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SHHAN (South Korea)

1. Tell me about something you liked as a child.

When I was a teenager, I was obsessed with arcade games, and I would go to the arcade in front of the bus stop every day on my way home from school and play for hours. At that time, fighting games were in vogue, and I was pretty good at them, so I would put in 100 won (I don't remember the price exactly) and play for 2 or 3 hours. I was especially good at games like "The King of Fighters" and "Virtua Fighter".

In my 20s, I loved advertising a lot. I entered college as an advertising major (I later switched to interior architecture), and I had an advertising club after entering, and I think I ran the club from my sophomore year until I graduated. I watched commercials and movies every day, and I tried to make commercials.


2. Who is your favorite writer? (Art, books, games, etc.)

I studied architecture and worked in the industry for a long time, so basically I like architects like Antonio Gaudi and Tadao Ando. As for art, I don't really know much about it, but I've always liked Yoshitomo Nara's paintings, and recently I've become interested in Takashi Murakami, and I recently went to his exhibition in Busan.


I used to run a startup in the past and I like a lot of IT industry leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk at that time. I still do, but in the past, I was also an even bigger Apple fanatic. (The application I created was exclusively for the iPhone, even though it failed.)


I'm also a big fan of filmmakers because I've been watching videos since I was a kid, so I tend to watch all of my favorite directors' movies. I especially like Christopher Nolan and Park Chan-wook, and I also like a composer named Hans Zimmer, who I discovered through Christopher Nolan's movies.


But my favorite since a few years ago is a game director named Hideo Kojima. I've played over 600 hours of one of his games, "Metal Gear Solid V," and I love everything about his direction, design, and music.


3. What was your personal motivation to work on art?

In 2016, I had been running my startup for about two years and I realized that I should shut it down soon. It was the heyday of emojis on KakaoTalk, and I realized that I should buy an iPad Pro. In fact, in high school, I was a pretty good drawer in my class (cartoons to be exact), but I haven't drawn since then. (Of course, in college, while studying interior architecture, I was good at a drawing application called CAD.) So I started drawing emoticons, although not very well, and uploading them to Instagram one by one. In the end, I applied for emoticons from KakaoTalk 6 times, but all of them were rejected. But at the same time, I applied for stickers from a messenger called LINE, and they approved all of my stickers. (They still sell every month).


At that time, I created a character with emojis and stickers, and the model was my pet cat, Niki.

From then on, I started drawing and posting at least one drawing to Instagram almost every day for years until last year, and even though the form and subject matter changes every time, I only draw Niki and always will.


Last year, as an NFT, Niki became one of the most famous cats on the blockchain, and in February of this year, she was permanently donated to a museum in China as a 3M sculpture.

I want to ensure that Niki lives forever by various means, as I have a longer lifespan than Niki does.

4. What is the important part you would like to talk about through art work?

The underlying theme of everything I draw is love.

I usually try to draw it in a nice way, sometimes cute, sometimes bizarre, but basically it involves my love for Niki.


4-1. Your work makes us imagine the existence of a multiverse or a parallel universe. Please tell us about the world view of your work

Think of it this way: everything I draw is for the purpose of creating a single animation.

That's why every piece, every series, needs a connection, and the connection I chose is multiverses and parallel universes.


The basic story goes like this: my NFT project, MimicShhans, is a race of dimensional travelers. They can go to the world of Super Mario, they can go to the world of Harry Potter, so they have items on their bodies that they got from exploring different multiverses. So there's a multiverse story, and then there's a world where humans and cats are switched, like in Planet of the Apes. It's a parallel universe assemblage. I'm making all my work with the goal of connecting all these different stories to create a single animation.

MimicShhans #10009, April 29, 2022

5. Why did you start NFT ART?

I think of myself as a director, and that's why I was so attracted to blockchain, like NFTs.

I make NFT art, but I also make physical sculptures, I set up legal entities for my IP business, I make Web3 utilities, and maybe one day I'll be an animation director.


So I'm making NFT ART to do all these things, but I have a lot of fun making things, so I want to show a lot of people interesting art in different ways in the future.


5-1. There was a free NFT project in 2022. Still, I understand that it is rare to upload 10,000 projects one by one. I think it took a lot of physical time and a lot of effort. It would be nice if you could tell me about the experience in detail.

