Matt Humphrey is a British documentary, portrait and street photographer best known for his work in the live performance and film industries. His sensitive portraits and candid photos of film productions reflect his sensitivity to the creative process.
CREO: Can you tell us a bit about your artistic career and how you came to create NFT art?
Matt: The appreciation of art definitely came before the practice. As kids, my mum would show us family photos to tell stories and take us to art galleries. At school, the art room was a place of refuge and imagination. Since I was a teenager I have been an avid photographer, capturing the worlds, scenes and people around me. Photography became a way of remembering, and recording moments and life chapters, which I guess fuelled my interest in documentary image-making - in photography and film.
About 15 years ago I took a leap of faith to become an artist and make a living from photography - and left my teaching career. I found work in theatre, making and moving sets. During this time I built up my portrait portfolio and explored my creativity through commissions and personal projects.
CREO: When did you decide to establish yourself as an artist/NFT artist and what type of artwork do you most enjoy creating?
Matt: In late 2021 I started observing what was going on in the NFT artists space, and I took the plunge to mint my first NFT in January 2022. A lot of the work that I minted and sold in the first year was from my archive of personal projects that I had been working on over the years, including documentary work and portraiture. My first collection was a series of 1/1 street photographs from Cuba which sold out. Since then I have been releasing editions, and 1/1 photographs.
I particularly love photographing people, and I enjoy the challenge of capturing their raw, true essence - whether they are world famous actors, or people that I meet on the street. A good portrait is a collaborative process between the photographer and the sitter, and I enjoy this exchange of energy.
CREO: Can you walk us through the process of creating one of your NFT artworks from start to finish?
Matt: A lot of the work that I have released and sold has been from my existing archive. I spend a long time carefully selecting and curating the work until I am happy that I have the right pieces. I then look at the edit, as it may have been a while since I first did any post-processing on the piece(s).
For me, the story and narrative of each piece is important. Of course I want my work to offer a connection to the viewer, and I feel that my own words and experience or story behind the image can add to the piece. When I am happy with the description, the title, and the artwork itself, I proceed to create the smart contract and mint the NFT.
CREO: Can you share with us a special project or piece of art that inspired you or that you recently created?
Matt: I’ve been working on probably my most personal project to date over the last few months, photographing on 35mm film again. I had been in a bit of a creative rut, and a friend showed me some ‘blended’ film that they had shot. It looked like an excellent way to throw myself back into being creative and trying out new techniques. As it transpires, I have fallen in love with this way of shooting and have been getting some great results that I am happy to start sharing.
CREO: How has technology influenced or changed the way you create art?
Matt: It has always influenced and changed the way that I create - whether I use said technology or not. From the advancement of digital over film, the introduction of phone cameras, and now AI - photography has been challenged as a medium to remain current, as well as true to form. As certain technologies become ubiquitous, being able to retain an artistic voice is as important as ever. Even though I do not use it, AI is here to stay, and the presence of it has influenced me to seek out more analog processes.
CREO: Can you describe a particularly challenging or rewarding moment in your artistic career?
Matt: Most moments are challenging and rewarding! I guess that is what keeps me creating.
CREO: How does your cultural or personal background influence your art?
Matt: In many ways - some of which I am conscious of and many that I am not. I have lived in many countries, and speak several languages - so communication has always been an important part of who I am. That said, I am quite an introvert, which explains why some things are easier communicated through art.
CREO: Can you talk about a time when you had to take a risk or make a bold move in your art career?
Matt: Stepping into the NFT world was a huge leap of faith. At the time I had just left a salary and a world that I had been working in for 15 years. I had no savings, no job, and no other income. Within days I had connected and vibed with more artists and collectors than ever before. The community kept me going, and soon the sales came, as well as other work.
CREO: What challenges have you experienced so far as an NFT artist and how have you overcome them?
Matt: Well, building a brand and making sales in a bear market have certainly been a challenge! I’ve always known where I want to get to in the long run, and this helps to keep me focused on doing what I need to day in, day out.
As well as being an NFT artist, I have also been managing another project with another photographer’s work. This has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measure, with a lot of unexpected hiccups, especially when it comes to tech!
CREO: How did you sell your first NFT artwork and how did you establish yourself in the NFT market?
Matt: My first sale was actually a secondary sale - I had airdropped a piece to a friend as a thank you for hosting a space, then a collector bought it! A lot of establishing yourself comes down to community, and consistency - showing up, being authentic, and sharing.
CREO: Can you tell us about your marketing strategy and how you interact with your community?
Matt: I focus more on being authentic rather than strategising about my marketing. I spend time getting to know other artists and collectors in DMs or Spaces, and focus on the relationships rather than clever marketing tactics.
CREO: What role do collaborations and partnerships play in your NFT art career?
Matt: They have started to play a much bigger role than before, for which I am grateful. I have always believed in the power of collaboration - coming from a background in film and live theatre. Partnerships are a good way to share and cross-promote - although I am increasingly more selective with these.
CREO: How do you find buyers/art collectors?
Matt: The same way that I interact with anyone within the community - by being me, and talking about what I am passionate about.
CREO: Which NFT platforms have you used so far? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using them? (SuperRare, Nifty Gateway, Opensea ...)
Matt: I started off on Foundation when it was still invitation-only, and you had to mint on their contract. I’ve sold out collections on both Ethereum and Solana chains, as well as editions on OpenSea.. Since then there have been some excellent advances in tech that have allowed us to create our own smart contracts, like Manifold, which I have used since then. All my work is now on my own contracts, which is important to me. Ultimately if you can sell your piece of work and find the right collector, this is more important than the platform.
CREO: Do you collect art/NFT art as well?
Matt: Yes! As many of the artists that I know, I collect work that I like and can afford to get.
CREO: How do you see the future of NFT art and what do you think will change in the future?
Matt: The future for NFT art is in flux, and I see that the ‘traditional’ art world will play a pivotal role. Curation is important for the market to thrive, and trad art has the people, the insights, the proof points, and the collectors that the current NFT art world can learn from and grow with..
CREO: How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the NFT market?
Matt: Through friends and the community on Twitter, as well as podcasts and other non-mainstream media.
CREO: How do you maintain a sense of authenticity and originality in a world where digital art is so easily replicated and shared?
Matt: I just do what I need and feel like I want to. As long as I do whatever it is with integrity, I’m not worried about the rest of it.
CREO: What is your goal or vision as an artist?
Matt: To keep creating.
CREO: What advice would you give to newcomers to Space or new NFT artists?
Matt: Be true to yourself.