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From Photography to NFT Art: Twisted Digital Landscapes with Nate Hill

A selection of Nate Hill's digital art
Crossover is an interview series with designers and developers exploring new and uncertain domains, from Web3 to AI, to building new business models.

Nate Hill is a recognised digital artist and freelance photographer with over 9 years of experience working with a number of big names like Apple, Disney, Star Wars, and Warner Music. 
Nate originally studied photography and printmaking at university, whilst also fostering a long-term interest in graphic design.

I love working with bands and musicians to create visuals that accompany their music.

Around mid-2020, the world of NFTs came into Nate’s peripherals: “I saw some artists that I’ve been following for a long time start talking about them, so I had to look into it,” he explains. “My initial reaction was that it would be worth a shot. The prospect of earning some income for something I had been creating for years almost seemed too good to be true.”

In this edition of our Crossover Series, we find out more about Nate’s artistic transition to NFT art, his design process, and what makes a good NFT.

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1. How did your foray into NFT digital art come about? 

I was super fortunate to have the legend that is 3LAU guide me at the start of my journey. We had been following each other for a little while and I saw that he clearly had a lot of experience and knowledge around crypto and NFT’s. I reached out and asked for some help and he was kind enough to get me started. He also collected my first ever NFT. Forever grateful. I’ve gone on to release a number of 1/1’s on SuperRare and Foundation and a number of collections on Nifty Gateway. Most recently a drop on Nifty that was a series of collaborations with photographers from around the globe.

A selection of Nate Hill's digital art
Nifty Gateway x Nate Hill

2. What were some of the initial difficulties you faced during the crossover process (from previous design work to NFT design)?

Apart from getting started with the actual currencies and understanding the ecosystem, it was a pretty smooth crossover. I almost felt like I had accidentally been preparing for life as a NFT artist for the years leading up to my entry.

3. And the response from fellow designers?

For the most part, people have been very accepting. One of the prevailing comments is that people see it as a no brainer that I jumped in with my art. I haven't had a lot of negativity thankfully.

A dark figure stands on top of a design made up of wavy lines
Nate Hill - Digital Landscapes

4. What do you say to people who say NFT art isn’t ‘real’ art? Does the creativity process differ?

For me, I’ve always felt like an artist just using different tools. I come from a photography and printmaking background so I feel I have a good feel for different disciplines. There isn’t any real difference in my workflow from what I’ve been doing for the last 8-9 years.

For me, I’ve always felt like an artist just using different tools.

5. Talk us through your design process, from seedling of an idea through to final product. 

It varies a lot for me. Sometimes I have a clear vision of something I’d like to create and I go about creating it. But one of the joys of being creative for me is experimentation. I love starting with no preconceived ideas in mind and seeing where it can take you.

I’ve been doing this for long enough now that I have a tool kit and workflow that I’m confident with. It’s always fun to try and discover something new.

Photograph of a sandy shore and sea cove, overlooked by two cliffs
'Paradise' before manipulation (Nate Hill)
Edited version of the previous photo. The photograph has been manipulated into a distorted round formation.
'Paradise' after manipulation (Nate Hill)

6. What makes a good NFT? (Marketing-wise, why would one do better over another, for example?)

It really comes down to the eye of the beholder I guess. As an artist, the aim is to create something that has an impact whether it be purely visual or through a story or something meaningful. For it to be a successful NFT, that piece in question needs to connect with the collector.

For it to be a successful NFT, that piece in question needs to connect with the collector.

7. Have you purchased any NFTs yourself?

I most certainly have. I have quite a lot actually. It can be quite addictive. To be able to support other amazing artists and own something that speaks to you. I love it!

8. There are many NFT skeptics who think that it’s some ‘Ponzi scheme’. Do you think their opinions have any basis?

There are always going to be people that have strong opinions for and against things that are new. I can completely understand someone choosing to not get involved for whatever reason. I guess for me if you do your own research and try to understand this new thing, you’ll be in the best position to make a decision for yourself. NFTs have been amazing for me, so if someone is looking for a success story feel free to ask me about it.

Digital art made up of black and white lines to form a series of cliffs, and a single figure in the distance
Nate Hill - Digital Landscapes

9. What does Web3 mean to you, and how do NFTs fit in to this?

I feel like I am only scratching the surface in the Web3 world. I guess to me it means freedom. It has afforded me the opportunity to be creative and make a living. I can now be a little more selective about what I put my time and energy into.

I feel like I am only scratching the surface in the Web3 world. I guess to me it means freedom.

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Stay up to date with Nate over on Twitter and Open Sea, and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more stories of intrepid designers doing cool new things!

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Written by

Sophie Clifton-Tucker

Editor, UX writer, coding since GeoCities 👾

Hi! I'm Sophie. I'm the editor of The Gibraltar Magazine and Gibraltar Business, founder of the Little English language school, and creator of the By Design newsletter by Prototypr. Nice to meet you!

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