Painting, fashion, and NFTs—this window display in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square does it all

Fort Worth’s Sunflowerman uses every method he can to show his art to the public.

The artist, whose real name is Matthew Miller, is a 33-year-old fashion illustrator and recent transplant to Cowtown. He moved to Fort Worth a little over four years ago.

But like many artists today, he’s using everything at his disposal, from social media to public art to NFTs to clothing, to make a name for himself in a hyper-competitive media landscape where alternative streams of entertainment are just a click away.

Miller’s new public artwork, “Fashion World,” is a multimedia exhibit displayed on the facade of the former H&M storefront at 3rd and Commerce Streets. “Fashion World” synthesizes the artist’s interest in fashion and technology with a style unique to Fort Worth. It also combines the old with the new – physical art with digital art.

On the second floor of the building’s facade, Miller used vinyl LED lights to make winged longhorns dance above the windows, and the fake neon lights flashed to create the illusion of movement.

At ground level, the backdrop inside the store’s window display shines like an eternal sunset. Watercolor paintings hang side by side, each showing two flowing figures reaching towards each other. A “Fashion World” branded denim jacket hangs in the display, hand painted by the artist.

A screen next to the physical paintings connects viewers to the artist’s digital storefront, where non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of the exhibition’s art can be purchased.

NFTs are essentially proof that someone owns a digital, unique image or video. NFTs are bought, sold and use the same blockchain (a digital public record of all the transactions made) as cryptocurrencies. A more thorough explanation of the NFT phenomenon can be found here.

Like all other assets, NFTs have value, which can go up or down depending on the market. So why do a project like this nowwhen the market for NFTs and cryptocurrency is in freefall?

“That’s a terrible answer, [but] why not now?” Miller said.

“We’ve had the big crash, but technology has already affected so much of society. I think to imagine it. . . crypto and NFTs. . . not going to affect our lives is crazy. So not trying to understand it seems like poor planning. We are still so early in society’s understanding of what blockchain technologies can do for us.”

Like cryptocurrency, NFTs are criticized for the amount of energy they require. Ethereum, the most popular cryptocurrency/blockchain for NFTs, is notorious for the large amount of power it takes to complete a single transaction.

Miller wanted to address this concern with his line of NFTs.

“The fear of excess energy use is worrying across society, and to have it exacerbated by blockchain technologies is very worrying,” he said. “That’s why I stay away from Ethereum.”

The NFTs for “Fashion World” operate on the Tezos blockchain, which uses “by some estimates, 99.9 percent less energy to actually run the programs,” Miller said.

Many see artists who use NFTs as easy cash and their work as just another way for the uber-rich to store value.

“It’s not unlike the actual established art world we have today, where artists establish galleries that buy their work at exorbitant prices to increase the value of their work,” Miller mused.

“It’s analogous to the real system we already have. It’s just that it’s now on the Internet and done with new money instead of old money.

As much as I despise some of the practices of the modern art world, I still love art. I’m still creating it and trying to live my own life. There is value in art beyond the outrageous stored value that people try to use to manipulate their own wealth and taxes.”

Sunflowerman portrait

Matthew Miller – also known as the Sunflowerman – poses for a portrait in his studio in Downtown Fort Worth.

Miller’s true love of art shows in all his projects. He used his art to promote mask use during the depths of the pandemic. His mask-positive artwork was posted around Sundance Square.

He paints photorealistic representations of watches, commissioned by watch enthusiasts worldwide. He has a robust Instagram presence, offering a behind-the-scenes look at his artistic process.

Miller is also starting a line of Sunflowerman coffee beans, a passion project for a man with a deep appreciation for good coffee. (His collection of intricately designed espresso cups from his travels around the world reside in his studio in downtown Fort Worth.)

Sunflower man, jacket

Sunflowerman wears a hand-painted jacket outside his “Fashion World” installation.

Keeping abreast of the latest technologies can help artists pierce public consciousness. Although that has always been true, today it can be a big challenge. And not all artists have to do that.

“Maintaining an understanding of evolving technologies and cultural trends will give any artist the best chance to have a long career, but the opportunities in art are great,” the artist said after the interview, adding that “there is no way to the.”

Ultimately, Miller is undeterred by the challenges facing today’s artists. He knows what matters most: the art itself.

“I want it to be beautiful, first and foremost. The concept is for me.”

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