Spotlight: StarMasayume - Bringing Anime and Kawaii Chibi Style Art To NFTs

Anime nerd and bookworm at heart, my daily life revolves around being a mom and my creative pursuits.

Hello! Who are you and what do you do?

Hi! My name is Sarah, but I've gone by the nickname Star and have signed my artwork as 'Stargirl' ever since my early teens.

I am a Florida-based artist, and though I am usually juggling housework and a two-year-old, I still manage to work on commissions (usually chibi or caricature portraits) while making new art and merch to sell at conventions and my online shop, and recently focusing more on the NFT art space.

A friend of my husband's told me that I needed to look into NFTs after my husband got interested in crypto early this year.

So while I expected to just dip a toe in, I ended up diving in completely. Unfortunately, I've had to limit convention appearances due to having a little one and cancellations from COVID, so it's been very motivating and inspiring for me to find such an active and supportive community of artists and collectors here!

What's your backstory and how did you start?

I always loved art growing up but nearly disregarded my dream of being an artist as impractical.

Discovering anime, especially the manga-style illustrations, shortly thereafter sparked something.

This was around the same time I also discovered the concept of "digital art" and found art communities such as Epilogue, Elfwood, and later DeviantArt and GaiaOnline.

My first experience was drawing on community 'Oekaki Boards' in a super basic paint program and getting comments from others. I drew digitally with a mouse for two years before getting my first drawing tablet as a Christmas present.

Having access to a community of artists I admired online, places for art critique, art tutorials (this was before youtube and live streams), and places to experiment and work on commissions all contributed to my development as an artist.

I first sold my art at an anime convention in 2006 when they chose my art for their convention guide and badges.

It was such an awesome experience to see my art everywhere I looked and selling prints and small art merch to those who stopped by. 

Take us through your creative process of conceptualising, making, and minting your work

Throughout my teens and twenties, I always carried a sketchbook with me. I'd be the girl doodling in a social setting out with friends or at a restaurant with family.

Sometimes I had a spark of inspiration or would just start doodling to see where something went or simply wanted to draw a favorite character.

Sketches I liked would be scanned and finished digitally in Corel Painter or, more often now, in Photoshop. I still go back through my 16 sketchbooks for ideas or sketches I would like to complete or redraw.

Nowadays, more of my sketching (and some coloring) is done on my Wacom Cintiq hybrid tablet using Sketchbook Pro. 

I do have an art office, but I really enjoy being able to take the Cintiq tablet with me to the couch or out of the house. When I first got this tablet, I enjoyed drawing in this colored pencil sketch style. 

Starting my NFT sketch series on Hic Et Nunc gave me the motivation to start sketching again. It is also less stressful for me to work on at the end of the day amidst commissions and other art projects.

I have been releasing my digital sketches with high multiples with the thought they are less rare but more akin to getting art tips while letting people collect any, or all (you know who you are), that they like. 

Aside from digital art, I enjoy drawing cute chibi art traditionally with multiliner pens, Copic and Prismacolor markers, and colored pencils. These are usually drawn quite small on 4x6" cards to as small as 2x3". I recently had fun adding small animations to some of these drawn chibi art to release as collectible NFTs.

Above is a sneak peek at a set that has not yet been released. Below was my "Shooting Stars" animated chibi NFT released on the GhostMarket. I like that I can experiment on different NFT platforms, and this was no different.

I sold out of the 20 collectible editions but, for the first time, auctioned an NFT bundle. It had unlockable content should they wish to have the original art as a keychain shipped to them and was infused with the 1st Edition NFT along with a Work in Progress animated NFT. This is a unique and fun feature on GhostMarket.

What do you do to increase the visibility and collectibility of your work?

I come from a background of years selling my art as collectible prints and small merch, so I view NFTs as an extension of what I do but in a digital realm without physical borders.

Collectors can potentially invest in my art rather than just admire a trinket and support what I do simultaneously. Because of my existing mentality, I find it hard to make 1/1s or anything ultra-rare though I have done a few and may do more. 

Having a huge backlog of art over the years, I have tried to be very selective in what, when, and where I release an artwork and also to intersperse prior art with newer animated versions and newly created art.

I am used to presenting myself and networking behind an artist's table at events. I feel this is equally if not more so important within the online NFT community. 

Here are a few of my sold-out chibi art released on the GhostMarket. Most were released between 5 and 12 editions. 

There's a reason why people know me as a chibi artist - I draw A LOT of cute chibi art. I do, however, have quite a few detailed works, both original and fan-inspired, that I may selectively and slowly NFT over time.

Below "Shower of Blessings" was sold as a 1/1, and I have 1 of 2 editions left of "Stay Out of the Shadows" on the GhostMarket. 

What have you learned about NFTs and the NFT space since you've entered, and what is your focus for the future?

I hardly knew anything about crypto other than hearing "BitCoin" before this year, let alone what "NFTs" were.

