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Into Days Night: An Artistic Journey Through Hope and Despair with Nilus Dantes

What inspired you to create art?

Growing up I always had a difficult time learning in school, a big thing that helped me was art itself and the films I was exposed to; art made it easier for me to retain information through education based on feeling. Art became a building block in education for me and helped create moral rules. Art spurred into the idea of creating, educating and inspiring people to create art. It became a tool for negating despair (depression as a teenager) that inspired me even more to become an artist to try and help lift people up in the same situations I was in by creating a healthy outlet.

How has social media affected your creative process?

Social media itself hasn't affected my creative vision of the work that I do but it has given me a better understanding on how people perceive art at this day and age. Social media is a system designed for engagement (clout). Artistically as an artist, you want people to see your work, that's the reality of it. There's a whole other factor when you pour your heart into your work but not receiving the engagement you thought you would; It can affect your mental health a lot if you allow it to. If you're making art for art it shouldn’t matter but the engagement farming is the reality of it all. We’re putting things out there for other people to see, if there's no feedback (positive or negative) it can feel upsetting. Social media has a bigger impact on anxiety more so than on creators artistic vision. When the things we create are so intertwined with other people's perceptions, it can deter others from creating. Imposter syndrome is a huge thing for artists and I have personally been affected by it in the past.

Before you got into NFTs, how were you profiting off of your art?

For the most part, I was not profiting as much as I could. In the beginning of 2021 i was selling prints and would occasionally do client work. It was a struggle before NFTs. I never had a lot of connections to the art world with my photography and the town I was in. The work I was creating through prints wasn’t getting enough traction locally and online. We live in a world with a mass majority of people who don’t value artists, art is the glue that holds our society together and its integral for humanity's growth. Most people take art for granted. When it comes to independent artists trying to make a living it becomes more of an issue. We would rather spend a couple hundred dollars on alcohol a week than spend $20-$30 on an artist's work. I’m not judging how people decide to indulge in their day to day lives however art is rarely valued compared to other things in our society. People want art accessible and feel like they are entitled to it. Many people have difficulty seeing the effort put into creating art and the value it holds.

What made you take a leap into the NFT community knowing it would be a 50/50 chance of profit?

I started at the beginning of last year. It wasn’t a 50/50 chance for me. I was told by other photographers that NFTs will change the way we sell art. On paper NFTs sound like a scam until you take the time to do your own research. Being an artist full time was what I wanted to do more than anything, It was the driving force for me being alive. It was a leap I took because it was a “sure why not” situation. I didn't have a clear understanding in the beginning, it was a complete shot in the dark. It was next to impossible in the beginning to sell an NFT. However, it was something that I felt was necessary to do because I was out of options. The art world is a game of connections, skill and hard work but that doesn't determine success. You have to know the right people and be at the right place at the right time and I wasn't at that point yet. For the first 7 months, it was very slow (I had a couple of sales) more than I ever made selling my art locally through prints. Photography NFT’s were not normalized until August of 2021. Artists know how hard it is to make it as an artist full time. Everyone wants to succeed as an artist.. It wasn’t until NFT’s became a thing that it was a real possibility that being a full time artist could happen depending on how you choose to approach it.

What are the negative aspects of being a part of WEB3 and the NFT Space?

Many of the same negative aspects of being an artist of WEB2 carry over to WEB3. From my experience, a lot of the same struggles I still have now but there is a more accessible opportunity within WEB3.

What is your process of creating pieces?

All of my work relies on feelings and emotions. All of my work is less about knowing the outcome of what I want to do and rather feeling of what it needs to be. I'll have a general idea of feeling and what I want to convey before I create. When I get the shot I want I know exactly if it's the right shot because it correlates to what I'm feeling in that moment. It's like you're trying to balance a scale internally. Going into the editing process, I do not have presets but every piece I create I try to go into it differently. I play around with editing based on how I'm feeling wether its black and white or diving into color. I know the right tones and what the image needs based on what I'm feeling internally. It's a different process to describe because I convey through my emotions. There are some core tenants that I abide by when I create. I love horror, it has been a huge inspiration to me because I love how great horror utilizes the elements of the unknown; I love incorporating it in my work. I enjoy leaving things up to the imagination to allow viewers to gain a different perspective. The monster in the dark philosophy is something I use, "What we can perceive through our imagination is often more powerful than what we’re told specifically what something is." I want my work to be distinct but I don't want to go out of my way to make it distinct. As artists, our experiences as people are unique to others. There isn’t a reason to go out of your way to make your work distinct. If you embody the aspects that are true to you it makes your work unique. The best way to improve your creativity as an artist is to take the time to get to know yourself. Finding my style and vision became for me getting to know myself more as an artist. Self discovery as an artist will level itself out when we find out who we are and what we’re trying to do.

Where do you want to see yourself in five years as an artist?

I’d like to be at a point of comfort (both financially and creatively) where I can create without concern or worry for my future. At a place where I know the work I put out will inspire people in mass; to help them get through what they’re going through mentally and emotionally.

What advice would you give an aspiring artist?

Take time to get to know who you are as a person because it will carry into your art. I took out the 9-5 thing because for me I understood what I couldn't do anymore and working a 9-5 killed my creative drive. I'm not telling you to quit your job but wanting to broaden your horizon creatively you need to focus on things to nourish that growth. I understand people have to survive and have bills to pay. As a creative, it is important to reduce the things that restrict you creatively. Fundamentals depending on the craft you're doing. You don’t have to adhere to any style, learning and process. You’ll have a more enjoyable time if you’re true to yourself and what you do. Also, it is okay to create without inherent intent. There is a perception as a photographer that in order to create something of value it has to have an intentional meaning behind it which is not true. It is okay and valid solely because it resonates with you; that is enough. Everything we create and manifest into our reality has inherent intent regardless. Anything that means anything to you has inherent meaning. “Art will take on its own identity whether we give it that or not.” You can assign meaning or intent but you have to leave it to the viewer. Dont stress or put pressure on yourself to create things with intent; that comes with time as you get to know yourself.

How do you find a balance between your life as an artist and your mental struggles?

I approach it in a non-healthy way and I don't recommend other artists do. The majority of this year I've spent creating art. As far as mental health goes; it became very difficult to deal with things going on in my personal life so I put all my energy and intent into my path and career as an artist. I will say that balance is important and I think people need to take the time to connect with the people in your life. An artist needs that “real life” action and connection. An artist's experience is interconnected with life experiences; joy, sadness, love, hope. You need to hold onto those real life interactions because if you don't it can become a dark place. My experiences overall, is what not to do. It's important to maintain your grounding to reality. You can make amazing art but in the long run, it can become dangerous. Don’t lose your tether to the things that give life meaning. Make sure to stay grounded and connected because if you lose those parts of yourself and your art goes away then you will lose your meaning for existing.

Why do you feel the need to remain faceless?

Anonymity is very powerful. Society places a lot of importance on beauty standards and racial bias. The moment you see what someone looks like, your mind immediately forms its own system of biases for a number of different reasons. I couldn’t think of a reason to present myself on social media anymore. I'm not interested in the attention aspect of it because it held no benefit for me; I want people to get to know me for my art and not what I look like. I did an experiment last year, I had a huge spike in growth. I noticed that there was a difference in how people would interact and engage with me when I presented myself as a black artist in the community. I noticed a decline in engagement when I presented myself as a black artist. There was a mass difference in engagement with how I presented myself. My engagement spiked when people thought I looked like a beautiful gothic white woman because I was more beautiful to the human eye. There is a difference on how people perceive you based on what you look like.

Where can I view your work?

You can view all of my work via my website

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