Digital artist and NFT virtuoso Emily Yang has joined Variety and Kering at the Cannes Film Festival for an inspiring Women In Motion conversation on Friday, just before the final day of the 75th edition of the festival.
In just over two years, Yang has gone from UI to rockstar in the NFT-focused digital art space under the @pplpleasr handle. Yang, who designed the April cover of the Taiwanese edition of Vogue magazine, used the proceeds from the sale of his artwork to establish the community fund Stand With Asians as well as an NFT collective for charity work.
Beginning his career as a visual effects artist, Yang worked on studio masts like “Batman v. Superman” and “Wonder Woman,” and in 2020 received a job offer from Apple for a role of digital artist. When the pandemic hit, however, the opportunity slipped away, leaving Yang out of a job for over a year.
“It was definitely not an easy time,” says Yang. “Looking back, I obviously see it as a blessing in disguise, but at the time it was particularly stressful because I was living in New York and I was afraid to pay rent. unemployment because I had lost my job and I think what kept me sane during that time was that I opened an Instagram account and that’s how ‘pplpleasr’ is born.
Yang – who was making “endless” job applications – wanted an outlet and the creation of her “pplpleasr” brand provided respite from the job search. “I started creating art for myself for the very first time, because before that I had always done art for other major Hollywood studios. It was really to give myself feeling like I’m doing something productive and not wasting my life.
Around this time, Yang started looking for other sources of income and was attracted to DeFi (decentralized finance), which is a sub-sector of cryptocurrency. “I saw a way to marry my own skills with crypto knowledge and make myself valuable and useful in the space out of the sheer need to create some sort of income for myself. I started using my medium and doing all these animations to promote DeFi protocols. By word of mouth, they all started hitting on me and that’s when I thought, “This could be a real job.”
Still, Yang acknowledges that there are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings about the world of crypto.
“People see it as super ridiculous or over the top, especially since the media is so focused on numbers. [big sales deals] that are generated,” says Yang. “For me, I obviously found the technology very interesting, to be able to generate chain-free royalties for artists, beyond the many, many things that NFTs allow people. But it’s really weird because I feel like as an NFT artist, all of your worth and self-esteem is put online. Everyone judges you on the numbers you generate.
Overall, Yang finds the space empowering for women and stresses that the crypto community “isn’t sexist.”
“It’s pretty obvious by the number of anonymous influencer accounts where people are just represented by a picture of a monkey online or something like that,” Yang says. “They don’t know who you are or what your background is – it doesn’t really matter – it’s just the kind of thoughts and ideas you send out into space.”
The is a gender disparity, says Yang, but it’s more of a spillover from the tech and finance industries that are more male-dominated. “It’s basically a convergence of all these industries that previously had a big gender imbalance,” she says.
“But my job is to hopefully inspire more women to join this space,” Yang adds. “And you see that happening more and more, but my own success is also the result of people not [discriminating by gender] because they just realized the work I was doing was cool, and less about who I am or what I look like. In this regard, I feel really lucky and hope that my story can inspire other women to follow in my footsteps and join web3 as well.
Watch Yang’s full conversation at Kering’s Women In Motion conference with Variety in the video below: