Select preferred language:



What Is It Like To Create NFTS in Antarctica?

Apr 07, 2022 Marilyn Wilkinson reading time 4 MIN

Artist Dennis Schmelz shares his inspiration from traveling, how he got into NFTs from a traditional arts and journalism background, and why he prefers NFTs to Instagram.

The freelance cameraman, filmmaker and photographer has been writing stories and making small short films with friends since he was a child. In a news agency, he learned “from the bottom up” and then was increasingly drawn to art. Now, he creates travel videos and photos from around the world, and his first NFT collections have been well received.

Dennis Schmelz talked to Unchained. The Blockpit Magazine about how he gets inspired, how NFTs compare to traditional art, and what he considers important when creating and buying NFTs.

Listen to the full interview (in German) on our podcast or read the summary below.

How did you get started with art, photography and films? Nowadays, almost everyone has a smartphone, but in the past it wasn’t so common to just shoot movies.

It began gradually, in my childhood. We came up with cool stories and produced short films. And that really started when I was 12 or 13 years old. I found it really exciting to tell a story with pictures, and film was always my top priority.

I didn’t start off with photography – that’s the way it is for many people, they get into photography first and then they transition to film. For me, it was always film that fascinated me. Less feature films or cinema films. But to really be creative yourself. To tell a story and to make something.

Speaking of creativity. How do you discover new stories, how do you decide what to make art about?

I get inspiration from travel. I love to travel and it’s the only way I can clear my head. There’s always something going on at home in the office, you constantly get emails. You don’t have the chance to clear your head at all and that’s why traveling is definitely a huge source of inspiration.

But I often get inspiration from talking to other filmmakers or other creative people. Music also inspires me a lot. I also make music myself and I think the mixture of everything: travel, music, conversations and other things. This is how ideas are born.

Everyone is interested in something. For me, it was the Trans-Siberian Railway. I’ve always wanted to take it, that was my lifelong dream and that was also a film that I produced: “Trans Siberian Dream“. It came out three years ago. These are simply topics that moved me.

The White Angels of the Camargue were like that too. I heard that there are still cowboys and wild horses in Europe. I thought that was such an interesting story and there wasn’t much about it yet. So I thought, okay, I’ll make a film about it. I’m always looking for stories that haven’t been told that often, I try to add my own touch and to produce and stage beautiful pictures.

It can be said that you are a globetrotter. You’ve been pretty much everywhere. Let’s talk about your new NFT collection: Antarctica. You were there and even got special permission to take pictures with the drone. How did that happen and what was the experience like?

Antarctica wasn’t my last continent. I’m still missing Australia. I’ve visited almost all of them now. I was in Greenland before and Greenland has a lot of parallels with Antarctica.

Of course, the Arctic is in the north and in the Arctic you have polar bears but no penguins. You have this surreal world with icebergs and ice floes and everything seems totally surreal.

I was totally fascinated by Greenland but I always wanted to see penguins. That only leaves the way to Antarctica. That’s why Antarctica was such a dream of mine.

Already the journey there. It’s not like you just get on the plane, fly 10 hours and you’re there, you really have to put up with a lot to get there first. I found that completely fascinating and also the animals and the landscapes that are there.

We traveled a total of 4 days before we got there. That means we flew from Frankfurt to Buenos Aires, from BA to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, which is another superlative. And from there then another 2 days on the high seas via the Drake Passage to Antarctica. The Drake Passage is one of the stormiest passages in the world. That’s where the Pacific and the Atlantic meet and in winter you sometimes have 20-meter waves. Luckily, we were there in the summer and the waves were around 6.7 meters, so it was uncomfortable, but you accept it because you know what you’re doing… you have a goal in mind.

When you arrive in Antarctica, everything is forgotten, all the tortures you put yourself through and all the turbulence in the Drake Passage. We got there and it was super nice weather, it was clear, there were no more waves, you see penguins in the distance, you see icebergs, everything is surreal. And after two days, we were allowed to go to the country for the first time.

When entering Antarctica, you have to completely vacuum all your bags, disinfect your feet, take nothing with you and leave nothing behind. So they really make sure that the whole ecosystem stays the same and nothing is changed.

It was really a very emotional moment when we actually went to the mainland for the first time and set foot on Antarctic soil. I’ve rarely had a moment that was so emotional.

Why did you decide to make your Antarctica collection as NFTs? What value do NFTs have for you compared to traditional works of art?

I’ve been very active on social media for the past seven or eight years. I’ve built up a lot on Instagram and it was always like that, I posted my art, my pictures on Instagram, and on Facebook and Tiktok, everything that’s social media. And that’s super ephemeral.

You post something and after two days it’s already gone in the timeline and that’s gone, so to speak. Then nobody will talk about it anymore. So it doesn’t come up again, unless maybe someone shares it again. With NFTs, for the first time that the work you do is valued.

You have created something unique with this NFT and there are really collectors who are interested in it and want to buy it, want to add it to their collection. And that’s a completely different background. That’s much more grateful. The work is appreciated much more.

That’s why it was clear to me that when I travel to Antarctica, I’ll do an NFT collection, because the destination is so unique and I don’t want the pictures to fizzle out on social media, I want to let people participate and maybe also reward them with being able to buy this collection or pictures.

Listen to the full podcast to learn more about Dennis. In a personal interview, he reveals how his very first NFT collection “Aerial Loops” came about, which NFTs he bought himself and what future he envisions for NFTs.

Would you like to find out more about Dennis and his work? You can find Dennis on Instagram, Twitter and LinkTree. His NFT collection “Antarctica” is available on Sloika and OpenSea.

*Many thanks to Alexander Sachs from NFTFolio and Mike Hager for making this interview possible.