Local Indigenous artist Soncho Austin is traveling to showcase Canadian musicians and hopes to help support Indigenous reconciliation with the benefits of his works.
Austin, 30, said he’s been drawing since he could hold a pencil and hasn’t stopped since.
“My grandmother had my first framed photo when I was three years old. It’s a green doodle and it’s meant to be a fire truck, ”Austin said with a laugh. “Throughout high school I took art classes and that was the grade I was good at… After high school I struggled for about 10 years trying to find a way to make a living. with my art, which is very difficult. ”
A few years ago, Austin’s wife encouraged him to devote himself to art full time. He had experience with Photoshop and started drawing digitally. He reached out to rappers in Calgary and offered a free cover art, after which he received more requests for the same.
Digital album artwork is Austin’s “bread and butter”, but he also does pet portraits.
“I did memorial photos for the deceased,” Austin said. “In fact, a lot of friends have died in the last three or four years, so I made a lot of commemorative coins.”
In March 2021, Soncho heard about NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a type of cryptocurrency. Works of art can be published as NFT, with royalties that apply to each sale.
“It’s a way for artists to really take control of their artwork.
Austin used his graphic design connections and reached out to musicians across the country and started his first collection, a NFT series of trading cards for Canadian musicians.
Austin makes different versions of each map. The silver version has 10 editions, the gold has three and the super rare card is a one-time edition. The musician gets all the profits from the sale of the super rare, as well as the first gold.
“I’ve done some research and as far as I know, no one else has made an NFT Canadian Musician Trading Card yet.”
The first card Austin created was for local rapper Dougie, who has been making music for three years and has over 150,000 Spotify streams. Dougie will be releasing his first album at the end of this year.
“The NFT stuff that Soncho does is pretty new to me, but I’m all about learning new things so I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Dougie.
Austin is half native, his grandfather was from the Plains Cree tribe. He says everything that came out about residential schools touched him.
“My grandfather didn’t get a birth certificate until I was 15,” Austin said. “His mother hid him when he was born for 15 years so he wouldn’t be taken to boarding school and he was so afraid to pass on the language and traditions that my mother didn’t know. She must have tried to learn things on her own when I was young and that’s what I was able to learn. It was quite difficult.
Austin says he would like to use a portion of the profits from his sales of Canadian Musician NFT cards to further support Indigenous education in the city.
“I have a passion to help Aboriginal youth overcome obstacles and this will continue to be a part of my life’s mission,” said Austin. “I will take a percentage of all profits made and donate them to a charity focused on truth and reconciliation efforts with residential school sites across Canada. ”
You can see Austin’s work on his website http://www.sonchoaustin.ca. His Canadian Musicians Series can be found here: