Arteasy Insight, AUTHOR: Jekami Adetiloye O.

YOUSSEF EL IDRISSI TALKS EXPANSIVELY ABOUT NFTs AND HIS DEFINITION OF TRUE ARTISTIC SUCCESS.

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“Art for me is an act of creation that focuses more on what the world can and should be. It’s not simply a reflection of inner depths…”– Youssef El Idrissi

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Tell us about your background? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I’m Youssef El Idrissi from Casablanca, Morocco. I’m an artist, researcher, and cultural worker. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy of Communication and Public Spaces. A Master’s Degree in Cultural and Artistic Engineering. I co-founded the collective “Kounaktif”, which aims to democratize access to arts & culture, and works at the intersection of ecology, technology, and arts. My art practice mixes field recording, generative art, procedural coding, and installation. I’m interested in themes such as spirituality, power relations, and the decolonization of imaginaries. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Why digital art? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I have been attracted to technology since my early childhood. These little cars with motos always made me curious about how they function. This attraction got amplified when I first got a computer and learned through the internet Photoshop and other software. Slowly, I began to express myself through these digital mediums.

Jekami Adetiloye O. : Why art? 

Youssef El Idrissi: Because it’s vital for me. I create by necessity. Art for me is an act of creation that focuses more on what the world can and should be. It’s not simply a reflection of inner depths, but an invitation to reflect all together on the necessity of “error” in the process of learning, transforming, and transcending. My alias is glitcharmony because my intent is to mix and question the interrelation between machines and human intent, between errors and harmony, and dive within the gap that separates yet unify the mechanical and the organic. Glitcharmony is a project that investigates the gap that separates yet unites errors and harmony.

“Success nowadays is measured by numbers and how much you sold. But I don’t think that this is a success, I call this complacency. True success comes when we keep on creating what we are truly passionate about…”– Youssef El Idrissi  

(c) Youssef El Idrissi (glitcharmony), “Striated Hypostasis” [Flesh Series], mixed media. 

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Jekami Adetiloye O.: What were some of the challenges you faced while trying to penetrate the world of NFTs and how did you successfully manage them? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I never truly tried to penetrate it. I received an invitation from a curator from ART x LAGOS to be part of the first African exhibition focusing on crypto-art. It was my first attempt to join the world of NFTs. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What are tips you can give on how African artists can discover their own unique NFT style? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I don’t believe in any “NFT” style. NFTs are simply a contract of the authenticity of digital assets. If your purpose is to sell, you should work on your communications and have giveaways so you attract more attention to your work. Because as we already witnessed, anything can be an NFT.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: What are some qualities you would say make an NFT stand out from the hoard of others spread across the different marketplaces? 

Youssef El Idrissi: As I said previously if your communication is on point, you’ll have more spotlights on your work. And also may be working on a series of artworks instead of one unique artwork. This will allow it to exist in the long term.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: When you say communications, what do you mean? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I mean developing communication strategies in the digital sphere. Understanding how social media works, trends, reels, hashtags, regularity of publications, how to engage audiences, and so on. All of these elements define the narrative about the artwork, but also in practical terms how to influence, reach the right audiences, make your artwork attractive to your potential collectors – and eventually sell. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Many people seem to want to join the NFT tribe because of the huge money they think they can get from it. For you, what was the most catchy part of the NFT world that drew you in? 

Youssef El Idrissi: The autonomy of being creative, and not working for somebody else. You just create and sell with no middlemen. For creatives, I think that’s the biggest thing within the NFT world.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: I have heard artists say it is expensive to join the best NFT marketplaces. Sometimes, they get confused by the technical complexities they are confronted with. What are some of the things you can suggest on how the average African artist can scale through the world of NFTs? 

Youssef El Idrissi: There are platforms that don’t require much expertise or complexities. For the best ones, you need to pay a fee and be approved and whitelisted. You can begin with the more accessible ones at first.

