Typically I’m not someone that’s known to be an early adopter or the type to jump on the bandwagon. Back in the first days of Bitcoin I had a friend that swore up and down I should get in. It was a brand new concept. Highly speculative and highly volatile. Something I knew nothing about and thought was a scam. I ignored his plea’s and went about my business. Fast forward, I’ve actively participated in the crypto market and am curious about ways to get back in. Which is what leads us here today. The creation of my first NFT.
If you have no idea what an NFT or non-fungible token is, don’t worry. I didn’t when I first heard of them either. All I remember hearing was that people were paying really insane amounts of money for digital art. My curiosity peaked and an investigation was conducted. Quickly pouncing on Google for the answers I started searching terms like “NFT”, “first ever NFT sale” and “what is an NFT”. Mind blown. I thought “this is too wild”.
The first sale ever made of an NFT was by an artist named Kevin McCoy. He minted his non-fungible token “Quantum” in 2014 before a crypto art market existed. He and a friend had the idea that they could create a marketplace for digital artists to sell, track, and own their work. At that time it didn’t exist. The pair debuted their new monetized graphics system to an audience at New Museum, New York who laughed.
Turns out it’s they who get the last laugh. Quantum was among the leading items up for sale in a Sotheby’s NFT auction.
What is an NFT?
Bitcoin is a fungible token. It’s replicated, the same each time and when transacted it’s often Bitcoin that’s returned. An NFT or non-fungible token is a unique and irreplaceable artifact.
Think of an NFT like a rare Black Lotus Magic the Gathering card. They’re scarce, if not non-existent and to have one means you can claim a hefty penny for it. However, if traded off the rights of ownership and relinquished. The new owner gains the rights in the exchange and now has the only one of those particular cards.
In essence that’s how an NFT works. They can be one off artworks of any kind or a series of artworks. Most of them are on the Ethereum blockchain network. Each one has its own unique metadata stored within the blockchain in order to differentiate it. There are other blockchains that began incorporating non-fungible tokens but for the most part Ethereum is the go to.
Why make one?
With headlines touting record breaking auction sales for a piece of cyberspace you might be thinking he’s in it for the money. Well, if that’s your thought then you’re mistaken. As of this writing there are claims that the NFT market has taken a significant hit and sales have “dried” up. But much like the volatility of crypto currencies this isn’t their first time around and probably won’t be the last.
Money is often a motivation for a lot of things I do it’s not in this case.
The reason I decided to create a NFT was purely accidental. First and foremost I am an artist at heart. From a very early age art and intellect were the primary focuses of my parents. I grew up attending all sorts of classes drawing, painting, sculpting, any type of creative expression was encouraged. I was always provided with the supplies and the space to explore and create.
All my family and friends knew that was my talent and more often than not I would create things for them. Art was a way of life. Late at night, through the day at school, whenever, wherever or on whatever. Honestly, I remember pulling off the front pouch of my white JanSport backpack and drawing a mural of a B-Boy wearing an Adidas tracksuit with my nickname in graffiti lettering in place of it.
I chose creativity as my profession and earned a degree in graphic design. Working in the industry for years I started to lose my knack for drawing. Commercial art was killing the creative fire inside. I tried hard to reignite the flame over and over. Even winning an award for best cover illustration and having free reign to illustrate any editorial feature I wanted didn’t help.
My career path shifted and my drawings and sketches became wireframes and diagrams. I stopped thinking about any type of art from an artistic perspective altogether. I was no longer creating, now my art was science and all of the things I was doing as a product designer took me down a different path.
But I didn’t create an NFT to reignite my flame or passion for drawing. I did it as therapy.
Art as therapy?
Art has been used as a therapeutic medium for quite some time. The benefits have been proven over and over. As an adult I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve sought the help of professionals when I need to rely on their expertise. I am no stranger to a therapist’s office in person or virtual. I made great use of certain programs during the early stages of COVID-19 thanks to back to back romantic follies.
I don’t always need a therapist though. Sometimes my problems can be simply cured by a change of mind and a shift in perspective.
