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Bermudian artist helps design NFT for R&B superstar Ashanti

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Shanna Hollis, a graphic designer and owner of Shanna Hollis Designs (File photograph)

A Bermudian artist made her mark on the graphic design world after she helped to design a digital art piece for R&B superstar Ashanti.

Shanna Hollis, 25, worked with New York-based agency iO Visual to create an non-fungible token, or NFT, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the musician’s self-titled debut album.

Ms Hollis said it was “surreal” to meet Ashanti and get involved in the singer’s project, especially as someone who grew up on her music.

She added: “Ashanti’s team was awesome and she herself was such a beautiful person to work with.

“She had an awesome personally and everybody was friendly, so it was just nice to work out of this women-driven and women-empowering space.”

Ashanti’s new non-fungible token, or NFT, designed by Bermudian artist Shanna Hollis and New York agency iO Visual (Photograph supplied)

Ms Hollis, of Shanna Hollis Designs, said that she was offered a part in the project after EQ Exchange, a promotional company that Ms Hollis had worked with before, put her name forward for another project involving Ashanti.

She added that EQ Exchange, which describes itself as a “Web3 company dedicated to empowering musicians and rewarding their fans through blockchain technology“, was so impressed with her work that they invited her to design the singer’s NFT.

Ms Hollis said: “At first I was just told that I’d be designing for an event, but I didn’t know in the end that it was going to be for Ashanti.”

She added: “My first thought for the NFT project was, ‘I’m so excited’, but then my second thought was, ‘You better give it your best shot’.”

What is an NFT?

A non-fungible token, or NFT, is a digital asset that exists on a blockchain and often represents a real-world item.

Each NFT has a unique identification code that prevents it from being replaced or exchanged for another item, unlike cryptocurrencies, which are fungible tokens representing cash.

NFTs can represent any physical asset such as music or real estate, but often take the form of artwork.

Purchasing an NFT will reflect ownership of the artwork regardless of how often it may be copied, similar to owning an original artwork despite others having a print of it.

Ms Hollis designed the background and logo for the NFT, which recreated the cover of Ashanti’s debut album, while iO Visual edited the photograph.

She said that she felt particularly excited when she started to see her logo used in advertisements for the NFT.

Ms Hollis added: "It’s just crazy to see my work in all of these spaces.

“It’s kind of surreal because I’m looking at brands that I admire and I shop with and my work’s with them, so that’s really exciting.”

Ms Hollis is no stranger to the limelight: she and another artist, Kendra Earls, were commissioned to create a mural on the General Post Office in Hamilton in honour of Bermudian Olympic gold winner Dame Flora Duffy.

She said that she had also worked with international projects for companies in the past, but added that she had done “nothing on this scale”.

Ms Hollis added: “I’ve been going through this thing where I’ve just been working and working and working.

“It didn’t hit me until recently when I went, ‘Hold on, Shanna, you’ve just worked with an awesome, amazing artist — an icon really — creating her logo; you designed Bermuda’s first gold Olympian’s mural’.

“It was just a moment of disbelief that made me sit still and appreciate what I’ve done.”

Ms Hollis said that she planned to collaborate with other business to create more art pieces, her newest one being a painted pony for the clothing store TABS.

She added that she hoped to one day create her own NFT with the help of other Bermudian artists to help to give them more exposure and recognition.

Ashanti has released six studio albums and received 35 awards and eight Grammy nominations for her music.

She is also an accomplished actor, having appeared in film and television since 1989.

Her Grammy award-winning debut album, Ashanti, was released on April 2, 2002 and became certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America by the end of the year.

The album’s lead single, Foolish, was the third bestselling physical single of the 21st century as of June 2012.

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Published April 27, 2022 at 7:48 am (Updated April 27, 2022 at 12:25 pm)

Bermudian artist helps design NFT for R&B superstar Ashanti

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