“no one can save you but your own self…be more autonomous and self-reliant and get out of my comfort zone regularly”– Youssef El Idrissi

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Is there a recommendation you can give? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I suggest you look up the Open Sea platform, they are the most accessible platform. Here’s a link that explains the basics: https://www.ibizresources.com/a-practical-guide-to-nft-pdf/

Jekami Adetiloye O.: How can emerging artists protect their works ( digital or non-digital artworks) from being faked, sold without their consent/awareness, or plagiarized on the NFT marketplaces? 

Youssef El Idrissi: Normally the NFTs are what gives this possibility. It creates an actual license that certifies you are the owner of the work.

“All artists are successful. The path of an artist is often not an easy one – we sacrifice a lot to make what we love.”- Youssef El Idrissi 

(c) Youssef El Idrissi (glitcharmony), “Fleeing proximity”, digital collage.

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Jekami Adetiloye O.: Still, we have lots of works by traditional artists being sold without consent and owned by some people on the NFT marketplaces who aren’t the owners. But claim to be because they minted it or created it on an NFT platform. What about that? How can that be tackled? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I don’t really know. This whole issue about copyrights is complicated. With the NFTs, it’s becoming much more complicated, knowing that we’re now diving legally into a gray zone. I’m normally adept at the copyleft movement – and at the same time, I respect every artist who wants to monetize his artwork. I think that the safest thing that can be done is simply to mint your artwork before beginning to share it on social media – I guess this way, you’ll have your artwork minted safely in the blockchain.

“As I said previously if your communication is on point, you’ll have more spotlights on your work.”– Youssef El Idrissi

Jekami Adetiloye O. : How do you relax? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I meditate, listen to music, and create artworks. 

Jekami Adetiloye O. What is the best advice you have ever received? 

Youssef El Idrissi: Not sure if it’s the best or not, but it’s one of the biggest things I think. In a book by Krishnamurti “The freedom from the Unknown”, he speaks about the fact that no one can save you but your own self. Somehow it invites me to be more autonomous and self-reliant and get out of my comfort zone regularly. 

“I don’t really like the NFT fever because it just reinforces the art market without focus on the qualitative aspect of the artworks.”– Youssef El Idrissi

Jekami Adetiloye O.: I have heard artists comment that Non-African NFT artists are favoured by the setup and operation of the NFT marketplaces. What’s your take on that? 

Youssef El Idrissi: Yes, I think it’s a global problem that is rooted in colonialism and white supremacy. We didn’t fully get rid of that even in the art world. But on a positive note, we shouldn’t really focus on that, and fall into a victim mentality – we can simply be persistent and keep on working until everything works out naturally.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: For artists looking to become top players in the NFT world, what is your advice to them? 

Youssef El Idrissi: I don’t really like the NFT fever because it just reinforces the art market without focusing on the qualitative aspect of the artworks. But if you’re a businessman and just want to make money, you just have to analyze the trends and learn more about digital communication and audience engagement. 

Jekami Adetiloye O.: Your favourite quote 

Youssef El Idrissi: One of my favourite ones is “The deepest part of human beings is their skin” by Paul Valery.

Jekami Adetiloye O.: How would you describe a successful NFT artist? 

Youssef El Idrissi: All artists are successful. The path of an artist is often not an easy one – we sacrifice a lot to make what we love. I don’t think that there is such a thing as an “NFT artist”. As artists, we use different mediums: paintings, sound, video, algorithms, analogue machines, etc. NFT is just a way to make it to the digital art market. Success nowadays is measured by numbers and how much you sold. But I don’t think that this is a success, I call this complacency. True success comes when we keep on creating what we are truly passionate about and eventually we get paid for it. The initial purpose isn’t and shouldn’t be the money, otherwise, the art is just a product, and this way it gets perverted within the ultra-capitalistic society we are all part of.

“The initial purpose isn’t and shouldn’t be the money, otherwise, the art is just a product, and this way it gets perverted within the ultra-capitalistic society we are all part of.”-Youssef El Idrissi

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