From commercial to crypto: on the evolution of Sam Spratt

Oct 19, 2021 Artist Profiles

12 months ago

“This is my first NFT,” says NYC-based artist Sam Spratt. “It’s a by-product of basically 10 months of trying to understand [the market], and basically being an observer.”

The NFT space is Spratt’s next evolutionary stage in his artistic journey, one that includes a back catalogue of album covers for Janelle Monae, Donald Glover, Kid Cudi, and pretty much all of Logic’s discography. Spratt has also worked on Red Dead Redemption Two and has done comics and movie posters for Marvel.

And yet, despite this massive repertoire of commercial work, Spratt feels that working in the NFT space allows him more room to stretch. 

“So much of my storytelling was really telling other people’s stories,” he says. “I am fairly confident that almost no one knows who I am as a human being.”

Photo by Harmon Leon

Photo by Harmon Leon

Spratt will be dropping his inaugural piece, “Luci,” on SuperRare this October, based on the theme of awakening following a catalytic event in Spratt’s life.

“What it is more about is the narrative of progress,” says Spratt. “Learning the vocabulary of change versus actually changing are two very different things. And one requires a hell of a lot more work.”

Luci marks Spratt’s attempt at both articulating that feeling of change, and beginning the process of transformation, two things that are very much a part of the human experience.

[I don’t feel that it] is a very lonely [feeling] at all. And it’s not just a current vibration, it’s a very old and ancient one.

— Sam Spratt

Though an oil painting purest, Spratt has always had an affinity for digital art. “I have a traditional background, love the texture, the feel, all of the uniqueness that makes an oil painting. What drew me [into the digital] was this idea that these mediums are presently distinct,” he says. But, as the technology continues to advance, and more people learn to manipulate paints and pigments: “You could feel that these things are just going to bleed into each other.”

When he initially encountered NFTs, Spratt was skeptical.

“It’s not like I instantly saw it and was like, ‘This is the future,’” he says. “But the more you pull the thread and actually talk to people who know what they’re doing…they try to pass on some wisdom.”

Being, as he puts it, an “inherently calculated person,” Spratt did extensive research into the medium before he could even begin to create work that felt like it belonged in the space. Spratt began to learn the entire NFT stratosphere by talking to everyone from artists working in the medium to crypto experts and those building the infrastructure.

Actually getting into it was mostly a desire to wait until I had work that I felt was authentically ‘me’. And to do it in a way where I felt like I understood what [the NFT ecosystem is] and what it could become. I didn’t want to just rush in and shape something just because it seemed exciting.

— Sam Spratt

Following those months of research into the realm of NFTs, Spratt now approaches his work much differently.

“Even before I discovered NFTs, I was attempting to build my own world and story,” he says. “I was trying to articulate this feeling I have had; this desire to change and grow as a person.”

The Luci NFT series came from many ideas that Spratt has had before it, ideas that were fixated on the pain of life: “Just that feeling of: it’s sucking to wake up…to feel like you had been walking a bit in the dream state.” Adding: “In my opinion, that place is less interesting than the path out.”

“What was powerful about beginning to dig into the NFT space,” Spratt explains, “ is that I got to see that all of those feelings that had led to a sense of atomization of loneliness that I was siloed off; that I was feeling something no one could possibly understand.”

And through the artistic process, Spratt began to see that everyone has had those feelings, that funny sensation that something about our current world just isn’t quite right.

Everyone has their own kind of trauma, success, or failure.

— Sam Spratt

Photo by Harmon Leon

Photo by Harmon Leon

Spratt wants to show his appreciation to anyone who bids on the Luci project – or who took part in the process of its creation – by giving them a hand-painted portrait of the skull used in the series.

“Basically, anyone involved in that process, including some of my other friends and collectors, I just want to be connected to them in some way,” he says. “And you will have a piece of me to go with that.”

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Harmon Leon

Harmon Leon is the the author of eight books—the latest is: 'Tribespotting: Undercover (Cult)ure Stories.' Harmon's stories have appeared in VICE, Esquire, The Nation, National Geographic, Salon, Ozy, Huffington Post, NPR’s 'This American Life' and Wired. He's produced video content for Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Timeline, Out, FX, Daily Mail, Yahoo Sports, National Lampoon and VH1. Harmon has appeared on This American Life, The Howard Stern Show, Last Call With Carson Daly, Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, MSNBC, Spike TV, VH1, FX, as well as the BBC—and he's performed comedy around the world, including the Edinburgh, Melbourne, Dublin, Vancouver and Montreal Comedy Festivals. Follow Harmon on Twitter @harmonleon.

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