Seattle, WA

18 Year Old Seattle Artist Makes $3 Million Selling Sneakers That Can't Be Worn

Ash Jurberg

Seattle Digital Artist Fewocious Source: Instagram

Seattle Digital Artist Fewocious recently sold $3.1 million of sneakers- that can't be worn. Collaborating with design studio RTFKT, Fewocious created three designs with price tags of $3,000, $5,000, and $10,000. They sold out in only seven minutes.

And the sneakers can't be worn. How does that work? Let's take a quick look at the Non Fungible Tokens (NFT) market — where digital items are bought and sold. Last month, a digital piece called Everydays — The First 5000 Days by American artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sold for $69.4 million.

It doesn't exist in physical form — it is essentially a jpg file. Source: Twitter

In February, Beeple sold a 10-second video clip featuring an image of a fallen Donald Trump for $6.6 million, but that was on an NFT marketplace called NiftyGateway. Having renowned auction house Christie’s selling digital art seems to make it more legitimate.

“I do really think that this is going to be seen as the next chapter of art history.”
— Beeple

What is an NFT?

Here is a brief definition of an NFT taken from Forbes.

“An NFT is simply a record of who owns a unique piece of digital content. That content can be anything from art, music, graphics, tweets, memes, games — you name it. If it’s digital and it was created, it can be an NFT. It’s ‘non-fungible” because it can’t be readily exchanged for a similar good at a similar price.

An investor almost 10X-ed his returns on an NFT purchase in 2018. The first music band to release an album as an NFT made $2 million.

The Seattle Artists Taking the Opportunity

Not only was Seattle artist Fewocious selling digital sneakers, but he also sold another million dollars worth of NFTs in partnership with musician Two Feet. It is an amazing change for the artist who ran away from an abusive household in Las Vegas at the age of 12 and eventually moved to Seattle.

He relishes the move to Seattle, saying, “My house has become an art studio with a bedroom. It’s so awesome playing music as loud as I want and doing whatever I want.”

Source: Instagram

Nifty Gateway is a website when many Seattle artists are selling their NFT digital art.

One such Seattle artist selling is digital sculptor Sam Clover, aka Planttdaddii. She started selling her digital artworks — GIFs and JPEGs of psychedelic flora and fauna — as NFTs in October last year. Each of these sells for over $3000. 

For the last four years, I have been making what I make with no expectation of anything in return, just doing it because I like it. So this is all just extremely surreal — that I have a catalog of work that is now worth a lot of money. I’ve never felt financial stability in my life. Every single day I wake up, like: ‘What is going on?’ And it keeps getting crazier.” 

Ongoing royalty

Traditionally artists and writers (as opposed to musicians) sell their work, and their revenue stream for that piece of work essentially ends.

NFT’s differ as they lock into the contact a lifetime of royalties for the artist. Beeple will now receive 10 percent of the sale each time his work is sold after the initial sale. Assuming that, like most art, his work appreciates, this will be a substantial revenue stream for him. Effectively NFT offers creators lifetime equity in their work.

In 2018, Peter Kell paid $38,000 for a digital artwork of Homer Simpson combined with internet meme Pepe the Frog. It was big news at the time, and he was widely mocked. Last month he sold the same artwork for $320,000. Not only did he make a nice profit, but the creator of the artwork also received 10% of the secondary sale.

It also proves the adage he who laughs last laughs longest. Source: Instagram

I had somebody say, “You’re the dumbest person to buy this.” And I was like, “Well, I may be the dumbest person in the room, but am I the dumbest person on the planet?” I was pretty sure I could find someone that would buy this, and it ended up being a good idea.
— Peter Kell

It didn't take long for Fewocious' sneakers to hit the resale market. Within days some were being resold for three times the price. And each sale nets more proceeds for the young Seattle artist.

This NFT is on fire

Musicians are joining the NFT bandwagon. Kings of Leon was the first to release an album as an NFT. In its first week, When You See Yourself made $2 million.

The band offered three token levels as part of the project called “NFT Yourself.” (Nice play on words, Leon). There was a special album package, a second type offering live show perks like front-row seats for life, and a third type is just for exclusive audiovisual art.

Hopefully if it becomes a thing in the future, artists make more money, since some of it’s kind of been lost. You can do with that whatever you want and give it to charitable things that we’re involved in, so it just seemed really right for us. Especially in a time where we’re not touring and crews aren’t touring, a way to just do something a little more futuristic and try to be pioneers in something.”
— Jarred Followill, Kings of Leon

The benefit for the band is additional revenue from a non-traditional stream. What about their fans? They will own a token on the blockchain, which allows them to download the record, exclusive moving artwork, and access to limited edition vinyl. There is a limited amount available. This makes the NFT itself a kind of collectible digital limited edition. They can sell at a later date, much like a rare limited edition vinyl. And of course, the band will get 10% of the sale.

There are more and more Seattle artists getting on board the NFT market. A quick look at Nifty Gateway shows lots of young (and not so young) Seattle artists selling their work. It looks like this will be the way of the future.

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