Teenagers cash in on the NFT art manic boom

Forget mowing lawns and bagging groceries, some Gen Z kids are finding other ways to make money this summer

Last fall, Randi Hipper decided to, as she put it recently, “go in-depth with the crypto space.” After hearing about NFTs on Twitter and other social media platforms, Hipper, then a 17-year-old senior at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, began releasing her own digital artworks — cartoonish and self-referential pieces showing her cruising in a car with a Bitcoin license plate or riding the Coney Island Wonder Wheel.

Hipper comes up with the concepts and collaborates with digital artists, including a teenage boy in India who goes by Ajay Toons, offering the works for sale through the NFT marketplace Atomic Hub. An NFT, or a nonfungible token, is a digital file created using blockchain computer code. It is bought using cryptocurrency such as Ether or Wax, and exists as a unique file unable to be duplicated, often just to be admired digitally.

“Right now, I’m trying to do one drop a week,” said Hipper, who now goes by Miss Teen Crypto and has since turned 18. “I try not to overload my feed, my collectors.”

The 40-year-old digital artist known as Beeple may have grabbed headlines last spring when one of his works sold at Christie’s for $69 million, but NFT markets like Atomic Hub, Nefty Blocks and OpenSea are filled with creators barely old enough to drive. They promote their work not through blue-chip galleries or auction houses but on social media.

“In the NFT world, anyone can post online, market themselves on Twitter and build a following from a young age,” said Griffin Cock Foster, who is 26 and lives in New York City. He and his twin brother, Duncan, founded the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway.

Duncan said, “The comparison I like to make is it’s similar to the way TikTok is causing people to be discovered at a really young age.”

In June, Nifty Gateway did a drop called Nifty Next Generation. It featured the work of jstngraphics, a 17-year-old from Washington State, and Solace, an 18-year-old from Soledad, Calif. Both teenagers have been making NFT art for less than a year, and first drew attention by selling through the online auction site SuperRare. The works of both artists, which ranged in price from about $1,000 to $7,250, sold out.

“I was tossing out random stuff to see what was going on,” said Justin Bodnar (jstngraphics), who makes surreal landscapes and what he described as “Tron-style” art. “Then I got onto SuperRare and things started blowing up.”

The most popular and successful young NFT artist is Victor Langlois, a transgender 18-year-old who goes by FEWOCiOUS, or Fewo to his fans. He makes digital art that chronicles his difficult childhood and struggles with gender identity and his transition.

Last summer, Fewo started selling work on SuperRare and built a following there and on Nifty Gateway. Soon, he came to the attention of Noah Davis, the digital art specialist at Christie’s, who arranged an auction of his work in June. The online sale of five lots, entitled, “Hello, i’m Victor (FEWOCiOUS) and This Is My Life,” earned $2.16 million, turning Mr. Langlois into an art-world star.

Published By : Business Standard

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