When Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, was introduced more than 12 years ago, nobody outside a handful of tech heads and anarchists gave it much attention. Fast forward to the present, and cryptocurrencies are now everywhere.
From just the one, it is estimated that there are now over 10,000 different ‘coins’ in circulation, with their uses ranging from subverting international finance, to helping artists sell their art more equitably.
And now, another Malaysian artist by the name of Visithra Manikam has emerged as one of the top selling artists on the crypto-based Non Fungible Token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea.
Visithra, a self-styled multidisciplinary visual artist from Kuala Lumpur, had been struggling to break into the local art scene, which she says is due to the discrimination that Indian artists face here.
Despite participating in multiple exhibitions over the years, she has been the subject of discriminatory messages from gallery artists and even fellow artists.
“Very few Malaysian Indian artists get opportunities in the top Malaysian art galleries, nor in government-funded exhibitions… I’ve been in shows where I’m the token Indian. Between January and September 2019, there were 71 exhibitions in the top nine galleries – only six shows featured Malaysian Indian artists.
“When I brought this up, I was told my art wasn’t good enough, it was too ‘Indian’. However, at the same time, we see those who culturally appropriate our art and culture getting solo exhibitions with these galleries,” Visithra recounted to The Vibes.
However, since putting her art for sale online in the form of NFTs earlier this year, they have amassed over RM1.5 million (91 ETH) in first-hand and second-hand sales.
“The NFT community is really welcoming. I started off as a stranger in late June, made friends, and then started building my collector base,” said the artist.
Her art has even attracted the attention of multi-hyphenated celebrity mogul Snoop Dogg, who is known to be a high profile NFT collector in his own right.
“Snoop is really the sweetest. He came into the community as an anonymous collector and only after gaining traction, he revealed who he was,” she said.
“He sent me a DM (direct message) and we had a conversation about my art. He wanted to know which were significant, and I shared pieces that I hadn’t minted (put up for sale) and he picked three.”
Besides Snoop, her art has also been embraced by other popular figures such as Reese Witherspoon and Jimmy Fallon, just to name a few.
“I now have more than 190 collectors are from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Poland, China, Latin America, Europe, and more. Today, I’m one of the top Malaysian NFT artists and on the journey to being verified by OpenSea.”
Visithra’s NFTs can be viewed and bought on the OpenSea platform here.