Jihan Salleh, aka Lakar Umbi, is a musician who combines art and music in the world of NFTs.
By DANIAL FUAD
NFTs have taken the world by storm especially this past few years and the “noise” about it has been louder ever since the sale of Beeple’s artwork for a whopping US$69mil last year. Even the local NFTs art scene has been lively with artists such as Red Hong Yi and her Memebank works and the success story of Katun with his RM1.6mil NFT sale. We even have our own local NFT platform called pentas.io that is chock full of talented artists showcasing their works. In conjunction with International Women’s Day on March 8, BASKL presents four female artists that work with NFTs in our “Women in NFTs” series.
Jihan Salleh, better known in the world of NFTs as Lakar Umbi, is a musician. She is one part of the soundscape duo, Kicau Bilau, alongside her husband Ahmad Irfan. Jihan plays the angklung and the duo has performed both locally in places like The Habitat in Penang, The Godown and Pasar Seni in Kuala Lumpur, as well as internationally in countries such as Australia, Italy, Greece and Hungary.
“I have also always loved drawing as a hobby and one day in June 2020, a friend of mine asked if I was interested to start minting my work for NFTs?” said Jihan on how she started in the world of NFTs. Seeing that there was nothing to lose as she was already uploading her drawings on Instagram, she ventured forth as “Lakar Umbi” focusing on digital drawings. Lakar Umbi is a play of the words “akar-umbi” (roots) and “lakar” (to sketch). “I think it’s a great reminder for myself to remember how i first started because this all begins with me, sketching for fun on paper,” Jihan said.
Active mostly on TEIA as it is one of the platforms that supports a clean NFT movement, Jihan’s subject matters are almost always women. “I try to use my own interpretations of certain subjects or issues that circle around women and I create an illustration based on that,” Jihan said. She works alongside her partner – Jihan creates an illustration while her partner, Tingkah Lagu, creates an audio composition so they are able to bridge art and music for the NFT market. On Showtime.io, she describes her work as “exploring lines and audio-visual NFT”.
The pandemic affected Jihan and Ahmad as they depended on performances for their income. “In the last couple of years, there has been very few performances and music activities for us to participate in, so jumping into NFTs was really a way to sustain our income for our everyday lives,” Jihan noted. As the NFTs market is worldwide and active 24/7 in the metaverse, artists can set their own pace when it comes to promoting their work. Although it may seem free and easy, this can also work against the artist as you need to constantly update your audience about your artwork and your practice. “Sometimes, when you are gone for some time, you can see your Twitter engagement plummets and it is difficult to gain that momentum back,” shared Jihan.
There’s a smaller percentage of female artists in the NFT world in comparison with males and due to that, the community of women in the scene is very close knitted. There’s various Twitter accounts (of which many NFT artists are known to frequent) that support women in NFTs by promoting them and asking other people to nominate their favourite women artist. Other than Twitter, Discord is also a popular app for NFT artists, and there’s even a community called Women in NFTs there where women can interact with each other, discuss their projects as well as share opportunities.
The women’s community in NFTs is steadily growing and the community support is what keeps them strong.
Jihan hopes to focus more on incorporating current issues into her work. “My works have been about past issues or folklore so far. Now, I would like to explore more current issues such as the war in the Ukraine, domestic abuse cases during the pandemic and so on.”
Find Lakar Umbi’s artwork here.
Look out for more stories in our Women in NFTs series!