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🎙 "Collector DAOs Are Going to be a Game-Changer for the NFT Space:" pplpleasr
In this week’s episode we talk with the DeFi artist of the moment. Pplpleasr got into DeFi drawn in by the crazy yields but really stayed when she resonated with the community —the gaming-like, niche subculture of memes and internet-native humor. She started making videos for many DeFi teams, from Yeran to Pickle Finance. Her latest and best-known work though is the video she made for the highly anticipated v3 of Uniswap. The clip of a unicorn in an otherworldly oasis, Ethereum dapp symbols floating about, gained her universal praise. But it’s what happened later when it gets really interesting,
Pplpleasr decided, like many other artists these days, to sell the video as an NFT. But unlike most artists fetching big chunks of cash, she was set on donating the proceeds to charity. Also unlike other auctions, it was a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, created just for the occasion, what ended up winning the piece. In this interview she explains exactly why she decided to give half a million dollars away, and who will be receiving those funds.
She also gave us a peek at the creative process that went into the video and at the thrill of watching her work start a bidding war. But the most lasting outcome of all this, she says, will likely be the fact that now it will become increasingly common for community members to organize and purchase artworks together, which they wouldn't have been able to access otherwise.
We also talked about how many of her artist friends are getting into NFTs but then cashing out into fiat and her hopes that more would stick around for longer in crypto. In any case, she’s confident NFTs will continue being a gateway into crypto for a wider audience.
The podcast was led by Camila Russo, and edited by Alp Gasimov. Transcript was edited by Owen Fernau and Dan Kahan.
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pplpleasr: Sure. So I've been basically working as a 3D artist for about six years now. And I used to work in Visual Effects for a bunch of movies, and was also working at Blizzard on their cinematics team. And then basically, how I got into crypto, working in there, well, I have been holding 2017 ICO coins since 2017. But back then, I was sort of just sitting on the sidelines of crypto and I never thought that there would be a possibility to actually be working or contributing to the space, I was just sort of speculating.
But it wasn't until last summer, DeFi summer, that I really started to pay attention because of the crazy yields that DeFi is seemingly able to generate, definitely caught my eye. And then I also had accepted a job at Apple last March, but then due to the pandemic, they couldn't get my visa application through because the US airspace basically just shut down when the pandemic started.
So while I was waiting for my visa, that was the first time since working that I actually had some time off to sort of create my own artwork. So I created my art Instagram account and then I just started having fun with it and basically using the skill set that I have learned all these years from working to manifest my own visions and creative expression. So that's kind of how it started. And then towards the end of DeFi summer, I got in contact with Yearn Finance. And then there was a Twitter influencer, Blue Kirby, who had seen my work and he was the marketer for Yearn Finance at the time.
So we sort of got in touch and then I made a little short video for Yearn Finance. So that was actually the first video that I ever made for DeFi. A lot of people think it's the Pickle one, because that's the first one that graced Twitter. And the Yearn one never got posted because the product at the time got delayed for many reasons, like the video that it was intended for. But I'd love to share that one on Twitter sometime just because I think it's fun and just because nobody's ever seen and it's my first one. I had a fun time working on it. So that's basically how I got into DeFi.
I also saw it as a way to also sort of make a little bit of money while I was waiting for my job. I didn't intend for the DeFi stuff to become my actual job. But it actually just ended up being really fun. And I think I really resonate with the culture of the DeFi crowd as well, because we all share this love for memes and there's a very specific, niche subculture that goes on here where we all have a similar sense of humor. And I don't know, I just love the community. And so I think that made it really easy for me to create content that was easy for everybody to sort of enjoy and relate to as well.
“I didn't intend for the DeFi stuff to become my actual job. But it actually just ended up being really fun. And I think I really resonate with the culture of the DeFi crowd as well, because we all share this love for memes and there's a very specific, niche subculture that goes on here where we all have a similar sense of humor.”
