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Crypto Art - Fame and Fortune, with Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann

By Adam Korenman

How a Cinema 4D artist made $3.5 million with Crypto Art

Crypto Art refers to rare digital artworks associated with unique tokens that exist on the blockchain. Similar to traditional artwork, the concept allows you to buy, sell, and trade digital goods as though they were physical. And, just as with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, these digital pieces possess unique tokens and value. Sometimes incredibly valuable, as the infamous Beeple discovered not long ago.
Mike Winkelmann, a motion designer/madman from Charleston, SC, already had a successful career in digital artwork including short films, Creative Commons VJ loops, and VR / AR work. Better known as Beeple, Winkelmann made a name for himself with evocative—often provocative—digital art. He began a daily release of new pieces and has gone 5,000 strong. While he is certainly talented with Cinema 4D, it's his ability to generate such detailed pieces EVERY DAY that boggles the mind.
Beeple began to sell his digital art via NFT, or non-fungible tokens. The implied scarcity of the work (and the fact that he is insanely talented and these pieces rip) meant that demand grew exponentially. In early November of 2020, Beeple sold a single NFT piece for $66,666. In December of that year, he held an auction to see what a small selection of his dailies were worth...and the results were revolutionary. In a single day, he sold over $3.5 MM in artwork.
With the success of his crypto art sale, Mike is now leading a revolution in the art community. He has proven the value of digital work beyond anything seen before...and he's just getting started. But how does this all really work? When you buy crypto art, what are you getting? What does this mean for the design industry as a whole? And what does Mike do now that he is a crypto millionaire?
We are literally made of questions, so let's sit down with the man himself. Content warning: Mike is as unfiltered as his art suggests, so strap your brain cases on extra tight.

Crypto Art: Fame and Fortune - Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann

Show Notes






Joey: All right, gentlemen, EJ nice as always to have you on. And Mike Winkelmann, crypto art superstar. Thank you very much for coming on to curse and tell us stories about what has just happened to you. I appreciate it.
Beeple: I appreciate being out here.
Joey: Yeah. So when I emailed you to ask if you would come on and talk about crypto art and what the experience you just went through has been like, I actually, I asked you, I was like, Hey, maybe we could have somebody else come on to explain what sort of crypto is and how the blockchain thing works. And you were like, oh, I actually have a computer science degree, so I could actually speak to that. So I figured it'd be good to start there. The number one question I think everybody has is what the fuck. I wanted to be the first one to curse, what the fuck is crypto art that will not be the last F bomb. What is crypto art? How does it relate to cryptocurrency and blockchain and all that stuff?
Beeple: Yep. So, yeah, and I want to preface that I'm definitely not an expert in this, but I have been pretty balls deep in it for the last exactly three months. So three months ago, and prior to three months ago, people kept sort of like hit me up, dude, you got to check out this NFT thing, you got to check out this NFT book. And I kind of looked at it and I was like, I don't really get it. And I kind of, I just stopped looking at it and whatever. And then a few months went by and then I looked at it again on October 14th. Because I looked back at the chat history and I went on Super Rare and it was like, holy shit. I know all of these artists. They're artists in the MoGraph scene and they are making a shit load of money. So this is something I should do.
Beeple: So basically what crypto art is in general, it's using the blockchain to basically attach a proof of ownership to anything. So you could attach it to a video. You could attach it to a JPEG, it could be an MP4, it could be anything. So it's really just something that says, this person owns this thing and you can prove that you are the only person that owns it. And yeah, that's really all it is. And so artists can sort of take the artwork that they've already made and basically mint it, or tokenize it, which is the process of putting it onto the blockchain, which sort of cost money because you're basically telling all these people who are sort of mining Ethereum, Hey, I want to add this to the blockchain. And they're like, okay, we'll compute that onto the blockchain. And then it's on the blockchain and everybody sort of agrees, whatever you just made is part of the official blockchain. And it is tokenized then. And you can sell that token or you can give somebody that token or whatever. But it's sort of a proof of ownership attached to a piece of artwork.
Joey: Got it, okay. Yeah. I want to define a few terms for everyone listening.
Beeple: Sure.
Joey: Because there a lot in there and it's like, you could very easily get lost if you don't know, for example, what blockchain is. And there's a really awesome article that Justin Cone wrote recently that tried to kind of break down what crypto art is. And it explained things really well. So we'll link to that in the show notes. Blockchain, the way he explained it, which really helped me was, it's essentially like you can think of it like a spreadsheet and you can just keep adding rows of information to that spreadsheet. But the technology behind it enables basically many, many copies of that spreadsheet to exist and they all kind of talk to each other and compare to each other. And so it kind of makes it more or less impossible to falsify information, right?
Beeple: I would kind of think of it more like if there's one copy of it and then everybody in the world can add to one copy and everybody agrees that that master copy is like THE copy and anybody can add a row to that spreadsheet, but it costs money because everybody's sort of like working off the same spreadsheet and that spreadsheet is the blockchain.
Joey: Okay. So there's one copy. But from the what understood, like what makes it sort of decentralized is that somehow every computer that's like part of this blockchain is sort of, I guess like checking it against other competitors and saying, hey, do we have the same information? If not, something's been changed. And theoretically, you're not supposed to be able to...Say if you're a hacker go in and hack Coinbase or something and steal a bunch of Bitcoin. Yeah.
Beeple: Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I guess everybody has a different copy or the same copy of the same thing. Yes. And they're all making sure like, okay, are we all like, this is all legit? Yeah. So it's basically, that's a bit in the weeds, all from the like looking at it sort of like from the Bitcoin perspective, the only reason Bitcoin has value is because you can't just copy Bitcoin. You can't just say, oh, I've got a Bitcoin now copy paste. I got two Bitcoins. Like that's not possible. And so that's sort of like a unique concept with computers because we're used to just like, you have a file, you can copy it, you can send it to people and dadadadada. And like you can make a million copies. It doesn't fucking matter. That's kind of not what blockchain is. It's sort of the opposite of that. You can create something that is truly unique. And you can say you were the only person who owns that.
Joey: Got it. And so that brings up another thing you mentioned, which was NFT because obviously the artwork that you're selling and other artists are selling as crypto art, the file itself, the image or the video that can be copy pasted and have a million copies.
Beeple: Yeah.
Joey: So the NFT is sort of the thing that proves ownership of a digital asset.
Beeple: Yeah.
Joey: So maybe you can talk about what does that mean? What's an NFT?
Beeple: So NFT is non-fundable token. It basically means again, just a proof of ownership that points to a video file. Because it's very expensive to put things on the blockchain. So these videos and these images, they're not technically on the blockchain. They're token on the blockchain, which is a very small file size, that points to a server that says, okay, you own this thing here. And so they're a little bit more changeable than people think. But for simplicity sake, it's basically just a proof of ownership, an NFT is a proof of ownership, a token on the blockchain that says you own this file. And so if you have that token in your wallet, you own it. And so that's the other thing is people who have things on the blockchain, they have wallets and a wallet could have money in it, like Ethereum, it could have Bitcoins or it could have these NFTs.
Joey: That's pretty amazing. Like I've gotten really into the whole, the ethos behind cryptocurrency in light of the craziness that's been going on and learning more about it. And it's really cool. So you also mentioned Ethereum, which like, from what I understand, it's basically an alternative to Bitcoin. It's another crypto currency.
Beeple: Yep. So there's tons of different cryptocurrencies. The biggest two are Ethereum and Bitcoin. And then there's a bunch of them that are a bit more, some of them have different uses. Some of them are a bit more sketchy and some of them are a bit more sort of like speculative, but there's all different ones. And there's a bunch more that are like legit companies that have made their own sort of like blockchains. But the two biggest different blockchains, and these are completely separate blockchains. Bitcoin is a blockchain. Ethereum is a blockchain. Again, there's a bunch of other ones.
Beeple: So all of this NFT stuff runs on top of the Ethereum blockchain. And Ethereum, the difference between a theory of, and Bitcoin is Ethereum allows you to sort of like add programming to the coins. So Bitcoin is just kind of Bitcoin. It's just, basically, it's more like digital gold. You can have a Bitcoin and you can spend it on something, but that's pretty much all it does. Versus Ethereum can have a bunch of sort of like rules that govern how it works built into the actual sort of like Ethereum if that makes sense.
Joey: Got it. So it allows for things that are more complex, like a token that... Yeah.
Beeple: It allows for... Yeah. Things and programs and different use cases to be built on top of it. And one of those use cases that in late 2017, somebody built is these NFTs. And the first NFTs were these CryptoKitties. They were basically kind of like these Tamagotchi type things that people would sort of buy and trade. And they had different properties of how fast they procreated and what like different personalities they had. But that was sort of the very first like NFT.
Beeple: And so from there, people started using NFTs to do art. They started using them for games. They started using them for these different metaverses that are sort of like worlds that are used NFTs to kind of like prove ownership of different land in the worlds or different avatars in the worlds or different items in the world. So there's a bunch of different kinds of NFTs. The NFTs that people who are listening to this are obviously most interested, is crypto art.
Joey: Got it. Okay. So I know that for the listener, I know this is all like a bit technical, but I think it's kind of important to wrap your head around it because the technicality of it is what actually allows for sort of proof of ownership of a digital asset, which previously it was kind of a really alien concept and I've become a little more comfortable with it recently after watching Beeple go through his experience, but also I bought a Gmunk NFT the other day.
Beeple: Nice.
Joey: Kind of in preparation for this. I wanted a taste.
Beeple: [inaudible 00:00:10:29]. Yeah, it's a big paradigm shift because we're not used to this on computers. We're used to, like, you are able to copy anything and reproduce it a million times. So just the concept of something being like owning a digital file and being able to prove that you are the only one that owns it, that whole concept is like, what the fuck are you talking about? So I totally, totally get that. It definitely is something that takes a bit to sort of wrap your head around, especially because like, you can look at the NFTs out there and you can still copy it. Like you could just right click and save the file. But the difference is you, well, you can do that. Nobody else thinks you own the file. You can say, Oh, look, I own the file. And the person who actually has the token will be like, no, you don't. I own the file, I own the token. I own it. And everybody else who's trading these NFTs, will be like, yeah, he owns it. He's got the token. You don't own it. You just right clicked and saved the file. You don't own it. He does. So, you know what I mean? Does that make sense?
