Creating Panda-monium: An Interview with MikeeMyk, Founder of Red Panda Adventures and Waxy
We caught up with this charming creative to discuss AAA gaming, the NFT community, and how his red panda and bee characters are generating a lot of buzz on WAX!
These solitary, nocturnal – and endangered – carnivores have to be right up there with the most adorable animals to walk this earth.
You might think they don’t have many similarities with bees, but take a closer look at these minute flying pollinators have an appeal all of their own.
One supremely talented 3D artist, illustrator and video game fanatic has utilised his AAA studio experience to bring both of these fabulous creatures to life as characters on the WAX blockchain – and his name is MikeeMyk.
With his recent 1st place in AtomicHub’s very first fan-art competition – and a 1,000 WAX prize to boot – this seemed like the perfect time for a chat about his art!
Head to the end of the interview for our free MikeeMyk Interview Card, dropping Tuesday at 18:10 UTC!
Pssst… there’s three claim links hidden within this article. Happy hunting!
Hydro: Hey! Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?
Mikee: Hi! Everyone calls me Mikee or Myk. I’ve been a 3D game artist for 10 years, working on a range of cool AAA titles.
Ever since I was young, I wanted to be an artist and make video games – probably because I’d spend most of my days drawing and playing video games!
I got a degree in Multimedia Arts where I learned a variety of skills such as digital painting, 3D art, animation, and game development. I got my first job in a game studio making art for mobile games but got lucky to have worked on the Sims 4 after just a year.
Now a few years down the road, I’m still happily working in game industry, and dreaming about one day making my own game!
After weeks of lurking and learning in the NFT space, I decided to make my own collection. WAX seemed like the perfect choice because of the awesome community and low fees.
Rusty arrived on WAX way back in April 2021 – how did you come up with the idea for him?
My first idea was to make a cat-themed collection but, seeing that there were plenty of them, I went with a red panda – one of my favourite animals.
I couldn’t find any NFTs of them and I thought it would be good to show the community how cute red pandas are!
The name Rusty came from his reddish-orange, rust-like colour!
Throughout 2021, you’ve done a whole bunch of collaborations with a wide range of WAX artists. What does the community mean to you, and are there any other artists you would like to collaborate with?
To me, the WAX community is a whole bunch of fantastic people – creators and collectors alike – that support eachother, make awesome NFTs, and help WAX to grow. Everyone has been so supportive, from when I started through to today, so thank you to you all!
I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to collaborate with Digital Ducks and cryptomonKeys last year. It would be great if I got the chance to collaborate with CREEK, Creek’s Assistant, or Realms of Arkovia.
You entered the first AtomicHub fan art contest with a brand-new original character, Waxy, and won! How did you come up with Waxy, and what can we expect from him in future?
I came up with a bee-like character because of their big community nature, and because they also produce wax!
My main plan for Waxy is to collaborate with various artists to show them some love and support! I know how hard it is to start a collection, so I want to help people where I can.
There will be 2D drops, 3D drops and fun blends in the future. I have different Waxy PFPs lined up and I hope the community will like them!
If you collect enough of them, you may even receive a special NFT – such as your own custom Waxy!
Who or what inspires you and your art?
Movies and video games are a great source of inspiration. I learn a lot of art techniques and styles from them – when I’m out of ideas, I always play a game or watch a movie to rekindle the flame.
Another huge inspiration for my art are the collectors. I love it when they feel happy about my work, and that drives me to keep improving and creating more!
Take us through the process of creating a Rusty NFT – how long does each one take to create?
After any drop, I start thinking about ideas for my next NFT. Sometimes I say “Mystery Drop” for the NFT Insider calendar, but in reality I don’t have an idea what it is yet!
When I come up an idea, I immediately begin to work on it. Stickers typically take less than an hour. Illustrations depend on the detail, but they’re mostly done within a week. Animated NFTs can take more than a week, depending on the animation.
I do a lot of procrastinating whilst working on NFTs – I could probably do them in less than a week if I was more focused!
What hardware and software do you use to create your art, how long did it take you to learn these, and how long have you been using them for?
I use a PC with a Wacom Cintiq pen display tablet to create all of my works. I mostly use Photoshop, After Effects, and Clip Studio Paint for illustrations and animated NFTs.
