During both times my wife has been pregnant, I’ve become infused with an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and a desire to provide more for my family. I find myself looking for new projects and opportunities. In the case of my first son, it manifested within the development of a new plugin for my software company, Organic Themes. With my second son, it manifested in the form of creating an NFT collection and brand — NumbSkulls.
During this time, the purpose of NFTs, the importance of blockchain technology, and a brighter vision of the future all converged. My exploration into NFTs was like taking the red pill in The Matrix. It consumed me.
Taking The Red Pill
In my case, the deep dive into NFTs were my gateway into Web3. For those that don’t know, Web3 refers to the next evolution of the internet that will involve cryptocurrencies, the Metaverse, NFTs, and all manner of blockchain technology. It’s something that can’t easily be explained. Web3 must be experienced.
In order to experience Web3, you need to buy some cryptocurrency (I recommend ETH), transfer it to your wallet (Metamask, Coinbase, etc.), and connect your wallet to a Web3 site. Then, you can partake in minting NFTs, making crypto transactions, playing games like CryptoKitties, and all kinds of crazy things.
Maybe it sounds silly, and maybe it is. But it’s certainly fun, and the technology is an undeniably new way to experience the internet. It feels like discovering the internet all over again.
When I experienced this next evolution of the internet, it changed my entire vision of the future. It even gave me a renewed hope for mankind. Suddenly, I saw how the entire world could benefit from blockchain technology. The deeper I dive, the more I discover. And it feels like a revolution is knocking at our door — a good one, hopefully. This revolution will likely involve robotics, artificial intelligence, automation, virtual reality, medical breakthroughs, and blockchain technology.
I now believe blockchains have the power to democratize and decentralize the world, create a more secure internet, build online communities that aren’t subject to manipulative and political influences, and provide financial and informational freedom to people under the rule of oppressive governments and financial institutions.
It sounds like some hippie bullshit, but NFTs opened a path in my mind towards that future that never previously seemed possible. For others it may have been cryptocurrency, but I now feel like there is a positive path forward for the world, and I think blockchain technology has a role to play.
Upon first glance, NFTs seem ridiculous. How could a little JPG of an ape change the world? But NFTs are much more than images — they are tokens on the blockchain that track ownership and authenticity. Tokens can be any type of digital files, not just image files. Artwork and PFP (profile pictures) are just the first iteration of many practical applications for NFTs.
Until recently, proving true ownership over a digital asset was virtually impossible. It’s the decentralized blockchains and smart contracts that make NFTs so special, and they provide much more utility than just an image file — such as a membership to an exclusive community. It’s art, it’s technology, it’s a contract, and it’s irrefutably authentic. That’s a big deal.
CryptoPunks and Bored Apes might be the Leonardo da Vincis of our time. It’s a bold statement — but Leonardo da Vinci utilized the most sophisticated tools of technology and art from his era. He invented flying machines and painted the Mona Lisa. His technical and creative talents helped ignite a revolution, and The Renaissance changed the world.
NFTs are the beginning of a renaissance in digital art and ownership, and the utility of the tokens has the power change the world.
Membership cards, online communities, virtual worlds, airline tickets, real estate contracts, architectural designs — these are just a few practical examples of what NFTs will become. They will likely be an integral part of our lives in the future. I think that’s exciting!
I realize I’m an idealist in regards to this movement. But for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m working on something that could lead to a brighter future for my children — even if it’s just using my technical and artistic skills to create a collection of generative character designs.
Creating Generative Art NFTs
Art is another thing that excites me about NFTs. I’ve always been an artist. It’s been my education since I attended a visual arts high school, it was my degree as a computer animator, and my background in art led to my career in design. However, I ultimately gravitated towards technology and became a web developer because it paid the bills.
Despite being a talented traditional artist, it’s never been a fully enjoyable experience for me on its own. It’s too slow. By the time I’ve illustrated enough of an art piece that I can envision the end result, I have an extremely difficult time bringing the work to completion. In my mind, the process is done. So, I have lots of unfinished illustrations that become lost to time or never see the light of day. Like this one:
Although the illustration above is technically unfinished, for me, there is no more mystery in the end result. So, I’m done. A life without mystery isn’t worth living, and apparently, art without mystery isn’t worth completing. At least for me, it’s something rooted deep in my psyche. I wish I could complete art like this, but I usually don’t have the desire or motivation once a piece reaches this stage. However, NFTs led me to an art form that’s full of mystery — generative art.
NFTs were my introduction to “generative art.” So, when I say I’m into NFTs, I should specify that I’m particularly into the generative art process of creating NFT collections. That’s gibberish to most people, I know. So, I’ll explain.
