It's not easy making a living as an artist of any kind. Take Spotify, where the chances of earning a decent income are minuscule. According to Music Business Worldwide, a mere 0.2% of creators on the platform took home more than $50,000 in royalties in 2020. Spotify might be designed for artists the world hears, but artists whose content the world sees don't have it any easier.
Adam Rattigan is a graduate of De Montfort University in the U.K. with a degree in fine art. He is also the founder of MunchiesNFT, a digital collection that fuses the paintings of dozens of the greats — like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Vincent van Gogh — into NFTs. Rattigan explained,
“I made it possible for someone to own a Van Gogh-inspired painting with a trippy art version of their pic presented on a plate.”
He is intent on doing things differently, saying he's “challenging the NFT and art industry.” The artist explains that while other projects are based on animal or human portraits, he wants to put a different spin on NFTs. You may be wondering how it's going for him. By the looks of things, pretty well.
He just crossed the $1 million mark for sales and has attracted a following of 35,000 strong on Discord. Rattigan believes that NFTs and art can co-exist, and not just as a hobby. He took some time alongside Munchies co-founder Adrian Au to speak to Wealth of Geeks about the project's success.
Q&A With MunchiesNFT:
WOG: How did you stumble into crypto?
Adam: I was going to popular fairs and events in London, for art as well. That brought me into the NFT world. I was interested in the fact that the power came back to the creator. First, I was interested in the art aspect, and then the crypto aspect came after.
WOG: You mentioned placing the power back in the hands of the creator. What are some of the pain points in the traditional art world?
Adam: You can go to galleries and try to sell your work. But there's so much competition, and it's very expensive — the percentage they take of the art sale in addition to getting into one to start with. To be honest, so many people out there with art degrees never use them or think they can't. That's quite common. People with art degrees don't go on to do anything with them unless they become a teacher.
WOG: What was it about NFTs that first captured your attention?
Adam: A number of artists in the NFT world — Beeple, FEWOCiOUS. They were selling their NFTs at Sotheby's and Christie's, and it caught my eye. People were able to get digital art on a platform where it's never been before, and that was a huge inspiration to me. I remember David Hockney's iPhone art. I saw an exhibition in 2009. It was a fantastic piece of digital art. That kept me doing digital art before NFTs came along. It was telling me digital art was the figure without knowing it. That's what I tell people in my course — get an iPad, start drawing on it and go down the digital route.
WOG: What's so unique about your collection, MunchiesNFT.
Adam: I was thinking about how I did food documentation back in 2018. I also had a passion for fine art by great artists. I thought, ‘Is there a way I can bring the two together into the NFT space?' There were two key goals when Munchies was created. Education was huge for me, teaching people about great artists. And accessibility was another big thing.
On the internet, anyone can browse through a collection and learn. That's strong and powerful from my point of view. And another thing was to support artists like me. Munchies can change people from having the attitude of a 9-5 job to actually having hope to have their work displayed around the world, or those who don't have the financial support to do it themselves.
Forty percent of the project's earnings go to help and support artists around the world. That's really powerful. There are a lot of fantastic artists out there, and they need support to grow.
WOG: What kind of marketing did you do for MunchiesNFT to reach the $1 million sales threshold?
Adam: We created artist inspired pieces and posted them on Twitter to attract communities. We also build different partnerships with other projects and bring awareness. The whole NFT space is really welcoming, and we have members that bring their friends into our community, which was awesome.
WOG: Did you face any copyright issues incorporating your inspiration from famous artists into NFTs?
Adam: No. All of these are original sketches by me. They resemble the work of 50-plus legendary artists, but it's never actually an Andy Warhol piece. I always change things in each piece. They're very mixed, and I always adapt the art in my own way. At a quick glance, people see a resemblance, but if you look closer, theirs is nothing like mine.
WOG: Tell me about the ‘Wine Not' NFT.
Adam: The Wine Not NFT was David Shrigley-inspired, who was nominated for the 2013 Turner prize and was awarded an honorary doctorate by De Montfort University in 2014.
— MunchiesNFT (@munchiesnft) February 13, 2022
WOG: What about the Munchies business model?
Adrian: Forty percent of the money earned from the project is going to a community fund. The funds are going to support and hire other people. What's really important for our mission is supporting artists like Adam. A lot of artists don't know how to do smart contracts or marketing. We help them to do so. With our business model, we're able to expand and help many artists around the world.
The most important thing for us is to find more artists with a mission plus good art. Art itself doesn't sell NFTs anymore. The world is changing. Moving forward with new NFT projects, if there's no mission or utility, it's difficult to get into the NFT space and thrive. We're selecting which projects are good under our umbrella. We are talking to 10 artists, and we'll work with one to begin with.
WOG: Let's shift to the technical side. You chose the Ethereum blockchain. Did you consider other platforms?
Adrian: The reason we chose Ethereum is that it has mass adoption. We started to work on the project half a year ago, and the Solana blockchain was here, but the tech was not ready. So, for example, I know some people didn't get their NFTs after paying for them in some projects, and the smart contract feature was not really mature enough for our project.
With Ethereum, there were concerns about gas fees. But we applied the latest token standard that allows people to have the lowest gas fees possible from a smart contract point of view. But it depends on how busy the network is at the time. From a business perspective, Ethereum made the most sense.
WOG: What do you say to NFT critics who oppose the environmental toll or speculative nature of these assets?
Adrian: On energy consumption, it's not so much about the NFTs but about mining cryptocurrencies. Elon Musk is saying why mine coins when the energy use is so high? It's a good point, but when it comes to NFTs, I don't think it will be a huge concern in the future.
On price speculation, in my opinion, if you like the art, if you like the roadmap, and believe in the team, people see this as an investment. It's just like the stock market — it will go up and down. NFTs and crypto are the same in this way.
WOG: What advice do you have for artists or other creators looking to break into the NFT space?
Adam: Just try and be as unique as you can be in this space. Have a strong passion for what you believe in with your art and what you're trying to do. If someone's really passionate about something, that will shine through. That relates back to Munchies — how can I educate masses of people as well as support other artists, our two causes. We were trying to be different in a space that was already growing. Projects were already great, and we're just building on that.
WOG: What would Andy Warhol think of NFTs, in your opinion?
Adam: Basically, I think Warhol would be all for it. I watched a documentary on him the other day. I was watching how he went into a shop and started buying branded products and decided to use them as his subject. He'd be in a world where NFTs are becoming brands. He would be well into that and doing it himself. That's what I feel NFTs are becoming: brands. It's about how strong of an identity you can have and going forward what you do with it.
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Featured Image Credit: MunchiesNFT