Artist steps into digital art world with Bird Girl-NFT

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Renowned West Virginia artist Jamie Lester, who designed the Jerry West and Don Knotts sculptures in Morgantown and the Cardinal Rising statue at The Plaza in Beckley, is premiering his artwork in a new medium Saturday, Jan. 15, at 11 a.m.

Lester, owner of Love Hope Center for the Arts in Fayetteville, has created “Bird Girl,” a non-fungible token (NFT). The collection features 1,000 different digital images centered on the theme of a woman in different iterations, with birds at her head.

Bird Girl-NFT is Lester’s foray into digital “painting” and NFT.

Lester made Bird Girl-NFT on a program called Procreate and used iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to draw the images. He then created 40 different “layers” that would be placed on the base and at the head of the Bird Girl, which serves as a bust or mannequin for all of the Bird Girl entities.

His partner, Michael Reynolds, downloaded a piece of computer code and plugged Lester’s drawings into the code so that it may be randomly distributed and placed on the market for sale.

NFT, as the website techinnovations.info explains, means that the token is unique and can’t be replaced.

“Let’s take Bitcoin, for example,” the website posted. “Bitcoin is fungible, since you can trade your Bitcoin for another Bitcoin.

“You will end up with BitCoin in both cases.

“However, NFTs are more like Yu Gi Oh cards, one-of-a-kind trading tokens that, if you trade one for another, you will receive a token different from the one you gave away.”

NFTs can be JPEG images, music or digital art.

The theme of birds runs through much of Lester’s work.

He said the Rising Cardinal in The Plaza — a red cardinal taking flight and becoming more abstract as it goes higher — illustrates his work with different bird symbols.

It is fitting that his step into digital art will feature a trusted subject.

“The bird girl is a theme that runs really deep, along a bunch of different lines, across a bunch of different practices for me, and has a lot of meaning,” Lester said Friday. “This is an image I’ve been using for about 15 years.”

Lester first did a sculpture of the bird girl that was about four inches tall, when his youngest daughter was 3 years old.

“She had really curly hair,” Lester recalled. “I just kind of replaced the hair on her head with these little birds perching all over her head.”

Since that moment, Lester has made paintings, drawings and bronze and ceramic sculptures of the concept of the woman with the birds on her head, as a crown or ornamentation.

“It naturally has the tie-in with the symbolism that bird and flight has, and so, inevitably, you start to think of things like your dreams,” he said. “It’s attached to the top of the head.

“It’s about dreaming, the power of flight, seeing things from a different perspective.

“It’s dramatically striking, kind of an arresting image, but it makes us stop and think about what it could mean.

“I like to keep things open-ended so the viewer has a lot of room to work,” he added. 

Art collectors are purchasing NFTs. Most notably, 41-year-old artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sold an NFT in December to an art collector for $69.3 million. Beeple’s NF is the most expensive piece of digital art, according to Forbes.com.

Lester’s works in more traditional media such as sculpture and painting typically sell for no less than $1,500. NFT offers a less expensive way to collect Lester’s works. Some collectors buy NFTs with the idea of selling them for a higher price, later, but Lester said that he is happy for someone to purchase his work in order to own it.

While some may be perplexed by the idea of owning art in the digital world, Lester noted that the NFT may be printed.

But keeping it in its digital form is valuable, too.

“The first time I ever heard about it, I just didn’t understand why you would pay money for a jpeg or PNG file,” he said. “I had to learn about how it was connected to the blockchain (digitally distributed, decentralized, public ledger that exists across a network).

“We buy intangible things all the time, like a movie,” Lester added. “It’s a purely digital and intangible thing, and they own it.

“Stocks are a better example. They’re totally intangible, yet they’re worth a certain amount of money.

“NFTs are the same.”

“Bird Girl-NFT” offers 1,000 digital images that will be sold randomly online starting 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15.

To view and purchase, collectors visit the website at www.birdgirl-NFT.com

The site takes visitors through the steps of buying Solana (digital coins) and establishing a cryptowallet. The Solana is transferred to the wallet, and a Bird Girl-NFT may be bought using Solana. The NFT is delivered to the collector’s crypto wallet.

Buyers will be sent a random NFT. Lester said there is no significance to the line-up of the Bird Girl NFT images.

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