Joey: Yeah. It does. So EJ, I know you've been kind of watching this very closely and kind of...
Beeple: Lurking, if you will.
Joey: Yeah, he's been lurking.
EJ: Stalking.
Joey: He's sold some crypto. He's actually a crypto artist. So there's actually two crypto artists on this podcast. So yeah. So EJ, how do you look at this?
EJ: I sold two things so far. It's funny because I went through all the emotions that I feel like a lot of motion designers are going through. Like first it's this new thing. It feels like it just popped out of nowhere. Like Mike, I don't know who are the artists that like motion designers that you first saw that you're like, Oh, I know these people, these people are making money. Like, I think the first person I saw was you probably, and then like Shams and Blake Kathryn, and then it just started blowing up from there. Because everyone's like, wait, you can make a million dollars on this. Yeah I'll try that. You know?
Joey: Worth a shot.
EJ: Yeah. Worth the shot. And so for me personally, and I see a lot of people going through these emotions, it's a new thing. So what do you do when there's something new that you don't understand? You either fear it or you hate it. Like, so there's that. People are afraid of it. Like, is it going to ruin the industry? I don't like it. I don't like this thing. I don't understand. And that was basically it for me. I was like, this thing is stupid. It's a fad, like whatever, Beeple's getting his money. But then I started looking into it more. And I was like wait, I made, how much did I make off a thing that I already did? That's cool. And the point of view I looked at was just like, I don't care the technical aspects of it. I don't care if it's a fad or whatever it is. All I know right now is that this is a viable, well, hopefully viable. Hopefully it's not all like a money laundering scheme like a lot of people think it is. And that's another thing of the fear based view of this whole thing.
Beeple: I can assure you, it is not.
EJ: Yeah. Okay. So my whole thing was this, this is an alternative income earning...
Beeple: Well, I mean, look, look at Joe. Joey, did you buy that Gmunk piece to launder money?
Joey: If I knew how to launder money, we wouldn't have this podcast Mike. I would be...
Beeple: Yeah, it's kind of like that, you can dismantle that argument pretty quickly because it's like, yeah, it's not laundering money. I think what people don't understand is, and I didn't understand it first, is it is a bit speculative. It's not a bit speculative. It's fairly speculative.
EJ: Right.
Beeple: And the reason that people are paying more money than you would expect them to pay for this thing is because two reasons, the first reason is the people who came to this space at first, there was a very small supply of art. And there was a high demand for that art. And the people who came and wanted to buy this art had made money in crypto already. And so they were a bit more used to speculating.
Beeple: So when you bought crypto years ago, you were definitely speculating much more. And every investment is part speculation, part like, okay, fundamentals of investing market dynamics, blah, blah, blah. But nothing's a guarantee or it wouldn't be [inaudible 00:15:13]. So there's some risk to it. And in the early days of crypto, there was quite a lot of risk because this was not proven who the fuck knows where this is going to go. It could all fold XYZ. The government could come in and shut the whole thing down. There was a lot of risk. And so the early collectors and a lot of the collectors now still too, will put up a significant amount of money. Those are people who are used to taking more bigger risks. And that's why you see the prices because of those things. There was a low supply of art, high supply of collectors. And those collectors happened to be people who are used to speculating. That's why it seems like, whoa, who the fuck is paying so much for this shit? Does that make sense?
Joey: Interesting.
EJ: Yeah, I mean really, it's like stocks, right? Like if you think of stocks, it's like, I'm buying a stock through E-Trade and money's exchanging hands and then I don't get anything physical, you know, it's the same thing. So it's like...
Beeple: Yeah. It's definitely the same thing, but it's more like, think about it more like fine art. What makes a Jackson Pollock painting where something? It's just some fucking splatters on the fucking canvas. It's worth something because other people want it and they think it's worth something. That's it. That's all that this is.
EJ: Yeah, so what do you think brings the value though?
Beeple: The value is the scarcity and other people want it. That's it, If nobody wanted it, there would be no value.
EJ: I mean as far as like, of course there's like that's art, that's crypto art in general. But as far as like you, your crypto art or fuck Render's crypto art, you know, it's like, we have our view in our motion design bubble of like who we think do amazing work and who who we think maybe doesn't do as great amount of work. And I think part of the whole fear and anger part of thing is like people would go to these crypto art sites and they'll see like objectively, absolute garbage looping GIF crypto art that sold for like $5,000. And it's like, who is paying this? And who is this person that even made that thing?
Beeple: So that's where it goes back to what I was saying. A couple things. I have to disagree that objectively in my eyes at least there is no objectively bad art. All art is completely subjective.
EJ: Right.
Beeple: So you're an asshole for that. But no no no.
EJ: Hey, I'm just relaying what people are saying.
Beeple: I'm just giving you shit.
Joey: He's coming in hot.
EJ: There are some really weird things, or it's like it's a shiny spheres. It's a shiny sphere that I could do right now, or it's someone's tutorial, like Jonathan Winbush is like, this dude just did my tutorial, and he made like two grand off of it. Like just copying my tutorial and posting it and selling it.
Beeple: I 100% know what you're talking about. A hundred percent. So here's the reason that is. Again, it goes back to, in the beginning of this movement, there was very few artists and there was a high supply of demand. There was all of us who are in this, you know, sort of motion design community. We didn't know about this. And it's been growing for the last roughly two years. And it mostly picked up a lot over the last year.
Beeple: So that is partially why that is that whoever did that has probably been around in this space longer than you and they've built up a name in this space with the collectors. And the collectors, a lot of them don't know about the broader space. They don't know about like the people that you know in the space who haven't come into it yet, who it's like, Oh, that's, you know, like somebody like Ash or somebody like that they don't know about Ash, because they know about crypto and they know they want to collect art, but they don't know that much about like, where some of the artists coming from.
Beeple: So there's a bit of, that's where I go back to the supply demand and balance with the collectors. So a lot of these people who made a lot of money in crypto and they're like, okay, I wanted to diversify my sort of portfolio. And I want to put some of that money into collecting art. And so if Ash is not there, or Beeple's not there, or EJ's not there to make art, they're going to buy whatever's there. And so whatever was there was whatever people came to the space first. So that's why you see some things where you're kind of like, wait, they paid this much for that. Like, that's really easy. And I know a ton of people who could do that thing. People don't know that. Some of the collector's in the space, don't know that there's a lot of people who would do something like that. Does that make sense?
EJ: Or they, yeah, they don't know Ash Thorpe. They don't know Gmunk like we do in our industry. They're just like, that's a thing, I think objectively that's cool. Yeah.
Beeple: They think yes, they think it's like, that's cool. I don't have a shit load of other choices. I'll buy it.
EJ: Right.
Beeple: And so that's where it's going to change. And it is already changing over the next, you know, three months, six months or whatever, because now everybody, or a lot of people in our space and in the like broader art space are starting to sort of like wake up to this. And so there's a huge influx of artists. And so that's like those market dynamics will change. And so you're probably moving forward, not going to see that as much because all of the people on Instagram who were unaware of this space are suddenly going to become aware of it in the next probably six months.
Beeple: And so you're going to see a huge influx of supply, art supply.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: And unless all of those artists bring a shit load of new collectors to the space, those prices will go down.
EJ: That makes a lot of sense.
Beeple: Ad they'll come back to more of what you or I would probably consider, you know, normal or appropriate or this or that. But if you know, like new collectors come into the space, much like Joey buying Gmunk stuff like Joey, would you have thought prior to this, that you would pay Gmunk, what'd you 500 bucks for one of his MP4s?
Joey: Yeah. I definitely never thought that. And really, when I bought it, I wanted to do it so that I could kind of just experience what the whole process is like and try to get inside the head of these collectors. Because I'm, you know, I have art hanging up. I actually have a couple of Beeple's in my office. I have art all over my house, but it's like posters and stuff like, you know, it's like I'll spend a hundred bucks on something, but for a, essentially an MP4, no. And really like the only insight I could give people listening, because I think that as artists, it's hard to imagine spending this kind of money on things that you yourself could make, or maybe you don't like the style of it or whatever, you know, coming at it from the collector mindset, I saw it as well, first of all, there's a secondary market for this stuff. You can buy it. And then, you know, in the case of some of Mike's work, it then sells for double what someone paid for it. So there is that speculation part of it.
Beeple: [inaudible 00:22:49] four times. But yeah.
Joey: There is like this really kind of interesting thing, the way at least that Nifty site works where you can only buy it for eight minutes and then it's shot. So there's kind of this excitement and stuff like that. And I don't know, they always do that, but it's like, I don't know. It's kind of like, just it's valuable for that eight minutes because other people also think it's valuable and you kind of can convince yourself. I also think a big part of it, Mike, is that collectors there's so much more money out there than the average person realizes. Like, it seems crazy that, you know, I think it was like an Australian VC fund bought one of your pieces for $66,000 or something like that. That sounds like an insane amount of money to the average artist, the average working artists, but to the average VC, that is like a nickel, you know, and it's just a bet. It's like going to the casino and playing some blackjack, you know? And I think there's some of that too.
Beeple: A little. Yes. And that's where I go back to the like speculation that a lot of the early collectors or the collectors, you know, the bigger collectors in the space are people who have made a significant amount of money on crypto. And so they are used to speculating. They're used to a higher level of risk in this stuff than you or I are used to. And so it just so happens too, and that's where I feel super lucky, it just so happens that they decided to speculate on exactly what we make. Motion design. Like they could have speculated on anything. And it just so happened that this space blew up around motion design. And so the biggest people in the space thus far are motion designers.
Beeple: So that was honestly in my view just by chance, because again, these NFTs can be attached to anything. They could have been attached to any type of art. They just happened to be like really sort of popular with motion design. So yeah, it's a very different, very different world like auctions and these open editions and limited editions. Like this is not something that I knew anything about prior to three months ago or the collector mindset or sort of like thinking about my work in terms of like scarcity and how can I hold value in it and how can I sort of release my work in a way that's going to kind of maximize how much money I make but also make it so that when I sell it, it is worth more than I'm selling it for. Because like you said, actually almost all the pieces are worth three or four times as much. So if you want to buy, I had an open edition that was $969. And if you want to buy one of those now it's at least like $4,000 probably to buy one on the like secondary.
