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Client Love: Interview with ‘Aslan Ruby Studio’ Founders, Sarana Haeata and Tom Lee

  • 23 April 2024
  • Studio Legal

Written by Alyce Evans

In the past few years, we have seen a number of artists venture into the world of NFTs. Among them are the founders of creative design studio, Aslan Ruby Studio, Sarana Haeta (artist and creative) and Tom Lee.

The creative force between projects such as Meta Angels, Honey Badges, and 63 Patron Saints, this husband and wife duo produce art that is sought after globally, with collectors including Reese Witherspoon, Randi Zuckerberg and Paris Hilton.

In our interview with Sarana and Tom, we discuss why they decided to enter the world of Web3, the inspiration behind their art and how NFTs are benefiting artists.

Tell us about your business, Aslan Ruby Studio

Tom

Aslan Ruby Studio is a Web3 brand and design studio built around the incredible art of Sarana. I like to think of us as illustrating the metaverse (whatever the hell that is!!).

Our core business at the moment is selling art as NFTs and building a community of collectors around those NFTs. We are also working hard on finding ways to tie the digital to more physical products, and other more traditional artistic offerings like canvas and mural commissions.

The whole Web3 concept is new, unknown, and malleable, and we feel like we are at the forefront of something that will become commonplace in the years to come. But we are here now, helping to shape it into what it will become.

Why did you decide to become involved in the NFT space?

Sarana

We were living in Maningrida, remote West Arnhem Land. Tom was teaching and we had been travelling with our family for about a year. All my art supplies were in our house in Fremantle, and the main creative tool I had was my iPad. A friend of my brother contacted me in about October last year and said I should look at the NFT space. I looked and thought, ‘looks like a scam!’.

But, given my limited creative outlets, I put together a small collection of 13 works and with absolutely zero expectation minted them as my genesis collection, Wonder Country. To my great surprise, it sold out almost immediately. The kernel for my second collection, 63 Patron Saints, came from the first collection, so I started minting the second collection almost straight after.

Around this time, the team from Meta Angels reached out from the States looking for an artist for their generative 10k collection. Without really knowing what we were getting ourselves into I jumped in. I had also agreed to do the art for Honey Badges (another 10k collection) straight after Meta Angels.

Tom

Around this time we realised I was going to have to quit my work to make this all happen, so we had to leave Maningrida, and relocated to Darwin while we finished Meta Angels. I came on board to edit, organise, and communicate, while Sarana furiously drew the 400+ traits required for the project. Meta Angels launched Feb 8th, by which time we were already deep in the creative production for Honey Badges, which launched March 9th.

Since this crazy time we have relocated to Alice Springs, got our 4 kids in school, and begun to look at building Aslan Ruby as our own brand and identity within the Web3/NFT space.

The two big projects gave us huge exposure, and a leg up into a very saturated market, and we will be forever grateful, but we are now focussed on completing the 63 Patron Saints Collection, as well as our Print Run Collection.

We have ideas for future collections, and several collaborations in the works, so its exciting times ahead for Aslan Ruby!

How do you think the NFT world can benefit artists?

Sarana

Blockchain technology is a massive evolution for artists and our ability to monetise, track and maintain provenance over our art. We have direct control over our transactions and as art is the outward face of NFTs we will always play a key role in Web3.

There are bumps in the road but overall I think it’s an essential and long overdue move in the right direction – a sort of emancipation of the artist.

Tom

NFTs have allowed artists to create, deliver and monetise their product in a revolutionary way, while simultaneously creating an environment where our ability to build community around that art is elevated like never before.

We have built a global community of collectors around Aslan Ruby that we communicate with daily, share our work, and build shared experience, identity, and connection. This community building and direct relationship between the artist and their community, without the traditional gatekeepers of galleries, curators, record labels or middlemen I think is the most refreshing aspect of the new idiom with NFTs.

The future of the space is yet to bet written, we are doing that now, but I think NFTs will become part of a new tokenised economy, and digital art and artists will hopefully benefit from this shift.

Unfortunately, artists of all ilk are the first to be asked to donate their time and expertise and are often undercut in the financial proceedings. I think this new paradigm will allow artists to demand their input be valued, and their time be remunerated fairly, and in perpetuity, through things like automated royalties built in to smart contracts.

Your Patron Saints all have unique personalities, reflected in names such as ‘Patron Saint of Red Flags’, ‘Patron Saint of FOMO’ and ‘Patron Saint of I Buy My Own Flowers’. How do you choose the personalities for each of these saints?

Sarana

These are usually inspired by my everyday experiences that at some point I’ve realised are a collective experience.

I start my artwork then throughout the drawing process I begin to think of what experience would suit this personality. Once the piece is completed there is normally a personality that shines through, and the name comes from that.

Following on from the above question, what messages or themes are you seeking to explore through your Patron Saints (and art in general)?

Sarana

The Patron Saint collection specifically is about representation of the collective, modern, female experience. I think it is about realising that the experiences I have had through life are shared with millions of people, male and female, all around the world.

Representation is central to a lot of the work I do, and what I like about the Patron Saint collection is the concept that representation can be about experience and emotion, not just race, gender, or ethnicity. What we experience and feel crosses a lot of these boundaries, but we have collective experiences that can go by unnoticed, or under-represented.

This collection is about shining a light into some of those darker nooks of our collective consciousness and questioning the power structure and assumptions found within.

What inspires you?

Sarana

Stories, Beyonce, dancing hip hop, people.

Tom

My wife, the ocean, Aboriginal Australia.

What is one thing you are obsessed with right now?

Sarana

Samuel Miller paintings

Tom

The Australian desert in Winter. Its absolutely stunning!!

Written by Alyce Evans

Further Information

Interested in the world of Aslan Ruby Studio? Explore Aslan Ruby Studio, Aslan Ruby Shop and Aslan Ruby NFTs.

If you’d like to learn more about NFTs, Web3 and the Metaverse, check out our blogs, ‘NFT Ownership: What Does That Actually Mean?‘ and ‘IP in the Metaverse: A Crash Course for Creatives‘ and our Client Love: Interview with Christian Gibson, Founder of ‘Urth’ (an NFT Art Gallery).

Want to get to know some of our other talented and inspiring clients? Check out our other Client Love interviews here.

If you’re an artist, photographer, designer or creative and are looking for legal assistance relating to your business please contact us through our online form or via email at hello@studiolegal.com.au.

Photo courtesy of Aslan Ruby Studio, shared with their kind permission.