Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs—cryptocurrency tokens that are provably unique—are all the rage right now. For many artists, they've become an exciting new medium of expression—and an impressive source of income that's thrived on the back of Bitcoin’s bull run.
Established artists like Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland, late enigmatic rapper MF DOOM and cult-digital artist Beeple, are among those who have made pretty millions selling crypto art.
And the NFT market has already generated its own geniuses. Few artists can attract prices as ferocious as Seattle’s FEWOCiOUS right now. On their eighteenth birthday, (which fell on New Year’s Day), the pseudonymous, self-taught surrealist artist’s Nifty Gateway drop earned them $370,000.
But crypto’s waters are choppy—and $370,000 in digital money can seem precarious to anyone who’s glanced at the market. “My grandma said, ‘it can all be gone tomorrow,” FEWOCiOUS told Decrypt before sharing how grandma salted the wound: “Everyone’s gonna forget about you.”
It’s brutal, like much of FEWOCiOUS’s story. But throughout the interview, FEWOCiOUS comes off as precocious, driven, thick-skinned, independent, and prone to fits of hearty mid-sentence chuckling. In short, they’re one of the best figureheads to keep the NFT market alive, even if the market crashes.
It all started in Vegas
When FEWOCiOUS was twelve, they lived in an abusive household with their father. “It was really bad. I had to leave. I went to social services, stayed in different homes, but finally we decided on me staying with my grandparents,” they said. Though it extricated FEWOCiOUS from a dire situation, staying with grandparents came with its own limitations for a middle schooler having a tough time fitting in. And that’s what led FEWOCiOUS to art.
“My grandparents didn’t have technology. I didn’t have a phone to go on social media or play games like other lonely kids. So to not look awkward sitting there I would draw. Every day. In class when I didn’t have a partner, I would draw.”
“I wasn’t allowed to paint in my room, so ninety percent of all my art online is digital. I made it on my iPad,” they said. The iPad was paid for by a steady stream of two- to five-dollar commissions for avatars and banners, selling images to strangers who found them through Twitter. After establishing themselves as a digital artist, an encounter with a crypto-obsessed customer would turn FEWOCiOUS into a thriving one-teenager industry.
The Birth of a Crypto Artist
“At this point, I didn’t know what crypto was, I just knew I could sell my prints and physical paintings. I had my own website and I sold a painting for about $95. I was over the moon, because $95 is a lot of money.” Ninety-five dollars later, life continued as normal. Months later the customer, who FEWOCiOUS declined to name, reintroduced himself.
“He emailed me a picture of the receipt and said, ‘Hi! I’m the guy who got the painting. I noticed you put a certificate of authenticity with your painting, so you care about authenticity. Let me tell you about NFTs.”
Intrigued, FEWOCiOUS received their induction into how blockchain could create ineradicable seals of authenticity. In short, their eyes were opened onto a new world of NFTs and their creators, banding in communities like SuperRare and Nifty Gateway with the common vision of creating a unique digital art market.
“I said first of all: is this a scam?!” FEWOCiOUS chuckles. “Secondly: what?!” Digital artworks that were selling for four and five-figure sums seemed too good to be true. But undeterred—and with nothing to lose—FEWOCiOUS took the plunge.
An established NFT artist
FEWOCiOUS sold their first NFT through SuperRare. The NFT, called ‘She Makes Me Feel Alive,’ sold for 10 ETH on September 24 (about $6,000 at the time of purchase). Then in early November, FEWOCiOUS achieved their biggest sale yet: $25,000 for ‘Moment i Fell in Love’. More five-figure sales followed soon after, including The Modern Prometheus, which sold for 35 ETH (about $20,863) on December 2.
FEWOCiOUS again made crypto headlines before Christmas when a piece commissioned by the boisterous co-founders of blockchain hedge fund Morgan Creek Digital, Anthony Pompliano and Jason Williams, fetched $21,350 at auction. It was the first commissioned artwork to go under the hammer on Nifty Gateway, the NFT marketplace backed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. The piece, NYC Skyline, splashes FEWOCiOUS’s joyful personality across a skyline that, in real life, was being ravaged by the pandemic.
As great a boon as 2020 was for FEWOCiOUS, they remain hopeful that 2021 will be a bigger year. “Last year was me trying to get my bearings, and it went pretty well, but this year I understand crypto; I’m in the community. I know way more than I did. I’m older and have more life experience. Crypto has made me more confident and I’m only just going into the year.”
With NFT collections now fetching millions, there’s undeniably ample growing space for digital artists to explore. From one crypto head to another, Decrypt gives FEWOCiOUS its full, if unsolicited, blessing.
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