Digital Wavemakers: Interview with Anocam
Originally from London, Shahriyar Ahmed, popularly known as Anocam, is a Tokyo-based visual artist using photography and image making to document unique realities through sound, film and travel. His work explores the human experience against the backdrop of their environments and cultures as a cinematic approach in showing his expat experience in Japan. In some shots, he highlights themes like new beginnings, while in others he shows the futuristic and trippy components of life in Tokyo. He also captures traditional sights like Meiji Jingu Shrine during the Light Festival, which is one of Japan’s oldest landmarks.
For our latest edition of our Digital Wavemakers series, we spoke with the artist to explore his emergence in the growing NFT space, how he has used technology to create space for himself and the importance of community in the evolution of his artistry, and more.
How would you describe your creative style?
It’s a desperate attempt at expressing how I feel inside and it’s presented through this movie that is constantly playing in my head. Sometimes it’s chaotic, sometimes it’s idyllic. Everyone is a character in this story.
Would you say your style has evolved over the years? If so, what inspired that evolution
I think so. In the beginning, I would shoot and make stuff because I was still practicing and working things out. Then I got into commercial work and creating according to other people’s briefs. It’s only since NFTs that I truly started curating for my own story. One piece is connected to another and the grander story. Since this change in my thinking, I’ve focused more on how I wanted to express myself.
What Inspired you to create NFTs and when did that journey begin?
I first heard about NFTs back in November 2020 and I immediately became curious about the concept of technology and art being combined in this way. Me being myself, I went down the rabbit hole and researched for the next few months to understand the space, the concepts, and the ideas on value. There was a lot of unlearning to do. It wasn’t until the end of February 2021 that something clicked in my thinking and I minted my first piece on Foundation in March 2021.
How did you build visibility around your NFT in the beginning?
I was fortunate that I had already been grinding away on socials years prior to my NFT journey, but especially on Twitter.
Twitter is the main platform for all things NFTs, so by the time I joined the (NFT) space, I had a following of around 12,000 there already – a little Anocam community. This helped me share and circulate my work a bit for sure, but what you have to understand when coming into the NFT space is that you’re starting all over again with regards to your audience. I had to poke around in the web3 space and started talking to people there, engaging with them on the timeline, as well as DMing them just to get a better understanding of the mechanics. Sometimes the people I spoke to were collectors who eventually got interested in my artwork. This led to us slowly building relationships. Sometimes they would go on to bid on my work or just share it further because they liked my work. Just over a year later here I feel like I have a tight-knit family of people I can rely on for help when I need it, both collectors and artists.
How do you find community in the NFT space?
Just talk to people on Twitter. Honestly, that’s where everyone is and you’ll come across people you like and people you don’t like. I naturally end up talking more to the people I do like and have made some great friendships over this journey. Another place is discord. Many projects, artists, groups, and platforms run discord servers and they’re active all day and all night. The other way is to get into different NFT projects where the values, the community, and just the vibe agree with you and you can make friends there.
How do you determine the value of your drops?
This was incredibly difficult in the beginning. I was still in the process of understanding value and unlearning old concepts. Coming from a freelance and commission based way of thinking, NFTs are a completely different world. I started off low and gradually raised my floor price over time. With my first sale on Foundation at 0.4eth, I kept a price of 0.5 for pieces and after they regularly sold for higher, I raised my floor price to 0.75 and so on and so forth. Now my floor price on SuperRare is around 4eth. During this whole process, I’ve created different product lines to help tell my story further and drop them at different price points so more people can join the family.
Who are some of your favorite creators?
What advice would you give aspiring NFT creators?
Be ready to put yourself out there in a way you haven’t done before. There will be a lot of unlearning and learning new concepts around value and the value in being an artist. A lot of people will also pretend to know what they’re talking about and you have to take it with a pinch of salt. You have to do what’s best for you, your story, and journey. It’s difficult to work that out in the beginning, but with time it will all click. The NFT space moves at the speed of light and that makes emotions run high and strong, both the good and the bad. The imposter syndrome will come hard and fast. It’s something you have to train yourself to get used to and focus on the bigger picture. The artist is 100% in control of everything that will lead to their success or failure. That’s overwhelming for many, but I think it’s an amazing position to be in. Isn’t that what most artists want? To be able to create for themselves?
In the long run, what do you think the future holds for artists in the NFT space?
Creative freedom and financial freedom as well as more access. Within this last year, I’ve been able to talk to some of my artistic heroes on an equal level and have my work exhibited in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Tokyo, Toronto and New York. This is because his space has closed that gap between everyone a little bit. The gap between artists is smaller, as well as the gap between artists and curators.
Do you have any upcoming or current drops you’d like to share?
I’m currently working on new pieces for SuperRare (with link to page), as well as some surprises for the AnoFam. I’m also working on a few things for Nifty Gateway for early 202