And yeah, that basically was what drew me to DeFi. And I love that, everybody was so trusting of my creative abilities. It was like, everybody would just give me a blank canvas and just say, just run with it and do what you feel like doing. I was learning on working on these as well. It really helped me understand DeFi a lot better, because there's a lot of really complicated concepts in DeFi that need to be understood.
And so to sort of convey these in an entertaining way through my videos, I need to sort of understand and learn first. So all in all, it was a win-win. It helped me understand these and that that helped me become a better investor. And then also I'm able to have a creative outlet and get paid for it as well. So, yeah.
CR: I love it. I love how it was kind of the crazy DeFi yields that got you into the space and how that led you to actually having a job in this space. That’s so interesting. And definitely you should post your first DeFi video, your Yearn Finance one, like, I'm sure everyone would love to see that.
PP: Yeah, I probably will.
CR: So right now I think you've become like a kind of DeFi celebrity because of your Uniswap video. So I'd love to hear more about how that came about. Like did Uniswap approach you to make this video? What was the creative process like?
PP: Yeah, so Uniswap approached me, I think they reached out to Tarun Chitra, who then texted me. This was in January. And then he was like, ‘hey, somebody from the Uniswap team contacted me asking if you'd be up to work with them?’ And when I got the message, I was pretty excited. I was like, yeah, of course.
“I knew that there were going to be a lot of eyes on this animation, so I really wanted to make it stand out in a way.”
And obviously, the v3 announcement was such an anticipated event. I didn't even think that it would be for v3. Like, I just thought that oh, because the video that I made for Harvest Finance was back in October of last year. And because Harvest’s strategy at the time was using the Uniswap liquidity pool, so I had sort of like this Chad dancing next to a small unicorn. And when I was doing that, I had a lot of fun. And then I thought that oh, a unicorn is actually a fun subject to make a video on.
It was just a thought last October that, oh, I'd love to collaborate with Uniswap one day. And then yeah, so then in January, when they reached out to me I was pretty excited. But lo and behold, it was actually for the v3 announcement, which obviously made me even more excited, but also a little bit nervous, because I knew that it was a very highly anticipated event. So I knew that there were going to be a lot of eyes on this animation, so I really wanted to make it stand out in a way. Then we kind of kicked off concepts towards the beginning of February, so then we would start going back and forth and talking about several potential ideas that could be good for the video, and then kicked off production.
I've been working on it pretty much since mid-February, and then recently in the last week of March we delivered the video.
Behind the Unicorn
CR: So was it a lot of like collaboration between you and the Uniswap team coming up with the idea and, I don't know, the color scheme? How did you decide on the whole concept? Maybe we should describe the video for people who haven't seen it on our listening. If you haven't seen it, you definitely should go check it out. It's definitely a beautiful little piece of animation. It's like a unicorn floating through a blooming garden, right?
PP: Yeah. So the shot sort of takes place, I don't know, it's supposed to be otherworldly. So you don't have to take it too literally. But it's kind of like a desert/forest/oasis kind of land, mystical land. And we start by seeing the unicorn come into the frame, and then the unicorn sort of introduces life and growth into the land. And then we see the bonding curves, which a lot of people are calling noodles or pasta because I guess they kind of look like them in the video…
“I mean, this is going to sound a little bit exaggerated, but it's just sort of like the land of crypto or even DeFi was kind of obsolete before Uniswap came and then sort of changed the game for everybody.”
CR: Oh, those are bonding curves.
PP: Yeah. And then those bonding curves sort of unite with the unicorn and then they travel together to the Ethereum haven, or Promised Land I guess you could say. And yeah, that's pretty much the video. And in terms of the color palette, obviously knowing that Uniswap main color is sort of pink, you definitely see it in the beginning with the unicorn. And that's a main theme throughout the video. But then towards the end, it sort of blends in with a little bit of blue and purple, because that's the color of Ethereum.
