Grant Yun is a person of many hats.
Regardless of being a medical pupil by day and a break dancer by night time, the Milwaukee resident has managed to make his mark on the digital artwork market with six-figure gross sales and auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. His Neo-Precisionist art work steadily explores landscapes and surroundings native to the Midwest and has develop into immediately recognizable within the NFT house.
In a considerate interview, Yun explains how he manages time between his artwork profession and research, shares ideas for constructing a robust collector base, and opens up on staying grounded regardless of the challenges of the bear market.
Matt Medved: You’ve got a very attention-grabbing backstory. Inform us a bit about juggling medical faculty, break dancing, and all of the totally different pursuits you do whereas nonetheless additionally making your approach into NFTs and having an actual breakthrough in crypto artwork.
Grant Yun: I’ve been an artist my entire life, and once I went to school, I wished to begin doing digital illustrations. I picked that up, sort of self-taught from the bottom up. I began illustrating on PowerPoint, mainly as a result of I had no different instruments; I didn’t know of another instruments. However I taught myself lots about artists and knew the kind of artwork I wished to convey. On the time, I simply didn’t have the abilities or the instruments to create the issues I wished to, however the imaginative and prescient has all the time been there.
Then over time, I’ve simply been slowly grinding away at enhancing my fashion and discovering a singular voice for myself as an artist. Once we start as artists, it’s typically tough to create a method of your personal that’s distinctive. It took me a variety of trial and error to get there. However finally, I obtained to some extent the place I used to be very blissful and assured with the fashion that I create.
In direction of the top of 2020, I began listening to about Beeple, about issues known as metaverse lands, like on Decentraland. I’ve all the time been a reasonably large proponent of crypto. I all the time believed in Bitcoin and decentralized currencies. So, I seemed into it, and there was this software to SuperRare. I didn’t know what a Metamask was. I didn’t actually know that aspect of Twitter. I didn’t know any of that. However I assumed I’d put myself on the market.
I utilized for SuperRare after which fully forgot about it. In February of 2021, I obtained onboarded and accepted. That’s once I minted my first NFT. The journey of getting from there to the place I’m as we speak, and even once I began digital illustrations, has all the time been about pushing the boundaries of what I believe I can probably do with my life.
The Story Behind My Artwork
-Grant Riven Yun (November, 2022)
Hyperlink beneath and full textual content in thread 👇
— Grant Riven Yun (@GrantYun2) November 5, 2022
You’re additionally recognized for having fairly a particular inventive fashion. You’ve cited some influences like Grant Wooden and Ed Ruscha as influences up to now. How would you describe your fashion, and the place do you draw that inspiration from?
I’ve talked fairly extensively in regards to the artists that encourage me, and also you’ve talked about a pair. In fact, I even have another artists, like a variety of 1900s painters, and extra just lately, the Impressionists have been inspiring me as effectively. However one thing I don’t speak about too usually is simply following my imaginative and prescient. That appears so cliche and ambiguous, however what I imply is that once I begin an illustration, except it’s a fee, I simply begin with a really ambiguous idea and simply go at it.
It has no finish aim to it. There’s nothing I need to put in it. The one factor I need to ensure that of is that it’s adequately subtle that folks can relate to it from their very own private lives. And once I illustrate, the priority is, are the vibes proper? If the vibes will not be proper, then I want to return at it or cease it.
I discovered this candy spot at this level the place I’m in a position to create illustrations that I need to showcase, however on the identical time are ambiguous sufficient, like I discussed, the place different folks can take a look at [them] and assume, ‘oh, that is one thing from my life or one thing from my previous or the place I dwell or a selected reminiscence that I’ve had that I can relate to.’ And that’s actually what my artwork is about. It’s actually about connecting emotionally with different folks.
“Lots of my collectors truly take pleasure in trying on the items they personal from me… there’s a really deep emotional connection.”
The collector base you’ve constructed up over time is spectacular. What recommendation do you might have for artists seeking to do the identical?
Constructing a robust collector base is a tough job, and I believe some artists have it simpler than others; for instance, Tyler Hobbs and Dimitri Cherniak. Their artwork is phenomenal to the purpose the place there is no such thing as a doubt that it’s going to be one thing helpful sooner or later. It’s less than me to resolve who has good artwork and who doesn’t. The market dictates that.
