Meet ThankYouX, The Digital Artist Blurring The Lines Between Fine Art And Digital Art
ThankYouX has shifted career paths many times, but one thing has remained constant: He’s drawn to passion. His latest passion is NFTs, which will be on display as part of the GRAMMYs x OneOf NFT partnership.
ThankYouX, a renowned physical and digital artist, has shifted career paths many times throughout his life, but one thing has remained constant: He’s drawn to passion. This year, his passion manifested in a collaboration with the GRAMMYs x OneOf NFT partnership, where ThankYouX created a commemorative NFT that audiences can collect during the 2022 GRAMMYs season.
As with technology, the journey of ThankYouX has evolved over time. The L.A.-based artist started his journey spray-painting stencils on the streets à la Andy Warhol. His artistic identity has changed over time, creating modern, abstract designs that have captured attention from both the physical and digital art worlds around the globe. From a collaboration with the legendary Hans Zimmer to a show at Sotheby’s, ThankYouX is taking the art world by storm. His latest medium is NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.
NFT talk is everywhere, and it can be confusing to grasp industry jargon at first. ThankYouX breaks down the concept with GRAMMY.com, illustrating how these unique digital assets are reshaping the art world as we know it.
Check out ThankYouX's 64th GRAMMY Awards NFT design.
How would you explain what NFTs are to someone who doesn’t know much about blockchain technology — say, your grandparents?
NFTs are a digital form of authenticity. If the album cover is the artwork, the NFT points to the file on the CD or the MP3. It’s a pair of two things, the actual NFT, and the other is the visual representation of it, which is the JPG or MP4. They are the digital certificate of authenticity, in a nutshell.
How did you get into the NFT space?
I’ve always been paying attention to technology and trying to figure out how to marry my art with it. I have a background in digital art, design and creative direction. Once I was told what NFTs were in 2020, I had a few collectors reach out to me in the tech world and say, “Have you seen NFTs? I feel like this is right up your alley.”
I listened to a few podcasts and read articles. I thought to myself, “Oh, I get it; this makes so much sense.” I sat on the sidelines for a long time just looking, and December 2020 was when I actually released my first NFT.
The space certainly looks like it will only continue to get bigger and bigger. Can you tell us about the first NFT you dropped?
The first one was a collaboration with a photographer named JN Silva. The collection was called Thank You New York. He is an amazing photographer for cityscapes and the unique angles that he gets. He does a lot of helicopter photography. We took photos and altered them and gave them life. That was on Nifty Gateway in 2020.
Tell us about your inspiration for your GRAMMYs x OneOf NFT design.
I wanted to be very straightforward with it. The goal was to design an award. I wanted to add my art to the actual GRAMMY. I took the 3D image of the GRAMMY sculpture and wrapped my art around it in different forms. Some are animated and some are still, so there are different tiers to the art. There are 64 unique pieces, which are all pieces of my art wrapped around the GRAMMY. It’s great that the GRAMMYs opened their door to include artists in these art pieces.
What is your favorite GRAMMY memory?
I’ve always liked the GRAMMYs and the way they bring the classic to the modern, a lot of times with interesting collaborations. I like how they bring classic and nostalgic songs and artists in with the new, modern artists and those at the top right now. That’s one of the best things — performance-wise especially. It’s always fun to see who’s winning. You’ll often see the unexpected.
I love that the GRAMMYs did such a genuine partnership. I’ve seen many brands get into NFTs as a cash grab and often don’t value creatives. What’s your tie to the music industry, specifically?
I have a huge connection to music. My wife is in the music industry — she produces and writes music. Many of my friends are in the music industry. It felt like amazing synergy. I also used to be the director of a music merchandising company. I left that job to pursue art full time. And here I am back in the music industry, full circle.
That’s amazing. What inspires your work in general?
A big inspiration for me is telling the story of what we’re actually doing here. I come from the physical, fine art world. My main goal with NFTs is being one of the people who helps merge these two worlds and shows that there should not be a line in the sand of “here’s physical art on one side, and here’s digital art on the other side.”
A lot of my pieces tell that story in a very meta way. Many of my pieces are actual paintings with the screen built into the actual painting and embedded there. The screen shows the NFT, and the painting is its own painting. If you buy the painting, you get the NFT, or if you sell the NFT, you get the painting. I’m trying to tell that narrative and erase that line in the sand.
For the GRAMMY piece specifically, the narrative was to take this iconic logo and put my spin on it. What is the most iconic thing you can get in the music world? The pinnacle is a GRAMMY or a platinum record. That felt really special to me.
