The Star Crypts NFT Project is a super collaboration of photography, painting, storytelling and digital art.
Born from the mind of Elaine Alonzo, the Star Crypts NFT Project is all about bringing forth an identity of your own creation.
Jay Ybarra shot some of the first photographs, capturing these alter-egos in unique spaces all over Austin.
We interviewed Elaine and Jay for Issue 24 “Worth It.” as they shared some of the works in progress.
Are you both from Austin?
JY: I’m from Uvalve, just south of San Antonio. I’ve been in Austin since around 2000 though. I moved here with my family.
EA: I was born and raised in Austin. I’m a rare breed. I’m a phoenix bird. I’ve never lived anywhere else besides Austin. My next goal is to move to Miami but I’ll keep a place here forever. Austin’s home base.
When did you get into art?
JY: I’ve always had an interest in it. My magazine and album collections kind of started that. I started around 13-14 then pursued it a few years after. Around 2017 is when I started getting more serious about it. Now I’ve been at it full-time for 2 years.
EA: I’ve always had art and music around me. I thought I wanted to be a musician. I grew up playing classical piano. Music didn’t pan out though. It was hard being the only girl in the band. I realized I could make a lucrative living as an artist if I worked my ass off. I knew I wanted to work my butt off until I made it. I started working when I was 17 and always had art as a side hustle. I was making jewelry & paintings and selling them on Etsy.
I started vending and eventually became a full time artist after selling at music festivals and connecting with people in the community. I realized that’s wanted to do–to have a community around me at all times in some way. I quit my job because I knew I had to put everything into my art. This June, it will be 6 years full time. Every month it gets better. I realize how to better utilize my energy and I mentor. I started getting into crypto in 2016 and making crypto related art in 2017.
What did you sacrifice to pursue art full time?
JY: I’m a big collector of records, movies and especially gaming. I had collected game systems for years but they can get expensive. So for now, I’ve put that aside.
EA: I sacrificed everything to do this. I was so unhappy doing work for anyone else because I’ve always done things on my own. I worked so many different jobs to the point of where nothing was ever going to satisfy me unless I worked for myself. I knew I was going to have to overextend myself until I became a better boss so I’ve learned to not being so hard on myself.
How is it it rewarding?
JY: My happiness is the biggest thing. I feel more fulfilled even though I have less. I feel more active now that I’m going out and talking to more people.
EA: It’s my happiness. I’m more fulfilled knowing that I’m in control.
Besides making art, where does your time really go?
JY: I watch movies and study how people use the camera to tell a story. Isee some things and they just linger. A lot of the other time I’m just trying to connect with people and figure out how to make new stuff with new people.
EA: I have worn every hat. I’m at the point where I need assistants and it’s been the most wonderful thing. So now I delegate to others and I can focus more on just the creative aspect and the vision. It’s not about perfection, it’s about following through. All of the other stuff, I want to find someone who does that well. I believe that other people can do those jobs better than me and eventually I can provide more jobs and opportunities to other people.
“It’s not about perfection, it’s about following through.”
What value are you adding to your community?
JY: What we’ve been doing with IGAustin for people to come together, shoot with models they might never shoot with otherwise, especially for free, is what I’ve added. It’s about showing that there are different types of people in Austin. I don’t want to have the typical model look in my work. I want stuff to look real.
EA: I help people step into their power and be a creative as possible and tap into their potential. Every time I work with someone they go above and beyond and do something they haven’t done before. I like to push people to be and do their best. I love seeing what magic can happen coming together and seeing all of our forces combined.
What’s behind the concept for the Star Crypts NFT Project?
EA: The idea is to create a character that represents a more empowered version of yourself. Maybe it’s someone that you’ve always wanted to be. The process is we have a photoshoot, turn it into canvas print, and then that print is physically painted on by me. Last it is re-digitalized into an NFT. There will be more collaborators to create stories about each character. This all takes place in the “future.”
There are 100 characters in the project and they all have a superpower or something unique. Anybody can be a part of this project. I plan on traveling and finding people from different photographers.
Who is your character?
EA: It started with Elora. She’s an AI, built differently than the rest. She was created to understand love. She set out on a journey after her creator died on her own to find people all over the world that would teach her what love is. In that ,she discovers that everyone has a power.
Do you have advice for artists trying to take the next step to full time?
JY: If you feel confident and believe in it work, you should make the jump.
EA: I don’t believe in failing. Just show up.
Support Elaine and Jay & follow them on Instagram: @elainealonzo @photo.jay