers of managing collections, and art forms presented. We have to adjust to many innovations, especially as the pandemic had us pivot to online,” says Aprille Tijam, senior manager of exhibitions and collections at Ayala Museum.

Jopet, who co-founded Crypto Art PH, recommends those who want to learn more about crypto and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to visit, saying, “All relevant information about the digital world is on . It is transparent and it sometimes translates to Filipino. The credible writers and frontrunners of crypto space are there.”

BROTHERS IN ARMS Utol, NFT, collaborative painting by the Alarcon brothers from the Genesis Collection

Aldrine, meanwhile, points out that digital art is a ticket for those who want to enter the international market faster. “With the power of Web 3, because it is decentralized, you don’t need to have an extensive portfolio or to be accepted by an existing art organization to penetrate the market,” explains the NFT creator. In other words, Web 3 is a way around gatekeepers.

“Digital art unites as well,” adds the Gyotaku artist. In the Philippines, artists are divided into groups depending on where these creatives live. “Those who reside in the north represent only the north. But Web 3 is powerful enough to remove this distinction. An artist represents the Philippines.”

SPIRITUAL GRIT At the feet of Christ, digital illustration by Jopet Arias, 2020

Lessons from artist Jopet on becoming an NFT artist at the first leg of Virtual Art Interact.

As society progresses, so do art distribution and ownership. NFT is a unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided. Recorded in a blockchain, it is used to certify authenticity and ownership. 

To start one’s journey to crypto space, one needs a digital wallet, crypto for minting, and art files.

There are many ways to experience art in the digital space such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

Another beauty of the metaverse is that it eliminates the need for a middleman. Royalties are usually split equally among the collaborators of an artwork.

Notable Filipino artists of Web 3 to follow are @helloluis, squirterer.eth, Sevi, @OoakosiM, @AswangNFT, Bjorn Calleja, and Skye Nicolas, among others.

The virtual awarding of NSAC will be on Nov. 8.