💬 NFT Drop-Let's Talk: Tim Riopelle, Crypto-Artist
Tim's Unbelievable Journey as an Artist in the World of NFTs
Introducing “NFT Drop-Let’s Talk”: a new, special segment for the NFT Droplets newsletter where I interview notable personalities in the NFT community and share our conversations with you. I’m considering whether to make this a recurring format, so please let me know if this is something you enjoy (💗, 👍, 💬, 📩, etc.). And now without further ado, let’s move onto the interview! 😎
Introducing: Tim Riopelle, Artist
Tim Riopelle is an accomplished digital artist in North Vancouver, Canada, with over a decade of experience in the visual effects and 3d animation industry. He currently works as a Lab Supervisor at Capilano University, but has worked tirelessly on his own digital art pieces for many years. Recently, Tim found success and a growing audience in the NFT art market, and in just a few short months, has established himself as a highly accomplished, sought-after artist in the space.
It is my great pleasure and honor to have this opportunity to catch up with Tim today. Some context: I first met Tim back around 2012-13 at a local animation studio where he was a visual effects compositor and I was just a junior CG artist just trying to keep my foot in the door. 😅 Though I don’t believe we ever had the chance to officially work together on the same project, we have crossed paths and been in shared circles many times over the years.
Mas: Tim! I’m really looking forward to this interview/excuse to catch up. I really appreciate you for taking the time, especially with how crazy things have seemingly been going for you these past few months.
Tim: Thanks Masaki! It’s been a really eventful year for spending most of my time indoors at home. Haha Pleasure to connect again.
Mas: Likewise! 😁 Can you share a little about yourself with the audience? What got you started in animation and visual effects, and where has it taken you?
Tim: I’ve always strived to be a creative person. I spent a lot of time in high school dabbling in Flash animation and music. A huge part of this creative energy was put into teaching myself guitar. I would say I was a musician more than a visual artist up until about 4 years ago. My original plan after high school was to pursue something artistic, but I managed to graduate with a decent grade average and was accepted into Ottawa University in Geography. It took me a few years to realize this wasn’t going to be for me. I had been messing around with 3DS Max a little bit modding game content (Max Payne, GTA), and had a general grasp of the digital art tools at the time (Photoshop, Flash, etc.) So I figured it may be smart to pursue 3D animation and game design. So, I dropped out of University and moved across the country to Vancouver to start my career. Fast forward 16 years later, and I’ve been a part of some very memorable projects and have recently been recognized for an Emmy on Dragon Prince. Pretty wild!
Mas: Completely self-taught, dropping out of uni, and moving across the country to start a career in animation?! Your conviction and commitment is beyond description. 😲 Tell us about working on your own projects. Did you have a goal in mind when you started your Beeple-like commitment creating digital art pieces? What kept you going? Can you cite any specific artists or experiences that have influenced your art the most? How has your process evolved over time?
Tim: My goal was primarily to feel artistic. Working in the animation industry is a grind, and a lot of the process is not very satisfying artistically. So this was more of an outlet to try and feel more in touch with my creative side.
Mas: I feel ya…😔 Okay, time to talk crypto. I remember “Bitcoin” was just starting to become a recognizable term during our time in-studio around 2013-14. Things have obviously gone exponential since then, and I doubt any of us could have even imagined NFTs becoming a thing. Thinking back, when did crypto first enter the picture for you?
Tim: I entered crypto right before the 2017 crash. Haha I invested about $350 into “Litecoin.” The good thing about this was that I had to go through the tenuous process of getting a crypto exchange setup, and gathering the general knowledge one needs to engage with it. The bad thing was that it disenfranchised me with the whole environment after losing next to everything.
Mas: Dang...not an ideal first taste of the market. You definitely weren’t alone, and I’m glad it didn’t traumatize you so badly as to miss the opportunities we’re seeing today. How did you first hear about NFTs and crypto-art? If memory serves, you got your start near the end of 2020 with SuperRare, now arguably one of the top curated tokenized art platforms in the entire crypto-community! What was that experience like for you (application process, minting your first piece, and making your first sale)?
Tim: Yes! I was accepted to SuperRare in late October 2020. My friend, Ian, had sent me some information on it earlier in the year, and I went back and forth with it until I finally decided to put together an application. My timing could not have been more perfect. I was on-boarded the same week as FVCKRENDER, and within weeks after this, NFTs were becoming massive. If you follow my work, you would know that I usually produce still images. But, I wanted to make my mark in the space by creating a small animation. It was risky, but I managed to create something I was truly proud of and was happy to share as my first piece (a ”Genesis Piece,” they call it).
