A corner of The Living Room transformed into Artificial Intelligence heaven on Monday morning. The table filled with light frames, the printer, and a TV screen at the head of the table created a tech haven for a group of fifteen to get their hands on NFT making.

The workshop was hosted by AICON, an initiative that aims to ‘focus on the impact of AI, taking a human centered approach’ as described on their website. Artist Peim van der Sloot led the group in creating self-portraits for a project he and others are working on, called Faces of the City. Out of all the portraits they make in the series of workshops in Rotterdam, they want to make a communal artwork. He specialises in using small coloured stickers to create eye-catching art. “The idea is also to let the project grow and do faces in different cities. It’s a very organic process which is what makes it unique. There’s space for failure and space for new input.”

For experts and beginners

NFT workshop wellbeing week – Urmi Vallassery
Artist Peim van der Sloot explains the three steps of the workshop: the portrait, the outline and the stickers. Image credit: Urmi Vallassery

As the room began to fill with participants, they mingled among themselves and discussed their reasons for joining the workshop. Some had never heard of NFTs, whereas others had experience.

Max (third year Psychology) was one of the more experienced participants. “My younger brother got me into NFTs and the whole crypto world last summer. We even created our own NFTs called ‘Epileptic Homer’ on a website.”

The process

All participants had a portrait picture taken, then Peim digitalised the photo to create an outline of their face made of polka-dots and it was printed in black and white. Next, the participants put the outline underneath a battery-lit surface with a paper on top to see the outline, and the participants had full reign on the design.

Some took the outline quite seriously, and placed circles directly on top of the outline, while others experimented with colours and different patterns. Lisa Gerritsen, one of the organisers and a master’s student, showed everyone her own portrait as inspiration. “I used the blue stickers for everything above my neck, and red for everything below to represent my heart and my feelings.”

Final Masterpiece

a student showing her artwork nft workshop wellbeing week – Urmi Vallassery
Amanda shows her finished self-portrait. Image credit: Urmi Vallassery

After filling out their outline with as many or as little stickers the participants wanted, they handed it back to Peim who then digitalised it to create it into an NFT.

What has creating an NFT have to do with student wellbeing? Amanda (first year at EUC): “I enjoyed just focusing on sticking coloured dots together to create art, whilst being surrounded by others doing the same in a relaxed atmosphere.”

What is most exciting about NFTs according to Peim is that they are ‘non-fungible’, they cannot be replicated but can be traded. It is an art expression, as Julia Luteijn, an experienced NFT artist who helped organise the workshop explained to participants: “This is the future.”