23/07/2024 9:52 AM


Adorn your Feelings

The Initial Steps to Establishing The Digital Art Gallery of The Human Experience

7 min read


In the future, when you visit the What it Means to Be Human Platform, you will land in a carefully curated digital art gallery of the human experience represented by 30 characters exploring what it means to be human. It will be a growing collection created by 15 artists of various backgrounds, levels of expertise, and artistic styles. You’ll be able to browse the collection based on the characters, the artists, the categories of our experiences, and the pieces available for sale. For the first year, one hundred and twenty art pieces will be sold a month as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) through our marketplace. 

Once purchased, each image will serve as a gateway into a community and an archive of personal stories from people around the world that will aim to capture the meaning of the experience to humanity.

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To make this a reality, I began recruiting artists in November 2021. At the time, I was actually looking for 30 artists. I’ve seen then cut that number in half. Of the artists that showed interest, I spoke with, and who agreed to join the team; there are three so far that have made the full commitment: Angie Hansen, Dante’ Bickham, and Pamela Bozkurt.

I owe them a world of gratitude. In what’s been almost six months, they have not only brought the concept to life through their artwork and kept me going, but they began to teach me what I needed to know, consider, and change about my approach. 

Tapping Into the Artistic Process

I’m a super creative person but I’m not artistic. My only experience working with “digital art” has been through getting logos, t-shirts, and websites designed. Oh, and one short stint at trying to bring the Self-Aware Poodlebear character to life. I had no experience working with artists so I began my education by binge-watching shows such Faceoff, Project Runway, Top Chef, and Ink Master. I wanted to emerge myself in the creative process of artists and the challenges, setbacks, and obstacles that might get in their way. 

I walked away inspired and with two main takeaways from my binge-watching. First, artists have to know how to edit themselves – it’s always better to remove than to add more, be it to a recipe, tattoo, designer clothing, or makeup. Second, mentors are a must. All of the shows have mentors, and the competitors get better over time because they compete with other highly talented individuals and get feedback, input, and mentorship. 

The latter highlighted the importance of having a weekly team meeting with the artists to go over their art submissions where everyone can provide each other feedback and discuss their process, challenges, and receive peer mentorship. 

Those weekly meetings have revealed incredible insights including that I need to establish an Art Council of external experts beyond what resides on the team of artists and assign the Art Council a clear mandate to curate the artwork and provide mentorship to the artists. 

I have to bring as many useful resources and mentors as possible for the artists and the project to benefit from. I have thus far and will continue to recruit artists that have the drive to improve their crafts and I want this project to help them do that. 

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The Challenges of Neutrally Representing Human Experiences

As soon as the artists began submitting their artwork I began having emotional reactions to it. First, it was super awesome to see my idea start coming together in each image submitted. 

Second, I had to let go of my expectations and preferences. It’s one thing to get a logo designed and provide feedback until it’s exactly what I’m looking for but THIS artwork is completely different. The artists are tasked to represent experiences using their characters. The artists are people who have had experiences and therefore have their own interpretations of how to capture and convey the experiences assigned to them. 

It turns out, we’ve all learned that representing the human experience is more challenging than you would think. Especially, attempting to create neutral representations of the experiences. 

The other criteria the artists have to comply with is that their characters are blank slates and have no personalities. The artists cannot convey emotions, thoughts, feelings about the experience since the characters are learning the meaning of the experiences and what it means to be human (have feelings and emotions, personality and character traits, skills, memories, etc.)

Plus, if the image depicts what an experience “should” be like, it could prevent people from sharing their stories and definition of that experience. We want to keep the images as neutral as possible as to not influence the assigned meaning of the experience. This also impacts what other characters, if any, end up in the images. 

Meanwhile, the images still need to be appealing and generate the desire to purchase, open up about, and help define the meaning of the experiences. 

This is far from being a simple task, as we have all come to realize. In the first couple of months, we had many conversations during the team meetings about this dilemma. I suspect this is going to challenge all new artists that join the team. Thankfully, I’m now better versed and prepared to address their concerns and struggles. 

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Addressing the Full Human Experience

“I had to Google it.” is something that’s often mentioned at the team’s meeting. As the artists are expanding their own definition of what each experience means or how it can be represented, they are turning to Google. 

I would love to remove Google and replace it with a community of engaged people who can provide thoughts, input, images, and feedback to the artists. 

Especially since there are experiences that are challenging to properly represent while minimizing who might be offended. Last week, Dante’ brought up he was struggling with how to depict “Feel Horny” under the Sexual Experiences. The reality is, there are dark, illegal, sexual, and even evil human experiences and we’ll have to address them all. 

Before it goes to the Art Council for final review and approval – I hope that someday the artists will have a committed following that will do the initial curating of the artwork. After all, the community will be assigned with and responsible for providing the stories and voting on the growth and development of the characters.

The aim of this project is to get everyone involved, thinking about, and discussing the human experience. 

Bonding Over the Human Experience and the Characters

Connecting humans together through our common experiences is a major expected byproduct of The Great Experiment and we’re getting a taste of it during our weekly meetings.

You can’t look at images representing the human experience and discuss human experiences without learning about oth
er people. We are getting to know each other as we provide our input and feedback on the images submitted, and we share our personal experiences and points of view. 

I love jumping on the Zoom calls to review the artwork and talk with Dante’, Pam, and Angie. We laugh together, brainstorm, and get to be shocked, impressed, and entertained by the ideas that flow and the images that are created.

Through the artwork, we are also getting acquainted with the characters. While they are meant to be blank slates, they still manage to speak to us.

Our weekly meetings are a small taste of what the point of this project is and what art and sharing our personal experiences with one another is meant to provide us while connecting us together.

Grateful for The Learning Process. Time to Grow the Team.

The younger entrepreneurial version of me would be frustrated and annoyed that almost six months have gone by and I’m not further along. I wouldn’t have known or acknowledged that I first needed to learn about the artistic process and understand what the team of artists will need to be successful as it continues to grow. The wiser me is filled with gratitude I had three wonderful artists to start working with and learn from. 

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Part of me would like to keep our little cocoon the way it is, but the larger part of me knows it’s time to grow the team, add more characters, perspectives, and expertise to the team. For the Art Gallery of the Human Experience to open, I need all 15 artists and 30 characters. 

The time to recruit the artists is now – before The What it Means to be Human Project starts getting press, attention, and grows legs. Now, is still the time when I can find true believers; the artists who will join the team because they connect with the vision and impact of the project. More artists like Pam, Angie, and Dante’. 

If you are an artist and interested in joining the team, feel free to send me a message. If you know an artist, feel free to share the opportunity with them. 

Twelve spots remain. Five are reserved for artists outside of the U.S. I would like to get at least five veterans or active duty military members on the team, but I won’t save spots forever for groups of people who don’t take advantage of them. Pam and Dante’ are veterans and I definitely would love to get three more on the team. 

Join our Community 

To get engaged with the artists – join us on the What It Means to be Human Discord Server


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