Beeple: So trying to sort of like maintain that, you know, those are kind of the things that I'm not used to and nobody in our industry was used to before this, because those are fine art sort of like concepts. So yeah, that's where I think it's a very exciting, exciting time. And I truly think this is the beginning of people looking at digital artwork as quote unquote real art because we take for granted now, you know, I go back to Cause and Banksy and that. We take for granted that Banksy sells paintings for $10 million, but 20 years ago, that was not the case. It was like, this is vandalism. Graffiti is vandalism. That's not art. Like nobody's going to pay fucking $10 million for this shit, the fuck are you talking about?
Beeple: And I think this truly the beginning of that with our artwork, because you look at like graffiti or any of these things, like there's no way you can't look at a motion design piece. And like it tell me that that's not the craft, the fucking thought the message, the just hard work and nuance put into this stuff. Like it's no different than any other fucking art form. We just didn't have a way for people to truly collect it in a way where they could say I own this. And now there is technology available to say, no, I do own this video that you made and everybody else agrees. Yep. He's the guy that owns it because of NFTs. Yeah.
Joey: Yeah. It's super cool. So let's dig into some of the specifics of how this actually works financially. So what is, and you can be pretty brief, but I'm curious, like, okay, so you put your artwork up, someone buys it. Obviously there's got to be some fees that go to Nifty. I'm assuming that, like, I don't know if you're being paid in like dollars or Ethereum. And so I don't know what the tax situation looks like. And the last piece you mentioned it, but there's a secondary market. And if I understand you also get a cut of secondary sales of your artwork, so it's not just you sold it once and now that's all you're going to get. You won't get anymore.
Beeple: Yeah. So let's back up...
Joey: ... not just you sold it once, and now that's all you're going to get.
Beeple: Yep. Yeah.
Joey: You can actually get more.
Beeple: So, let's back up one step from that. So, you're into this Cryptoart. You want to learn more about it, this or that. So, the way it's sort of set up right now is there's a number of different platforms, and they all have different ways that they sell Cryptoart, different rules for how you can buy it, and different ways that artists can put work on there and sell it, this or that. So, let's take Nifty, and one of the reasons I like Nifty is because you can do it with cash, you can do it with credit card. You don't really need to understand the crypto piece of it. That's not the case for all of them. Superrare, if you want to buy something on Superrare, you have to buy it with Ethereum, which means you basically need to understand crypto a lot more to buy something on that site.
Beeple: So, you need to take money from your bank account, put it into an exchange like Coinbase, convert it to Ethereum. Then you need to understand wallets to a degree that you install MetaMask, which is a Chrome extension, put money into your MetaMask wallet, and then you can buy stuff on Superrare. With Nifty, you can sign up with a credit card. In two seconds, you can buy something. They kind of hide all that functionality. MakersPlace is very similar to Nifty. You can buy stuff with a credit card. Known Origin, I believe you need Ethereum to buy stuff. Rareable, you need Ethereum to buy stuff.
Beeple: So, they're all probably going to move to a point where you can just use credit cards just because it's easier, and they'll be able to bring more people on faster that way, but they all have different rules, and these are all separate platforms, separate sort of... Think of them as little Instagrams that have their own, or little Ebays for Cryptoart, that they have their own rules for buying and selling and this or that. On Nifty, you can... They're kind of closed loops, in a way. So, on Nifty, you can buy a piece, and then you could literally immediately put it up for sale and sell it to somebody else for more, or it's kind of like its own little trading platform.
Beeple: So, on Nifty, or on all these places, these platforms take a cut. On Nifty, it's 20% that they take of the sale. On Nifty in particular, it's all in cash, and so when the sale was over at the end of the auction, I had an account balance on Nifty's site, and it was $3.5 million, or $3.3 million because they took their 20% cut or whatever. So, I could convert that to Ethereum, but it's basically just cash, or in my case, I just wired it out and wired it to my bank account, and it was all 100% cash the whole time. I stupidly, in the time since my fucking thing, Ethereum has nearly doubled, or doubled or whatever, and Bitcoin as well, so literally, if I would've put that into Bitcoin in that time, I would've doubled my money.
Beeple: Again, hindsight's 20/20, but it is what it is. So, on Nifty it's all done in straight cash. In Superrare, it's all in Ethereum, but I think people get a little too sort of scared of that because you can immediately convert Ethereum at cash. It's not like, oh, it's in Ethereum, so it's locked in this crazy thing that you can't get it out of. If you have something in Ethereum, you take it to Coinbase, you convert it to cash, done. It's not whatever Ethereum is that day, that's what it is. Ethereum goes up and down, so you got to look at that piece of it, but it doesn't really matter how they would've paid me.
Beeple: I could've immediately just converted it to... If they would've paid me in Ethereum and I wanted it in cash right away, I would've been like, "Okay. Give me the fucking Ethereum." I would've transferred it to Coinbase, which Coinbase is like an exchange for exchanging cash and Ethereum and different cryptocurrencies, immediately converted it to cash, boom, it's cash. I wouldn't get too hung up on that piece of it. It doesn't really matter what they pay you in. In terms of the taxes, who the fuck knows? That's going to be a giant [inaudible 00:32:33] I can't remotely speak on the tax piece of it, so next question.
Joey: That's really funny.
EJ: I was going to say that on that Twitter thread where, Joey, you asked some questions, there was one person that actually did know a little bit about the tax stuff, and he said that basically, you just tax it as normal art, and the one thing that I found interesting, and maybe people, Mike, you can talk a little bit more about this, but the gas fees, because there's fees all over the place that I discovered when dealing with selling Cryptoart, buying Cryptoart, even converting Cryptoart to, or cryptocoins to cryptocurrency to different things, but you can deduct gas fees. So, I think that's one of the only things, but everything else you're on the hook for.
Beeple: Yeah. Gas fees are... Nifty includes that in their 20%, so that's something that they, again... Because they're a little different. They're sort of minting the tokens for you, and it's a bit more of just a simpler sort of system. But the gas fees are basically the fees to sort of add things to the giant blockchain spreadsheet, so if you want to tokenize a piece of artwork, there's gas fees associated with that, and depending on... Those gas fees can vary wildly, depending on what's going on at that time on the Ethereum network. So, the gas fees could be sometimes 10 bucks, or they could be 100 bucks, or even more than that. So, that is definitely a factor in the fees, and something that you could deduct. Depending on how much you're selling the piece for, that could be something that's sort of like, "Okay. Well, I didn't even fucking make any money because the gas fees were so much, and the piece sold for X amount of dollars." So, it's definitely you need to take into account.
Joey: So, Mike, if you sell something, let's say you sell something for $1,000, and there's fees that come out that go to Nifty, and then whoever bought it for 1,000 sells it for 2,000, you get a cut of that. Right?
Beeple: Yep. So, that's the other thing because, again, this is built on Ethereum, which has its own rules that you can program into these things. There are, I would say... I'm not actually sure if it's all the sites, but at least in my understanding, the general rule of thumb is that there's 10% royalties on secondary sales. So, that means if somebody buys something on Nifty, and then they resell it, you get 10% of that. So, that produces interesting... That's, again, something you're not used to. There's a couple caveats to that. The biggest caveat is that right now, those are platform-specific, I guess, or if you take your artwork between platforms, those royalties, it breaks that. There's no cross-platform royalties.
Beeple: So, people who buy stuff on Nifty, they can actually take that off of Nifty, and then it will break that 10%, and they can put it on... It's called OpenSea, and it's sort of like... They can put it in their wallet, and then you do not get that 10%. So, to my knowledge, it's the same on Known Origin or any of these other platforms, that they can kind of remove it from the system, and then you will not get that 10%. So, to me, that piece of it, I think potentially, they'll move to make that cross-platform in the future, maybe. I don't know how hard people are pushing on that, but to me, that piece of it right now, I would categorize it a bit more into nice to have and not something that 20 years from now I'm banking on these royalties, which is still coming in from this stuff.
Joey: That makes sense. Yeah. So, let's get into some of the, I guess, mindset stuff around this, because I think fine artists and maybe even illustrators, there are certain kinds of designers that have probably been exposed to selling your art way before motion designers really become used to this. So, first off, I'm just curious, does it feel different to you to be paid for a piece of art, it literally is marketed as art, and people are buying it because it's art, versus your clients that used to hire you? I'm assuming used to because I'm assuming you're not going to do client work ever again. I sure as hell wouldn't. Yeah. But does it feel different?
Beeple: I wouldn't say never, but I will say my day rate went way the fuck up.
Joey: Yeah.
Beeple: I will say my day rate went way the fuck up.
Joey: You got to be paid in Ethereum. So, does it feel different, though? Does it feel different to be paid as Beeple the artist versus Beeple the freelancer who makes art shit.
Beeple: Extremely different because it's a very different mindset, and I now sort of would consider myself, even though I kind of hate the term, a quote-unquote artist, and to me, everybody's got their own definition of this shit. My definition was if you are an artist, you are somebody who makes spec work. You just make a piece of art, and then it's like, "Does anybody want to buy this?" Maybe somebody will buy it, and maybe they won't. If you are a designer, client comes to you and they say, "I've got a problem. Can you draw me a picture that solves my problem?" and you say, "Okay," and they pay you for the picture, and they decide what the picture is, and you draw them their picture, and that to me is a designer.
Beeple: I made 95% of my money as a designer prior to this, and so it's a very different sort of paradigm, client versus collector, and it's actually way, way better, because to be honest, when you have somebody who is collecting your artwork, they're kind of on your team because you are both working towards the same goal, because it benefits them to see you succeed as an artist because then the value of what they've already spent will go up, and it benefits you to see their artwork go up because that means your artwork is worth more. So, you're kind of working towards the same goal, versus with a client, this might sound bad, but high-level, just high-level market dynamics, you're trying to get the most amount of money for the least amount of work, and they're trying to get the most amount of work for the least amount of money.
Beeple: So, you're kind of against each other in a way, and that sounds bad, and I don't want the clients that I worked for in the past to think that I was against them, but you know what I mean? That's kind of what it is. They're not like, "I'm trying to give you the maximum amount of money for the little amount of work." That's just not how client-designer relationships work. So, it's very different, and it's honestly a lot better because, again, your goals are aligned. Does that make sense?
Joey: Totally. Yeah. So, EJ, I know you've been thinking a lot about this too, about this artist mindset. How do you look at it?
