Girlfrens NFT Project: Cancer Survivor Gives Back to the Community by@justin-roberti
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Girlfrens NFT Project: Cancer Survivor Gives Back to the Community

by Justin RobertiNovember 24th, 2021
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NFTs are proving a cultural nexus where the collective yearning for ownership, community, prosperity, and a better life. As the market contracts, new, creative projects join the fray to raise funds and connect with an audience through NFT art and collectibles. Girlfrens, a Solana NFT project is raising money to bring art supplies to cancer patients. The project is launched in September 2021, but the minting and sale begins on November 24.

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Speaking with co-founder & artist for Girlfrens, a Solana NFT project Raising Money to Bring Art Supplies to cancer patients

NFTs are proving a cultural nexus where the collective yearning for ownership, community, prosperity, and a better life and even as the market contracts, new, creative projects join the fray to raise funds and connect with an audience through NFT art and collectibles.

The trickle of creative energy into the NFT space is more like a firehose, as our inbox can attest first-hand, but I think it’s a fair time to address the possibility of using NFTs to make raise money for something other than personal gain -- a bit of a departure for NFT bros trolling Discord looking for the next 10x projects.

We recently spoke with Desiree, aka "dzikt", is a digital artist and film producer based in Toronto who recently co-founded a women-led and “charity-based” NFT project, Girlfrens.

Desiree had an early experience with cancer, at just age 29, and the creative power of her experiences and her art is poured into using NFTs as a way to raise funds for the newly founded Girlfrens Foundation which will provide art supplies for young people afflicted with cancer.

The project launched in September 2021, but the minting and sale begins on November 24 at 3 PM EST with the minting link available on their website and Twitter.

Desiree took the time to speak with us as co-founder and artist of Girlfrens to tell us about her journey and experience in launching the charity NFT project.

Desiree, aka "dzikt, of Girlfrens

Tell me about your journey -- how long ago was your diagnosis? Has the path to recovery accompanied your creative journey?

“I found a lump in Dec 2019. I was diagnosed in February 2020. It came as a big shock as I was 29, had no family history, no genetic markers (determined after testing) and I lived a healthy lifestyle. After a multitude of tests, I had surgery to remove the tumor. Once removed it was determined that I would need to go on to do chemo (Aug-Nov 2020), radiation (Jan 2020), and hormone therapy (current). I completed the chemo and radiation earlier this year and will be continuing on hormone therapy for the next 5 years.

I started drawing a couple of months into the treatment process. At first, it was a way for me to escape. I would light a candle, put on a baking competition show (lol), and draw for hours. It felt like a safe, sacred space for me to be alone and away from everything. Instead of focusing on all the stress and unknowns, I could focus on getting a line straight or getting proportions right. This really helped teach me patience and perseverance which, looking back, definitely translated into tactics that helped me cope with my treatment.

Eventually, I started drawing the procedures and side effects I was experiencing. They were a lot to deal with mentally and physically so drawing them helped me externalize some of the internal feelings I had. I don't think I knew it at the time but now I know that if I didn’t have an outlet to get those feelings out while I was going through them, I don’t think I would have processed them in a very healthy way. This is part of the reason I feel like I can move forward. That was what would become the inspiration and guiding force behind Girlfrens.

At this point, I was using physical tools (pencils, markers) but around the holidays in 2020, I was given a Walmart gift card through a program at my hospital which I used to buy an iPad. That made it possible for me to start making digital art. This changed my life, and unknowingly to me at that time, was the start to what would become the Girlfrens project.”

When did you get started with NFTs?

“My life and work partner, Avery, and my brother, and my brother’s wife were all getting into NFTs around the same time, around June 2021. My brother and I live on opposite ends of Canada and while we are close we wouldn't talk that often, both busy with our own lives. But when the interest in NFTs sparked, my brother and Avery started spending hours on the phone diving into crypto and NFT talk. Eventually, I started to pay attention and get interested. As a group the four of us would go on discord calls and try to get whitelisted and mint various projects, occasionally getting rugged or screwed on gas wars. We'd laugh about it (or scream and cry) and it became something that we all bonded over.

After I floated the idea of doing our own project a couple of different times, eventually we all decided to do it for real and that's when Girlfrens was born. I had known that I wanted to do something to give back and share my experience with cancer and how making art had helped me. I thought about making an Instagram account where people affected by cancer could share their art, but the idea just didn't seem complete.

So when I started to learn about all the aspects of an NFT project from community building, to the financial and the creative aspects, it just all seemed to click and the possibilities seemed endless.

The four of us each had a very distinct skill set to bring to the table so it all happened very naturally. We collectively decided Cowgirl and I would lead the project, and the rest is history.”

Are you primarily a digital artist or what mediums are you using? Tell me about your art career/involvement up until now?

For the Girlfens project, the art is fully digital. Before making the project I was using primarily pencil and markers to draw. Eventually, I started taking some of those drawings into photoshop / procreate to create a mixed media vibe. I've always been a creative person. I studied film/set design in university, and my art was featured in a few local art shows, but after I graduated and joined the workforce, and shifted my focus. I wasn't making physical art or drawing consistently.

My career began in the art department of TV shows and films. I worked as an art department assistant and art department coordinator for 5 years. Eventually, we decided to move to Toronto, where I began working as an independent art director mainly on music videos and commercials.

After a couple of years in Toronto, I took a full-time job as a digital media producer, where I also did some art directing and set design. I did that right up until I was diagnosed at which point I took a leave and stepped back from the busy / stressful lifestyle of non-stop content creation and transitioned my freelance work into graphic design, which I've been doing since. This experience has reignited a creativity in me that is just for me and not for work. That is an important distinction, and for that reason I won't stop making art.

Is it artistic ambition that led you on this journey or is this foremost an entrepreneurial venture?

I take pride in having created the art for the project. Getting the aesthetic right was very important to me, as well as promoting individuality, self-acceptance and positive depictions of women in the NFT space. But most importantly our mission is to support cancer related charities and start a nonprofit that gives art supplies (physical or digital) to young adults affected by cancer while raising awareness about the therapeutic benefits of art therapy. Additionally it is very important to us to shine a light on the positive change crypto and NFT projects can and do have IRL.

It’s good to see new voices come into the space and as a women-led, Solana-based project going with an art style that is distinct and many thousands of times more appealing than the most legendary NFT projects -- add to that the fact that they have a built-in going forward plan by devoting half their funds to by art supplies for young cancer patients.

That’s remarkable for an NFT project not because it’s altruistic but because it’s clear and not just tacked on after the fact. Even the most successful generative NFT projects we have interviewed often feel like they are making up the next steps as they go along,.Girlfrens knows why it was founded and what it’s going to do. We have no idea how the launch will perform and make no claims (no one should listen to me about these things) but the project does seem to have the markers of a good project.

On November 24th, a total of 5,000 unique Girlfrens will be available for minting on Solana. There has been no pre-sale and, as usual, levels of rarity will vary.

The project will direct 10% of the mint to the Girlfrens Foundation, 5% of the mint to cancer-related charities, and 50% of the royalties is going to the Foundation.