[Editor's note: the first tier is sold out, with the second and third tier of the sneaker NFT still available in limited quantities.]
As teased before, Esquire Singapore will launch its first sneaker NFT collection with THE DEMATERALISED. Called ‘The Lion’s Prowl Series’, this inaugural drop is part of the NFT project that focuses exclusively on sneakers designed by local and international artists.
Each design presents a take on the theme of ‘Walking in One’s Shoes’, where the artists draw inspiration from their personal experiences and use the sneakers as a canvas for their creative expression. This is a year-long project, where future drops with a different designer will be released every two months and will be exclusively sold on THE DEMATERIALISED powered by LUKSO blockchain.
There will be three tiers of rarity, each of them made of different material—jade, bronze, marble. The top tier—Jade—is limited to 88 editions and will comes with a pair of 3D-rendered Sneakers and an animated 2D Sneakers Collectible, they will also receive a physical replica of the token (physical copies might differ from the virtual token due to manufacturing limitations). These physical pairs are manufactured by Satoshi Studio–a label that focuses on sustainability and ethically conscious production.
The second tier is Bronze and its limited to 188 editions and features a 2D Collectible and a 3D-rendered Asset and the third tier is Marble—limited to 388 editions—and features a 2D Collectible and a 3D-rendered Asset.
But all these would not be possible without the aid of Singaporean artist Toby Tan aka Tobyato. It was his task of adding new life to a run-down basketball court that caught our eye. A basketball court in Punggol was given a fresh coat of blue paint—wavy shapes, some of which are patterned by lines. This was part of Toby Tan’s (or as he’s known by his nome d’arte, Tobyato) final-year project at NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media, called Kejiranan, meaning ‘neighbourhood’ in Malay. Tan wanted to discover the origins behind the names of local neighbourhoods and engage with the residents through basketball court paintings. In Malay, ‘Punggol’ means ‘throwing sticks at fruit trees’, which were represented by the straight lines virtual virtuosity and the colour and shapes were influenced by Punggol being one of the first waterfront towns back then.
Tan would follow that up with another basketball court in Bishan. And a mural at the skatepark in Somerset. And a collaboration with Levi’s. And another with Uniqlo. And another with Asics. And another…
Add ‘designed NFT sneakers’ to his resume as Esquire roped in Tan as our sneaker NFT project’s first collaborator. We talk to him about venturing into this virtual space, stone lions and why he’s so damn happy all the time.
ESQUIRE: What’s your first awareness of NFTs and how is it beneficial for an artist?
TOBYATO: I can’t recall specifically the first NFT I ever noticed, but I think I started noticing NFTs when the news came about that viral YouTube videos like Nyan Cat [and] Charlie Bit My Finger and even some tweets were being sold as NFTs. Those happenings piqued my interest and, like many other creatives, it was a new sandbox and medium to play in. Granted, it was an unfamiliar sandbox that I had no idea how to navigate, but a new sandbox, nonetheless. And a new sandbox always leads to more constructive competition and pushes the boundaries of what we can create.
ESQ: What’s the experience like creating a sneaker NFT with us?
TOBYATO: The experience has been quite exciting, primarily because of all the support and collaborators involved in this project. From Esquire Singapore, to experts in the NFT sneaker space Futures Factory, to Satoshi Studio and DMAT [also known as The Dematerialised, an NFT marketplace] and Brytehall [a curated NFT online platform], I couldn’t have wished for a better project for my foray into the NFT space. [I am] super grateful for the opportunity to learn and understand at a faster and more learned pace than I would have on my own. On top of that, as [I am] a lover and appreciator of sneakers, having my first NFT artwork be an NFT sneaker is the bonus cherry on top.
ESQ: Will you venture into other NFT projects after this?
TOBYATO: With the amount of support and knowledge I’ve been learning from this project, I’m definitely better equipped and in a better space to delve further into the metaverse than I was before. I don’t know for sure if I’ll create another NFT right away, but I’m more open to them and will keep my eyes peeled for any opportunities that will come my way.
ESQ: What are the difference between working on this NFT project and your previous work?
TOBYATO: I think the main difference is a simple fact that it lives digitally. All of my work up till this point has been dealing with the physical: handpainting on sneakers; painting on walls and skateboards. This was the first time that those physical constraints didn’t exist. It is both freeing and yet paralysing at the same time. Freeing because we could do anything we wanted, but also paralysing ’cause without the restrictions, we won’t know if we are doing enough. With every project you launch and then pray, hoping it will be received well. But with how large and connected the NFT space is, it’s even more difficult to have any expectations as to how it will pan out. For me, it feels like a calculated shot into the dark metaverse at best, and that’s quite a tough thing for me to wrap my head around.
ESQ: What’s the story behind the designs?
TOBYATO: The designs are inspired primarily by my Chinese roots and the theme of touch. I grew up learning about stone lions and how their materials change and grow as people touch them in hopes of good fortune. With that, I created three stone lion sneakers in three materials that change and age upon contact, to represent both my Chinese roots as well as a symbolic piece for me to guard my art career as I walk in my shoes to progress further into the art world.
ESQ: Are you a sneaker collector? What has been your prized grab?
TOBYATO: I appreciate sneakers, I love sneakers, I scroll sneaker news and keep up to date with new drops almost daily. But I cannot, in good conscience, say I ‘collect’ when I have only about 25 pairs in my ‘collection’. Maybe some day that number will grow, but for now, there are (unfortunately) bills to pay. My collection will remain in a saved sneaker folder on Instagram. My most recent exciting grab would be the recently launched Nike x Patta Air Max 1 Aqua Noise shoes that I excitedly wore to the preview of the Kaws:Holiday Singapore.
ESQ: What’s next for you?
TOBYATO: As a relatively newer artist, I think what’s next for my career is to continue to build my body of work and slowly find my place in the industry. I think at where I’m at, I feel like I’m viewed as the new kid on the block. But hopefully, as I continue working hard from one project to another, I can slowly find my place within the scene. Projects-wise, I hope to continue to do bigger and more exciting things, especially within the street culture scene, ’cause that’s what I personally enjoy as well.
ESQ: Lastly, you’re always smiling in your photos… what’s up with that?
TOBYATO: I get this question a lot, it’s honestly not something I consciously do. I have come to accept that some people have an RBF, and I just have a Resting Smiley Face, if that’s even a thing. [Jokes] aside, I do think that there’s enough in this world to frown about. So, smiling a little more wouldn’t hurt.
How to purchase #DMATxESQUIRESGxSATS Sneaker collection
- Visit www.thedematerialised.com
- Enter the SHOP or DISCOVER page and click on the Esquire x Satoshi Studio NFT
- Click on OWN NOW and create a profile
- Transact with your chosen payment method (either fiat or cryptocurrency)
- Look out for the transaction confirmation and for the NFT to land on your PROFILE page