Do you know what an NFT is? Well, it turns out that even before most of us adults can wrap our heads around the concept, the talented, eight-year-old Arthus Ng has already beat us to it!
Have you spotted the funky digital artworks dotted around K11 Musea? They’re all part of K11 Musea: Metavision, the latest NFT project and exhibition hosted by K11 Musea, in collaboration with HSBC and Visa. Among the three-dozen artists and over 200 works featured, eight-year-old Arthus Ng is one of the local talents in the spotlight for being one of the youngest NFT artists in Hong Kong. Along with his mother, Ching Lee, who’s also an artist and art educator, the duo have been inspiring many parents and children in Hong Kong with their brilliant passion for art and NFT. So – as you consider enrolling your kids in their next creative classes over summer – have a read of our interview with the whiz kid, Arthus Ng, and his mum, Ching Lee.
We had a chat with Arthus Ng, an eight-year-old NFT artist, and his mum, Ching Lee
Hello, Arthus and Ching! Thank you so much for chatting with us today. When did Arthus start becoming interested in art?
Ching: Arthus was actually only a few months old when he created his first piece of “art”. It was when I brought him along to my exhibition; at one point, I held him while he stomped around a blank canvas on the ground with the paint on his soles. Without knowing anything about art (being literally zero years old), Arthus made some wonderful patterns. So, I guess this was the very beginning of his story as an artist.
As Arthus grew older, he began doodling and playing around with art in general, much like other kids his age. By the time when he was around four years old, he was able to hold a pen, write, and draw more properly. Funnily enough, it was then when I also started to notice that he seemed to have a liking towards “creepier” subjects, rather than cutesy stuff. He liked A Nightmare on Elm Street, for instance…! Although he’s never watched the movie itself, he found the aesthetics very scary and “cool” – perhaps this was when his own preference and sense of style began to emerge. Moreover, when he was dressing up as horror movie characters for Halloween, he wouldn’t just wear a readymade costume; he’d try to remodel or add his own artistic elements to it. For example, we repainted the toy chainsaw he used for his Halloween costume together. Looking back, Arthus’s journey with art, so far, has been an ongoing process; he’s always been in touch with it since young.
How did Arthus go into NFT?
Ching: Arthus started experimenting with NFT art about a year ago. At first, we put up his NFTs not for money-making, but to try and help him access the art world using different platforms. As of now, Arthus has created 23 snakes (two copies per snake), with collectors around the world. The King Snake was created when he was younger; whereas some snakes go way back and were made back when he was only four or five years old. For the purpose of making NFTs, Arthus has been revisiting some of his past favourites to amend and improve them before publishing them online.
How do you make an NFT?
Arthus: I first draw on an iPad. Then, I animate it. Finally, I use editing apps to add my own voice to it. Creating a piece of NFT art usually takes a few hours, at least. It may take a few days too, especially when it comes to 3D [rendering]. I think NFT art is more fun than just putting a pen on paper, because it’s easier to upload my art and share it with the rest of the world.
Ching: Once Arthus finishes his piece, he seldom goes into the minting process, or gets involved with putting it up on the blockchain and OpenSea. This is because it’s associated with issues like gas fees and cryptocurrency. For an eight-year-old child – as much as he understands what NFTs are and how they work at a basic level – I haven’t really let him execute the minting part himself due to the complexity and the fact that huge sums of money are often involved.
That being said, I’d say 90%, if not 99%, is Arthus’s own work. The only instances when he’d come up to me during the creative process would be when he had a specific effect in mind, but he had no idea how to achieve it, no matter how he tried. When this happens, I try to chat with him, work with him, and just make gentle prompts. I may suggest: “Do you think this might work better?”, or “how about doing this instead?” I always interact with him, so that we can solve the problems together.
Arthus, please tell us more about your Snake Overload collection!
Arthus: I’m fascinated by snakes, because I was born in the Year of the Snake. I also find the biology of snakes interesting. Oh, and I like reptiles, too! And, in addition to the snakes being unique NFTs themselves, I think that they’re special as they all have different superpowers. They also have different occupations – just like humans. You’ll find Chef Snake, Pirate Snake, Knitting Snake, and even a Santa Snake in my collection.
How do you balance between studying and making art?
Arthus: Both schooling and NFT are fun to me, each in different ways. NFT is fun as it involves a lot of creativity and colours; school is fun too, as I can learn many different things. At the moment, I’m enjoying English lessons the most, since we’re learning about plays, scripts, and theatre. I also like maths, as well as arts and crafts. Making NFTs does take up a bit of time, but thankfully, I don’t have too much homework. Outside of school and art, I love to play video games and just chill…
Do you want to pursue art and NFT when you grow up?
Arthus: Yes, I’ve always wanted to be an artist since I was a child. I want my art to become better and better! Plus, I know Mum will always support me.
Ching: Of course! And even at this stage, I believe NFT is more than just a medium for art – it’s a new, applicable piece of technology that’s worth all of us exploring. So, allowing Arthus to explore the NFT world in terms of art and exclusive ownership is a good way for him to learn about it, in my opinion.
Wanna check out Arthus’s work in person? Book yourself a spot in the Metavision Tour, or simply drop by K11 Musea before 19 June.