I love your art — I feel that you can get a sense of your passion when you look at it. I’ve seen so many NFTs that were created solely for the sake of monetization; yours is so genuine.
There’s a lot of movement, and hopefully people feel something when they look at it. Either they hate it or love it; I guess that makes them feel something. One thing that gives me a unique angle is that every piece starts physically. It starts as a painting and then gets brought into digital.
Regardless of whether it becomes an animated version of that painting wrapped around a 3D cube and sitting in a museum, every single piece starts as a painting. This isn’t the approach many NFT artists take, because digital might be their native medium. I’m this convergence of both, which gives me a unique angle.
What does this space mean for musicians and artists for the next decade?
It’s hard to say what the next three months will be, let alone the next 10 years. Hopefully, it will allow more freedom of creativity for artists and musicians. I think it’s more about the art and the music, rather than the politics of the labels and everything in between. When will the first NFT GRAMMY happen? Those kinds of moments are in the near future, I think.
That will really change the tone, and artists will realize they may not need a label if they’ve built up their own community. I think companies like Royal are amazing because you sign up without a label and they give out a percentage of your total sales. Think about this concept: Every time there is a listen on Spotify, you are also getting equity for yourself. Those kinds of models are going to be special.
And artists collabing with musicians on NFTs is going to be an amazing thing. I worked with Hans Zimmer only because of my NFT work.
I saw that collaboration! That is amazing; he’s such an icon. What was that like?
It was amazing, a dream come true. That probably wouldn't have happened if it weren’t for NFTs. They are magical creations. It was amazing — this legacy act, Hans Zimmer, coming in and both sides being open to working with the other. That, to me, was a special thing.
What was the creative process working with Hans?
The first time I sat with him was when we were deciding if we were even going to work together. I knew I wanted to, but he wanted to meet me first. The first thing he said was we have to do something cool, unique and crazy.
He said, “I hope you don’t think I’m just going to send you a song I already have. I am going to send you something from scratch.” He recorded me painting the piece, and then he wrote to it. We worked on a song together in his own words. It was inspiring and humbling and nerve-racking because you’re working with this person who’s arguably one of the most incredible musicians in the world of our time.
He’d send me snippets and be like, “What do you think of this?” And when I gave him notes, I thought, “You’re Hans Zimmer — what are my notes going to do?” I felt like, with his track record, I had to really step it up. It was a lot of stress, but also a proud moment.
Were you nervous?
If I’m doing something by myself, it’s only important if I like it. If other people don't like it, it’s fine. For this one, I thought, I really want Hans Zimmer to like it. He’s worked with Christopher Nolan and all of these top-level people, and I’m just this artist. We put a team together and made a thing happen, and I’m very proud of it. He’s very proud of it.
How do you overcome negative feedback as an artist and in your career?
In my career, I’ve definitely had criticism. But if you are creating for yourself first, you’re going to be your own harshest critic. Anything that anyone says about my work, I’ve probably thought about it, and even worse. I try not to let it get to me — sometimes it does. The problem is that one negative voice is louder than 100 supportive voices; I always have to remind myself of that. If you’re ultimately doing the thing that you want to do and believe in, and you’re not hurting anyone or doing anything bad, then that should be good enough.
What advice do you have for NFT newbies?
I would say that your goal should not be to come into the space with the goal of retiring and living off NFTs. Your goal should be to create. Create something first, then figure out what to do with it. I don’t think you create to make money. You create because you have to if you’re an artist.
If you have a full-time job, you’ll still go home and create something if you’re an actual artist. You have to — there is no other choice. You have to get it out and do it or you’ll go crazy. Just keep creating and don't compare yourself to the accolades of others. Just focus on what you’re doing.
Pay attention to the movements in the space. We’re all a school of fish, and the movement shifts constantly — popularity shifts daily. If you can flow like that, that will be your best bet. Don’t copy trends, but try to be in line with what’s happening in the space. Sit as a fly on the wall and pay attention.
What are your predictions for the future of the digital art and music worlds?
It’s just a matter of time before the first NFT wins a GRAMMY. Someone will release a music NFT, and they’ll win a GRAMMY. That would be a huge spike on the timeline. Artists are going to start releasing albums as NFTs very cheaply because they are going to end up making a more comfortable living than signing with the label.
