In December 2020, Victor Langlois was selling stickers and prints through his Twitter account for $5 each. A little over a year later, he’s taking the digital art world by storm.
The Seattle-based artist, known online as FEWOCiOUS, has always found refuge in his work, but he says his family did not encourage him to pursue a career in art.
“Growing up, my family said I could never make a living off art, that my art style is too weird, too scary, too ugly,” he told Fortune. “I’d spend every day drawing for hours, having hope that maybe one day when I was really old or dead I’d get to experience the feeling of someone connecting to my art.”
But now, between primary and secondary sales, his NFT art is valued at more than $26 million, according to the website cryptoart, which tracks the total transaction value of every NFT created by an artist.
Entering the NFT world
Langlois started making art at the age of 13 and fell in love with painting at an early age. After years of selling his work to acquaintances on Twitter for just a few dollars, in late 2020 he decided to take a chance and up his ambitions, and he put his paintings and prints up for sale on Twitter at a higher price.
“One of the products I had on there was one of my first paintings ever, which was listed for $90. I was so nervous putting the $90 price tag,” he said. “[B]ut I hoped maybe one day someone would buy it.”
It took a few months, but in early 2021, Langlois finally made his first big sale when a passing collector on Twitter expressed his appreciation for Langlois’s style, often depicting vibrant and colorful imaginings of surreal figures, and put in the required $90 bid.
The collector was interested in purchasing more of Langlois’s work but requested it in a format the young artist was unfamiliar with at the time: an NFT.
“He wasn’t interested in physical art, he was interested in digital art,” said Langlois.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are noninterchangeable digital assets stored on a blockchain. They are usually photos, images, music, or audio. NFTs seem to be everywhere right now, but back in the early months of 2021 a much smaller group of people were familiar with the concept.
“The collector told me about this underground community of people ‘tokenizing’ their art and ‘minting’ them as NFTs and cryptocurrency,” Langlois said. “I listened to him and did my own research.”
How to make and sell an NFT
To create and sell digital art, artists like Langlois have to sign up for online NFT marketplaces where users can bid on different NFTs using cryptocurrency. These include websites like SuperRare, OpenSea, and Rarible.
SuperRare, for instance, is built on a blockchain run by Ethereum, one of the more common cryptocurrencies that most artists and collectors use. Aspiring NFT artists have to buy and own some Ethereum themselves to publish their NFTs, since uploading to marketplaces like SuperRare incurs a “gas fee,” basically a flat fee paid to the marketplace for the fuel and electricity needed to power the blockchain transaction. Other marketplaces, such as OpenSea and Rarible, do not charge gas fees but do tend to take a small percentage fee for each NFT sale.
Since his first encounter with that NFT-enthused collector, Langlois’s star hasn’t stopped rising. In June, some of his NFTs were to be put up for sale online at Christie’s, and the auction house’s website was so overwhelmed with interest, it did something unprecedented: It crashed.
Buyers and bids began flooding the auction house’s website simultaneously, leading to Christie’s canceling the auction and rescheduling for two days later. FEWOCiOUS had become a household name in the NFT universe, enough so that Fortune placed him at No. 14 in last year’s NFTy 50, a ranking of the world’s 50 most influential people in the NFT scene.
The future of NFT art and “a year of exploration”
Despite his success and fame over the past year, Langlois is still finding joy in his work, and doesn’t worry too much about profits.
“I don’t know,” Langlois said when asked if he thought NFTs were a profitable venture. “I think if you have a bright vision, love for what you do, and work hard every day, there are certainly people in the space who will reward that and rally behind you.”
For now, Langlois is looking forward to exploring the NFT world and his art. He said he cannot wait to see what further technological advancements in the NFT space will mean for creatives such as himself.
It’s unclear if NFTs will continue to have such a huge pull and influence on the art world, but many experts consider the technology to be revolutionary, and even though it got its start in art, the potential applications of NFTs are literally out of this world.
Langlois is excited for 2022, calling it a “year of exploration.” He is looking forward to more people experimenting with NFTs and discovering all the different ways the technology can be utilized. “For the first time, artists around me are getting paid for their digital artworks, and I’m excited to see what they make with extra resources. New Renaissance.”
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