I believe a part of the explanation I’ve a robust collector base is that a lot of my collectors truly take pleasure in trying on the items they personal from me. Collectors usually attain out to me about how this explicit illustration reminds them of the place they grew up, the place they had been born, the place they met their companion, the place that they had their first child, the place they went to high school, or the place they work now. There’s a really deep emotional connection.
One other factor is being lively on Twitter. I’ve discovered it’s vital to chunk your tongue typically when you’re closely opinionated on one thing. Sometimes, these issues that you simply’re extremely opinionated on sort of work themselves out anyhow, and also you don’t should be caught up within the fireplace whereas it’s happening.
It’s being self-aware of your personal artwork fashion and your web presence on Twitter. For instance, I keep in mind once I first met Vincent Van Dough (VVD) on Twitter. It was as a result of I created this random Pepe in 2021. This was earlier than I knew what Faux Rares had been. I knew of the Nakamoto card however didn’t know the Pepe group was so sturdy. VVD commented on it and adopted me that day after he noticed that. Then one other collector reached out to me and mentioned, ‘Hey, I can onboard you to those issues known as Faux Rares.’
I met a variety of collectors and artists by Faux Rares, and I’ve helped onboard a variety of artists as effectively onto that platform. So, one door opens one other, so long as you’re receptive and also you’re prepared to listen to folks out and be self-aware and in addition conscious of the established order and the memes which might be happening on Twitter and the macro and micro issues which might be occurring on this planet.
How do you handle your time to present your artist profession the eye it deserves whereas seeing by the dedication you’ve made to medical faculty?
There are issues that you may sacrifice and issues you possibly can’t. For instance, I can provide up video gaming. I take pleasure in taking part in video video games, however that’s extra so a interest than being an artist, proper? It’s very tough for me to surrender being an artist. I believe setting a really clear set of absolute musts and issues I can’t quit irrespective of how busy I’m is vital. Even going for a run, these are issues that I don’t assume I might quit as a result of a run takes wherever from half-hour to an hour, two hours for me. And I can take heed to podcasts. I can take heed to on-line lectures.
That’s truly what I did for mainly the primary three years of medical faculty. I might simply go to the fitness center. I might take heed to my lectures for 2 hours on the fitness center. It virtually felt like I didn’t waste a single minute. I’m truly in direction of the top of medical faculty now, so I’ve been by actually the toughest components of medical faculty whereas I used to be doing all this NFT stuff. So, I do know the rigorous calls for that medical faculty has and the way to juggle all of that. I might say the very first thing is being good at multitasking.
“There are issues that you may sacrifice and issues you possibly can’t.”
It’s about understanding your priorities. For instance, the timeline for being an artist is considerably stretched out in comparison with being a health care provider. Being a health care provider means going from room to room, seeing a affected person for quarter-hour, and you then go right into a surgical procedure. Whereas there’s not this sense of immediacy as an artist. After I’m engaged on initiatives, I can plan for a yr upfront. A number of the issues I’m dropping this yr have been within the works for a yr. So, I enable myself that point, and I’m given that point, and it’s virtually crucial that I do have that point to work on my artwork, work on the advertising and marketing, work on the drops with the corporate.
I developed my fashion of artwork lengthy earlier than medical faculty. So, I sort of knew what I used to be doing. On the identical time, whereas I wasn’t on Twitter essentially, I had a variety of expertise on Instagram selling issues. I had that basis of figuring out the way to work together, what memes are, and all of that. Coming into NFT Twitter, I didn’t essentially should study all that from the bottom up, so once I began medical faculty, there was no time battle the place I wanted to spend all this time creating my artwork fashion. Take that point to essentially develop the stuff you need to work on when issues are sluggish. When the time comes, and issues choose up, and you’ve got 10,000 issues in your to-do listing, at the least you accomplished the stuff you wished to, so you might have extra time to do different issues.
Let’s dive extra instantly into the topic of psychological well being. Clearly, there are a variety of stresses and pressures of being an artist in an area as unstable and fast-moving as NFTs and Web3. After which there are the stresses and pressures of being at medical faculty. How do you keep grounded?