A lot of it is cutting out the middleman. Sometimes, having some sort of middleman is helpful to guide you. I wouldn’t be in this space if someone hadn’t opened a door or explained something to me. In the future, you’re not going to look at a Picasso and a Warhol and a FEWOCiOUS differently. You’re going to look at everyone in the same art category. They’re all artists.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Excited to keep exploring, we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Three months from now … you and I couldn’t even imagine what is going to happen. Hopefully, artists will continue to innovate and we’ll continue to see more innovation to come.
Vicente Fernandez performs at the 2002 Latin GRAMMY Awards
Photo: M. Caulfield/WireImage
Vicente Fernández Posthumously Wins GRAMMY For Best Regional Mexican Music Album | 2022 GRAMMYs
The late Mexican legend, who died in December at 81, won the GRAMMY for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) for his 2020 album, 'A Mis 80's'
Nearly four months after his death, Vicente Fernández 's legacy lives on.
The Mexican icon’s album, A Mis 80's, won Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano). The posthumous win marks Fernández 's fourth career GRAMMY.
Aida Cuevas' Antología De La Musica Ranchera, Vol. 2, Mon Laferte's Seis, Natalia Lafourcade's Un Canto Por México, Vol. II and Christian Nodal's *Ayayay! (Súper Deluxe)* were the other albums nominated in the category.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2022 GRAMMYs.
GRAMMY trophies at the 59th GRAMMY Awards in 2017
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
The Recording Academy Announces Major Changes For The 2022 GRAMMY Awards Show
Process amendments include the elimination of nominations review committees and the addition of two new GRAMMY Award categories, including Best Global Music Performance and Best Música Urbana Album
Editor's Note: The 2022 GRAMMYs Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 3, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The below article was updated on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to reflect the new show date and location.
The Recording Academy announced today that it has made significant changes to its Awards process that reflect its ongoing commitment to evolve with the musical landscape and to ensure that the GRAMMY Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable. Among the changes are the elimination of Nominations Review Committees, a reduction in the number of categories in which voters may vote, two GRAMMY Award category additions, and more. These updates are a result of extensive discussions and collaboration over the course of the last year among a special subcommittee of Recording Academy members and elected leaders, and were voted on by the Academy's Board of Trustees. These changes go into effect immediately for the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show, officially known as the 64th GRAMMY Awards, taking place Sunday, April 3. The eligibility period for the 64th GRAMMY Awards is Sept. 1, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2021.
Additional rule amendment proposals will be discussed and voted on at an upcoming Recording Academy meeting and the full rulebook for the 64th GRAMMY Awards will be released in May.
"It's been a year of unprecedented, transformational change for the Recording Academy, and I'm immensely proud to be able to continue our journey of growth with these latest updates to our Awards process," Harvey Mason jr., Chair & Interim President/CEO of the Recording Academy, said. "This is a new Academy, one that is driven to action and that has doubled down on the commitment to meeting the needs of the music community. While change and progress are key drivers of our actions, one thing will always remain — the GRAMMY Award is the only peer-driven and peer-voted recognition in music. We are honored to work alongside the music community year-round to further refine and protect the integrity of the Awards process."
APPROVED RULE AMENDMENTS INCLUDE:
Voting Process Changes
Elimination Of Nominations Review Committees In General And Genre Fields
- Nominations in all of the GRAMMY Award general and genre fields will now be determined by a majority, peer-to-peer vote of voting members of the Recording Academy. Previously, many of the categories within these fields utilized 15-30 highly skilled music peers who represented and voted within their genre communities for the final selection of nominees. With this change, the results of GRAMMY nominations and winners are placed back in the hands of the entire voting membership body, giving further validation to the peer-recognized process. To further support this amendment, the Academy has confirmed that more than 90 percent of its members will have gone through the requalification process by the end of this year, ensuring that the voting body is actively engaged in music creation. Craft committees remain in place (see below for craft category realignment.)
Reduction In Number Of Categories Voter May Vote
- To ensure music creators are voting in the categories in which they are most knowledgeable and qualified, the number of specific genre field categories in which GRAMMY Award Voters may vote has been reduced from 15 to 10. Additionally, those 10 categories must be within no more than three fields. All voters are permitted to vote in the four General Field categories (Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist). Proposed by a special voting Task Force who brought forth the recommendation, this change serves as an additional safeguard against bloc voting and helps to uphold the GRAMMY Award as a celebration of excellence in music, with specific genre field categories being voted on by the most qualified peers.
