Saphera Peters: The Web3 space was once heralded as a solution to providing greater representation and equality in digital spaces. But has it since lived up to its promise? As new players enter the space and new communities emerge, many projects simply mirror the traditional world where only a select few have a voice, or PfP and identity representations exclude many minority groups.
For Saphera Peters (Saf), she aims to use Web3 as a force of identity empowerment exploring how her art can lift-up minority groups and build like-minded communities. She grew up being excluded for her culture perceived as ‘different’, and today she channels her mission of inclusion through her art that tell stories about women of colour to break down stereotypes. We spoke to the down-to-earth artist about her journey into the space and how she believes newcomers will benefit from finding their people.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your venture into Web3 and the story behind your art?
My name is Saphera Peters (I go by Saf!) and I’m based out of Toronto, Canada. I’ve been into the arts for as long as I can remember, writing short stories as a kid and then wanting to pursue photography from age 12 up until University.
In 2019, I decided I should learn how to draw so that I could storyboard my ideas in the photo and video world. I purchased an iPad and I started a 365-day challenge where I drew every day for a year. That unlocked my love for digital art and I have not looked back since.
Growing up as a minority, (South Asian Woman living in Canada), I did not see positive representations of myself in mainstream media. I now use my art as a way to empower minority woman of colour to take up space and be who they want to be, defying stereotypes along the way.
In April 2021, I was introduced to NFTs by my previous boss, who recommended I check it out after learning about my passion for digital art. I remember giving a single article a read and I was extremely overwhelmed and thought that this technology was above me. Fast forward to that August, it had come up again in conversation with my friends.
At that point, I still didn’t grasp the concept of NFTs and Web3 and left the topic alone. Not too long after, my friend got airdropped a World of Women NFT from Gary V by replying to his tweet. As she shared her excitement with us, I decided to take a deep dive into World of Women and fell in love with the brand, the art, and everything they were doing to make a difference in the world through the power of blockchain.
That is what drove me down the rabbit hole of Web3. Since then, I’ve sold out my very first collection on OpenSea, ‘The Visionary Ladies‘, and have released two more. One through creating my own smart contract with Manifold Studios called ‘Reflections by Saf’, and another using the Tezos blockchain called, ‘Surrender + Flow’.
In between these collection drops, I joined the 90s Babes for a few months, helping build the brand through community building, communications, running twitter spaces, and more, all while living my best 90s life!
Additionally, I have worked with the HUG as one of the artists for their #EndGunViolence campaign, was 1 of 12 artists commissioned by Fidelity Chairty for their Art of Generosity Project, have been featured in the Artsies first-ever metaverse gallery, spoke at a high school about the power of Web3, and even have an upcoming drop planned for a new collected with Unblocked in January 2023!
What do you see as the future of Web3 and how has it changed the way you engage with both art and digital communities?
Web3 has and will change the way a lot of brands function in the future, but specifically for art, it is allowing for artists to directly communicate and get feedback from their collectors, all while ensure they get paid royalties on their work for years to come. Additionally, it has introduced me to so many artists around the world with similar passions as me, making my journey as a full time artist a little less lonely.
How did you grow as an artist and what advice do you have for other artists out there?
To ensure my growth as an artists, I’ve made sure to stay consistent with my practice and constantly expose myself to other artists in Web3 to keep me motivated and inspired. My biggest advice would be to engage with the community around you! People who you may have traditionally seen as your ‘competition’ or ‘competitors’ in Web2, are very willing to help and support you in Web3. Offer a helping hand when you can and you will likely be returned with the same!
Do you think there is more opportunity for artists in the NFT art world or is it far too saturated?
I think there is plenty of opportunity for artists in NFT art world. The pool of collectors is only growing and in turn, the artists they collect from will continue to diversify.
What are some of the most unique explorations in Web3 that you’ve witnessed?
I’ve seen everything from nude photography to personal family photos, to people minting their own tweets as a way to engrain them into the blockchain forever. The possibilities are endless!
What are the best blockchain marketplaces for art and how do you find that they differ? How does one find their community on there beyond just perusing collections?
I think this will be different for everyone depending on their goals as artists. I have recently been exploring tezos via objkt and I love how art focused the community has been. In terms of finding your own community, it is vital to jump into Twitter spaces and network with people there. Additionally, show up on Twitter everyday and interact with your community. It may seem like something small in the moment, but bit by bit you are building up a name/brand/community for yourself just by being constantly present.
What is your favourite NFT trading story and what’s your worst?
My favourite story is perhaps one involving me and how I sold my very first NFT. I was listening to my friend Thao speak in a space back in 2021 about how she was bullied as a kid for bringing traditional Veitnamese dishes to school for lunch.
I instantly dm’d her and shared with her that I had a similar experience growing up, begging my mom not to pack me traditional South Asian dishes for lunch. I shared an illustration I had created back in 2020 about this experience with Thao as a form on support to let her know she was not alone. She fell in love with the piece and asked me to mint it on the blockchain so she could purchase the piece, which of course, I did.
Prior to this I had no plans on minting anything anytime soon, but this encouraged me to create my very first collection, The Visionary Ladies, which I released about a week after and eventually sold out. The rest is history!
(Saphera Peters fortunately doesn’t have a worst story.)
What do you see for the future of NFTs in 2023?
In 2023, I see a whole new wave of people entering the Web3 and NFT space. As we near mass adoption, things such as creating a wallet and minting should and will only get easier, especially with platforms like Unblocked that create a wallet for you simply with your email address. I also think we will stray away from the term ‘NFTs’ and into something more generic like Digital Collectibles, following in the path of Instagram.