Generative art is the process of creating many separate components, or layers of art that can be combined using code to create new and unexpected results. In the case of the NumbSkulls collection, I designed over 200 layers of different eye, nose, mouth, and head shapes. Then, I run generative code to create thousands of unique character designs, like these:
However, creating an NFT collection requires more than just designing a bunch of layers and combining them. It also involves a cohesive vision, planning, and a knowledge of implementing rarity. It’s an all encompassing process that imprints the personality of the artist onto the collection.
As a child of the 80s and 90s, I grew up collecting baseball cards, Garbage Pail Kids, Pogs, etc. When collecting anything of this nature — whether it’s sports cards or Pokemon — you quickly understand that there is value and excitement in rarity. For instance, a Ken Griffey Jr. “Error” card is worth a lot more than a regular card, because it’s rare.
A good NFT collection takes rarity seriously. And my childhood experiences as a collector made it very fun to consider rarity in the NumbSkulls collection. In my case, I wanted color to be rare. With a mostly black and white collection, revealing a design with a bit of color is very impactful. So, the collection features 4 possible colors that may be revealed — each with varying levels of rarity.
Finally, I found an art form that was made for me. It’s a marriage of right-brain and left-brain thinking. It’s creative and technical. It’s design and code. It’s known and it’s unknown. So, when I run the code to generate thousands of designs, I have an idea of what it may produce, but I don’t fully know. So, I never get to that point, like I do with illustration, where I know exactly what the end result will be. There’s a bit of mystery, and I love that.
I’ve enjoyed the process so much that it inspired me to take the art form beyond a typical NFT collection, and build something I’ve always wanted to create — a brand.
Building A Brand From NFTs
I’ve always had a passion for branding and logos. Years before starting my software company, I worked as a logo designer (among other jobs as an animator, storyboard artist, web designer, etc.). Some of my logos have been published in books like the Los Logos and the Logo Lounge series.
I’ve always wanted to create an apparel brand that reflected my style, and generative NFTs were my ticket to realizing this dream.
I thought, what if a brand was created from an NFT collection, and only the NFT holders can print the designs from the brand onto apparel and merchandise?
That would be cool, right? This is how it works:
A brand generates 10,000 (or however many they wanted) unique NFT designs of varying rarity. Each of those designs could be printed onto merchandise, but only by the owner of the specific design. People could buy into the brand, trade designs within the brand, or exit the brand by selling their NFTs. Such brands would become exclusive, and controlled by the NFT holders.
These days, if you see somebody wearing a Nike t-shirt you wouldn’t think twice. Millions of people wear Nike t-shirts. There’s nothing exclusive about Nike — unless you own a pair of rare Jordan’s (see, rarity is key). However, if you saw somebody at a conference wearing a unique NumbSkulls t-shirt, it’s a signal that you’re part of an exclusive brand, and it’s a way to connect with people in the real world.
NumbSkulls would become the first decentralized and democratized brand.
Minting To Raise Capital
It’s a simple enough idea, but it’s not simple to build.
My business partner and I want to develop the software and printing solution using a combination of WordPress, WooCommerce, print-on-demand services, and Web3 technology. We’re confident it can be built, but we need some help.
That’s where the initial sales of NumbSkulls come into play. The initial NFT sales are our kickstarter to raise capital for building the Web3 solution needed to print NFTs from a wallet onto merchandise. If we can recruit enough NumbSkulls to the cause, we can prove the model, and provide the solution to other NFT collections.
Many NFT collections already have a culture around them. For instance, Wonderpals are adorable. There is a culture of “cuteness” in the community. Obits are pixelated skulls inspired by the original CryptoPunks. Their community is an “underground” culture, and they place stickers of their NFTs in urban environments — Banksy-esque. Such NFT communities are the perfect environment for building brands. And we want to white label the NumbSkulls solution for other collections — so more NFTs can leave the Metaverse behind to make an appearance in the real world.
Become A NumbSkull
We’re building a following, and generating interest in the NumbSkulls brand and collection before minting goes live — which is tentatively scheduled within the next couple of months. We anticipate an initial mint price of 0.1 ETH. For a limited time, our Premint access list is open to the public. Also, you can follow our official Twitter account to stay updated.
After the mint, the next stage of the NumbSkulls project will be the development of our online store and the Web3 software. So, when a NumbSkull holder connects their wallet to our online store, they can print only the NumbSkulls in their connected wallet.
NFTs are a frontier space. It’s the Wild West right now, and it can be a difficult space to navigate. But we’re grinding, and doing the hard work to build interest in NumbSkulls. We’re stoked to build a brand for the future.
Join us, or die.