Osinachi: Pioneering the African Digital Art Revolution through Web3

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Main visual: Clung by Osinachi

A librarian by training, Osinachi’s leap into the Web3 world was driven by a desire to bypass traditional gatekeepers and share his work authentically. Widely recognised as Africa’s first NFT artist, his work has graced the collections of global institutions including Christie’s auction house and the Toledo Museum of Art. In our conversation, Osinachi shares his journey and vision for the digital art community in Africa.

Redefining the value of art in the digital age

―What inspired you to explore Web3?

Osinachi: From the beginning, I’ve been creating art using Microsoft Word, which has become my preferred medium for storytelling. As I reached out to galleries to promote my work, I faced resistance; they questioned the authenticity and value of my artwork. Bear in mind this was at a time when Web3 and the idea of digital art having real worth was fairly new.

Discovering blockchain in 2017 was a game-changer. It addressed concerns about proving my work’s authenticity and value. It enabled me to bypass traditional art authorities and open doors to connect with a global audience and engage in wonderful collaborations, such as my recent one with the Toledo Museum of Art.

―What was the Web3 landscape like in Nigeria when you started?

Osinachi: It was still niche. While the pandemic got more people interested in exploring Web3, it didn’t immediately take off. Crypto faced scepticism and our infrastructure wasn’t supportive – devices are costly, the internet is slow and banks banned crypto transactions.

Today, more people are exploring the field but there’s still a long way to go. For African digital art to thrive, we need to foster an ecosystem filled with artists and people supporting the art. That’s what I try to do through Africa Here – amplify the work of digital artists and Africa, giving them the tools and platform to connect with collectors, both locally and globally.

Empowering authentic storytelling through the blockchain

―How has Web3 impacted you as an artist?

Osinachi: For many African artists, it enabled us to move past the ‘rules’ of the traditional art scene and empowered us to share our stories authentically with a wider audience. It has also transformed our financial landscape.

Making a living as a digital artist in Africa and many other parts of the world often meant doing dull graphic design work for corporations. Now, we can profit directly from our art and tell our stories without depending on corporate commissions to survive. It allowed a more equitable and transparent collaboration between artists, brands and institutions, which is crucial, especially for emerging artists.

Laundry Day by Osinachi

Enriching the global art discourse

―What is Web3’s role in shaping the future of African art globally?

Osinachi: Web3 is empowering artists – whether they’re from Nigeria, Senegal, or South Africa – to be part of the global conversation. When I’m showing my work abroad, it’s not just about displaying art. I’m here to share my story as an African artist. The presence of my work has led to meaningful conversations about many things including culture and race.

Post Black Lives Matter, there’s a bigger global focus on Africa, but we still have a lot to work on. Visibility is still tough for African artists and we need to foster an ecosystem that allows our art to thrive beyond the continent.

I believe that in the future, our art will have the same global impact as Afrobeats in pop music. It might take time, but it’s on the horizon.

Osinachi

Expert Profile

  • Osinachi

    Osinachi

    Osinachi, also known as Prince Jacon Osinachi Igwe, is a self-taught digital artist from Lagos. For over 15 years, he has developed a unique style to express his personal experiences, creating art using Microsoft Word. In 2021, he became the first African artist to have his work auctioned as an NFT by Christie’s. In 2022 he curatedAfrica Here, an accelerator program that saw the onboarding of more than 70 African-born artists on the NFT marketplace, MakersPlace. Six of the artists had their works exhibited at the SCOPE Art Show at Art Basel Miami. Additionally, is one of the core instigators of AfrofutureDAO, and was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans for 2022 by New African Magazine.

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