Elle's Ode to Internet Subcultures

*This conversation is part of our new editorial series, Gallery Selects, where we showcase the diverse artists, collectors, and curators who are creating and sharing their NFTs on Gallery.

We deeply love the internet at Gallery. While we've been into its cultural aspect since mIRC, ICQ, the Y2K era, and the subsequent years when Myspace was a thing, our passion extends far beyond to explore its endless creative potential. As the internet has evolved, so has our love for it, leading us to explore the possibilities of Web3 and the opportunities it offers for artists and users alike. We cheer on creators who dare to elevate web-based practices, challenge the medium, and engage in critical discourses. Among these trailblazers stands Elle, a net(work) artist who has long been an O.G. in the Gallery community, embodying thought-provoking narratives.

Elle’s on-chain creative journey began in 2021 when she started minting NFTs on the Fantom network. She combines her interest in alternative/niche, net-native currency and cypherpunk principles with her multiple creative skills. Her work, characterized by pixel art and a very specific color palette, reflects her thoughtful engagement with many of the web subculture facets.

In this chat, she shares about her background, her experiences on Gallery, and how such a move can emphasize the value of on-chain art. ⌒ ゚( -⩊- )゚⌒


Hello Elle. Could you introduce your artistic practice, and elaborate on your journey into the Web3 and NFT space? Specifically, we would like to know how you became involved in creating NFTs, why Fantom network, and how this decision led to your ongoing exploration within the blockchain space?

My practice is very interdisciplinary. I hardly think of it as art sometimes, even though there is a large artistic component to it. I consider my projects research and learning about things through their utilization in the forms of visual media, music, writing, and the web.

I started making NFTs in 2021 on the Fantom network after getting bored of being a Bitcoin lurker for a few years. I got into Bitcoin because I was interested in alternative, net-native, P2P currency and Cypherpunk principles. But that part of crypto didn't really involve my other skill sets. When NFTs started becoming more of a thing, I saw that as an opportunity to teach myself new skills like reading/writing smart contracts in Solidity to do more interesting things than watch the numbers go up and down. Fantom, at the time, had a vibrant art community and the chain itself was EVM compatible while also being super fast and low cost so I decided to deploy my Riot Goools collection there for fun with no real expectations, as a learning experience. Things just kept going from there until present day where I'm still constantly learning, exploring, and making new things.

Thanks for these details. We are particularly interested in the aesthetic aspects that define your work, especially in projects like Riot Goools and VIP. Could you elaborate on the specific elements that distinguish these creations, and how they contribute to your overall visual signature?

The two main aesthetic constants in my work are pixel art (with a cute/kawaii anime style) and my color palette. Going back to Riot Goools, I created a specific color palette for it and all my work has used that palette ever since. There are occasions where I break my own conventions and introduce new colors or styles, like 3D animation, but I always try to make it consistent with the core aesthetic. Very Internet Person (VIP) is an offshoot of my Goools work and is created with pixels and the same palette. The form is a little different, being lower pixel count, transparent background, computer-style icons and there are a few new colors (some of those colors were already introduced through my other projects like Goools on XTZ in the 2 years between Riot Goools and VIP.) In my VIP music, I try to make audio that's analogous with my visual body of work, so a lot of the sounds are drawn from computers/internet, old video games, and genres of music that influence my work in general. From Riot Grrrl and punk to Citypop and K-pop and everything in between.


Your artistic approach is driven by internet subcultures, network spirituality, and share some ideas with the Milady and Charlotte Fang’s ideology. Can you provide us with some insight into how these influences manifest in your work? Additionally, could you elaborate on how projects like Milady have shaped your perspective on the NFT space, particularly in contrast to more mainstream trends? Finally, how does VIP serve as a celebration of the internet's culture and history?

I became interested in Milady shortly after it launched because it felt quite different from other projects at the time. It took a long time for it to mint out but that didn't bother the people who were into the project. Miladys were more interested in building a unique net culture, with network spirituality, or, if not in such grandiose terms, a culture of just having fun on the internet. This was refreshing because, despite the Fantom art scene having an interesting art subculture, most people still seemed primarily interested in flipping things like the rest of the mainstream NFT world. Projects would be lauded for instant mint-outs and then forgotten and replaced by the next hyped project. Rinse and repeat. As I said before about Bitcoin chart watching, that's not so interesting to me and not the motivation for why I do my work. So I think alternative models like Milady showed me that the space wasn’t just the “market” and this kept me interested in working with this form. I like to believe on-chain technologies can be used for more than trading and that's why I'm exploring it in my own way. I do understand that financialization is an inseparable part of NFTs so I also do experiments with less conventional things such as NFT AMMs like Sudoswap to gain an understanding of the possibilities in that area of the space.