Mas: Accepted in the first week of applying on SuperRare...wow! And now you’re on KnownOrigin, hicetnunc, and most recently, you had a couple big drops announced with NiftyGateway. Tell us more about that!
Tim: Yes! Initially, I was asked to be a part of a collaboration drop with NARRA Gallery, which has collected and showcased a bunch of my work. This was really awesome as the group of artists involved were some of the best in the scene. After this, I was contacted by Nifty to do a collaboration with a band they were looking to showcase on the platform. Once accepting, I was then offered a solo drop in August. Very crazy. I just recently had my collaboration with Palomas on the platform and it was a really great learning experience for managing yourself as an artist in this space. I am getting really excited for my drop in August, as it is going to be a real reflection of myself as an artist both visually and musically.
Mas: A solo drop on Nifty in August! Definitely gonna watch out for that! 👀 How has your life changed in such a short time since becoming an “NFT-Artist”? What has the reaction been like from friends, family, and coworkers?
Tim: It’s funny. Because a lot of this has happened during COVID, and most of my interactions have been through Twitter, it doesn’t feel a whole lot different. Haha! 😅 Just busier, I guess. I’ve been able to sort out some financial goals which has been nice. My wife Jenna has been amazingly supportive. I know it hasn’t been the easiest to deal with. My Mom definitely doesn’t understand what is happening, but is proud of me. Haha! But overall, I don’t think a lot of people really understand what's happening. It is definitely not something that is easy to get, unless you are involved.
Mas: I agree. We’re still so early, and there’s a lot of hype and a lack of understanding in the space (if you or someone you know could use a refresher, The Beginner’s Guide to NFTs series is an excellent place to start 😉). Has your outlook on crypto/NFTs changed? Where do you see things headed in the next few months? Next few years? What advice would you give, both in terms of art as a career and using NFTs in general, to new artists/anyone looking to pursue a career in what looks like will be a creator-driven digital economy moving forward?
Tim: The space is in a shift right now, for sure. Hicentunc has been a great view into what the “ETH 2.0” market could be like: a wider collector base with works being offered at a more realistic price point. Like everything crypto, I feel it’s going to go in waves. I believe innovation, patience, and exploration are going to be key factors in my progression over the next bit. Any advice I could give would be to get involved in the community. Share others' work. Follow artists and collectors who are pushing the space forward. Research the different structures of artistic NFTs that are out there. Learn about the crypto market and get a little bit of money invested that you aren’t afraid to lose (not investment advice). It’s a bit extreme and takes some getting used to. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of people involved right now, so it can seem like a huge uphill battle, but I’ve seen many come from nothing to make a place for themselves by following the ideas mentioned above.
Mas: Sage advice. Thank you. 🙏 Can you name your favorite NFT that you’ve created so far, and perhaps even your favorite NFT that you own in your collection?
Tim: This is a tough one! I think my work, “Second Sun,” is probably the piece I am most proud of creating. As a visual artist and musician, it was the best representation of what I am all about as an artist. It also ended up being my highest collected piece. Being able to animate and compose music and create something people valued was incredibly rewarding.
Mas: Mesmerizing work! 😵 And I didn’t realize you had created an audio component as well! I think we’re still just scratching the surface of what artists like yourself are capable of doing with NFTs, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll be creating in the future!
Tim: Creating music has always been a passion. I have trouble composing full on works, so making music for these short pieces is actually ideal.
Mas: Indeed - it suits your pieces well! Tim, I can’t thank you enough for catching up with me and sharing a bit about yourself with everyone reading. You are one of the most humble, generous, hard-working, and talented individuals I know, and are a true credit and inspiration to the space - I mean this sincerely. Before we close, would you care to share where folks can find your work and connect with you online?
Mas: (Be sure to follow Tim and his amazing work! ☝) Thanks again, Tim. Hopefully we can beat this prolonged pandemic before too much longer, and perhaps catch up in person next time! 🍻
Tim: I am getting my vaccination in an hour! It’s been a pleasure, Masaki. And yes, I’d love to catch up when things are able to resume normally. Thanks for talking to me about this.
So, what did you all think of the interview?? Follow Tim on his socials, and give him a 👍 and a 💗 while you’re at it. If you have any questions or comments for myself or Tim, and/or suggestions for what I can do better next time, or who I should try to interview next, please share your thoughts below 👇 and/or reach out to me on Twitter. Until next time!
As always, thank you so much for taking time to share this journey together with me into the world of NFTs. I hope you found the content helpful, and maybe even fun to read! 😁
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⚠ Disclaimer ⚠ Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are a speculative asset class. Be aware of the risks involved and know that you could lose money. Everything I share references an opinion and is for information and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional before making any investment decision.