Marc Whitelaw, a rising star in NFT art, is known for his unique approach to creating digital masterpieces. Whitelaw, who has a background in 3D and 2D arts, has created a style that combines realism with surrealism. This results in artworks that feel both familiar and alien.
Whitelaw was born with a passion to the natural world and became interested in the idea of clouds and the notions of impermanence and mortality. These themes have inspired Whitelaw to create a collection of works that is both captivating and stimulating.
Whitelaw quickly became a highly-respected artist thanks to his portfolio of digital art, which showcases his technical skills and imaginative vision. Whitelaw’s work has been displayed in galleries and online spaces all over the globe, drawing the attention of collectors and art enthusiasts alike.
Whitelaw is currently a senior artist at Industrial Light & Magic. This subsidiary of Lucasfilm, Disney and Disney. He can continue to improve his craft and collaborate with other skilled artists and technicians in this field. Whitelaw’s skill and experience will make him a key player in the NFT arts world for many years to come.
What are your origins? (Please provide some information about your family, where you are from, and when you have moved.
Born and raised in Cape Town (South Africa), I am now a digital artist. 2011 was the year I moved to Canada to study and to work in the digital arts industry.
Please tell us about yourself and the circumstances that led you to become an artist, and then eventually to experiment with NFTs.
Since I can remember, I have had a camera in each hand. When I was a teenager, I started in the film industry. This eventually led me to Cape Town film school. To further my education, I moved to Canada and completed a 3D Animation & Visual Effects degree with honors. I studied Compositing, which was the foundation of my knowledge in working with CG in post-production. I continue to improve my 3d skills and knowledge. Over the years I have posted my work on Instagram. A few years back, I connected with @NoCreative. Although I didn’t know what discord was, he asked me to join his server. My love for Web3 and NFTs increased exponentially during this time. Since my childhood, I have been searching for full-time opportunities as an artist. NFTs make this dream more possible than ever.
When did you mint your first NFT? Which platform did you choose, and why?
Makersplace was the place where I created my first NFT. NoCreative introduced me to Makersplace and the piece that I created was actually a collaboration between us.
Tell us what one thing is essential for you to live. (and why)
Music. Music is a major source of inspiration for me. Music has the uncanny ability of changing your mood, evoking emotion and speaking to you in a way that no spoken word can. It can move you, and in the case I make of art, it does that as well.
Which artist (Non-NFT) is your favourite? What is it about their style that resonates with your?
Olafur Eliasson is at the top of my list. His work is amazing in changing your perspective and forcing you to see the world differently. I loved ‘The Weather Project’ and ‘Beauty’. These familiar elements were presented in an unfamiliar manner by him, which makes it even more compelling to stop and take another look. Berndnaut Smilde is my inspiration right now. He makes physical clouds indoors. Another example of a natural element in an artificial environment is his Nimbus project. His Nimbus project had a profound influence on my work and me.
Which NFT artist is your favorite? What makes this artist special?
There are many talented artists out there, but Reuben Wu would be my choice. His years of experience in his craft are evident. I, along with many others, find his work inspiring. His art has a strong narrative and he can communicate his ideas with style and grace.
Why did you choose to study NFT?
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been trying to figure out how to become a full-time artist. However, my work is digital and I wasn’t sure how to go about it. This is why NFTs and their technology were a natural choice.
What NFT would you have bought but never got to use?
I should have purchased a CryptoDickButt as soon as I had the opportunity…
Where would you travel if you could? This is why?
Indonesia. Surfing was my passion growing up on the South Coast of Africa. Indonesia is paradise for surfers and I long to return there.
What are your other passions, besides art? Why?
Apart from philosophy, I love fishing. It was a favorite pastime of mine and it is now a great excuse to spend time outdoors with my son. It is also a wonderful lesson in patience.
Are you a master of other types of art?
Music. Since I was a child, I have played the piano almost every day. I also spent many years learning electronic music production. My love of music is now combined with my NFT work. It is amazing how these two art forms have come full circle to me.
Do you prefer to be self-taught or trained?
This is a great question. This is a great question. This answer seems a little one-sided. I have been using cameras for over half of my life, but I never took lessons. I took VFX classes for one year, but it was not enough to be an artist.
My greatest lessons were learned from my colleagues and friends who have similar passions. My online tutorials, trial and error and online tutorials are my constant learning tools. But without the support of my digital artists friends who have been doing this for a longer time than me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My artist eye and skills have increased tenfold since I started working for Lucasfilm four years ago. It’s been an honor to work alongside such talented people.
How did you create your unique style?
Over the years, my work has been in a surrealistic environment. NoCreative suggested that we collaborate after creating some clouds and posting them to discord.
His work inspired me to create the most beautiful cloud possible. I chose to dynamically simulate a cloud, rather than creating a still image.
Since then I have been studying clouds. I fell in love the process of creating, simulating and rendering them accurately.
My ‘Passage of Time’ series was born. Through art history, clouds have addressed the themes of impermanence and mortality, time, and the nature of reality.
Everything I love about philosophy.
What has changed in your style over the years?
In my early years, discovery was the key to my success. I was drawn to creating compositions and reusing techniques that I had seen in tutorials.
Redshift renderer allowed me to work faster and visualize new ideas much more quickly once I had it. My preference switched from landscapes and environments to my preferred style and I began to love the process of creating compositions on a real-world scale.
I have been fascinated by the sky and stars since childhood. As much as I place emphasis on the landscapes that I create, I intend to do the same for the sky.
Importantly, I have a machine upgrade in my near-future. There are a lot of projects that I need to complete and still haven’t had the machine power to do. I have begun work on a new body, which I call “Larger Than Life”. My artwork aims to show our connection with nature and to highlight the fact that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves. For the rest of the year, I will release an animated artwork once every three months. There are also some collaborations and exhibitions in the works.
Who would you collaborate with if you could? (and why)
Reuben Wu is my current choice. His style and themes resonate deeply with me. Reubens high-quality photographs are a dream come true for me as a compositor.
It would be a great honor to design a sky to enhance and complement Reubens’ amazing art.
Truth be told, there are many talented artists that I would love collaboration with. I’ve already spoken with some of them and have a list that has artists who have reached me. Collaboration is something I look forward to and consider a core value.
What was your biggest failure? And what lessons did you learn?
In 2009, I founded an online travel agency in South Africa. I managed it for two years before closing the business in 2011. Although it was a fantastic initiative that taught me so much, and gave me a lot to laugh about, the company eventually failed and I lost a lot.
That was how I learned about film and art. I decided to close the company and leave because I knew I had to do what I loved. Since I was a child, I have had a camera in both my hands. I felt empty without it. Accepting failure was the only way to improve my craft and grow. It was a huge blessing to have been able to fail as many times as I did.
Which is your most valuable piece?
SuperRare’s piece ‘Ephemeral,’ which I created for the NEAL Digital Gallery, was sold for 5 ETH.
What was the price it sold for?
Are there any drops coming up?
Foundation has one piece that I am available for sale. My next piece of art will be finished by the end March 2023.
Do you have any other ideas?
I just wanted to thank NFT Culture for all they do to support, preserve and push our community ahead. A big shout out to all those I have met in this space. I am looking forward to the NFT space succeeding and changing the way things are done in the art market as well as globally. Cheers!
Link to the Website
NFT market links and social links
NFT CULTURE’s first article, Break Your Crayons: Interview with NFT Artist appeared on NFT CULTURE.