Yesterday, we launched our first wearables collection on Decentraland, in collaboration with Michi. In honor of our Digital Futures month, the collection was, of course, future themed and consisted of a space suit, helmet, and moon boots. Below we share an interview with Michi where he shares the story behind his journey as an artist, how he became a Decentraland wearables designer, and what he envisions for the future of art x the metaverse.
Check out the Portion x Michi Wearables Collection!
Hi Michi! Can you introduce yourself and expand on your journey of becoming a designer and digital artist for well known brand names such as Disney, Pokemon, 7-Eleven, and others?
Hi, I’m Michi. I’ve been a graphic designer for quite a few years and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on projects for amazing brands like Disney, Pokémon Go and 7-Eleven Australia. My early career was pretty corporate-focussed until 2020 when, here in Melbourne, Australia we went into one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. Suddenly, I couldn’t access the studio space I used for product photography, which was a big part of my role at the time. That’s when I got into 3D modeling in a big way and I was so blown away by the possibilities, that I never really looked back! As one of the few people with experience using blender it was a great opportunity to devote myself to the craft of realistic 3D.
How would you describe your artistic style?
My early work was hyper realistic to low poly 3D but since working on Decentraland wearable NFTs I’ve moved to utilizing detailed textures. I’ve been told my preferred style is ‘cartoony’ and niche. I take this as a compliment, because I get a kick from pushing the limits of imagination and exploring the capabilities of digital space.
What made you interested in specializing in the metaverse/Decentraland wearable NFTs and digital fashion realm?
When I first heard about the metaverse, I hoped there might be opportunities to use design in new and exciting ways. I arrived at Decentraland at the time when there weren’t many wearable NFT creators, it was a sea of black hoodies and plain T-shirts, which made no sense to me. The way we visually express ourselves in digital space is limited only by our imaginations, so I started offering different options and custom designs. Back then, I didn’t realize I was witnessing the start of the metaverse wave.
What possibilities do you see for digital wearables, and how do you think it can change, challenge or uplift the more traditional aspect of the fashion industry?
Working with American contemporary artist Anthony Sims really broadened my understanding of what collaboration between traditional art and metaverse implementation can achieve.
My Version (wearable also available in Decentraland)
The pandemic has changed the way the fashion market operates - sourcing fabrics, hosting runway shows, shipping products to consumers - there are impacts right across the board. People are also turning to digital platforms to socialise. Digital wearables arrived in the middle of this convergence, providing the self-expression and creativity of fashion within an online space.
Ultimately, analogue fashion will always be limited by the laws of physics and the availability of materials. Digital wearables are where fashion and pure imagination meet. Literally any garment is possible and customers can let their creativity really play, knowing they own a unique item.
How do you envision your digital wearable creations to be used? How do you want your audience to interact and interpret your designs?
My designs are always fun, personal and imaginative and I encourage owners to personalise and engage with them. I hope my wearables help them to bring their true selves and their fantasies to life.
You’ve been working on two collections that align with Portion’s Digital Future and photography events; the retro futurism collection that reflects on the Digital Future and a wearable collection based on photography respectively. Can you tell us more about these pieces, the creative process and the story behind them?
As part of Digital Futures collection, I’ve designed a helmet that is part tribute to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, with homage back to the communities love of Shiba Coin (such a cute coin) titled “Shiba Odyssey 2121”. Illumination is a playful touch, adding another visual option in dark environments. There are two disco-ball textured dresses inspired by the 1968 sci-fi Barbarella. Don’t forget to pack your iridescent ray gun, you’ll need it to fight off the Martians pirates! A pair of glowing moon boots complets the collection. The word DANGER is a reference to the classic movie Lost In Space, while the number 404 featured on the sole refers to a common error message: ‘page not found’. The boots are named ‘To The Moon’ - the term for a crypto-currency that’s about to dramatically increase in value.
A second collection, based on photography, is currently in development and will involve some Yeti...
What tools and software do you use? How long does it take you to craft a piece? Do you start with a clear vision, or does a piece take shape as you work?
My current tool kit is a combination of Blender and the Adobe suite to really develop 3D with illustration. I usually start with a massive chunk of research which then inspires and guides me through the creative process.
How do you define the future of digital? What effect do you think technology and the metaverse will have on the path of the future and how do you think NFTs might affect its architecture?
From a design perspective, being able to engage with an audience in real time and see people engage with your work on their terms is going to change how we create. I’m also excited about the potential for expansion that AR and VR are showing, and looking forward to seeing how designs evolve within these spaces. The ability to transfer ownership of unique wearables expands the scope for fashion brands to expand their offering to new audiences, so it’s possible we’ll see this grow in future.
Lastly, as an artist who recently started specializing in the metaverse/Decentraland wearable world of NFTs, do you have tips for emerging artists? What advice do you have for people at the beginning of their journey into the world of digital design or NFTs?
It’s such an exciting time to be working in this space. Skilling up in Blender/Z Brush is a good start. I really recommend connecting with digital communities. There are so many artists out there who share our enthusiasm for this work - they have answers to your questions, feedback for your work, and are always up for trying something new.