This week, a great journey in my learning experience is coming to an end: I had the opportunity to be part of the NFT-Talents program run by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center. Now, how I got here was also part of a chain of experiences timestamped in my journey, which taught me how crises and pandemic times could turn someone’s life 360º around, especially if not well-informed.
It all started with the Big Financial Crisis of 2008
While living in the US at the time, I lost my job, and as a consequence the apartment I bought. In that apartment, there were also some intangible and unmeasurable values: the hope to become an independent designer with my very first own renovated apartment and the dream of buying units to refurbish them. However, watching the real estate bubble popping, entire families on the street, young people committing suicide, and the Banks only benefiting from the situation while ignoring people calling for help, I studied Real Estate and got my license. The more I dug into the topic, I got well-informed but felt powerless. The sunshine state turned dark and stormy for many of us, and I needed to find a way out.
I decided to pursue one of my dreams, — traveling throughout Europe. In my account there was not much left for fancy hotels, therefore, b&b, Airbnb, and visiting a few friends who moved to Europe were my options. It turned out to be the best time of my entire life: with no cellphone, no social media, and no permanent address, but local paper maps from every city I visited, and the wonderful locals I met everywhere. I soon got my soul healed because:
Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. — Matsuo Basho
Time to be creative and face reality
After about a year of traveling, my account was almost overdraft. So, it was time to go back and build the necessary confidence to get a job, that could, at the end of the month, start paying rent. Soon, the shoes to the car got heavier and heavier, and the traffic jam to the office longer and longer. That’s when I noticed that my passion for my career in architecture and interior design was also gone. From time to time, the 10,000 pixelated pictures of my trip to Europe kept flashing into my mind, especially the ones from Berlin.
A one-way ticket
After saving some money, I booked a couple of months on Airbnb in Berlin. Facing bureaucracy, the little German I learned with my grandma as a kid was nearly nothing for a master’s in Architecture, which was required in Germany regardless of years of professional experience. The easy way out was a job in real estate. Not surprisingly, most of the job task was memorizing scripts, annoying the hell out of people over the phone, and getting hung up most of the time. At least, any sort of fear of rejection became a joke after a week. Searching for a more creative task, I asked to take care of the flyers. They were pretty standard with distorted, ugly, dark pictures. Showing apartments and interacting with clients were only a small percentage of the work task. Also, the competition was too strong and colleagues would eat me alive if they could.
Exploring Photography to Comfort my Soul
As a creative mind, I started falling into the same pattern as before, heavy shoes, and endless commuting time to work. However, I found comfort in architecture photography. Soon, I found myself investing about $7,000 in a Canon with a set of lenses and improving the company’s local listings at my own cost. Hundreds of articles related to digital photography improved my skills and one article after another drove me into drones, NFTs, blockchain, holograms, AR, VR, AI… Slowly, I found myself following the white rabbit. Fascinated as I was, I couldn’t wait to get home from work and finish the articles that kept me awake almost the entire night before.
Covid19, a Turn with no Return.
In 2019, Covid managed to keep us enclosed and taught us to live in peace with our very own company. While many people were suffering the enclosure, I was hooked to two monitors all day, exhausted by the end of the day. But it was worth every second of it. It was a door to the tech world. I used to see it as impossible before, a Bootcamp in web development at Le Wagon. However, months passed by and the news was still devastating. Without events and exhibitions, friends in the design, art, and photography field were struggling at their best. On the other hand, the digital market exploded in 2021 when $17.6bn worth of NFT was sold, 21000% times higher than the $82m in the previous year, 2020. That inspired me to dive into coding and I developed a project of a marketplace for fashion based on artwork so that artists can generate a new revenue stream [artist-made.herokuapp]. In addition, I became a member of the Untitled-INC Token Economy network and extended my knowledge in the field.
Art Basel #HackARThon Winner
In 2021 an amazing opportunity came up: The #HackARThon at Art Basel. The idea was born: to combine the Token economy with the art & fashion marketplace, ARTIST-Made.com. The platform concept is based on:
NFT creation for digital and physical art
An extra income stream by combining art and limited fashion editions
A web.3-based community app
Virtual/online events introducing and exposing artists to the community
It did the trick: our team won!
Mask: great Photo by Kyle Austin
X.io NFT Collection
Later, digging more into photography inspired me to develop my own NFT Collection with the goal of encouraging creative minds to enter the space. I see web3, not as a simple new form of technology being adopted; it is a new way of doing things that opens a broader mindset, like a DAO. But the more I dug into the topic, I felt hopeless. There were too many technical terms, and the information moving at a light speed.
I can only say that the more I learn about technology, the more fascinated I am. From the standpoint of today, we are not going back. However, just like investing in real estate while ignoring the bubble, it can have lifelong consequences. On one side we have the NFT hype: Record US$ 5 billion worth of NFTs sold on OpenSea in January 2022 reaching about 17bn in January and a total of 70bn as of today. However, observing the graphs, it looks like the bubble has popped, and now all the Bored Apes are back in the wild.
In addition, we have scams, which have always been a significant threat to any sort of investment, and NFTs are no exception. Scammers managed to find creative ways to steal private wallet keys, duplicate original NFTs with very slight changes, also entire websites, platforms, and influencers' social media accounts, or create fake customer support frauds. But the beauty of this technology itself, with all its use cases, utilities, its hype, and hope, has a lot to offer, starting with artists, traders, investors, renters, owners, gamers, and more to be discussed in later articles.
The Technology is Here to Stay
Today, with the outcome of finishing the NFT Talents and grateful for so many insights and a great community, I hope to be able to guide creative minds to awaken their curiosity for NFTs and smart contracts as for the missing copyrights elements of the web2. I decided to push myself to write articles on my learnings and updates, hopefully not in tech terms but in easy English for creators to move forward with what they love doing because the technology is here to stay. As Prof. Galloway said,
How long will Bored Apes remain culturally relevant? Don’t know. They are trees, which live and die. Yet the forest is immortal.
Here, a very insightful interview [video] about emerging Artists in the NFT space
⇤[#0] From 0 to 1 — A Timestamped Journey into the NFT Space → [#1] — The Core Concept explained for Creative Minds → [#2] — Scams Explained to Protect Yourself as Scammers See New Frontier. → [#3] — Soon!