For 3D NFTs such as Waxy, I use ZBrush, Maya, Substance Painter, Marmoset Toolbag and sometimes Unreal Engine for rendering.
I’ve been using Photoshop and Flash since 2005. I saw a CD of them lying around one day and just tried it. I’ve been using a lot of the 3D software since college.
Most of these took me a week or two to learn the basics.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get started minting illustrated NFTs?
Starting an art-focused NFT collection is pretty difficult right now what with Play to Earn collections being so popular, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t generate a lot of sales at first – just keep creating and improving on your art.
Who are your favourite NFT artists at the moment? Are there any collections that you like in particular?
There are a lot of awesome artists on WAX! Some of my favourites are Sas (Cat Stickers), Stabby (Digital Ducks), Apple (The World of Cryptopups), SoggyApplePie (cryptomonKeys), Creek (CryptoMoonies), Magnta (Sticky Little Slimers), Floyd (Floyd’s Varmints), konceptonwax, Noodsly, and John from TokenGirlsLV.
2021 was a fantastic year for your art! What are your goals for 2022?
I’ve always wanted to make a game like Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley with red pandas, but I want to focus on being an art collection with some utility.
One of my goals for this year is to release red panda merch, such as shirts, hoodies, or plushies, and maybe make them vIRL NFTs.
Another is to make my 1-of-1 red pandas into 3D characters that can be used inside Immersys – I think that’s cool!
Last, it’s a long shot, but I’m hoping I can be Verified on AtomicHub this year!
I’m sure Red Panda merch would be in high demand! What is your favourite NFT that you’ve designed so far?
I hope so! My favourite NFT so far is a tie between Whaitiri the Warlock and Adrian the Monk. These are 1-of-1 NFTs that can be claimed by holding a special card from the Dungeons & Pandas collection.
I had fun making these because they’re in a completely different art style and looks like a card you might see in Hearthstone or another TCG.
You’ve mentioned utility – what utility benefits do you have in mind for the collection?
It’s hard to think of exciting utility for an art collection, but I’m trying to find a way to do it.
As for now, I have a mini-game in our Discord that allows you to take care of your 1-of-1 red pandas. Users can receive small amounts of WAX, NFTs or tokens that they can blend for an exclusive NFT or to redeem red panda merch.
I currently give these rewards manually, but I’m creating a bot that can do it automatically with a nice UI. I’m having to learn on the fly, so it may take some time!
What have you enjoyed the most about working on your collection so far?
From a creator side, I’ve loved making packs! From thinking of a concept to making the NFTs, the whole process is super fun and I learn an awful lot whilst making them.
Now that I can make pre-minted packs, I’m excited to create more themed NFTs, like I did with our Christmas pack and Wizard of Oz pack.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say directly to the reader?
I’d like to thank all the collectors and other NFT artists that continue to support my project, and also to everyone in the WAX community for being awesome!
You know what time it is!
What fuels you?
Pancakes, pizza, video games and the supportive community.
One unusual fact about you?
Like red pandas, I’m more active at night and at dawn, and I’m asleep during the day.
If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t compare your work to others and let it get you down. Everyone has their own unique style!
You can invite three people, real or fictional, to dinner. Who do you choose and why?
Samwise Didier (Art Director at Blizzard), Raf Grassetti (Art Director at Sony), and Hideo Kojima. We’d have a nice conversation about art and video games!
What is your purpose in life?
Ahhh… this is hard, but I think my purpose now is to learn more and create more wonderful art to share with the world.
How can we follow you and your work?
I am unashamedly a huge fan of Mikee’s work. The sheer breadth of his artistic talent he’s been able to showcase with both Rusty and Waxy puts him in the upper echelons of artists on WAX.
There’s very few artists out there that I would happily spend 2,500 WAX on a Mint #1 for – which I did earlier this week.
My fingers are crossed that, one day, Mikee can create that video game he’s been dreaming about for so long. Programming, gameplay, sound design and other areas are their own beasts – but from an artistic point of view, Mikee truly has it all.
To mark this interview, we have our free MikeeMyk Interview Card, dropping next week!