It was an alien idea to me, and I had to wrap my mind around the idea of what was the point? This wasn't a print or a keychain someone could take home to admire or use. 

But many people who collect prints at conventions don't necessarily have the wall space; they just simply love the art and want to collect it even if that means it's kept in a binder.

We live in a digital age, and "NFTs" speak to that joy of collecting and knowing you're directly supporting an artist.

Because you can resell NFTs, it's also a way to potentially invest and, thanks to royalties, continues to benefit the artist as well on the secondary market. 

The idea of minting high-resolution art as NFTs overwhelmed me at first.

What stops someone from stealing?

I came to appreciate the value and ownership it provides to digital art.

Sure, someone could still steal an image to sell on merch, but watermarks never stopped them before in my experience. NFTs have an inherent value as there is a set or max number of editions. 

I believe there is a future in NFTs for both high-end rare art as well as collectible NFTs - it's fun to imagine kids in school trading NFTs around like pokemon cards.

The concept of NFTs may also become more mainstream as video games and other markets take advantage of the technology. 

What platforms/tools do you use?

Digital Tools: Wacom Cintiq Hybrid Tablet (13") and an Intuos 4, which I find I still prefer using when connected to my PC. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Painter, Sketchbook Pro, Adobe After Effects are the main software I use. 

Traditional Art Tools: Copic or Micron multiliner pens, Copic and Prismacolor markers, Prismacolor colored pencils, and white gel pens or acrylic highlights. 

NFT MarketPlaces:

GhostMarket (Phantasma/Cross-Chain) was my first NFT mint, and I hold a special fondness for it. Even after branching to other platforms, I find it has one of the best interfaces, features, and supportive community and development team. In addition, it supports various crypto (Soul, Eth, USDC, now BNB), fixed listings or auctions, and infused NFTs. Here I mint various rarer artwork as well as small chibi collectibles. 

PARAS (NEAR) is all about digital art trading cards and became the perfect answer for releasing my larger digital chibi art sets. I am slowly working on animating them for an NFT debut, and they are fun to see in the interactive card frame of Paras. 

HicEtNunc (Tezos) needs no introduction. It was great to see an alternate blockchain NFT platform take off, and its simplicity felt like a good fit for my digital sketch series. 

NFTShowroom on HIVE is another platform that I've tried out and has a really nice art gallery feel. Since gas fees are low, I have also minted on RARIBLE but am still awaiting verification. 

Which books, people or resources have had the most influence on you?

The biggest resource that influenced my life and art was time. I started homeschooling in 7th grade, right around the same time my interest in anime, digital art, and the internet began.

I feel it allowed me a lot more time to focus on my interests and improving my art. More artists than I can count, let alone name, have influenced me over the years. 

It's hard to say what else has had the biggest influence on me, but my parents' support, most notably my father, is something I feel I can't take for granted.

When I began selling my art at conventions, he was there behind the scenes helping me cut out business cards, building elaborate frame displays, and helping me trim prints. Losing my dad was one of the most painful things I've ever gone through, but I know he would be proud of where I am.

Recently some of my favorite artists discovered thanks to the NFT community include @smallandround, @lariennechan, @GreyRadian, @seerlight, @Loredangoo, @AswangNFT, @meisanmui, @NyxaiTCG who can all be found on Twitter.

All these artists have some form of anime aesthetic or influence that appeals to me. I love their creativity and styles for different reasons, some for unique and pretty characters, detail to backgrounds, or for being fun and cute, if not all of the above. 

Other artists and collectors I've found super supportive in this space are @cryptopom1, @NFTtori, @PWarrenn - honestly, everyone is over at #NFTHypeSquad. I also need to shout out my thanks to all my collectors across the many platforms I'm on

Advice for artists who are just starting out with NFTs and the crypto space:

Just stay true to what you love to create, never judge yourself against others in the space, and don't be afraid to experiment in the market.

There are many different NFT platforms out there on different blockchains you can learn about.

Join in the NFT community, discord groups, network and make connections and be more than just a username.

If you are very new to crypto, educate yourself so that you have a good basic understanding. There will be market highs, and market lows, so make the best of either.  

Where can we go to learn more about you? 

Short questions:

Country of origin: United States

Where are you based: Florida

Describe your art style(s): Highly influenced by the anime and kawaii chibi aesthetic. Even with digital art, I will often experiment with more painterly styles. Aside from influence from anime and pop culture, I love fantasy, sci-fi, or whimsical themes.  

Years of experience in art: 15 Years

How much have you made from NFTs so far: Possibly enough to cover a few mortgage payments - maybe not with the current market crash, but I am viewing it more as a long-term investment. 

Largest NFT sale: Around $150 in $SOUL

Describe yourself in one line: Anime nerd and bookworm at heart, my daily life revolves around being a mom and my creative pursuits.

timongty Timongty, Founder of Galleseum
🌏 Indie Maker (currently exploring the crypto space and metaverse). Enjoys chilling and making cool stuff