Craft Category Realignment
To better reflect the overlapping peer groups within the voter membership body, six existing craft fields will be consolidated into two fields: Presentation Field and Production Field. In either newly consolidated field, voters would have the ability to choose how many categories they feel qualified to vote in, respecting category vote limits, without being excessively limited by the three-field restriction. This benefits the integrity of these Awards by embracing and utilizing the specializations of the voters, without restricting their choice or contributions due to the field limits imposed by the recent reduction of the number of categories voters may vote in. Field updates are as follows:
Package Field, Notes Field and Historical Field renamed and consolidated to Presentation Field
Production, Non-Classical Field; Production, Immersive Audio Field; and Production, Classical Field renamed and consolidated to Production Field
New Categories Added
Two new categories have been added, bringing the total number of GRAMMY Award categories to 86:
Best Global Music Performance (Global Music Field)
Best Música Urbana Album (Latin Music Field)
"The latest changes to the GRAMMY Awards process are prime examples of the Recording Academy's commitment to authentically represent all music creators and ensure our practices are in lock-step with the ever-changing musical environment," said Ruby Marchand, Chief Industry Officer at the Recording Academy. "As we continue to build a more active and vibrant membership community, we are confident in the expertise of our voting members to recognize excellence in music each year."
"As an Academy, we have reaffirmed our commitment to continue to meet the needs of music creators everywhere, and this year's changes are a timely and positive step forward in the evolution of our voting process," said Bill Freimuth, Chief Awards Officer at the Recording Academy. "We rely on the music community to help us to continue to evolve, and we’re grateful for their collaboration and leadership."
The Recording Academy accepts proposals from members of the music community throughout the year. The Awards & Nominations Committee, comprised of Academy Voting Members of diverse genres and backgrounds, meets annually to review proposals to update Award categories, procedures and eligibility guidelines. The above rule amendments were voted on and passed at a Recording Academy Board of Trustees meeting held on April 30, 2021. For information on the Awards process, visit our GRAMMY Voting Process FAQ page.
The Recording Academy will present the 2022 GRAMMY Awards show on Sunday, April 3, live from the *MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, on the CBS Television Network and stream live and on demand on Paramount+ from 8–11:30 p.m. ET / 5–8:30 p.m. PT. Prior to the telecast, the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will be streamed live on GRAMMY.com and the Recording Academy's YouTube channel. Additional details about the dates and locations of other official GRAMMY Week events, including the GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony, MusiCares' Person of the Year, and the Pre-GRAMMY Gala, are available here.*
Graphic by the Recording Academy
Announcement: 2022 GRAMMYs Postponed
After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show
The following is a Joint Statement from the Recording Academy and CBS:
“After careful consideration and analysis with city and state officials, health and safety experts, the artist community and our many partners, the Recording Academy and CBS have postponed the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards Show. The health and safety of those in our music community, the live audience, and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly to produce our show remains our top priority. Given the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant, holding the show on January 31st simply contains too many risks. We look forward to celebrating Music’s Biggest Night on a future date, which will be announced soon.”
Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
Lady Gaga Pays Homage To Tony Bennett With Heartfelt "Love for Sale” & “Do I Love You" Performance | 2022 GRAMMYs
Dressed to the nines in a seafoam green ball gown, Lady Gaga performed "Love for Sale” and “Do I Love You" — two tracks from her GRAMMY-winning collaboration album with Tony Bennett, 'Love for Sale'
Lady Gaga transformed the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas into her own personal jazz lounge, as she performed Love for Sale highlights "Love for Sale” & “Do I Love You" at the 2022 GRAMMY Awards. It came easy to the pop icon, as she’s no stranger to the Sin City stage (her Lady Gaga Enigma + Jazz & Piano residency at MGM Park Theater began in 2018).
The performance served as a tribute to Gaga’s Love for Sale (and longtime) collaborator Tony Bennett, who announced his retirement last year as the 95-year-old is currently battling Alzheimer’s disease. Though he couldn’t be in attendance, the jazz legend opted to virtually introduce his latest partner-in-music.
First channeling her inner Judy Garland, Gaga performed a glitzy rendition of the album’s title track. The performance then got more somber as the singer paid tribute to Bennett with “Do I Love You," as clips of the pair recording and performing together played onscreen. It was a naturally touching performance, with Gaga getting choked up when looking at the 95-year-old’s hand before hitting her final note.
Gaga was already a winner before she stepped on stage: Love For Sale won awards for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical at the Premiere Ceremony earlier in the evening. The album’s single “I Get A Kick Out Of You” also earned nominations for Record Of The Year, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Music Video. The album itself also scored nods for Album Of The Year and Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.
Check out the complete list of winners and nominees at the 2022 GRAMMYs.