I was introduced to Shelby through a thread she shared about a rug pull she narrowly avoided. The part of the story that grabbed me is that Shelby was already a professional artist (oil paintings valued over $40k). She was getting scammed by someone claiming to handle all the crypto aspects of a joint project. The plot was to use her community to buy into a large NFT collection with no real utility or roadmap and rug the profits. Sensing some red flags after working together for a number of months she put the art on hold. Shelby did her research on all things blockchain, NFTs and Web3. Before the narrative was able to play out in disaster she got out and decided to start her own project from the ground up.
The thread stuck out to me. The rug pull issue has become all too prevalent in the crypto NFT space. Some of the largest of all time have cost investors millions of dollars. This story however, has a much better ending. Shelby became empowered through blockchain technology to control ownership of her art and interact with her audience in brand new ways. She is releasing her first 1/1 collection on SuperRare in the coming weeks.
Titled Sunderlands, the 28 piece genesis collection of animated floating islands consists of unique 1/1 NFTs. The islands are accompanied by music, backstories, and signed 24" x 36" real world art pieces. This collection is a foundation of all of the art Shelby wishes to create moving forward. Everything she has made before and will make is to be minted onto the blockchain and into this fantasy world. This first collection makes up the virtual land within the universe.
The Sunderlands universe follows a science-fiction/fantasy story placed in the future, in the year 5000. The earth is no longer whole. Split into many pieces, they make up the 28 floating islands. All of the islands contain their own unique culture and environment. The post-apocalyptic universe has a very fun and psychedelic vibe. The preview piece's color scheme is very vibrant and the animation blends her oil painting background into a unique digital world.
I was able to catch up with Shelby to ask her about her upcoming project. This is what she had to say:
How would you describe your art and community?
My art is a colorful mix of fantasy and abstract realism. My inspiration comes from nature and the human form, with elements of science-fiction and a hint of psychedelics. My community is equally as vibrant; full of artists and NFT collectors from all backgrounds who are eager to grow, learn and make connections. One thing that many individuals in my community have in common is open-mindedness; an unusual propensity for creative thinking. Not to mention their intelligence, insight and ingenuity. I have also been amazed by the pure kindness and generosity they continuously exhibit. This kindness is what keeps me going through even the most difficult days.
What makes your NFT project different from other NFT projects?
The genesis collection of my project, Sunderlands, sets the stage for the entirety of my art career. My deep love of world building has led me to create a futuristic fantasy world that is wholly my own, where all art I have and ever will create exists, digital or otherwise. This world takes place in the year 5000, in a post apocalyptic universe where earth has been shattered by an as yet unexplained disaster. What remains are fragmented islands floating through space; you can probably infer some thematic allusions to environmental destruction by humankind.
The first collection comprises of 28 floating islands, the primary land masses in this universe. Each one has a unique environment, culture and history and exists in animated form with accompanying music. This is my lifelong passion project, and I can only hope that my community and collectors will be half as excited about it as I am.
How did you build your own community?
I built my community through consistent and relentless interaction, content creation, outreach and enthusiasm. Twitter spaces are a wonderful starting place, and where I’ve met some of my now closest friends and supporters. IRL events are also extremely helpful in making meaningful relationships.
What is your overall goal and what does success look like for you?
My overarching goal is to build a massive community and platform that I can use to uplift up-and-coming artists and to financially support environmental causes that are close to my heart. A more day-to-day goal is to be able to create without financial stresses and constraints.
Are there any other artists or projects that you would like to work with in the future?
So many! The main artist I would love to collaborate with is Molly McCutcheon (@mollymccutch). We first met at NFT NYC and now host spaces 3x weekly on Twitter. We have a lot of big dreams and plans and those definitely include an imminent collaboration!
How did you decide which blockchain to release your NFTs on?
This decision-making process wasn't easy. After months of research and learning, I decided to release my genesis piece on SuperRare on Ethereum because of the community and sheer amount of volume on the blockchain. I also plan to release NFTs on Solana at some point because I adore the Solana community.
Do you have any advice for the next artist getting into NFTs?
Community first, always. Never jump into a platform, an event, or a conversation with the surface goal of getting someone to buy your art. Show your genuine desire to make a connection, learn, and uplift those around you. Sales will follow.
To learn more about Shelby and her art, follow her socials and check out her project page: