5 min read

what’s in a name?

understanding the meaning behind artist, anfaslim’s, name and how it has shaped his art experience
what’s in a name?

meet the multi-talented artist, anfaslim, aka marcell key. his name carries a powerful and meaningful message, derived from terms signifying self-respect and dignity. through our conversation, we learned about his thoughtful process of crafting his name along with his experiences in becoming an artist. 

interview by: @sydneyia

art and imagery by: @anfaslim

what’s your story? how’d you get your name? 

my name is marcell key. my artist name is anfaslim. my name derives from an arabic term meaning self respect and dignity. it took me some time to come up with my artist's name. i wanted it to be powerful and hold some significance. i started by thinking about nicknames i was given, one of them being slim, and then i got into names within different ethnic backgrounds. “anfa” stuck with me because it means self respect and dignity (which are characteristics i focus on when it came to creating my work). i want people to respect what that i put into my craft and not minimize my life to a hobby. so when i came up with the name, i was thinking about the self respect and the professionalism behind it.

Extragalactic license by anfaslim

if you weren't a visual artist, what else would you do?

if i wasn't drawing, i'd be an architect. if i wasn't in architecture, i'd probably be teaching art. whatever i do it has to be adjacent to art…there's no way around it.

what was your first experience in and around art? 

i've been making art since i was three. i know that's probably crazy. i was really in tune with cartoons and anime as a kid. tom and jerry was my favorite show and i remember trying to figure out how the animated characters were even made? seeing characters get personified really blew my mind. when i saw any kind of image or cartoon, i always wanted to replicate it.

how did you get into the digital art we've been seeing on primitives? 

digital art came later. in high school i played around with photoshop and windows 7 vista for a little bit. i forgot how i got photoshop. i was a little tech geek. 

i then went to school for studio art and illustration. i started out working on more traditional art pieces but i wanted to work with more color and effects in a way i couldn’t with paint alone. once i got an ipad i truly took off.

what inspires you? 

mostly, everyday life. on daily walks i look around my surroundings in terms of the architecture of buildings to the colors of the gravel or the ground. i also daydream like crazy. most of my work comes from inspirations via my daydreams. 

and if i'm not outside, i'm on my phone looking at nasa images. i deep dive into somewhat scientific things a lot of times. i always resonated with the saying “the sky is the limit” but in growing up and understanding what gravity is, i want more from it. we're so used to that phrase as is, but in reality, the sky isn’t the limit. it’s beyond the stars. there are multiple universes in our world and other worlds. earth is no longer our limitation, you never know how far a human can go. 

do you think that your style cultivated itself because of having digital tools at your fingertips? 

my style really came from pushing myself to learn from others, not just by way of using technology. it took multiple conversations of mentors, art professors to pull that out.  

what advice would you give to an aspiring creative? 

please do not give up. a lot of times i've been at a point where i want to give up but am so happy i haven’t. when i was in high school one person's opinion upset me enough to where i threw all my work in the trash but one teacher kept me going. she told everyone in the class they should be ashamed for shaming someone who is exploring their dreams. she always encouraged everyone to support each others’ dreams. i remember she even tried to pick up my artwork outside the garbage can. she cared so much about me and told me not to give up. she was the one teacher that influenced me and made me believe that if i were to give up i'd be disappointing a lot of people that rooted so hard for me to actually do this. 

i would also tell people not to give up because you never know what your breakthrough moment is. you quit at this moment, you may not make your next masterpiece. 

what does it mean to be a creator or an artist? what weight does that carry?

being creative is life for me. it's never ending. it's really powerful to be a creative, and you don't know how much of an influence you have until you start doing things. i also love that art can be both relatable and nostalgic. 

was primitives your first introduction into web3 and do you have any prior experience? 

i was actually introduced to web3 via maker's place. they hit me up in 2017 but when i found primitives, it all seemed very easy. i explained to my friends when i first got on there, i thought this is something that i could really share with people. it was perfect because most of my friends felt like platforms they were trying out weren’t tuned to creatives. 

they felt like they had to fight against the algorithm or fight against an influencer. i think a lot of apps lost their vision or their mission for creatives. instagram was built on aesthetics and creativity. when i see you guys, when i see you guys basically bring back the vision that all creative apps should have been doing in the beginning, working for the creatives, curating for creatives, wanting people to be more involved. we don't have to worry about a number of likes. i really just love the company and want to put people on. i also want to help and be a part of a company where i see and understand the vision.

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