As an overthinker and an individual who analyzes processes and human-computer interactions for a living it’s hard at times to get out of the problem solving loop. My brain fixates on things until a solution is found. I didn’t figure that out until later in life. Had I known I probably would have chosen a different profession.
When my brain goes into overload I need something else to break that stream of consciousness. That’s precisely what I was doing as a kid, I just didn’t realize it. In school I never felt challenged. Work was too easy. I’d grow bored and fidgety. Not wanting to be there was stronger than wanting to. I would draw all day or as much as I could.
Life can be stressful at times. I picked up sound design and digital audio production as a way to creatively express myself. I’ve done the same with writing and I’m now adding another one to the mix. Sitting with my morning coffee I started finding myself randomly drawing again after writing in my journal. This little change has given me the space to clear my mind and just focus on the pen and paper.
So, why not create an NFT for the same reason.
He Waited, my first NFT
Like McCoy I was a digital artist ahead of my time. In 2012 I began exploring a series of abstract digital paintings based on one’s I had done in acrylic. This series led to an exploration of digital paintings. With no way to properly exhibit them nor the skills to appropriately market them they lived on the internet for some time before finding a home in the forgotten lairs of my external hard drive. It wasn’t until 2020 that I thought of them again. The word NFT was everywhere.
Stoked and on time to the party, or so I thought I rushed for my hard drive. Grabbing the blue case and pulling on the handle to the zipper I slowly separated the teeth. Finally, making my way all the way around I opened the case, pulled out the hard drive, plugged in the cord and waited for it to show on my desktop.
Boop, there it is. Clicking through the folder structure I began looking for the series of abstract digital paintings I did as well as an entire series of buddhas. Folder after folder I searched.
“There’s only so many folders, they have to be here” I said thinking.
They weren’t. Not a single one. Not even a jpeg as a memory. All I had was important stuff, old client work and random shit I collected over the years. The digital paintings I poured my heart and soul into for hours on end were gone. I was gutted. The fire inside of me went out. Goodbye NFT.
It’s funny to think that it took almost a full year later to get the desire to create digital art. I’m here again and this time my inspirations are fueled by my experiences.
Almost twenty years of my life have gone into the absorption and use of knowledge relating to self-help and personal growth. The very foundation of all knowledge is the belief that we have the power to control our mind and that we are the only ones who can do so. The great Napoleon Hill mentions in his Laws of Success that we can take any adversity and find opportunity in it.
Me losing all my digital art is an opportunity to start again. This time with purpose. And that purpose like all art is to creatively express myself through visual means. It’s a way for me to use my talents and skills to turn all sorts of feelings into one off works of art. Through explorations in collage style digital artwork I’ll be able to turn feelings and mental images into juxtapositions for today’s modern art market.
He Waited is a digital painting created to express the feeling and emotion behind the saying that every man knows when he’s met his queen. It’s a saying fathers often tell their sons in regards to love and how when you find the right one you know.
In this visualization I wanted to capture just that. Except with a twist. It’s reflecting upon a love that was lost to timing. The king represented by the skull had found a love that was the very essence of his queen. Due to a turn of events she fled and with her she took his heart. Burying the loss by building his kingdom represented by the crown and coins he dies wondering what could have been. In the end all he had left was her favorite flower, a red rose.
He Waited was created using stock photography and photo manipulation techniques in Adobe Photoshop. Wanting to pay homage to my background in graphic design I used heavy textures, a cut paper style and arranged imagery in the form of a collage.
The world is an interesting place. As humans once our basic needs are met we tend to find ways to add value to things that inherently have none at all. While art is a true expression of emotion and feelings can never have a dollar sign attached to it. The artworks and expressions that are created can. When an artist captures what’s going on inside of them and shares it with the world everyone can be a part of that moment. The same can be true with crypto art, the NFT market and whatever else we come up with in the future.
I’ve decided to create my art simply for the enjoyment of personal expression. The purpose and intent is to share that with you and hopefully connect in some way. If that’s all I do then I’ve achieved my goal.