The extra I give it some thought, the one factor that grounds me greater than something, moreover my household and the crucial folks in my life, is listening to music. I’m a really massive music particular person. I do my greatest to discover as many genres as doable. I used to be enthusiastic about this yesterday truly, funnily sufficient. I used to be so unhappy that I won’t have sufficient years in my life to discover all of the music that I wish to.
If I’m creating a selected illustration, then I’ll have some songs that I take heed to. Generally once I’m illustrating one thing that jogs my memory of, for instance, my drive residence from work, then I’ll be listening to only the stuff that I take heed to once I’m driving residence from work. That places me within the temper to convey precisely what it’s I need to present. I’d wish to play that whereas I’m illustrating to essentially totally immerse myself into no matter it’s.
One of many issues that’s attribute of the NFT and crypto house is the volatility. There are the bulls and the bears, and the entire market cycles. For a lot of artists within the NFT house, this type of bear market is a brand new expertise. From your personal expertise, having been within the NFT house for a very long time, what has it been wish to navigate as an artist, and what have been the challenges and alternatives you’ve discovered inside that dynamic?
I’ve been lucky. I’m conscious of the state of affairs that we’re in as an area, however there’s additionally luck blended in for positive. I haven’t been hit as onerous. I believe I’m doing pretty effectively within the house, all issues thought-about. However the house is tough proper now. I believe a variety of artists can construct. I do know speaking about constructing is nearly a meme at this level as a result of everybody’s constructing.
However I believe any artist who’s genuinely constructing and creating and enhancing upon themselves, so long as they’re critically trying into constructive suggestions and enhancing upon no matter it’s they need to, when issues flip round for the higher, it’ll develop into very clear who truly was doing the constructing and who was simply saying they had been and weren’t doing something.
I additionally assume that those that are right here now and haven’t left, regardless of possibly not having a sale [in a long time], will most likely be extra rewarded, not solely due to the baggage that they’re holding or the artwork they’re placing out. There are issues that different persons are going to overlook out on which might be happening proper now. There are some distinctive and thrilling issues occurring in 2023 regardless of the situation of the market. Individuals who aren’t listed here are simply going to overlook out.
Thrilled to announce “Midwest” shall be included in Christie’s Publish-Struggle & Up to date Artwork Day Sale occurring dwell in NYC on Could twelfth!
Bodily you say? included alongside the NFT 💯
Hyperlink beneath to the public sale.
— Grant Riven Yun (@GrantYun2) April 21, 2023
Once we speak about your inventive profession, you might have achieved some main milestones; the most important public sale gross sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s come to thoughts. What do you contemplate to be in your bucket listing? What are some stuff you need to obtain sooner or later?
That’s a fantastic query. The subsequent factor that I’m trying towards might be a present. Both a solo or a bunch exhibition could be one thing that I’m trying ahead to. I’m engaged on a physique of labor proper now that I wish to showcase in some unspecified time in the future, hopefully throughout the subsequent yr. I assume we’ll simply should see the way it pans out.
It’s been actually tough to wrap my head round what it means to be an artist within the NFT house and the overarching artwork house as a result of we’re like a self-sufficient, sustainable group right here, proper? I imply, no Christie’s, no Sotheby’s, no galleries. We will, and now we have been, sort of self-sufficient. The NFTs which might be being bought, for essentially the most half, are from crypto-native sources.
We’re slowly branching out to totally different sectors and totally different areas of the world and attempting to onboard as many individuals as doable whereas we’re doing that. However discovering an id as an artist has been more difficult than I assumed it will be. I say that as a result of it’s simpler to seek out an id on the web as an web persona creating NFTs. However now that I’m doing my greatest to attempt to escape into a distinct house, it’s basically ranging from the bottom up.
Positive, my artwork may need a better price ticket, however that doesn’t actually imply very a lot, personally talking, in comparison with gaining these experiences working with galleries or museums and dealing with a distinct aspect of artwork that a variety of us simply haven’t seen and haven’t gone by. I believe it’s going to be difficult but in addition actually thrilling. My subsequent massive aim actually is simply to attempt to develop a profession in artwork from the bottom up.
This interview transcript has been edited for concision and readability.
For the complete and uncut interview, take heed to our podcast episode with Grant Yun.