Black creatives push the culture forward, period.

Premium bottled water brand LIFEWTR has remained committed to serving as a source of inspiration and hydration through its latest initiative alongside actress and creative Marsai Martin. 

Martin will serve as the Creative Curator of Black Art Rising, where she will contribute, collaborate with, and spotlight some of the best in the game when it comes to Black content creators in the newly formed LIFEWTR TikTok medium.

Courtesy of Life Water

“Having grown up in the entertainment industry and being a creative myself, I’ve seen the lack of resources and representation within the Black content creator community,” said Martin in an official statement. “That’s why I’m excited to partner with LIFEWTR and their Black Art Rising campaign. Being able to create opportunities that spotlight and celebrate Black digital creators who are pushing the culture forward is something I will always support.”

Continuing the digital content leg of the program, LIFEWTR has also launched Black Art Rising NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, as a part of its ongoing journey to building a circular economy. 

AfroTech chatted with artists Julian “LOGIK” Gilliam and Shaylin Wallace who were both commissioned to create limited-edition NFTs as a part of the Black Art Rising Campaign. They walk us through the various ways that NFTs have enhanced their experience in their journey as both a multidisciplinary artist and surrealist.

Editorial Note: Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity and length.

AfroTech: How have NFTs changed the course of your journey as an artist?

Courtesy of Logik

LOGIK: NFTs have changed my course as an artist by introducing my art to collectors, who otherwise may never have had a chance to see my work. I have connected with my Web3/NFT creators and communities in Chicago, New York, Denver, Mexico City, Germany, London, Canada, Miami, and LA.

Despite the effects of the Covid pandemic, NFTs have brought us closer to the borderless world that was the initial promise of the world wide web. NFTs have made it easier for creatives to interact directly with those who value our work, and we can now receive fair compensation as determined by the market rather than relying on gatekeepers.

AT: Wow, I bet something that’s this great for you also comes with its challenges. Can you share any that you’ve experienced?

LOGIK: The biggest challenge has been collaborating with old-school organizations stuck in a Web2 mentality that still don’t fully understand the ethics, operations, and power of Web3.

AT: Has the NFT space made the landscape easier for you as an artist?

Courtesy of Life Water

Shaylin: NFTs gave me a chance to see my worth as an artist, specifically a digital artist.

As an artist who dreams of having her work exhibited at these popular institutions with NFTs, I believe it’s more possible now than ever. There are still many challenges I face in regards to being seen in this space and selling my work, but despite these challenges, I have no doubt that the right collector will notice and collect my artwork eventually.

AT: That is so good to hear! Tell us a little about the vision behind your work for this particular campaign.

Shaylin: For my piece, Duality of Growth, I was inspired by my floral portrait series, Floral Beings Series (2020). When I started this piece, I wanted to show how Black women are strong, yet delicate at the same time. I started this piece off with one portrait, but then decided to create a copy of it and flipped it on the other end of the canvas to show that we all have two sides (well many sides) to our personality. 

Some days, we may feel strong, fearless, and unstoppable, while other days we feel sad, vulnerable, delicate — in need of love. The flowers symbolize inner growth and beauty. The butterfly symbolizes change and that sense of liftoff or putting your best foot forward.