Dirt: An NFT for the homies

How now chilled cow?

Dirt is a daily email about entertainment.

Daisy Alioto talks with artist and designer Mark Costello, who created Dirt’s animated NFTs, about our boldest leap into the Dirtyverse yet.

Today we are announcing our first writer’s NFT! (It might look a little familiar…) Check it out:

This NFT is a gift to Dirt’s first 100 contributors for being along with us on this wild ride. Only 100 editions of this piece exist. We are happy to say we have had close to 50 individual contributors already. 

If you’ve written for Dirt, you should have already received communication from us about claiming your NFT. Please reach out by emailing newsletterdirt@gmail.com if not! The Dirt Writer NFT is not for direct sale, but perhaps writers will want to sell them on the secondary market in the future. (We’re happy to negotiate.)

Below we have an interview with our designer Mark Costello about the design process. And don’t miss our earlier interview with Mark about the Dirt S1 NFT series.

Check out Dirt’s inaugural NFT collection and the Dirty Writer (Volume 1) NFT on OpenSea!

View the Writer NFT

Daisy Alioto: What were your influences for this piece? 

Mark Costello: The main one was definitely the lofi hip-hop beats girl, which was inspired by Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart (1995), and copying the color story from there.

I’ve actually never seen Whisper of the Heart, but there were some other Studio Ghibli images I had up in the background. [Editor’s note: Scroll down for a surprise!]

This is the witch from Howl’s Moving Castle and at first I was struggling to figure out how to pose Dirty since they are facing the desk but turning towards us so I traced this still from the movie.

Also realizing the leaves on Dirty’s head are exactly like drawing Mickey’s ears: they always need to be the same direction no matter how Dirty is turned.

DA: What do you think makes the image of the girl at the desk so iconic? Why is that image so appealing to people and satisfying to endlessly riff on?

MC: I think there’s something to the romanticization of banality. The tchotchkes around her and the color story of it really make it seem so romantic — the act of just getting your shit done. It’s really easy to put yourself in it: I too am a lofi girl. Even without the music, it’s a very calming image that I feel like I want to replicate when I work. 

DA: Are there any Easter Eggs hidden in the image?

MC: We put Kyle’s book in there as if Dirty’s doing their homework. And of course the daisies as a wink to you. I love that the chair is an Eames office chair. As an art and design nerd, it’s an enjoyable nod. We shifted the background from Paris(?) to Brooklyn. So I guess depending on where the window view is, Dirty lives in a very nice Cobble Hill apartment building!

DA: I realized once you added the Pig-Pen-style dirt at the desk that Dirty is just offloading all of the time. It’s probably very difficult for them to be a minimalist. 

MC: It is very funny to think about Dirty living amongst filth. It’s not an Easter Egg exactly, but collecting other meme references: the headphones aren’t really on Dirty’s ears; they are on his cheeks, and it’s similar to the meme of Arthur wearing headphones.

DA: How did this feel different from the earlier Dirt S1 animations?

MC: The first animation, the majority of the work was so foundational. We were making a color palette, we were finding out the right brushes to use, we were finding out the right animation style. We were sending back and forth Pokemon GIFs and Studio Ghibli references. And now that kind of work is already in the bank. The palette has been saved, the brushes are taken care of, so we were able to imagine this character in situ as opposed to just floating on a background. This design was a lot more about world-building and character development than it was about the actual animation of the character. Now there are more ways that Dirty can exist other than just being a singular post. 

DA: Do you have a favorite part of the image?

MC: I do really like that we put the Dirt Writer certificate in the background. It’s funny that we are giving this gift to someone writing for Dirt and that poster kind of implies that Dirty is also a writer for Dirt. And I also really like the introduction of Dirty’s little pal, expanding the Dirtyverse that way. 

DA: Is Dirty’s pet worm also an earth sign? 

MC: I guess the worm does have to be an earth sign, too. They’re an earth worm, that’s why they are buds.

Announcement: On Thursday, September 9th, at 7pm EST we will be streaming Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart in the Dirt Discord. Join here.

The Dirt: Better than a tote bag.