And also the saturation. So in the beginning of the video, it's a little bit less saturated, because the real sort of deeper meaning behind this was, I mean, this is going to sound a little bit exaggerated, but it's just sort of like the land of crypto or even DeFi was kind of obsolete before Uniswap came and then sort of changed the game for everybody. Right? So that was kind of the concept behind it is just so then when the unicorn is introduced, then this sort of dry and desaturated land becomes more and more colorful, and then towards the end it's in a harmonious environment with Ethereum basically.
CR: So there was so much meaning throughout the whole video. Even the saturation, the colors, I love how much thought went into all this. And then, as soon as this came out, everyone was kind of dissecting all of the symbolism and there were tiny shapes floating about. People were looking at this, like, what looked like the MetaMask fox, I think. And yeah, what else were some of those symbols that you included?
PP: Yeah. So in the second shot, you first see the Aave ghost, it's pretty subtle, but you see it. It flies up first. And then there's the Unipig for Optimism, and then the MetaMask fox. And then there's a Sybil logo as well, which is the purple one with the white swirl around it as well as the rainbow for the Rainbow app. And that’s just in the second shot. In the fourth shot, there’s Unisocks that actually sort of flipped byl. We discussed about the potential sort of Easter eggs to put in there.
Obviously, there's a lot of DeFi elements that live on the Uniswap ecosystem. And the thought, like everything I can put in the video, there's just too many things. But it's more just a representation about all of these elements of DeFi coming together and their relationship with the Uniswap app. And a lot of the colors and the noodles are sampled, all of the different token colors as well. Yeah, and then I also explained in my behind the scenes video that because one of the main features of Uniswap v3 is that you can now choose your own portion on the price curve to provide liquidity, that's why you see that sections of the noodles in the video, are like, there's a color and then sometimes it slides around.
“That's actually sort of a recurring theme in a lot of my videos, is that I put in a lot of subtle details or elements that either are a reference to the protocol itself, or other elements in DeFi. It's kind of like when you watch a movie and you're trying to spot the symbolism or something.”
CR: Oh, that's why. Okay, I love finally getting all the meaning inside the video. There was just like so much to it. And then obviously the stars kind of form v3.
PP: Yeah, that's the cliffhanger ending which is sort of like the climax of the video. And the constellation itself has symbolism as well. I don't know if you've seen it was made by a 0x DeFi, so this sort of uni-verse, like do your own research website that maps out all the different liquidity pool formations on Uniswap, and then how they're connected with each other. Actually, I think I might be able to just share my screen.
You know what? It's all in the behind the scenes video. So if anybody's interested, they can just go watch it. But yeah, it's sort of like a complicated web of relationships between the different liquidity pools, which looks kind of like a constellation, which is why that's in the end of the video as well where you see the star. So that's what that represents. Yeah, and then I also made separately a constellation that is spelling out v3. It's meant to be not immediately obvious, so it was really fun reading through the comments and seeing people sort of spot that out. Yeah.
CR: So I'd love to hear more of your reaction to people's reactions to the video. It was just like, it came out and it went instantly viral. What were you thinking?
PP: I mean, I was a little bit nervous on that day. Obviously, I wasn't sure what people's reactions would be. I was nervous that people were going to be upset because it doesn't tell you much about v3. But it is meant to be a teaser, sort of the final hype leading up to the actual blog post which was announced the next day. But I mean, I was glad to see that pretty much most, or 99% of the reactions were all positive and then that everybody was just excited to see the video.
And it was fun seeing people trying to identify the different Easter eggs. That's actually sort of a recurring theme in a lot of my videos, is that I put in a lot of subtle details or elements that either are a reference to the protocol itself, or other elements in DeFi. It's kind of like when you watch a movie and you're trying to spot the symbolism or something. It's just like a fun activity for people to watch something and then try to decipher what is going on in the video. Yeah, it’s like a little Easter egg hunt.
NFT for Charity
CR: And then the decision to sell it as an NFT, how did that happen?
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