EJ: Yeah. I mean, Mike, you even just said you hate the term artist, and I feel like everyone is so self-defeating. We go back to that fear, hatred of this thing that we don't know. No one goes to SCAD or design school with this mindset of, "I'm going to make money from my quote-unquote art, or capital A art." You know what I mean? People are going in like, "I'm going to work for-"
Beeple: Not us motion designers.
EJ: Yeah. "I'm going to X, Y, Z Studio. I'm going to work for Nike, and they're going to pay me to do this thing, work on cool projects, and get paid that way," and it's one of these things where no one outside of this crypto thing, unless they do photography, or maybe they sell prints like you did on Society6 or whatever-
Beeple: That was a very, very small amount of my income, very small.
EJ: Right, but up until now, that's the only way you could really make money off of your work. Right?
Beeple: Yeah.
EJ: This kind of opens up everything to anyone that can, well, I guess almost anyone, as long as you can get accepted to one of these sites, and that's kind of a subject we can talk about a little bit later on, but as far as me and what I've seen through Twitter and stuff like that, people are self-defeatist. Everyone sounds their work's terrible, even yourself. You say it all the time, your work's crap, garbage, whatever, and I think the same thing about myself too, but there is this moment-
Beeple: I thought you were going to say, "I think the same thing about your work."
EJ: Thanks, pal. Thank you, sir.
Beeple: [crosstalk 00:41:56] and I think the same thing. Your work is bad.
EJ: Yeah. Thank you. I mean, you have it in the name of your website, just Beeple Crap, and I think everyone has that mindset, the imposter syndrome, like, "Who am I? No one's going to find any value in anything I'm doing that they're going to pay Ethereum or money, or even Monopoly money. No one's going to give me Monopoly money for any of my garbage work." But I'll tell you what. When I put my... I sold a-
Beeple: Let me just stop you for a second there because I feel like people really do think that this is Monopoly money. I can assure it is all-
EJ: That's true.
Beeple: ... straight cash.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: Ethereum is just... Think of Ethereum... Don't think of it as some crazy thing. Think of it as pesos or some other type of... Just not dollars, because it could literally instantly be converted to dollars. So, none of this is being paid in funny money or magic money or magic beans. It's real money, so when somebody sells something for $2,000, that is $2,000.
EJ: Oh, yeah.
Beeple: So, there is no magic money here. This is just money.
EJ: Well, yeah. I mean, I got paid in Ethereum for my first piece that I sold, and-
Beeple: And you could've immediately converted that Ethereum to dollars.
EJ: No. I kept it in there because I didn't understand Ethereum. I knew in 2018 or something, the price that... When someone bought my thing, I got 1.5 Ethereum, which equaled out at that time to be maybe $1,000, and I was just like, "Holy crap. I just made $1,000," but since then, I think one Ethereum equaled $570. Now it's over 1,000.
Beeple: Yeah.
EJ: So, I kept that money in there just because I was like, "This is like just getting free chips at a casino. I'm just going to let it ride."
Beeple: But that's the thing. Think of it as like a foreign currency, but it's a foreign currency that goes up and down real often, and it can go way up and way down.
EJ: But minute by minute. Yeah.
Beeple: Minute by minute. So, you happened to get lucky that it went up. It could've absolutely, and it still can, go down.
EJ: Oh, sure.
Beeple: So, that's something that you need to sort of think about when you're an artist who is making money on this stuff, is that it is much more volatile than cash. So, if you want to keep it in Ethereum, I honestly am going to put, and I should've just fucking done it right away, I honestly, the more I've learned about Ethereum and Bitcoin, I am going to put a fairly, not a huge, but I'm going to start putting some money in Ethereum, in that, because I think if these things could survive the last fucking year of COVID and all this crazy shit, I think they're going to be around for a second. The more I've learned about them, the more I see Ethereum as just like any other tech company. It's a bunch of fucking dorks working on solving problems and trying to make their thing more valuable. That's, to me, no different than Facebook, Twitter, whatever, blah, blah, blah. So, I think it is a viable investment. That being said, it's definitely a volatile investment. So, just to kind of throw that out there.
EJ: Totally. Yeah. I mean, it's like diversifying or portfolio. You don't want to have all your chips in one stock or whatever. It's very much like that as far as I understand it. But I know I went through some emotions when I sold my first one where it's like, "Oh, this, I guess there are people out there that pay for my art, and they want to support me, and they like what I'm doing," and I've seen... I follow the Cryptoart hashtag on Twitter and stuff like that, and I see people getting super emotional when they sell their first piece of art because it's like this breakthrough for them as far as a mindset where it's like, you think your work is worthless and no one likes what you do, but wow, is that just turned upside-down on its head when you see someone paid $1,000 for a looping gif or something like that. What emotions did you go through when... Was your first one that big drop where you sold a few pieces?
Beeple: So, the first drop that I did was... So, to back up, when I found out about the space, I looked at Superrare, and it was like, holy shit, people are making a bunch of money. So, I immediately looked at the person who was making the most money on Superrare, and that was an artist named Murat Pak, and I had talked to him before, so I immediately texted him. I was like, "Dude, what the fuck is going on with this?" So, he was nice enough to chat with me for a couple hours and sort of explain and give me a little onboarding into what the fuck this space is about. So, from there, I just dove headfirst in and reached out to the CEOs of all these different platforms, and it was like, "Dude, what the fuck? Can we talk?" and then reached out to different artists in this space, reached out to collectors in this space, just trying to understand anybody who would hop on a Zoom call with me and chat for 30 minutes, "What the hell is going on here?"
Beeple: So, I talked to a lot of people, and so one of the people I talked to, one of the first people I talked to was the people at Nifty, and they had actually reached out a month before that or two months before that, and I just ignored it because I was like, "I don't know what the fuck this is." So, I talked to them, and it was like, oh, as I was talking to them, we were talking about a piece that sold Christies about a month before that, and it had an NFT attached to a sculpture, and it changed based on where the sculpture was in the world. So, again, these things can change because the token can point to a file, it points to a video file, but it could also point to a different video file. You can make it so that you can change it afterwards, and it's like, "Okay, I'm going to change where it's pointing on the blockchain to a different video file."
Beeple: So, I was like, "What if we did something based on the election?" This was about three weeks before the election where the video file would have one state of them not knowing who's going to win, because obviously, we didn't know at that time, and then if Trump wins, it'll change to this file, and if Biden wins, it'll change to this file. So, they're like, "Oh, yeah. Let's do that." So, then I kind of had to do it before the election, because the whole thing was like you were buying something where you didn't know the ultimate final video that you were buying. That was kind of the concept behind the piece. So, I did two pieces that went up for auction, and then I also did another thing, which nobody had ever done at the time, was I did an edition of 100 for $1.
Beeple: So, this was a limited edition of one of 100, the exact same video file, and so when you do something like that, obviously, it's worth less than a one of one. If you do something that's a single edition, it's the only one, only one person can own it, and so it's worth more. If you do something where an edition of 100, just like prints or anything else, 100 people own it, obviously, it's worth less. So, I was like, "Okay. Well, what if I did it so it was $1?" knowing full well that it's like, okay, well, this is probably worth more than a dollar, but not really knowing how much it's worth. So, that was the first drop that I did.
Beeple: So, they were like, "Oh, this is going to sell out right away," and so it was like, when they said right away, I thought five minutes, 10 minutes, whatever. So, the night of the drop comes, and these all have very specific times. It's 7:00 p.m., and it's very much like, okay, everybody knows the drop's going to happen at 7:00 p.m. So, I went to my brother and my parents and was like, "Well, why don't you guys try and buy it so you could flip it?" and I thought people would be able to flip it for maybe 100 bucks or something like that, eventually. I thought it'd be maybe somewhere between 10 and 100 bucks, because again, it's one of 100, so it's like, okay, well, how much is it really worth? Because there's 100 of these exact same things out there.
Beeple: The other thing is they're numbered. So, if somebody has one of 100 and somebody has two of 100 and somebody has 69 of 100 and somebody has 100 of 100, so that matters too in the value of these. Obviously, one of 100 is worth more than 87 of 100. So, the time of the drop came. Parents, everybody's waiting at the thing. It's counting down. They're ready to go. They're registered on the site, ready to sort of buy this thing as soon as it goes on sale. As soon as the thing goes on sale, the site crashes. [inaudible 00:51:11] fucking crashes. It's like, God damn it.
EJ: Nice.
Joey: Nailed it.
Beeple: [crosstalk 00:51:14] come back up, neither of them got it. All of them are sold out. So, it was like, oh, shit. So, when they said it would sell out immediately, they meant literally immediately. So, now people have these $1 of 100, and they could immediately resell them to somebody else who didn't get them, like we didn't, but wants them. So, within 45 minutes, somebody resold that thing that they paid $1 for for $1,000. So, I was like, "Oh, my god. What the fuck?" So, that guy who bought that, guy or girl, whatever, paid $1, and then an hour later, they sold it for $1,000, and they got to keep, again, 90% of that. So, that person just made, some random person, just made $900, and I made $100. So, by the end of that night, about four hours later, somebody sold one of those $1 things for $6,000. So, somebody got to keep $5,400 that night on something they just paid $1 on five hours earlier.
Beeple: So, it was just like, "Holy shit. What the fuck?" and that was just so crazy, being like... Honestly, it was a fucking great feeling because it was like I was fucking having a blast seeing this shit, guarantee that motherfucker's having a good time because he just made fucking $5,400 on a $1 investment. So, then the other piece of the drop was the two auction pieces, and so those were auctioned off the next day. A lot of the auctions are 24 hours or whatever. So, that was auctioned off the next day, and both of those auction pieces went for $66,000. So, I was definitely like, "Holy..." $66,000 each. So, in that weekend I made about $130,000, and those pieces, the pieces that I made, were pieces that took me about two days, two to three days, because again, the whole thing came together right before the auction. They're similar to the stuff I post in Instagram. They're 10-to-15-second videos that loop. They're something that I spent a few days on. So, I was little, "Oh, sweet baby Jesus." That is-
EJ: That's a good weekend. That's a good weekend.