With Very Internet Person, which is derived from Milady – or a mashup of Milady and Goools – I wanted to channel the aspects that interested me in Milady, like Cypherpunk principles, the new internet, etc., and combine them with my own internet influences and ideas. I like studying internet culture and history, memes and life on the web. So VIP is kind of my love letter to the internet with its computer themed language and iconography. For example, there are references in the traits  to different meme eras from rage comics to wojaks. There are references to instances of the internet in popular media like the Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost in the Shell anime. All the things I make for VIP try to celebrate the aspects that make the internet a fun place to be and my hope is that, like how Milady influenced me to make something, VIP can influence other people to upload more fun things to the internet.


Could you now share your experience of exhibiting your work on Gallery, including how you discovered the platform and what drew you to it initially? Then, we'd love to hear about when you teamed-up with the platform last year. Could you explain the process behind this project, from conceptualization to execution, and shed light on your motivations?

I discovered Gallery when I first joined Farcaster. I felt a little out of place because I didn't do any work on Ethereum at the time (I didn't start deploying work on Ethereum until after the Merge.) But I was super interested in all the projects that I was seeing on the timeline – especially ones that displayed NFTs but didn't treat them as purely financial objects and were more interested in the art. Gallery was one of those. I think I was setting up my nf.td page one day and saw that I could get a proof for Gallery so I created a Gallery account. I made a simple gallery at first with some of my Tezos NFTs and then there were a bunch of upgrades and new features that kept rolling out and I really loved the direction things were going with the platform.

I was thrilled when Mikey asked me to do the holiday piece for Gallery! I wrote an article on Mirror about the making of that VIP piece. Basically I dropped everything I was doing in early December to make that work, which involved creating 3D assets in Blender, animating it, writing a song and recording it, and then putting it all together in the final video. I just wanted to make something that reflected the season and also the enjoyment I got out of using the platform.


From a creator's perspective, what aspects of showcasing your artwork on Gallery do you find most appealing or fulfilling?

The best part of Gallery is that, unlike sharing things on regular social media where every share can feel like a shill, Gallery feels more like you are sharing things to be appreciated for the art. Because meme coins and other "degen" activities happen on places like X, people have a default assumption that everything posted is for making money. As someone who invests a lot of time into making things I care about, that kind of feedback experience can feel quite hollow. Also, I think the reason why NFT art has a bad reputation among outside artists is because it gets mixed in with those kinds of activities and any actual talk about the art is drowned out by people yelling about charts. I love that Gallery brings the art to the forefront and feels like something I could share with non-crypto people.

Elle, Gallery page view
Elle, Gallery page view

How does your artistic practice benefit from using Gallery as a platform to showcase your work? In what ways does it help you strengthen the thematic and conceptual threads within your portfolio?

I think it's nice to have a place to present work outside of marketplaces. I suspect that most people going on Blur don't really look at art, they just hit the sweep button of whatever they think will moon tomorrow. Being able to present work in custom galleries helps strengthen the body of work because I can arrange things to connect the ideas I'm working with. For artists that have bodies of work that span over many collections/contracts, this is amazing. Collections are usually totally isolated from one another on marketplaces so people rarely see the conceptual and aesthetic connections that may exist. It's also nice to be able to create galleries of my collection of other people's work. I tend to collect as research as well so being able to arrange pieces I've collected like a moodboard and seeing them together is great for inspiration.

Could you tell us about the role and significance of the community within the platform, particularly in fostering a deeper appreciation for artistic expression? How does Gallery contribute to creating a space where artists feel valued and supported, and how does this sense of community impact the overall elevation of NFT art as a form of creative expression?

I'm always seeing artists quit the space citing that no one really wants to engage with their work other than as memecoins with pictures. This is detrimental because if all the people with artistic voices quit, then what you are left with are opportunists selling images from Fiverr or from careless AI prompts and then any potential of NFT art being more than memecoins with pictures is gone. So I see Gallery fostering a deeper community around artistic activity and this is important and incredibly crucial in elevating the form. Being able to log on and see people purely enjoying and sharing images in a space like Gallery is a very powerful thing.


How do you envision potential improvements to the platform? Are there any specific features you would like to see added or implemented to enhance your experience as an artist or user of the platform?

I would selfishly love Fantom support there just so I can make galleries with all my Goool work. Though I understand that might be a lot of overhead for something that doesn't have a lot of active artists currently. I think maybe doing some more content about the art, artists, and collectors could make the platform even more interesting as a place to visit and perhaps drive more conversation – I guess that's what this editorial series is. Overall, I'm pretty happy about the direction the platform is going and I trust the team to keep surprising me with wherever it goes next!

Thank you for your time Elle. See you online!

♡( ◡‿◡ )

X (Twitter): https://twitter.com/riotgoools

Farcaster: https://warpcast.com/riotgoools

Gallery: https://gallery.so/elle

Follow us on X (Twitter), Farcaster, or here on Mirror to stay updated on the latest articles and interviews we publish. You can also join our Discord server to chat with the artists and other community members.

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