Visual artist and poet Mumu the stan AKA Munira Hamzah (Moon) is a homegrown artist who dabbled into the world of NFTs through her quirky pixel art.
What once started as a joke eventually evolved into a full-time job for Malaysian NFT artist Mumu the stan. Apart from pixel art, she focuses on visual illustrations through her other pseudonym, Moon HMZ.
The story behind the pseudonym Mumu the stan is a name she gave when creating an anonymous Twitter account to join “stan Twitter” — a section where fans interact and post about their fandom. “Although I’ve always been an artist, I didn’t start posting art there first because I feared it would break my anonymity. I eventually posted my fan art on that account, and things blew up from there,” Moon explains.
“When it comes to my work, I don’t maintain a style. My philosophy is, go ahead and experiment. If you made it, it’s your style,” she explains. Art has always been a part of her life. “My parents said I would spend a lot of time alone just drawing. I used to write my own stories, staple them together and create my own comic books.”
How she got into NFTs is a memorable tale worth telling. Due to the pandemic and lockdown, her favourite artist, Linkin Park’s singer and rapper Mike Shinoda, began streaming on Twitch (a video-streaming platform), a community he created to connect with his fans by discussing topics on art and music.
He would create visual art and instrumental tracks from scratch and post them on Instagram or Twitch for fans to collaborate and showcase their skills later. Moon exhibited her art by uploading it on Instagram, where she received recognition from Shinoda in one of his live Twitch sessions.
The motivation and support from her idol, Mike Shinoda, is why Moon dabbled into NFTs — Shinoda is Moon’s very first NFT art collector too. For those who aren’t familiar with NFT (non-fungible token) and stated by Forbes, an NFT is a digital asset representing real-world objects like art, music, in-game items, and videos bought and sold online with cryptocurrency.
As an avid fan of Linkin Park since her teenage years, Mike Shinoda’s 2018 album release, Post-Traumatic, helped her through hard times when diagnosed with depression and during therapy. “Pixel art was something I did for fun, and thanks to him, I’ve been able to make a living out of it. He’s been so supportive and amazing. He’s fostered a great community, and we’ve been educating each other and the community about NFTs. We’re all learning together. It’s exciting.”
Moon will also be speaking with Mike Shinoda and other panellists at GeckoCon, where they will discuss NFTs and their perspective on blockchain tech as artists from November 17 to November 19 2021.
A snippet of Mumu the stan’s NFT Journey
All images credit: Mumu the stan
My pixel art is very different from the stuff I make as MOON HMZ. I love exploring a bunch of styles, as I can get bored of doing the same thing over and over quite easily. In terms of pixel art, I am inspired by how simple it can look, although it isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Reducing something to a few pixels yet still being recognizable is a fun challenge. It’s sort of like a puzzle. I absolutely love the 8-bit look, and I love Nyan Cat as well. Something so cute and seemingly simple can bring so much joy to people.
For me, inspiration can come from anywhere, from the deepest, darkest of emotions to the most random memes. It’s what makes us human. I don’t have any place in particular that I go to for inspiration. However, I do listen to a lot of music when creating, and I always listen to music that fits the mood of whatever I’m creating.
It depends on the piece. For something like my pixel meditation series, I start never knowing how it will end up looking like. I start with one pixel in the middle of a blank canvas and add one pixel at a time, frame by frame, in a meditative process. This process can take from 1 hour to up to 2 days, depending on how complex it is. I usually already have an idea for the cute or fun pixel art animations and execute it, and it doesn’t take too much time.
It really started as an inside joke, a niche meme in Mike Shinoda’s community. In 2020, Mike started streaming on Twitch and what he usually does is make a beat from scratch. Sometimes he makes beats from fan requests. One time a fan requested a Panic at The Disco theme, and after trying to make it work throughout the stream, he says that he failed. He abandoned that track and started messing around with a goofy beat and tacky ad-libs in the sample library. Within minutes, the song ‘Booty Down’ came to be. It quickly became a meme in the community.
This was when I made my first pixel art as a tribute to it. This song made it into his first live-on-Twitch music compilation, Dropped Frames. During the album drop party live stream, he and his wife were dressed in animal onesies. When Booty Down came on, they started twerking live on camera. It was such a ridiculous and cute moment that I had to make a pixel animation of it. The rest is history.
I got into NFTs in February 2021, after Mike Shinoda offered to buy my first NFT if I minted (publishing your token on the blockchain to make it purchasable) one. I dove headfirst into a completely new world. After a couple of weeks, I started to hear of the negative effects on the environment. I felt terrible, thinking, “Oh no, what did I do? What did I get myself into?”
From there, I did a lot of research and soul-searching, and I really went deep into understanding the tech, the different blockchains, etc. I came to learn about Clean NFTs and have been an advocate ever since. NFTs aren’t inherently bad, and they’re not all built the same. I’d advise anyone concerned to read up on the materials at cleannfts.org to learn the differences and how you can make more conscious choices.
Since then, it’s been amazing. NFTs are a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it because you get to make what you want. I eventually quit my job in May and have been doing this full time ever since. I’ve been able to contribute to causes meaningfully I believe in from income I’ve made off of my art, and that feels incredible. I’ve met so many amazingly talented people from all over the world because of this, and it’s expanded my horizons on art and what’s possible.
We’re still very early. Things are still clunky. Who knows where this train could be heading in the future. NFTs are a way for creators to get compensated without relying on third parties. With more power in the hands of creators, I truly hope the days of creatives being undervalued and stepped on will come to an end.