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Pakko De La Torre // Creative Director

Pelempunk: Malaysian NFT artist creating art of people being slapped

Pelempunk: Malaysian NFT artist creating art of people being slapped

We’ve seen plenty of artists in the NFT scene using the word ‘Punk’ as part of their brand names. Some of the well-known ones are CryptoPunks, RoachPunks, and PandaPunks

One in particular that has caught our eye is Pelempunk.

The word Pelempunk is derived from the Malay word ‘Pelempang’, which means slap or smack. Interestingly, we later found out that the term ‘Punk’ also refers to the artist’s former status as a punk member.

Obviously, it started out as a joke. 

But in seven months, Haizeel’s NFT account grew to be worth 19.72 BNB (inclusive of secondary market volumes), which at the time of writing is equivalent to RM28K.

Part-time NFT artist, full-time animator

Originally from Penang but now residing in Selangor, Haizeel is no stranger to the world of art. “I started doing art ever since I was a kid,” he said. “More significantly, I started doing Flash animation ever since I was in high school, form 3.”

The animator considers himself self-taught and has been posting his animation work on Newgrounds, an online community where artists, game developers, musicians, and writers can share their work.

Since graduating from MMU University, Cyberjaya in 2013 with a major in Film & Animation, he has been working in the animation industry ever since.

In 2018, on the side, he also became part of a local punk music tour project called Pelempunk.

“[At the time], I posted the artwork for the tour on my personal Twitter account and many of my [friends] encouraged me to start a project since it’s already using the ‘punk’ term on it,” Haizeel shared. “So that’s how it started.”

Humour and relatability in one

For Haizeel, Pelempunk is a chance to exercise his creativity beyond the boundaries of what his full-time job enables him to do.

His expression of creativity? NFTs of people getting slapped, of course, but beyond the different characters, each NFT is also differentiated by its message.

I’m pretty sure everyone has encountered someone they disliked or irritated at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, slapping them is very looked down upon and could lead to assault charges (even if some really, really deserve a good old slap).

That’s where Haizeel saw an opportunity to create something that could relate to such contexts and settings.

“I figured that with my artwork, someone can ‘slap’ those people by owning one of my NFTs,” he added.

And this relatability is extremely important to him, since it also helps him foster personal relationships with NFT collectors, thus increasing the brand value of Pelempunk.

Most recently, one of his artworks that caught our eye was a Pelempunk NFT of—extremely fittingly—the infamous Hollywood slapping incident.

That took place on March 27, when actor Will Smith walked onstage at the 94th Academy Awards and slapped comedian Chris Rock during a presentation.

“I embed [the artwork] on the blockchain and it becomes like a historical stamp for people to look back on in the years to come,” the artist envisioned.

It’s a love-hate thing

Looking at the nature of Pelempunk’s NFTs, it’s easy for some to perceive them as promoting hatred and violence.

On the flip side though, Haizeel made sure to portray his creations in a humorous manner to spread joy and laughter while still narrating the behaviours and events of society. His intention was not to drive in the idea that the individuals receiving the slaps are those we despise.

“It could be someone that you love, but you want to give a quick smack out of love,” the artist outlined. “Nothing beats the love-hate relationship, right?”

Spreading the slaps around

A testament to the work that Haizeel does, big NFT players (each with a marketplace volume greater than 145 BNB, or about RM208K) such as Catverses, Rich Cats Nation, and BadApe have also collaborated with him in the past, with projects that often boast the artist’s signature style.

The artist has also minted a total of 245 digital art pieces on (a local NFT marketplace), with about 96% of them (or 237 NFTs) being sold to various NFT collectors. This includes some of the marketplace’s top collectors, Art1st1c, NoFutur3, and J4nt4nCrypto.

A local steakhouse in Bukit Jelutong that we previously wrote about, AD Butcher & Steak is one of the collectors too. It partnered up with Pelempunk to offer NFT holders a 15% discount on every dining experience at the restaurant.

One artwork portrays the marketing manager of AD Butcher & Steak, Omar Hamwi, being slapped while he is about to enjoy steak. The artwork is displayed on the restaurant’s walls as part of its decor, and we can say for sure that it’ll be quite an eye-catcher and conversation-starter.

Haizeel asserted that he can complete a piece of Pelempunk artwork in under thirty minutes, which I consider to be quite astounding, considering how his work is not generated by an algorithm. “It is not as complex as the artwork that I usually make,” he clarified. “But it takes more time to come up with the context for each of them.”

Growing a community of his own

Haizeel’s short-term goals include establishing a strong community, especially for those who collect his NFTs.

To achieve this, the artist intends to develop a Web3 browser game as an exclusive utility for Pelempunk NFT holders. This includes pampering them with monthly contests and declaring winners from among the collectors who participate.

“I’m currently working with a team of developers to create a simple Web3 Browser Game,” Haizeel told Vulcan Post. “With this, I’m hoping to be able to reach out to sponsors to give benefits to the monthly winners and build awareness of NFTs [to the local community].”

We saw how other establishments such as MyeongDong Topokki and Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation have utilised NFTs as a membership programme and a voting mechanism respectively. However, the outcomes are not yet known.

But believing that NFTs will soon become part of our normal lives, it seems that Haizeel is in this for the long run. Well, we’re sure there are plenty more slappable characters that will come along too, so safe to say, he won’t be running out of Pelempunk content anytime soon.

This content was originally published here.