Beeple: That's a good weekend.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: Yeah. So, then I was very much all in on this thing. I was like, "Okay. This is the thing. We're going to fucking ride this for a second. We're going to ride this until she flames out here." After that, because again, I was sort of explaining this to people, a lot of people had never heard of this, so I got a lot of the same questions that I'm sure you guys got, like, "What the fuck is this? Why would I buy something on Instagram?" So, that's sort of where the physical pieces came in for the next drop, but yeah, that was kind of... I don't even remember the question. I've just been jawing forever.
EJ: Yeah. I forget the question too, but the one thing I do want to backtrack on is you mentioned that before you even got into this, you talked to a lot of collectors. You talked to a lot of people in this space and stuff like that, and I'd like to know, was there any talk about... Just from an outsider's perspective, it seems like there's a certain aesthetic that collectors really are going for. It's like this very much at the everyday vibes where it's like this vapor wave skulls, golden skulls, the Roman bus stuff with the neon shapes, and mannequins with no hair. Did you do any research and find out, this is the style, this is the aesthetic that collectors are going for, and that's just how that worked out, or is it the chicken before the egg thing? How does that work?
Beeple: Honestly, not really. I mean, I saw this stuff and I was like, "Okay. Well, this isn't that different than the shit you see on Instagram."
EJ: Exactly. Yeah.
Beeple: Honestly, it was like, I'm always just going to do my own fucking whatever. I'm going to do my own shit. It's not like I'm going to change the style, and I wouldn't recommend doing that. I would definitely... I don't think there is a certain style that people are going for. I think as more people... I think there was a certain... When I think of Cryptoart, I kind of know what you mean. I have a certain style, and there is even, within that, there's sort of-
Beeple: Style and there is even... Within that, there's other sub-styles, like trash art was a tiny movement in this. So to me, I think cryptoart has a certain aesthetic. I think as more and more people come into the space, it's going to just be digital art. I think the cryptoart part of it will fall away and it will just be like, "This is the way to sell digital art." I wouldn't go changing what you do to try and match something because... I don't know, you don't know what that thing is. Make the work that you love. I wouldn't try and change your aesthetic to sell something.
EJ: Right. Or who you are, fit into a fad or anything like that.
Beeple: Well yeah, I mean, it's no different than on Instagram, like with likes. It's like, "You could do that. Oh, this is what everybody's doing," but I think the more you can stand out, the more it will actually benefit you, versus trying to fit in.
EJ: Yeah. I think one of the things I saw right away, and why I actually learned about Known Origin was... Buddy of mine, he's a very good 2D artist, 2D animator, and as far as the first visible things I've seen was super rare, and the type of art: little vaporwavy stuff, and the everyday looking stuff on Superrare. His stuff, his name's Jerry, he was the first 2D artist that I actually saw on some of these platforms. So I joined that, and I'm slowly seeing more and more 2D artists, like 2D motion designers, selling their stuff and being fairly successful. And actually just yesterday, I saw Justin Roiland that created Rick and Morty. He's selling sketches and stuff as [inaudible 00:01:53], which is crazy.
Beeple: Yes. Everything will come over, all of the styles. As more and more people come to this, that's why I say cryptoart had a certain aesthetic. I do not believe long-term this... Personally, I do not believe it's going to be viewed as cryptoart. I think the technology behind it... I think as it becomes more mainstream, nobody's really going to give a shit about that piece of it. It's sort of like, "Okay, well, this is a way to use, to collect, digital artwork. I don't really give a fuck about the blockchain piece of it, or how that piece of it works." Just like I don't give a fucking shit about how credit cards work. I pull the piece of plastic out, I get the freaking candy bar and I move on with my day. I don't think I made a fricking electronic, digital crypto- You know what I mean? It's the utility of it, the usefulness of it, I think will supersede any sort of current aesthetics that are in this phase.
EJ: I almost think that phase of cryptoartists, I never really liked, because it's almost like you're drawing a line in the sand and you're being exclusionary. Why is there this designation? Why aren't you just an artist?
Beeple: Yeah, that's where I don't... I think there were some people who identify as cryptoartists, and have a certain aesthetic, or using the programmability of these tokens to make a certain type of art that is more dependent on the crypto aspect of it. But I think as the space matures, again, I could be wrong, I think it will be more seen. I think this will be seen as the birth of digital art as an actual appreciated movement in art, similar to graffiti, or similar to some of these other vinyl collectibles that we take for granted. But in their own right, graffiti was around for a long time before it was respected, and these other things... Vinyl collectibles were around for a long time before people took them serious, and somebody's paying $10 million for a KAWS painting. I think that time has come, and I think that's where we're at for digital art. I think cryptoart is going to be a niche of digital art, if I had to guess.
Joey: Mike, I want to ask you about what all of this crypto-success has done to the way you look at the art you're making. I mean you've been... God, you've made a lot of art. My God, so much. So much. But now, it's really interesting to hear... I guess I imagined that prior to this, a higher percentage of your income was coming from things like... You became an influencer, sort of, and sponsorships. I assumed you were doing more of that than [inaudible 01:00:50].
Beeple: [crosstalk 01:00:50] I was for a bit, until I went fucking full whack job here, and then it's kind of like, "Okay. Do we really want to have this fricking booby fricking Kim Jong-un idiot advertising for our stuff? The influencer stuff dropped off, I'll say that. I will-
Joey: Okay, that's perfect. That's perfect, because that's what I wanted to ask you about! Because now that... I'm sure you're aware that some of this could be a bubble, obviously... This kind of money-
Beeple: Absolutely.
Joey: Could diminish, but if I'm in your shoes, I'm thinking, "Okay, this is definitely where I should be spending my time right now. If I'm trying to make money one way or another, this is the most high leverage thing you can do. It's so much money that... Is it effecting at all the way you look at the images you're creating? Because just in case someone listening hasn't actually seen Mike's work, you should go look at it. I mean, one of my favorites is Big Hog with Piglet suckling on the hog, but you put Buzz Lightyear's head on the pig, or Kim Young-un with a fat body and a big tube coming off of his crotch. There's just... It's funny because if someone's going to pay you for a sponsored post, maybe that kind of turns them off when you do stuff like that, but as a crypto artist it's like... Do you now feel like, "Huh, maybe I should go even crazier, or maybe I should tone it back?" Is any of that in your head?
Beeple: A little. Yes and no. I kind of, to be honest... Yeah, not really. It is and it isn't. The way I look at it is there's the everyday project, which is sort of, to me, still bigger than this current sort of movement or current moment in my career. That this is something that I spent 13 years doing this cryptoart, or this phase. While I think this phase could be a huge thing moving forward, it's only the last three months of my career, and I don't know where it's going. I honestly think it's going to be around for a long time, but I don't know for sure. The other thing I look at it as, like, "I'm going to be around for a long time doing this. I'm not going to stop doing Everydays. I'm going to do... At least right now, my mindset is to do the Everydays until I die.
Beeple: The other piece of that is I'm not going to sell everything that I do. That's not in my best interest, in terms of the valuation of this stuff, and I just don't want to sell all the fucking shit that I do. So me personally, doing Everydays, I know I'm not going to sell it, so there isn't as much. There's still definitely more that I can't help, but think, when I sit down, it's like, "Okay, could I potentially sell this for a fucking hundred thousand dollars? This fucking picture that I make in the next three hours?" I'm a fucking [inaudible 01:04:01] that obviously crossed my mind.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: Yeah.
EJ: How do you not?
Beeple: But at the same time, I know I'm not going to sell all of it. I know I'm going to try and sell, to be honest, keep it one to 2 percent of the Everydays. Most of it, I know I not going to sell, and so moving forward, I'm going to do a spring collection and a fall collection.
Joey: It sounds like there's a fashion show coming, like what you've already done, by the way.
Beeple: That's exactly what, a hundred percent, what it was modeled after. And honestly, as I was designing this last drop with the physicals, a lot of it was modeled after the Louis Vuitton thing, thinking about what makes something luxury. What makes something valuable? What gives something scarcity? These are all concepts that people need to think about when they're looking at releasing their art, and how to do that. And I'm in a unique position that I have a shit-load of art that I could put up for sale, but what is the way to do that in a way that long-term will make the whole collection the most valued, that I'll be able to get the most value out of it. Luckily, I put out so much work, I know that I'm not going to sell ninety percent of it.
Beeple: With the second drop that I did, the 2020 collection, it was like, "Okay, here's the whole year, I'm going to pick 20 Everydays, and that's going to be the limited edition, or whatever." So I purposely was like, "Okay, I want to pick some pieces that are more timeless. So I'm not picking any of this Trump shit, or any of that crap like that. Moving forward now that we're in 2021, looking at what pieces will become part of the spring collection... Again, I'm probably not going to put any Trump shit in there. I know I'm not going to sell ninety percent of it, so I can still do shit like that that's like, "Okay, no one's itching to sign this, I don't sell it, there's no fucking pressure, it is what it is."
Beeple: So does it affect my thinking? Yes, but I put out so much work, and I know I'm not going to sell most of it, that it still allows me to just do dumb shit for fun and do whatever. I honestly think... If I would've said something to somebody before, like, "Do you think people really want to see Buzz Lightyear with milking titties or whatever?" Of course nobody would have said, "Yeah, no, people are really going to want to see that. They're going to love that." Nobody would've wanted that. That's where I look at... Do the thing that you really want to fucking see, and that is going to make you put in the extra time and stay up extra fucking late, and put in that extra fuck it energy, and heart and soul, and fucking hard work, and elbow grease, because that will show through in the work.
Beeple: Trying to predict what somebody else will want or like, people can see through that shit, because it's fucking fake. The more true and honest you are with what you want to see, and what you want to make, and you are really passionate about creating, I try and listen to that voice. Because the more you're able to listen to that voice, and it's not easy. Because you're fucking human and you want people to like the things that you're doing, and I'm the same way. But the more you can concentrate and listen to that voice, the more you will do work that... People see that passion, and they see that you really fucking gave a shit about what you were creating, and it will resonate with them. Does that make sense?
Joey: Dude, I love all of that. That's all gold. Let me ask you really quickly, I mean, having talked with you and listened to a bunch of your interviews and stuff, it's very clear that you ran out of fucks to give a long time ago. But some of the imagery that you create, it's all... I mean, to be honest, my favorite stuff that you make is the stuff that it's almost hard to look at. Like there was one of a guy going down on a turkey that you put out on Thanksgiving that I showed my wife, and she recoiled from it. It's amazing, I love it. I want that hanging on my wall. I don't know what that says about me, but you also have stuff where you have... I mean, you're using IP. You've got Shrek's head on things, and Michael Jackson's head, and stuff. So I'm curious, how you kind of get away with that, and do you ever get blow back for stuff like that?
