Vibrant NFT collection by Mustaali Raj Prov. RGD celebrates the Year of the TiGER
Mustaali Raj Provisional RGD's first NFT collection called i OF THE TiGER launched on the first day of the Lunar New Year (February 1, 2022). In the second of two articles, Mustaali shares his design process.
i OF THE TiGER is an NFT collection celebrating the Year of the Tiger. It’s about reconnecting with your inner self — the drive, the confidence, the ability to overcome. Across Asia, the tiger is an iconic creature that represents resilience, strength and courage. There is a tiger within all of us and somewhere along the way, this tiger gets lost. The spirit of the big cat awakens to reveal itself in different forms this lunar year. Rooted in the same inner strength, these creatures visualize unique personality traits. The “i" literally is referring to “you” to discover what you connect with most.
The TiGER artwork is inspired by real species of tigers. The stripes on each TiGER are derived from patterns found in the tigers corresponding to the region. For example, the first TiGER in the series (the Brave Bengal) was inspired by the iconic Bengal Tiger found in India serving as the prototype for the rest of the TiGER designs. The stripes on the Brave Bengal were abstracted from geometric Mughal patterns applied as intersecting rhombi.
As both the crypto and NFT communities started to grow, my curiosity pushed me to do my own research. I realized that this new space offered creatives the opportunity to own their digital works (just like you would own a physical sculpture) while benefiting from secondary sales of your work (via royalties). It’s about building your overall practice as an artist and NFTs are just another medium.
You have to put in the time to learn and understand how things work in this space. My research was a mix of reaching out to friends/colleagues who were already actively making NFTs, seeking out peer groups on discord/twitter, reading articles, watching videos and really doing a deep dive into understanding crypto, NFTs, blockchains, smart contracts and weighing the pros and cons for myself before committing to a project.
As for the design, I learned that many species are now extinct, which I also incorporated into the collection. The Caring Caspian NFT was inspired by the Caspian Tiger (now extinct in the wild). Its natural habitat extended from eastern Turkey, northern Iran, Mesopotamia, the Caucasus around the Caspian Sea all the way to Xinjiang. The overall design serves as a homage to the beautiful handmade carpets found in that region. It also speaks to the negative impacts of poaching/hunting playing upon the double entendre of the tiger skin. A metaphor to represent all those who have fought (and continue to fight) on the path of social justice putting others before themselves.
My favourite TiGER in the series is the Great Guardians. It was inspired by the five South East Asian tiger subspecies — the Sumatran, Malayan, Indo-Chinese, Bali and Javan tigers (two of which are already extinct in the wild). Arranged in the shape of a pentagon, the five tigers are a derivative of the Lion Capital of Ashoka — a symbol of power, courage and confidence. Their outward looking stance and collective arrangement project a sense of unity and protection — the ever-watching activists of the community standing up for social good. The stripe patterns themselves were abstracted from those found in South East Asian textiles.
The Sacred Storyteller is another example. Inspired by prehistoric tigers from the Ice Age, it represents the traditions and stories of our ancestors. Adding the elongated sabre-tooth was a design decision made to instantly connect this TiGER with its historic origins.
Did you know about the Maltese/ Blue Tiger? Some say it’s real, others say it’s a myth. Supposedly it exists as an extremely rare variant of the South China Tiger. I spent a lot of time trying to simplify the overall pose and shape so that it retained its geometric simplicity but still projected an image of a crouching tiger. A creature that is well-aware of its surroundings. I wanted to incorporate the premium quality of the classic blue-white porcelain that is so prevalent in Chinese culture.
After extensive research, I narrowed the designs down to eight final TiGERS. Each featuring a unique trait and visual. The collection was received positively by both the creative and NFT communities. It got several project features as well.
The intention is to build a community of artists and creative thinkers interested in this collection. The i OF THE TiGER series will fit into a larger world that I am currently creating, which celebrates the characteristics of nature and the animal kingdom. I am interested in not only building my art practice in the digital world (as NFTs) but also in the real physical world. Previous collections that inspired the i OF THE TiGER artwork were also sold as screenprints and are currently exhibiting at Science World, Vancouver.
A lot of work goes into the NFT drop process. The conceptualization and creation of the final artwork is one aspect, but there’s a whole bunch of work that needs to be done in parallel. Developing the storytelling, marketing, promotion, not to mention the technical side of setting everything up. It would definitely help to have a small team put together for larger projects.
In part two, Mustaali talks about the set-up required for designing an NFT, risks involved, revenue generation, resources and more.
Consisting of eight unique TiGERS with multiple editions,collectors get access to bonus unlockable content featuring behind-the-scenes process work as well as a “shadow” version of each TiGER.
Available at opensea.io/mraj
Mustaali Raj Provisional RGD is an independent art director and graphic designer whose focus lies at the intersection of interdisciplinary concept development and visual communication. As an engineer turned designer, his creative process is a cohesive blend between left and right brain thinking. He is a circle, living in a square, drawing triangles.
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