• George Samuels

The Resurrection of Cultural Animators Using NFTs & Blockchain Technology

For those not familiar, I used to in the animation space but have been out of the game quite some years now. One of my earlier dreams was to work for either Pixar or Disney.


Now, I didn't leave the space because I gave up, but more because I saw other opportunities (for which I got to speak to animation industry veteran, Fraser MacLean, about yesterday) that I trusted my gut on.

Fraser Maclean and George Siosi Samuels
With animation industry veteran, Fraser Maclean, in Mexico, February 2021

When I made a name for myself in the early days as a “cultural animator”, which I defined back then as a digital animator who sought to preserve culture through their craft, I ended up spawning a private Facebook group of the same name back in 2013. I was frustrated by how little creatives knew about the money side of things and/or even how creatives were being treated within the industry itself. Universities certainly weren't setting students up for some of these realities.


So I took it upon myself to learn more about the money and entrepreneurial side.


Fast forward a few years, I then found myself in the blockchain/crypto space building startup communities, and reorganizing cultures for large corporations through tech.


I thought I had “gone off path”, but things started to “click” when I realized that Bitcoin’s underlying technology - which I had spent years learning about - could play a vital role in assisting creators to get paid in much better ways than they are today.


Enter the #NFT art movement and community.


Non-Fungible Tokens


If you haven't heard of #NFT, it stands for "non-fungible tokens." In layman's terms, this means something that the token you purchase can't be used as a formal currency, but it is still tradable as a token that can be authenticated or verified in new, more "trustworthy" ways (via blockchain).


There’s currently a trend that is seeing artists bank some ridiculous prices for their digital assets online. Most recent being $600,000 for a cat GIF (Nyan's Cat). And if you're active on social media, you'll know just how much meme culture is a thing.



This opens the door to a lot of opportunities for animators and creators. Imagine your digital assets being individually purchasable and traded online like a stock, but on a reliable blockchain to help improve trust and verify ownership instantly?


Owning your digital assets is going to matter a lot in the future.


Gary Vaynerchuk & Market Signals


And this is why it's so fascinating to watch this space evolve. The hype around #NFTs are real enough that even one of my own favorite online entrepreneurs, Gary Vaynerchuck, is getting on board. And he's been cautious about the blockchain space to date.


He said something in a Clubhouse event that was pretty interesting:

“97% of NFTs will fail to hold value. The community builders are the ones that will succeed.”

When it comes to social trends, Gary is known for making fairly accurate predictions. Why? Because he's one of the few online personalities that keeps his ear to the ground.


He's famous for using phrases such as "trading attention" and "the attention economy." He gets "the people" side to an otherwise tech-oriented environment.


Bringing it all together



But what fascinates me the most is how this brings together a lot of my passions and past interests: blockchain, technology, animation (digital assets), and community.


So stay tuned guys. I will be posting more about this area over time, as I see it seeping into our work at Faiā, the Tuvalu project, and even Honā (in terms of NFT applications).


And who knows, I may even resurrect my Tales From Nanumea project in new ways that can benefit Tuvalu even more. Just imagine us being able to auction, or even share in the royalties, for each digital asset within the animated films we make? This not only provides value for the creators, but it also allows viewers the chance to "own" a bit of digital real estate for the films (or games) they love.


If we want to see creators thrive more, especially those coming from more traditional mindsets, we will need to make use cases tangible and real. Hype can be useful if you have a good, solid product, but it can also backfire if expectations don't meet reality.


The future will be all about digital identities, integrity, and ownership - so buckle up animators! It's time to "breathe life" into this newly forming culture. I look forward to more "cultural animators" using their skills to preserve culture in a way that benefits all involved.


If you'd like to connect with other "cultural animators" exploring this NFT space, check out our private FB group called Cultural Animators. If you're interested in learning more about

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