Beeple: In terms of what? How do I get away with the IP stuff, or the weird, gross, disgusting shit?
Joey: Well, the weird, gross, disgusting shit, I assume it's not everyone's cup of tea, but for some people it is, and who cares. Who cares if people don't like it. But the IP stuff, because some of that... It's really pretty powerful, some of the images you make. Especially for a while, you were doing a lot of things with the Netflix and Google logos on these post-apocalyptic worlds, and Jeff Bezos's head overlooking this destroyed city. And I'm just curious, you kind of have to squint to get exactly what message might be hidden in the image, or not. That's up to interpretation, but from a legal perspective-
Beeple: So from a legal perspective, I think people are, and this will be my famous last words when I get to do it for a fucking bazillion dollars. I think there's a lot of... I would look up the artist KAWS, K-A-W-S, and he is a vinyl toy maker, and he's who I was talking about before. He sold a painting in 2019 for $14 million, and it is a painting of... It's called The Kampsons, and look up this specific painting. This specific painting is almost an exact copy of another person's painting, that is the Simpsons ripping off the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club, that album art. And the main difference, not the main difference. The only difference is instead of eyes, he uses x's, and if you look at his vinyl collectibles, you know exactly what it is. It's Tickle Me Elmo, or it's Jiminy Cricket, or it's a Mickey Mouse, or it's blah, blah, blah, except the eyes are x's.
Beeple: Otherwise, it is literally almost exactly the same, you know exactly what it is. So there's actually a lot more, again, this could be my famous last words, but I don't think it is. There's a lot more leeway with Fair Use than I think a lot of people do. If you're making some commentary, or making some message about this IP, then that would fall under Fair Use. So when I take Mickey, and I put it as some weird milking whatever, that, in my eyes, and I truly believe this. Again, I'm not a lawyer, but nobody's sued me yet. I believe that very much falls under Fair Use, and I would be very surprised if that was not the case.
Joey: I would love to see a lawyer with a bunch of your Everydays in the courtroom.
Beeple: [crosstalk 01:11:16] I would love to see that too, because if that happened... That's the other thing, people worry about. If that happened, do you know how fucking much press and publicity that would come to me? Disney's suing me over this fucking milking titty bullshit. Holy shit. Please, come fucking sue me Disney, please come sue. I will be a fucking billionaire
Joey: Your honor, I present to you a...
Beeple: Yep.
Joey: A turkey getting... I rest my case.
Beeple: Yeah, no. I think there is more Fair Use than people think, to be quite honest. To the obscenity part, or the offensive work, I never trying to just make something to offend people. I'm trying to make you laugh. I'm always, always trying to make people laugh. So I realize it could be offensive, but that's never my intention. So if you are offended by one of my pieces, I'm truly sorry, and that was not my intention. My intention was to brighten your day with a picture. But at the same time, I'm not going to change what I do, because it does brighten a lot of people's days. Because I like this fucking weird, crazy, gross shit, and other people do too.
Beeple: So just like violent video games, or rap music, or dirty comedians, or this or that, raunchy jokes or whatever, is not for everybody. R rated movies, swearing, those aren't for everybody. People can be offended by those, but it's just not for you, then unfollow Beeple, close your fucking browser, and find a new fucking artist on the internet to follow, because there's thousands, and they're amazing. So to me, if you're offended and you're butt hurt about this, I don't know what to tell you. Just stop looking at it. It's pretty much their fault. I could be out of their life so easily, just stop looking at it. Wow. People just disappeared.
Joey: Oh my God. Dude, you're killing me. I will follow you anywhere. All right. So why don't you... So EJ, I know you've got some questions specifically about how to be successful at cryptoart. You've already made your thousand, which now is probably worth 2000 because you're still in Ethereum, but I know you had some questions about how Beeple got the hype machine gun.
EJ: Sure. Yeah, so it seems like you're very deliberate with the marketing for everything you've done so far and only had two major drops so far, right?
Beeple: I've only had two drops.
EJ: Yeah, so you should probably see a doctor about that by the way.
Beeple: Way to go. So go back to that. What do you mean by that?
EJ: So your strategy is unlike a lot of other people's strategy. I'll just give you my strategy, where it was I minted my work, which is basically like printing your token, printing your money or whatever, and I was like, "Hey, I'm doing the cryptoart thing. Want to buy a thing I did?" And some people bought it and I was like, "Wow, that was cool." Then I sold a second one, and I was like, "Hey, I did the thing again! I guess I'll make up a little story about this little character, and it's like a Tamagotchi, make sure to water it," and try to put a little story behind it. Sold one right away, and I still have one that hasn't sold and it's been months. So my strategy was a little bit of posting, posting on Instagram, and hoping people like it, hoping people buy it.
EJ: Your strategy was a little bit different. How did you come up with your initial strategy to bring the hype? Because there was definitely a lot of hype. I was talking with the guys, and Nick Campbell, and everyone was like, "Oh, you going to try to get a Beeple? You trying to get a Beeple?" I'm like, "I don't even know... What do you mean?" There was definitely a strategy. So I want to know how you came up with that initial strategy, and then what you learned from that to then go to the second drop, which was insanely massive. You think making a hundred thousand dollars in a weekend was a lot of money? Holy cow. You [inaudible 01:15:36] that.
Beeple: [crosstalk 01:15:37] Yeah. So I would say the biggest difference between me and a lot of people I see in this space is I'm looking at it, and I'm assuming that this space is going to be around for the rest of my life. So I'm not looking at this. I look at... To be honest, a lot of the way that I see some artists coming with a space, it reminds me of, "The fucking vending machine got tipped over, and there's candy bars piling out, and how many fucking candy bars can I shove in my mouth before the principal comes and fucking shuts the party down?" That's what it is.
Beeple: They're like, "This is going to be around for two months, and I got to fucking get mine now, because fuck it." And so that's not how I'm looking at it, and that's not how I ever looked at my career. I've always looked at it as I am playing the fucking long game, because I've always thought that when I hit maybe 20 years of Everydays that there would be more attention paid to, "Wait, what the fuck did this kid do? He's been doing a picture everyday for 20 years?" So I've always been sort of slow rolling this thing. That's how I approached this, too.
Beeple: So I would approach it in the way of trying to look at this as like, "Okay, this is your career," as a person who is going to... Thinking of yourself as an artist, and what are you going to sell? What would you sell right now? Assuming down the line, you could potentially sell your other artwork for a lot more. So that's kind of what I looked at it. I could have looked at my Everydays and sold the first Everyday like, "Here you go. Here's the very first Everyday." I could have sold that, but now that I've sold the 4,798th Everyday for a hundred thousand dollars, now how much do you think the first Everyday is worth?
EJ: Right. And that's a drawing, right?
Beeple: That's how I looked at it. I looked at it as like, "This is going to be around for a very long time." So yeah, I would just look at it like, "Okay, chill out. This is going to be around for a second." And I would also look at it as like, "This isn't necessarily the end all be all."
Beeple: If you were a young artist, I would dip your toes into the water here, but you need to grow an audience first. And at the end of the day, the biggest reason why the drops were bigger is because I just have a larger audience. That's it. There was a lot more hype around it because I just have more people following my work. At the end of the day, that's really a big, big part of it. The other part of it is, I made a bunch of teasers and I really tried to make it feel like, "Okay, this is an event. Beeple's first drop." I tried to make it feel like, again, looking at it, like this is going to be something that is around for the rest of my life.
Beeple: Then, okay, the first thing I do is a big fucking deal. So that's how I treated it, and that's how I treated the first job. Again, after the first job, I got a bunch of questions. "What the fuck is this? Magic beans? And why the fuck would I buy some shit I could get on Instagram? This doesn't fucking make sense. It's a scam, blah, blah, blah, blah." And so that's where I came up with these physical pieces. That it's like, "Okay, how can I make sure this looks like something that's very different from Instagram, that you can instantly recognize this is different from Instagram?" Because my work will always be available to view for free, but if you want to collect my work, that's a very different thing. And you're potentially paying, at this point now, thousands of dollars to collect this piece of work.
Beeple: So how can I give you something that is not the same sort of experience as Instagram, where you look at it and it's like, "Oh, that's kind of cool," and then that's it. There's not much more to it. So I was like, "Okay." That's where I came up with the physical pieces. That it's like, "Okay, this makes it very different, and it also instantly makes it easy to understand." Because it's like, "Well, what are you buying?" I was like, "Well, you're buying this fucking dope-ass physical screen that you can put on your desk, and it's got a piece of video that it plays, and anybody walking by can be like, "Oh, sweet. Is that a Beeple?" Like, "Okay, cool. Yeah." They get it."
Beeple: It brings it out of this weird abstract crypto-realm back into the real world where people buy art, and when they buy art in the real world, they have that fucking art. A Beeple, and everybody understands what the fuck it is. And so that's what I wanted to do. People had done that in the past, but they had done that in a way that was a bit more disconnected, where there was the physical piece and the digital piece, and they weren't... You could very easily separate the two, and I wanted it to be that they felt like the same thing. So that's where the Beeple collect site came in, and tying the two together with the QR codes, and trying to build a community around these things, and really trying to make it like an experience. That it was building a community around collecting these things, and giving you a very different experience as a collector from just somebody who follows me on Instagram. Does that make sense?
EJ: Yeah. I thought that was really smart, because even the first drop, I didn't even really know about it. I was just like, "I'm not even going to pay attention to this, because it just seems weird." But then you start to see like, "Oh," talking to Nick Campbell and he's like, "Oh yeah, I got my hands on one. I'm going to collect all these things, because I think it's going to be... This is a good investment." And he's like, "I just paid a dollar for one of these things."
Beeple: He got one of the dollar ones?
EJ: I think so, and he's like, "I could go around and sell it for a grand right now." And I'm like, "Oh, okay." But when you did your second drop, me and a few other artists were just like, "Oh my God, we got to get in. We got to get on that five minute drop," and like, "Oh, you get this cool little box," and then I'm texting you, and I'm like, "Is Nifty doing this?" It was like, no dude. And you're sending me pictures of your wife, putting these boxes together by hand, and you cutting hair off this Beeple doll and putting it in this vial, and I'm just like, "Oh my God." Even that-
Beeple: "He's gone crazy!"
