In this interview with artist and curator GreyRadian we learn about the featured artists in her upcoming curator exhibition and discuss anime and its impact across cultures and communities.
MP: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your history as an artist and someone who sells NFTs?
GR: My name is Stephanie, but I have gone by the name GreyRadian (Grey for short) online since 2009. I was born and raised in Australia, currently based in Tokyo, Japan.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design and Advanced Diploma in Concept Design, I entered the video games industry in Japan and currently have 5+ years’ worth of professional experience.
I discovered NFTs in early 2021, and I was one of the only artists from a professional anime-art background active in the community and one of the few based in Japan. This opportunity led me to create my 1 of 1 collection, Himé Designs. I use my specialized skill set in Japanese anime character design and NFT technology to guarantee collectors’ ownership and value, thus introducing commercial-use licensing (CC0) to NFT projects.
I also became one of the founders of the first NFT anime community called Anifam alongside fellow artist and friend Looona-Lou, which I am proud to be a part of as Anifam played an integral role in leading the anime art boom that kickstarted in mid-2021.
MP: Can you tell me how you came to work in the Japanese video game industry as an Australian transplant?
GR: I come from the most isolated city in the world: Perth! When I finished school and was looking for a job, the games industry in Australia was almost non-existent, let alone in Perth. It meant I just had to get out of the country to find a job where I can use my skill set in the games industry.
I applied everywhere in the world, but with the competitive games industry, I decided to cater myself to a region where the language barrier would act as a giant hurdle for other applicants (and myself!) to give me a better chance of getting my foot at the door.
I also love Japanese video games and prefer their style of storytelling and design
MP: Though I know you were interested in anime before moving, how would you say your style has evolved since moving to the Motherland of Anime?
GR: By joining the professional working environment in Japan, I have learned a lot about how the Japanese capture the aesthetic of ‘kawaii.’ I don’t think many people outside of Asia realize this. Still, with a keen eye for detail, you can sometimes tell if the artist has honed their skills in Japan, Korea, China, or another country, even if the artwork is broadly ‘anime style.’
I have learned that the Japanese have a very particular way of distributing facial proportions in anime illustrations to properly encapsulate the culture of kawaii (which is not exactly synonymous with the word ‘cute’).
For example, some companies have rejected my portfolio because they look gaikokujin-poi or “too foreign-like!” Even though my portfolio had examples of what I thought was Japanese anime style. I do hope my artworks have developed an aesthetic that both Japanese and global audiences can appreciate!
MP: What do you think it is about anime that speaks to you across cultures?
GR: Compared to cartoons in the West, anime isn’t just targeted to children. The variety of art direction in anime means it can cater to many different audiences across different moods, genres, atmosphere, and stories. The animation style encourages fantasy scenarios and dynamic situations. I think this is why many people across different cultures enjoy anime.
MP: What’s the purpose of curating this show on MakersPlace?
GR: There is currently an issue where Japanese artists have trouble reaching collectors overseas, and collectors have difficulty finding the anime-inspired piece they’re looking for due to the language barriers. I am very grateful to have this opportunity to partner with Makersplace, a globally recognized NFT marketplace, to help succeed with this goal.
For this show, I wanted to showcase some of the Japanese artists I admire and introduce other globally-based artists who are inspired by Japanese culture to show tribute to how the Japanese anime style and culture had become a significant source of inspiration globally.
MP: What angle on Japanese anime and culture are you trying to capture with this show?
GR: For those who grew up while the anime culture was booming, we are often told “anime is not a true form of art.” I know I’ve been told this personally by one of my art teachers in high school. I think a lot of people assume that it’s much easier to draw anime compared to other styles. Still, as I explained earlier — with having to really pay attention to the details and proportions and not limited to such as well — that’s not really the case.
I want to show that creating artwork inspired by anime takes as much hard work as any other forms of art celebrated in the fine arts industry and should be valued the same. Anime is not just children’s cartoons for children; it is an integral part of culture, history, storytelling, and entertainment. Definitely not just limited for children to enjoy either!
MP: Can you tell me a bit about each artist you’ve invited to your Curator Exhibit?
GR: I’d like to say a big thanks to all the artists who are participating in this gallery show! You were all invited because I admire your works, so I am extremely grateful to be able to work with each and one of you!
I have followed Yueko for many years and am a big fan! The soft, muted color palette and masterful edge control used for depicting many fan-favorite characters have led to many of her artworks becoming favorites among the netizens, myself included. I’m honored to be able to introduce Yueko’s works to Makersplace.
Josh is a personal friend of mine. We were both still at school when we met but even at such a young age his art skills and talent blew me away. When I see his works now I’m so impressed with how much he has improved: a testament to how hard he has committed to his studies. I hope to bring more collector attention to his works.
Onigiriman was one of the early influencers in Japan and I have witnessed him introduce NFTs and the success it can bring to the Japanese market. I think he deserves a shout out! Onigiriman’s portraits are a perfect example of balancing both “coolness” with the bold lines and bright, solid colours, and “cuteness” with his sense of design and carefully curating the facial proportions of his girls. Consistently doing so has created the iconic Onigiriman illustration.
GODTAIL is a very prolific illustrator in Japan and has made impressive works in the industry. He was the first Japanese artist I heard of doing NFTs in early 2021. With his high levels of detail, strong emphasis on dynamism, and his ability to provoke emotion, GODTAIL has made a lasting impression on me, and I’m very happy to include him in this gallery show.
Most of the time, anime is associated with cartoons and comics, but sometimes the influence is visible in art not limited to those styles. Anime influence can be used to accentuate the beauty of depictions of real life too. Yun is an excellent example of utilizing anime traits and features to emphasis the beauty of their semi-realistic portraits. I especially like how Yun brings in the sparkle in each character’s eyes and complements that with the lighting of the scene.
Bleble is another artist I met early on and is an integral part of the Thailand NFT community. He easily became one of my favorite NFT artists with his sense of soft, whimsical colors and proficiency with mesh animation. I admire the amount of work he puts into his artworks. As a fellow game artist who also deals with animation, I understand how grueling and tedious it can be. I am particularly blown away by his piece “I Dash To The Moon! Bowwww!!,” and I hope people check out that piece for themselves!
Sashimi is a rising star within the anime NFT community who’s already has found great success among both Japanese and global collectors. Sashimi’s works are always full of fun, details, and explosive colors! It’s no wonder her works are becoming popular. Her intuitive use of the wide range of hues without compromising the composition should be enough to show that she is an expert at what she does. I think Sashimi is a great representative of what the NFT artists of Japan can offer, so I am glad she will be an addition to this gallery show.
Nanniimo is one of the original members of Anifam and an early influencer in the anime NFT space. I love her Korean manhwa-style influences, and I thought bringing Nanni’s talent to this gallery show would be the best way to showcase how flexible the style of anime can be. I am also impressed with how Nannii utilizes her skills to bring a variety of inspiration into her artworks.
MP: What does the future hold for new art from GreyRadian?
GR: Recently I have been inactive with my online activity, but I am still working on my art behind the scenes while making sure I stay both physically and mentally healthy.
After spending 5 years in the games industry, I made the big leap to dedicate myself to the new NFT industry. Currently I am working hard under the Japanese financial services conglomerate SBI Holdings to develop a new IP through NFTs at SBI NFT.
In my off-time, I will continue my Himé Designs series, focusing on handcrafting and designing all full-body characters. While a lot of projects rely on algorithms to create portrait images, I want to focus on craftsmanship for anime enthusiasts and fans of the otaku subculture. And I want to make sure each of my creations is worthy of its collector’s investment.