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How Moving into a Tent Changed Everything for Nighttime Photographer Malik Martin

The artist’s first-ever Web3 collection tells the story of his own journey into the outdoors

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For Malik Martin, who goes by Malik the Martian, the first NFTs he’s ever created are intensely personal. “This is essentially a roadmap to me being outdoors,” the photographer tells Outside. 

Called the Constellation Collection, Martin’s photos of the night sky capture his own relationship with nature. 

“Back in 2016, I was living in an apartment and it was raggedy,” says Martin, a Memphis, Tennessee, native. “And I decided that instead of paying rent, I was going to pay myself. So I went and bought a tent, you know a nice camping setup. I couch surfed and camped, and that’s how I bought my first cameras, my first lenses, and my first MacBook.”

Shortly after he moved into that tent, Martin found his inspiration. 

“And that’s where it all goes back to the stars. Back then, as I was embarking on this journey to being a professional photographer, I faced so much uncertainty about what I was doing and how I should do it,” says Martin. “I remember just standing and looking up at the stars and feeling like I had to do this.” 

But downtown Memphis isn’t exactly the best place to see stars. It wasn’t until one of his first mountaineering trips out west that he realized just how incredible the night sky could be. “Living in the city, you see like five of them, but from Mount Whitney, you see five billion,” he says. “When I see the stars, I see the love of everyone who came before me.”

Martin explains that looking at the night sky, he feels a connection to his ancestors, and is trying to convey that feeling through his photographs. 

This month, Martin will debut the Constellation Collection through Web3, which makes sense to him because it gives him a personal connection to his audience. “Instagram, Facebook, social media are platforms I don’t own. I don’t have control over them,” he says, noting changes in engagement and reach unrelated to his work, which impact its ability to resonate with viewers. “I look at Web3 as a chance to create a digital art gallery, a tangible place where people can go. I look at it as a way to submit my work forever, or to be able to create an art piece that’s always going to be accessible on the blockchain.”

Proceeds from the sale of the Constellation Collection will support Martin’s work with non-profit organizations like We Outside, which helps kids from urban areas get outdoors. 

Malik Martin is a member of the Outside.io Creator Community, a collection of inspiring athletes, artists, and writers who will be partnering with Outside on one-of-a-kind NFT collections, available this year to Outerverse Passport holders. To learn more about the unique mission of the Outerverse and the exclusive benefits that come with Passport ownership, head over to Outside.io.


From 2022