Humbled by the pioneering community of artists and collectors in web3, Brandon Mighty has been inspired to pursue unadulterated creativity in NFTs, even story ideas that might be “too strange”. Georgie Miller sits down with the animator and illustrator to discuss what it means to further his professional art career from a new, experimental perspective.
For Brandon Scott, paramount to his digital art is the element of storytelling. As a career animator for the likes of Netflix, Nickelodeon, and Warner Bros, he layers a broad sense of emotion and deliberate meaning within his work.
“Story is above everything, really. I want every piece I make to feel like a moment in a much larger narrative. Like a small window into an alternate universe,” says Brandon, who illustrates picture books “by night” for the likes of HarperCollins and Scholastic.
A graduate of art school specialising in animation, Brandon has been a digital creator his entire life, creating soulful worlds of wonder. After honing his expertise and wielding his toolbox of digital techniques across a range of tier-one studios, including working on the animation for Charlotte’s Web and creating his own Emmy-nominated series, Justin Time, Brandon chose to write the next chapter of his own story in NFTs.
After discovering web3 from one of the many Twitter thread frenzies bashing the nascent space, Brandon embarked upon a rabbit hole of research, only to discover a plethora of incredible work and a vibrant collector market. He describes being humbled by the trailblazing nature of the space and was encouraged to venture beyond his traditional professional credentials.
“I can try new things with digital art in a fearless way because there are no real consequences to mistakes, and I find those mistakes sometimes lead to new ideas and breakthroughs in your work,” says Brandon of his affinity with the digital ecosystem. And with this same fearlessness, Brandon has entered the world of NFTs, buoyed by the spirit of exploration and experimentation to sate even his wildest creative impulses.
"I've gained a bit of confidence that some of my weirder ideas might have a home, given the wide diversity in digital art I see being made in web3,” he says. “I've taken small, bite-sized things I might have thought too strange to pursue in animation or books, and been able to put it out there as its own small thing or collection. I look at web3 as an artist as a new frontier to try out new things, not repeat work I've already done in other fields. I want to put out some of the really weird ideas I have and invite others to join me and collect if they enjoy them.”
“I had an idea to do a traditional gallery, with large canvas paintings of balls of different things, but it never went anywhere.”
— Brandon Mighty
Brandon's pioneering experiment in web3 began with Balls, his first full collection. Built on his genesis, Baby Ball, Balls are a series of various objects brought to life and other creatures like babies, lightbulbs, and breakfast foods squished together in a round collective. While outlandish, the Balls of these precious characters exude a lovable charm.
“I just wanted to make something silly and true to my own work. The original idea for Balls started years before I minted them as NFTs. I had an idea to do a traditional gallery art show, with large canvas paintings of balls of different things, but it never went anywhere. Once NFTs came into the picture, it seemed like a great way to start my journey by opening up that idea from the vault,” says Brandon.
This kind of experimentation outside the traditional art space has given artists a fresh breath of motivation to explore their creativity within web3. Brandon speaks of how he found confidence in his own unique style to set him apart from others already in the space. His lively and light cartoons all have a fun volume of quirkiness and sentiment in every frame.
Beyond his professional training in animation, Brandon draws from the grandiosity of Baroque artists, the expressive brushstrokes of impressionists, and the ethereal nature of surrealist works. Along with all this merge of styles, Brandon's work has an all-encompassing newness that underlies a great sense of openness and excitement. Brandon explains, “I try to bring texture into my work because I like how human it feels. Digital art can look cold very easily, and I always want warmth in my work.”
A powerful emotion that peers through all of his work is humour. “Humour is another large part of my work. I don't make serious art very well… I've tried, and it just doesn't work! There's often some playfulness, and sometimes I try to make things outright funny because I think there isn't enough of that in art.”
That said, the collection of which he is most proud is Dark Places. Brandon explains that the main idea was to tie the work together based on a feeling rather than a subject, with that feeling being a gentle dose of unease.
“I wanted this project to be a celebration of the spooky feelings one felt when reading a truly spooky book as a child. They're whimsical and funny and innocent, but also slightly unnerving and, hopefully, they stay with you.” Brandon credits Dark Places for bringing him a wave of attention in the space; some of the pieces have been picked up by the Tezos Permanent Art Collection.
A common element for the subjects in Dark Places, and many of Brandon's other works, are blinking eyes. The theme of eyes threaded through his creations juxtaposes a sense of friendliness with mystery for all of his subjects: friendliness because they bring the artwork a sense of humanity, and mystery because it always takes you by surprise.
In line with this experimental spirit, Brandon is finding new heights to scale. After admiring Nouns as a project and its emphasis on CC0, he was inspired to share in the collective branding by adding his own stories and style. The results are the Nouns at Work and The Myth of the Noun collections. The delightful, colourful, and gently animated creatures, adorably shown puzzled by life's daily tasks, have become a popular extension to the brand, the latter hosted on the invite-only platform, SuperRare.
“The entire way Nouns lives as CC0 really flips everything I know about building a brand in the traditional entertainment world of animation and publishing on its head.” The DAO actively encourages new ideas to bring the Noun brand further into the world, and awarded Brandon 15 eth in funding to begin work on a children’s book using the Nouns brand.
With more exciting projects and innovations surrounding his ingenious creations in the works, the support given to Brandon by a community of artists who fully embrace his work will have a huge impact on his mission.
“I think the work that has and will continue to stand out in the growing web3 space are those unique, fearless voices that might finally have a place to shine because web3 allows them to do so.”
“I've taken small, bite-sized things I might have thought too strange to pursue in animation or books and been able to put it out there as its own small thing or collection.”
— Brandon Mighty
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