In November 2021, I witnessed a successful Klaytn project in the Korean NFT market. That was when I first planned the KlayShhans project. I had been active as an NFT artist before that and had prior experience selling artworks for more than 7 ETH. This led me to decide to undertake a 10K PFP (Profile Picture) project.

To prepare for the KlayShhans project, I needed more professional preparations such as building a community or website. I tried to find team members to work with for two months, but unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone. So, I made the decision to do it alone and started planning a new project called MimicShhans in January 2022. I learned about community management and built the website myself. Naturally, I also created the art and combinations for the project. However, building a web page for minting NFTs on the website was not something I could handle even with my efforts, so I gave up on that and manually minted them on OpenSea.

I dedicated most of my time to minting, except for sleep, and on average, I was able to mint and list around 100 items per day. Therefore, I started minting on April 17, 2021, and by around June 24, I had completed minting all 10,000 items. All of them were listed for free, but I sold around 200-300 items from April 17 to June 24. On June 25, all the items were sold out at once, and their prices started to rise due to demand. The price reached around 0.3 ETH and later even climbed up to 0.8 ETH.


6. What is the most memorable moment while doing NFT ART?

I remember the moment when the project sold out on June 25, 2022, the most vividly. OpenSea sent me email notifications for each sale, and at that time, several emails would arrive every second, eventually accumulating to dozens at once. This continued for several days. I was so thrilled and excited that I didn't turn off the notifications and kept checking my inbox.

Additionally, on November 14, 2022, we held an event to transition from the OpenSea contract ERC-1155 to our own contract ERC-721. The event was livestreamed on Binance Live and Twitter Spaces, and over 30,000 people from around the world joined to celebrate the occasion. It was also the first time I revealed my face on Twitter. I have fond memories of many MimicShhans builders and VCs sponsoring the event.

Starting from June 27, 2023, I will have a solo exhibition in Gangnam, Seoul, for one month. As mentioned earlier, it will be an exhibition where visitors can get many hints about my artistic universe. It will also serve as the starting point for future business endeavors of Shan Studio, the Korean entity. The exhibition will feature a specially created 1-meter tall MimicShhans sculpture, and visitors will have the opportunity to explore various artworks from my creative world. I kindly ask for your support and interest in this exhibition.


7. Have you ever been hacked while proceeding with NFT ART? 

I understand that you have been involved in hacking incidents directly or indirectly on multiple occasions. Firstly, in 2021, you encountered a phishing mint site and ended up sending around 1.3 ETH. While it has become a common method, it involves creating fake mint sites and tricking victims into sending funds directly to hackers during the minting process. Since then, you have switched to using a hardware wallet and implemented various security measures. I don't participate in any projects first, so I don't tap any links. Additionally, you use a hardware wallet and refrain from connecting it to mobile devices, thus mitigating any issues that may arise from mobile usage.

Furthermore, there were instances in the Discord community of the MimicShhans project where holders experienced hacking incidents, some of which resulted in significant damages. It seems that resolving such incidents was not easy. Participating in various events in Web3, receiving airdrops, and earning various rewards are natural actions for many individuals. However, this also increases the risk of being exposed to hacking attempts. It is always important to remain cautious and take necessary precautions to mitigate such risks.


8. What is the perception of NFT ART in South Korea?

It seems that NFT art sales, especially for lesser-known artists, are no longer fetching high prices. This trend appears to apply to artists in the United States and other countries as well. Nowadays, overseas artists tend to sell their works at very affordable prices, and buyers seem to view it as a fun purchase, akin to acquiring a digital item. While platforms like OpenSea exist, NFT art, unlike PFP NFTs, does not seem to have a strong secondary market, which further contributes to this phenomenon. The perception of NFT art has changed significantly from the past when it had more mainstream recognition. Some people even refer to it simply as "jpg." It appears that in the future, proper incentives or rewards should be implemented to enhance the experience of purchasing NFT art.


9. What do you think is the role of an artist today?

I love for art. I think art can be done by anyone, and it's not difficult. I said I wanted to be a director rather than an artist, but I want to be an artist forever in the big category because director is also a field of art.

I think all I have to do is make something fun that might or might not be grand. And that's for me and Nicky, but I love commercial art. Therefore, we will try to make Shan's commercial art accessible to the public in many ways through Shan Studios in the future.

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