EJ: [crosstalk 01:22:21] "He's gone nuts!"
Beeple: "[inaudible 01:22:21] before!"
EJ: Yeah, "He's putting his own blood in this thing." And it's just this thing where it's like, "Oh, well..." Not only are you selling this thing that a lot of people don't understand, this cryptoart thing, but the physical piece, you physically made these things one, by one, by one, right? And you're signing them, and I hope I get a really good, nice message on mine when you send me mine.
Beeple: Well, what number is that? I will definitely write a massive-
EJ: [crosstalk 01:22:51] I'll let you know. But yeah, it's one of those things where that bridges the gap for me, and I was even aware of a lot of this stuff.
Beeple: Yes, and that's where I look at the vinyl collectibles, and you go into an office of motion designers, and everybody's got fucking 30 toys on their desk.
EJ: Oh yeah.
Beeple: And I honestly think that that's how it will be with digital video. Instead of having a bunch of toys or a bunch of vinyl collectibles on your desk, you'll have a bunch of these video screens, and this is your video collection. That's why I was so excited about it, because it was like, "Oh man, I can think of so many artists who I would love to have in something like this, and so that I could just see their art and have it be a part of my life passively." Because right now, to enjoy digital art, you have to go to Instagram, you have to choose to do it. It's very hard to do it passively. It's very hard for it to just be part of your everyday life, that you don't choose to do it, and it's just something you walk past. It's like "That's kind of cool," and just make sure the room you're in, your desk you're sitting at or whatever, more vibrant, more-
Beeple: ... The room you're in, your desk you're sitting at or whatever, more vibrant, more fun, more whatever, more creative, more interesting. And so, that's what I wanted to sort of do with digital art, make it so that it's like, "Okay, this can be something that you just passively have in your environment and it makes your fucking room look cooler." That's it. That's all a vinyl collectable is. It's just something you have siting there. It just makes the fuck on your desk look sweeter.
Beeple: So that's where I think this is going with digital artwork. The screens are cheap enough now, you have the blockchain piece of it so that you can have proof of ownership around these things. And I think with those things now sort of combined, I think this is really sort of truly ready for a mainstream audience, because now it's not this weird... If you attach to a physical screen like that, it's not this weird thing that you have to wrap your head around. You don't even need to understand any of that piece of it at all. It's just like, "Oh, I get a fucking sweet screen? Okay, sweet. Okay. I don't really give a fuck about the [NFT 01:25:08] crypto part of it, that part of it's there making it more valuable and sort of backing it up.
Beeple: And when I say backing it up, it's more like, in my case, if you lose this screen or it cracks or whatever, you can prove to me that you own the NFT and I'm going to fucking get you a new screen and I'm going to make it right. And that to me is a big advantage that this type of artwork has over traditional art, because you have a vinyl collectible and it fucking falls in a pile of piss or... I don't know how the hell it can fall in a pile of piss.
EJ: I mean, what you do in your own free time is... Sure.
Beeple: And that's very, probably, telling, but that was the analogy I came up with off of the top of my head, that it would fall into a pile of piss.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: [crosstalk 01:25:58] if something happens to it, you're fucked. That's it.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: So, that's why I see this sort of space having a big advantage over sort of the traditional art market. The other thing is, it's much more traceable, which I believe there's much more transparency around it, which gives it a lot more value. Going back again to Banksy, how many Banksy prints are out there? Nobody knows. Nobody knows if one of his buddies has a stack of prints that are signed Banksy prints that anytime he runs low on money, he just throws one of those up for auction and makes a bunch of money. But the amount that are out there very much matters. Because again, if you are buying something and it's an edition of one or an edition of a hundred or an edition of 10,000, that absolutely affects how much it's worth.
Beeple: So with this stuff, it's completely transparent and sort of backed by the blockchain to show, "Okay, I know for damn well certain this is an edition of 100, that's it. This is an edition of one. This is a blah, blah, blah." So I think there's just a lot of advantages that the blockchain provides over the traditional art market, but then when you also pair it with the physical pieces, you kind of get the best of both worlds.
EJ: I mean, that's very interesting and I didn't realize this until you just laid that out. But this hypothetical Banksy friend that has all these prints lying around, how do you even verify that they are actually real Banksys, that they're actually...
Beeple: What they do is, he puts in... And this is what I did with the physical pieces as well. There are hidden markers. So if you take that to... If somebody says, "Oh, this is a fucking original Banksy, it's a one of one." Banksy, what he did is he put in hidden markers so that he knows... I can tell. I'm not going to tell you what those markers are, but I know if it's real or not.
EJ: What happens when he croaks? It's almost like the case that you're making is, that should be backed by Cryptoart because that can't be forged. However he does his markers, that could easily be reproducible.
Beeple: It could be. Again, that is another advantage that this has over that. I've put in these sort of markers that nobody knows about that only I know about to sort of make sure they are... That I can tell, like, "Nah, that's not fucking real."
EJ: [crosstalk 01:28:35] on the physical pieces.
Beeple: Big on the physical pieces.
EJ: Oh, okay.
Beeple: Again, you also have the tokens. So it's sort of like, if you're suddenly, sort of like, "Oh, here's a Beeple," and it's like, "Well, do you have the token?" "No." It's like, "Oh, okay. That fell off a truck or some shit, guy. I don't know what the fuck you want. That's not the fucking real thing."
EJ: Right.
Beeple: So that's where the NFT, it's their sort of like providing extra value in the background and you don't really need to understand the logistics of that piece of it. It's just there as a proof of ownership sort of in the background.
EJ: Yeah. Well, I mean, that's all well and good. You made millions of dollars and I'm sure there's a lot of just your everyday motion designers out there looking at this whole Cryptoart thing and are just like, "Well, how does this apply to me?" If you're an artist, you're not very visible on social media. You don't have a big following like you do. How does Cryptoart apply and why should, why should just regular everyday artists pay attention to Cryptoart?
Beeple: That's a good question. I would say, if you are... I believe it will be very similar to the traditional artwork eventually when the supply and demand balances out and everybody who makes a digital art now, which is thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, whatever people, when they discover Cryptoart, it will balance more out a bit. I think the prices will come back to what I believe, like valuations that are a bit more, I don't know, based in reality or based in how things were before. I'm not sure that this is just magically unlocking billions and billions of dollars of new money where it's like these people who watched a Winbush tutorial and threw a thing out and sold it for $5,000. I personally do not believe that will continue to be the case.
Beeple: So I think this will be an option for some people who would like to be digital artists, quote unquote. But I personally think it will still probably be a fairly challenging way to make a living just because it will be hypercompetitive, just like it's very challenging to make a living as a traditional painter or a traditional sculptor [inaudible 00:07:24]. There's a reason the term starving artist exists. It's hypercompetitive. Who the fuck would not want to just do whatever the fuck they want and have people pay them money for it? Everybody wants that.
Beeple: So I think it's something that I would be aware of. I would be... I think it will be just like prints moving forward. I think it will be something that if you work really, really fucking hard at and build up an audience and build up a collector base and sort of put a lot of time and effort into it, I think it will be another way to make money. If you don't do all those things, then I do not believe it will be a way that you just magically make a bunch more money is what I would guess will happen with the sort of like market dynamics over the long run.
EJ: Yeah. I mean, it's almost like this validates all of the Instagram artists that posts all the time because they build up a following and people are looking at these everyday artists, like, "You're not going to get client work on this. What's the end game? No one's going to hire you to do a skull render." It's like, who's laughing now kind of thing where you see how that's paying off and it just happens to be the right timing. But I almost look at this as if you need motivation to do personal work, this could be a good excuse, even if you don't sell anything.
Beeple: Yeah. I think it's one of these things where I think eventually this will mirror the other art forms that have been around for centuries, whatever. That it's like, you can do it and if you're very good at it and you stick with it for a long time and make your name, make a name for yourself, or do something different that nobody's ever done before, like a Jackson Pollock or something like that, then you will be able to make a lot of money at this or making a living or this or that. And if that's not the case, then you won't. So I don't think this is the end of client work for a lot of people most likely.
Beeple: I think it will be a very viable alternative for some people, but not everybody. And again, if you are somebody who is younger and at the beginning of your career, I would still very much focus, again, think long-term, think I'm going to be around this industry for 30 years. So the thing you need to do is practice your fucking ass off and grow an audience if this is the path you want to go. Again, do I know where this is going? And there are certain aspects of this that could really put a kink in the role. The biggest thing is if a Ethereum goes down ad Bitcoin and that crash, which they tend to sort of like peaks and valleys. So if that goes down a lot, it's going to put a big, big wet noodle on this Cryptoart party. I can almost guarantee that. I think it will survive that, but it's going to be some leaner times I would assume.
Beeple: So I think it's one of these things where you don't know if that's going to happen. I don't know if that's going to happen. So that's one of these things where it's like, I try not to... If I can't fucking control it, who gives a fuck. I'm going to keep going along, assuming that it's going to keep going along. And if that happens, you'll deal with it and maybe I go back to client work, maybe I do whatever, but concentrating on fundamentals of making good images and making work that speaks to you. That will always be viable and that will always be something that nobody can take from you and no matter what happens, this fad, the next fad, this or that, it doesn't matter. So I think continuing to concentrate on being the best artist designer or this or that I think, that didn't change magically overnight here.
EJ: Right. Now, we kind of see, we have a view of what's happening now, but I'd be really interested to hear about what do you think is the future of a... You just mentioned that if Ethereum crashes, this could all go up in flames, but [crosstalk 01:36:06].
Beeple: I don't think [inaudible 01:36:06] necessarily go up in flames, but I think it will push the prices down quite a bit.
EJ: I gotcha.
Beeple: I think there are certain people who are... I'm interested to see what some of the people who are very new to art collecting, what they will do with them. I don't know. So it's one of those things where it's like, I think the future of this is there's definitely going to be more and more artists coming to the space. So another thing about the platforms is if you've come to this space, you've probably noticed it's very hard to get on Superrare, Nifty, Known Origin. It's very hard to get on those platforms because again, they have a massive amount of people, MakersPlace, they've got a massive amount of people trying to get on the platform and they're trying to and maintain a level of exclusivity that will push the prices higher because if they are... The reason Sotheby's sells things for more than eBay is because anybody can put something on eBay. Almost nobody can put something on Sotheby's.
