You might not know his name, but you've probably seen his work.
For years Alberto Mielgo has been producing digital art for movies, television, and commercials. Notable works include an episode of Netflix’s LOVE DEATH AND ROBOTS (for which he and his 70-plus man team won multiple Emmys), music videos for The Gorillaz, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, where he collaborated with NFT digital-art-turn-high art sensation Beeple.
Given the success of his former colleague and the lofty prices NFTs are routinely fetching, Mielgo could well be the next commercially popular digital artist to use blockchain tech as means of both reaching a wider audience and attracting the attention of the fine art world.
Nerds taking power
While he said he’ll be revealing more of his philosophy regarding the drop as the date of the auction approaches, Mielgo did share that he finds NFTs as a production and distribution medium to be a natural fit for his work, as well as a democratizing force.
“As a digital artist, I always struggled to find the right format to show my work. And I felt that the ‘art elite,’ which is very much this 2% or like 3% of the human population which have access to the big galleries or art fairs, they never treat digital art as art -- they always thought we’re for working on movies and commercials.”
The irony there, he says, is that digital artists largely love movies, commercials, and popular culture — they’re nerds. But now, “the nerds are taking the power.”
“The nerds are thinking about crypto, about these abstract concepts that are so beautiful. I think that only our generation, or people have been working in tech or in the cloud for so long, we really get it. Most of the people they need the physical thing, they need the item, for them it’s almost impossible to think about owning something that isn’t physical. I think we’re gravitating towards that world.”
It’s a shift that the art world is struggling to keep up with, he said — after ignoring work like his for so long, now they’re caught flat-footed. The new effort to make space for his work is not getting to his head, however.
“I think it’s validating for sure, but not myself personally, it’s more the digital art world. I think that Beeple got into the art world, but it’s the people who already liked him who got him there.”
He said he suspects it’s the “crypto-people, the young generations, the new brains, the new thinkers… they are like 'hey this is OUR art.'”
Ultimately it’s Christie’s knocking on the door of crypto, asking to play in “our” world and not the other way around.
The corporate world could do with some catching-up too, says Mielgo.
He bemoans the current, “bullshit” contractual culture around digital art, requiring artists to sign over their “soul.” It’s a landscape ripe for a revolution: the art world is “behind,” the major studios are “behind,” and NFTs are opening up an alternative, “parallel world.”
He recounted a story from when he and Beeple were working on Spider Man: Intro the Spider-Verse, where Beeple would submit fast-paced, explosive, “super-psycadelic” clips with “hardcore techno” music. Mielgo showed the clips to Sony producers, delighting as their eyes popped and jaws dropped.
“They couldn’t even process,” he said, laughing. “Everything was so fresh, like ‘oh my god.’”
It was a completely new world for the producers, “who drive up to the studios in limo”, who “do not connect with the real people.”
NFTs are a way to do it all over again, but just at a larger scale.
“It’s a real slap in their face, all these dinosaurs.”
The auction will take place on Makersplace on April 14th