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Marc Simonetti is a digital artist who reckoned early-on the opportunities brought by NFTs to his medium. Starting as a commercial artist, his practice has evolved into fine art.
What really strikes you about Marc when you speak to him is his passion for art, his enthusiasm for the opportunities that the digital world and NFTs afford. Marc has been working as a commercial digital artist since 2004, after he left his previous job as an engineer. He worked as a concept artist for the film Valerian and is currently working on Aquaman 2. Marc has also collaborated with George R.R. Martin - writer of the popular book series Game of Thrones - to design a Game of Thrones inspired calendar. But until recently, Marc never had the opportunity to promote himself as an artist who makes fine art. As Marc says, “when you are a commercial artist, you’re more of a craftsman than a fine artist because basically you don't have the choice to do whatever you want.” But with the rise in popularity of NFTs, Marc, like many other digital artists, have finally been given this freedom to produce and sell the fine art they create.
Marc’s long-term goal is to have his work exhibited in a gallery, which would mean that he has made it as a fine artist. Marc is not concerned about the commercial aspect of his work being widely recognised, but he is really keen to share his creations with as many people as possible, through the traditional avenue of a gallery. He imagines his artworks being presented on screens and his ultimate dream is for his pieces to be exhibited in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence - the place where he fell in love with art, staring at Caravaggio’s Head of Medusa.
Marc discovered NFTs in 2020, when he was contacted by foundation.io, an online marketplace for digital artists to list their digital art for sale as NFTs, asking him to join their site. At first, he was cautious - weary of “shady operations”, as he puts it, trying to get the rights to his art - and ignored the request. But when he saw that a fellow artist had begun to list some of his work on the site, Marc realised that this could be a real opportunity. Having tried out foundation.io and a few other similar websites, Marc finally landed on superrare.com and has been listing his work there for about 9 months - https://superrare.com/marcsimonetti/creations.
Marc speaks passionately about NFTs and digital art: “you can create whatever you want, there are no limits”. He speaks about his desire to create artworks with an animated element to them, and notes how in this new type of art, new possibilities exist to do something that could not have been done before. Although digital art has been around since the 1980’s, it is only now that it is emerging as a serious form of fine art, sought out by collectors. With talented digital artists such as Marc and the rise of new platforms selling their art, the market for NFTs will continue to grow. Marc’s approach to art is convincing and for him digital art is the latest movement in fine art: “I am trying to express myself in NFTs. If it doesn't sell… I’m not really concerned about that really, because I want to share my art… that’s my main thing. But I won’t lie, if it sells then I’m happier than if it doesn’t”.
Marc has many sources of inspiration ranging from Caravaggio to contemporary digital artists such as Alberto Mieglo, who was nominated for an Oscar for his animated short film, The Windshield Wiper. Marc discussed visiting Florence as a child and being struck emotionally by the head of Medusa painted on a shield in the Uffizi Gallery, its beauty and terribleness equally fearsome yet awe inspiring. Marc's art draws on themes from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, but the techniques he uses to create his art stem from his work as a commercial artist and draws inspiration from his contemporaries such as Alberto.
As one of his future goals, Marc has set his sights on creating his own version of a metaverse. While “metaverse” is a buzzword recently, since Facebook - now Meta - announced its plans to create a virtual world called the metaverse, Marc has a vision for creating a kind of immersive virtual experience in which to showcase his own art. So far, he is not impressed by the progress Meta has made, refusing to ever develop something that looks “amateurish”. Instead, Marc would prefer to take his time to produce something of high quality and not look like “a 20-year-old video game”.
If all this talk of NFTs has left you wanting to know more, check out our blog post, NFTs: Behind the Hype.
Red Riding Hood
Marc Simonetti was featured in a special exhibition at the Opéra Comique in Paris in December 2022, a consecration of his work as a fine artist. Watch the reel here.
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