Beeple: So they're different platforms. So these platforms are trying to be the Sotheby's of digital artwork of these NFTs. That being said, there are options to sell this stuff. There are the eBays of NFTs that anybody can instantly start selling stuff on. One of them is called Rareable and another one's called OpenSea. They are places where you can instantly upload artwork and immediately start selling these things. Again, just like on eBay, there's a shitload of people selling stuff. So unless you have your own sort of audience that you can point this stuff to, it's not just going to magically sell. So there's much more competition because there's many more people selling on it versus Nifty. They have a couple of drops a week. They maybe are selling the work of 20 to 30 artists a month versus Rareable, there's 10,000 pieces of art for sale today, or 100,000 or whatever. I don't know, shitload. So that scarcity changes things.
EJ: You've mentioned a few times that it's like how things are going right now is there is this... A lot of collectors, not enough art. Now we're seeing those skills kind of tip. I feel like right now, the thing that's limiting this from being as big as it possibly could be is it's such a niche thing. Like outside of motion design, not a lot of people are... I feel like a lot of people aren't... It's like artists buying other artists work and a lot of that kind of stuff. Do you think that, mentioning that Justin Roiland where it's like, we have these celebrity artists, like cartoonists, like the creator of Rick and Morty, he's going to sell some of his art.
EJ: I think it might be that celebrity is going to be this thing to draw more eyes that maybe people weren't paying attention to Cryptoart before, but maybe now just your people that are scrolling through Instagram, just your everyday people that don't even maybe know what motion design is, is going to look at these sites and be like, "Ooh, I want to buy that like." This big celebrity is going to be selling, like Dead Mouse is selling songs on there and stuff like that. Is it going to take celebrity to make this whole Cryptoart selling, buying thing more mainstream as mainstream as people being on Instagram? Are we going to have an app that like, "Here's your Superrare app and everyone has it and everyone's scrolling through it and you can buy things and not only just browse."
Beeple: Yes and no. So I'll take the Justin, what's his name? Justin Roiland.
EJ: Roiland, yeah.
Beeple: So I looked up what Justin Roiland. I saw that and it's like, that's awesome. That's cool that he's going to do that. But here's the thing. He didn't take any time to explain to his audience what this is. He just put NFT [crosstalk 01:40:26] for sale. They don't know what the fuck that is.
EJ: Right.
Beeple: So that's not really going to bring in that many people. There was like Lil Yachty did like a month ago on the site, like a Yachty coin. And it's all for like $16,000 or something like that. Lil Yachty, by almost any measure, is definitely more popular than me. He's got millions of followers, concerts, this or that. He is a true actual celebrity, not just with fucking [inaudible 00:17:02]. He's a real celebrity. So why didn't he sell way more than me because he's real celebrity? Because he didn't actually take the time to educate any of his fans.
Beeple: So when he came to the space, he was only selling to existing collectors. He wasn't bringing in new collectors. So could celebrities bring a bunch more people to this? Yes they could, but they're not instantly going to bring more people in because unless they actually explain to their fans what the hell this is and why they should buy it. So Justin Bieber is not going to just magically come to this space and be like, "Hey guys." He's not going to start selling stuff to his fans because his fans, it's so abstracted to them, like this stuff is very hard for tech people to understand.
EJ: Right.
Beeple: Now you're saying the average 14-year-old girl, like, "Hey, you should buy an NFT." "What in the fuck are you talking about, Justin? Take your shirt off and sing me a fucking song. [crosstalk 00:18:11]. Pop that shirt off. Let's do this thing." You know what I mean? They don't know what the fuck this is.
EJ: Yeah.
Beeple: So I think eventually that will come, but I don't think it's going to come... I don't think it's just magically going to happen until a celebrity starts explaining what this is. And I don't think they're going to start explaining what this is until there's more money there because right now, it wouldn't make sense for Justin Bieber to do that. It would take a lot of social posts and a lot of explaining to explain to his fan base what this is. To be honest, most of them aren't going to get it and they're not going to give a shit and it's not going to be worth it for him because he can sell other things that they understand much easier. "Oh, you've got a line of fricking tank tops or you got... Okay, I know what that is and I'm a fucking kid and I need a tank top of bah, bah, bah."
Beeple: There's no explaining that. I spent an enormous amount of time and energy, literally, as I'm doing right now, trying to explain what the fuck this is and why people should buy it and why they like, it's a real thing. So I think it's going to take a bit longer than people think. I don't think magically like a month from now, unless these celebrities start explaining this to their fans, that that's going to happen. What I see eventually happening is all of this will just be rolled into Instagram. So if you want to buy the post, you can just buy the post and then it will show you are the person who owns that picture. So I think these platforms need to scale very quickly. Once it gets to a level, it's worth it to Instagram because again, the entire NFT market is... The entire crypto market right now is I want to say 30 million, 50 million, whatever. To Instagram, that's fucking nuts.
Beeple: That's literally just like... And to a lot of these celebrities, like this Lil Yachty, it's like, "Okay, sweet. I made $16,000. Who gives a shit?" He doesn't give a fuck. It was like, "Well, that wasn't worth it." So it's got to be like, it's going to have to make sense financially for bigger players to enter the space. And so I think it's going to be a bit more organic. Now Beeple came to the space, then the next bigger person will come to the space and then the next fricking person will come to the space. Then finally it will get to the biggest sort of like celebrities coming in. Because at that time, it will financially make sense for them to enter the space because now it's grown to a billion dollar market or a $2 billion market. Does that make sense?
EJ: Totally. It's almost like Cameo though. There's celebrities doing that, making a hundred bucks a minute.
Beeple: What I believe is happening with Cameo, which that's very interesting. What I believe is happening with Cameo, I think most of those people have been given a share of the company. It's like, if you go on here and you sell this shit for fairly cheap and you do a few a week or this or that, we'll give you 1% of Cameo. And when Cameo is a billion dollar company, now that 1% is $10 million. So that's where I believe Cameo is the real money and how they're attracting these people and getting them to post these messages for amounts of money that I do not believe are worth a lot of their time.
Joey: Just so if anyone's listening and doesn't know what Cameo is, it's a website. You go on there and you can pay like a hundred bucks and have Kevin Sorbo, the actor who played in the Hercules series, wish your brother happy birthday, which is actually a thing I did last year. Actually last year, the school motion team on my birthday, they paid for Paul Bostaph, who's one of the drummers from Slayer to wish me happy birthday. Yeah. So it's amazing.
Beeple: Yeah. We just did it for my mother-in-law. We found some actor on there, somebody on some show or something she watched. Yeah, it's very interesting, but I was, again, like I was saying like, "How the fuck does this make sense for these people?" [inaudible 01:46:15] be honest are like fucking D list celebrities at this point. They might actually make sense for that, but some of the people it's like, "Okay, this does not seem like it's worth your time." There's definitely people on there, Brett Favre or somebody like that. It's like, "Oh, that guy's got fucking money. This is not worth his time." I believe a big part of that is he's being paid equity in the site itself. I don't know that for sure, but I would guess that's the case.
Joey: Yeah, that's a good call. Well, Chuck Norris is on there. So I'm just waiting for an excuse to pay Chuck Norris to say something. So Mike, I want to, we're going to land the plane now. It's funny. So I understand this whole Cryptoart thing a lot better than I did at the beginning of this.
Beeple: Awesome.
Joey: But I also feel like I have more questions now than I did. So it's like really fascinating. I hope if you're listening to this and you're still with us, first of all, I would love a running count of how many F bombs were dropped in this conversation. This is definitely some kind of record for our podcast. So Mike, I guess the last question is how is this changing your life? I mean, obviously you have more money than you did a month ago, but how are you looking at actually moving forward? Do you just kind of want to do this now? Just like keep doing every day's work a little bit less, once a quarter, the Beeple fall collection comes out with some nice warm colors for fall and you make a million bucks and then you're done for a quarter. How are you kind of looking at your career now in light of this?
Beeple: So it's changed quite a bit. I'm looking at this as like, again, can I... Because it's super, it's very engaging. And again, I didn't know any of the shit I just said over the last fucking two hours, three months ago, none of it. I didn't know shit about crypto. I bought a small amount of crypto in 2017 through Coinbase. Never thought about it again. I didn't know shit. It's not like, "Oh man, he was super into crypto before this." Not at all. So I have been... And there's a bunch of aspects of this that we didn't even talk about. If you want to do a part two at some point, there's a shitload more different sort of like possibilities and different things that I haven't even gone into. Programmable art, Async art, [Mettaverses 00:24:37], there's so much shit.
Beeple: So to me, it has combined all of the things that I'm interested. That's why I feel so, so lucky because it's the art. I was interested in investing before this. So there's all these market dynamics that I'm super interested in. And then the technology piece of it. Again, I have a computer science degree. I feel like I finally made some small use of that. So to me, it has all of these things and it's just been like, so consuming and like just very like life altering, like I'm fricking up at night thinking about it just because it's so exciting and it feels like the beginning of this new thing that... It feels like there's a lot of low hanging fruit. Like even with the election thing, it was like, "Oh, we could do a piece that would change based on the election." Like, "Oh, yeah. Let's do that. Nobody's ever done that." It's like, "Really?" Nobody's ever done anything like that?" "No." It's like, "Okay. Yeah. I mean, let's do it."
Beeple: It didn't seem like that like crazy novel of an idea or something like, "Whoa, nobody's ever thought of this." So it feels like there's a lot of low hanging fruit. And so that's also what's really exciting. I honestly have just been so inspired and so just given me such new sort of joy of creating things and especially now with the physical pieces. This is a medium that I'm just totally new to in terms of product design and industrial design of different materials and how does this look and what if we do this? Are people going to understand this? And the like websites.
Beeple: So it's just opened up so many different, exciting, new ways to create that. Yeah, I'm definitely, I'm not going anywhere. So what's going to happen with the market itself? Who the fuck knows. I can tell you I'm going to be the last fucking mother fucker standing at this thing, trying to fucking keep the party going, because I think it's super fun and super exciting. I think it really could provide a new viable income stream for some artists, not everybody, but some artists who really want to be in this space.