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NFT artist pplpleasr: How crypto changed my life

August 6, 2021, 4:01 PM UTC

Last summer I distinctly remember creating a digital art piece and titling it Blessed but Depressed. I created the piece during one of the lowest points in my life. Just a few months before this, I had accepted a job offer to be a digital artist at Apple, only to have it rescinded weeks later due to the pandemic. After several years working in 3D animation and visual effects, it was the first time since college that I had been unemployed and without a plan. 

Worried about my future, I continued to apply for every job that came to sight (even ones irrelevant to my skill set) and was rejected for every single one. I also started creating my own art during this period, for the first time outside of school projects, solely to pass time while applying for jobs.

This was when I discovered decentralized finance, or DeFi, and NFTs (short for “non-fungible tokens”) through a friend. I was initially attracted to them as a means to make money. But while stumbling around crypto Twitter I couldn’t help but notice two things. First: The community, culture around memes, and sense of humor highly resonated with my own. Second: There was a shortage of creative talent in promotional efforts in the space. 

One of my close friends, knowing I was desperate for any job or income, saw an opportunity for a promotional gig and referred me. Through this, I made my first ever DeFi video—a short animation that captures the spirit of a given DeFi project and its brand. Community members took notice. I was just excited that I was able to make a bit of money while also learning about DeFi, but through word of mouth my reputation for making cool animations quickly spread. 

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A “manga” version of a commemorative NFT created by pplpleasr for the NFT Virtual Summit, hosted by Andreessen Horowitz and the Stanford Center for Blockchain Research.
Courtesy of pplpleasr

Some 20 videos later, I was approached by Uniswap this January to create a video for their v3 launch. I saw this as an opportunity to also make an impactful NFT sale, at a time when the NFT market was beginning to hit new peaks. I was thinking that if my reputation permeated the NFT space I could just sell art for a living. What I never saw coming was my Internet friends forming a DAO—a decentralized autonomous organization—through which they and other fans could support my work. And then my life blew up (in a good way). 

Crypto changed my life not only because of the money and investing opportunities it exposed me to, but also because of a welcoming community of passionate people who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. I find myself in a unique position, standing at the intersection of DAOs, NFTs, and DeFi, and I definitely don’t want to take this attention for granted. I feel a degree of responsibility to spread crypto awareness in a positive and eloquent way. My goal of selling NFTs for a living has shifted to seeing how I can use NFTs to innovate and pave new paths. From participating in PleasrDAO to helping crowdfund a documentary about Ethereum to creating the cover of Fortune (!!!), I hope to inspire more creatives to participate in crypto/Web 3.0 with each new collaboration. This is only just the beginning, and there is room for everyone. :)

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Fortune’s August/September cover image, which intersperses icons of various DeFi projects with symbols of traditional “OldFi” finance.
Cover by pplpleasr

pplpleasr (a.k.a. Emily Yang) is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. Her influences include animated films, the underground music scene, video games, and traditional Chinese and Japanese art. She is a member of Fortune‘s inaugural NFTy 50 list.

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