NFT Creator – Cointelegraph Magazine
With a total artwork value of $24 million Trevor Jones is one of the Top 10 most successful crypto artists worldwide.
Trevor Jones’ journey to crypto art stardom started the same way as many crypto noobs: His portfolio went way up, he failed to take profits, and the price came crashing down wiping out the paper gains.
A traditional painter, Jones always wanted to explore the intersection of art and technology, and he experimented with QR code oil paintings in 2012 and dived into AR art in 2013.
But it was his 2017 investment in Bitcoin that sparked deep curiosity in what this new world of crypto and blockchain was about. After getting rekt in 2018’s crypto winter, Jones turned his attention from crypto trader to crypto painter. He says:
“I caught that bull run and made a lot of money and then lost a lot of money in 2018. It all went up and all came crashing down.
“I really fell down the rabbit hole and got completely excited about the space and the people. I was following whoever I could on Twitter, the likes of Vitalik Buterin and John McAfee and characters like that. Very quickly, I started having thoughts that this is something I would like to explore with my art.”
Crypto art was almost non-existent as a genre in 2018 within traditional art circles, so Jones took it upon himself to hire a commercial gallery to stage a crypto-themed exhibition where he showcased some of his first original crypto art at the Crypto Disruption Exhibition.
“The 12 paintings I did were all inspired by the crypto space, and from the new perspective I was coming in from, I didn’t know a lot about it at the time. I focused on some of the characters, such as Satoshi Nakamoto, ideas and themes like the bull and the bear, hodling and riding the wave. It was kind of me figuring out how to visualize this space through these paintings,” he said.
“I sold almost everything from the exhibition to anonymous collectors around the world where they paid me in Bitcoin and Ethereum. It really blew my mind because normally when you go through an art gallery to sell work, you don’t get to meet the collectors for the most part, it’s all done behind closed doors. You’d hopefully receive money two to three months down the line when the gallery pays you out.”
“To get paid immediately was just so eye-opening. A few of the paintings were actually sold before the exhibition even opened. I was just posting some images on Twitter and somebody would reply saying they liked it and how much is it? I’d tell them a number, and they’d just send me some Bitcoin, and the sale was done. It was just the most surreal thing.”
Oil paintings to NFTs
With a path similar to Josie Bellini’s, from crypto artist first to NFT artist second, Jones recalls Coin Fest in April 2019 in Manchester being a pivotal moment. David Moore from Known Origin tried to explain to him why he should be interested in NFTs.
“Coming from the perspective of a traditional artist who had a very successful exhibition of paintings that were selling between $5,000 and $12,000, I was grappling with the fact that NFTs at this time were only selling for about $20 or being gifted,” Jones says.
“It didn’t make sense in my head that I should sell a digital representation of a painting for $30 when the physicals were being sold for five figures.”
But Jones continued to investigate the world of NFTs, tapping into newfound relationships with the likes of Alotta Money, Pascal Boyart and Coldie. He paid particular attention to Matt Kane and Coldie in the back half of 2019 who were starting to make sales in the hundreds or thousands of dollars and “started to think maybe there’s a way that it makes sense to bring my work together with a digital counterpart.”
He says he was initially hesitant out of concern for collectors of his physical art who had paid top dollar. “I felt that it would be disrespectful to then sell that painting for $30, but I was still learning about editions and all the nuances of the space at the time,” he says.
The Canadian artist was an instant success when he finally decided to take the NFT plunge. His very first NFT titled “EthGirl,” a collaboration with NFT art legends Alotta Money, broke the record for the highest sale on SuperRare, selling to ModeratsArt for 72.1 ETH ($10,207 at the time of sale).
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“Alotta Money is the most amazing dude. I worked with him on ‘EthGirl,’ which was inspired by the Picasso piece ‘Girl with a Mandolin.’ It was a big oil painting I did, and he animated it. It was still super early days in the NFT art scene, but it caused a huge bidding war between Moderats and Whale Shark and ended up breaking records.”
“Everybody was talking about it because this was really the first time that I think artists, including myself, realized we could actually make a living from selling digital art through NFTs. It was really a pivotal moment I believe in the space. It raised a lot of eyebrows to where we might be headed.” Check it out by clicking the “Play” button in the tweet below.
Coming from a traditional art background but with a love of technology and an appreciation for history, Jones says his style is hard to label, but his aim was to be a “social realist in this space — to capture moments in the crypto space but also in the real world.”
“I don’t really have a unique style, but my work is always connected to the long history and tradition of painting and art history. I studied art history at university for five years. I’m somewhat of an anachronism in this space of crypto; here’s this crazy innovative digital new world and then some old painter dude comes in and starts working away, and people like what I’m doing.”
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“I’ve been interested in technology for a while with my previous work painting QR codes and exploring AR back in 2013, so I think that’s probably one of the reasons why the collectors in NFTs accepted me with open arms because there’s a history of my curiosity in technology and innovation.”
Notable sales to date
Jones, who has lived in Scotland since 1999, has put his own spin on what an NFT IRL event should look like with his Bitcoin Angels Castle Party. The event brings artists and collectors together for a two-night celebration.
“With Bitcoin Angel, my life changed entirely in seven minutes, and having spoken with a few bigger collectors on Twitter, one suggested I throw a castle party. At first, I thought it was a stupid idea, but after sleeping on it for a day or two, I came to realize it was a great idea.”
“I have an opportunity through this castle party to thank all the people who bought one of my artworks. That’s really how it started off, to invite all the owners of Bitcoin Angels and a way of giving back to my community, and it’s grown from there.”
The 2023 castle party will be held in France from September 3 to 5, with holders of Jones’ artworks receiving discounted tickets. More information here.
The Oath Coronation NFT
To celebrate the coronation of the new King, Jones recently teamed up with the Evening Standard newspaper and Apollo Entertainment to release an open-edition NFT titled “The Oath” to own a piece of history.
It was a free mint dropped on Nifty Gateway, with 20,200 being minted, which set a record for an open-edition mint on the platform.
“I thought it was a cool opportunity to capture a moment in history and get people excited about digital art and what NFTs are. The Evening Standard is one of the biggest U.K. publications, and this was a chance to create something with them to get disseminated out into the real world,” said Jones.
Which hot NFT artists should we be paying attention to?
Jones cites four artists who were part of the #ArtAngelsNFT series he created to shine a spotlight on emerging artists.
Saint MG (@SaintMG1) — Artist and architect from Colombia. Lost Angel in the digital renaissance.
Nurart (@NurArt_) — Visual artist from Cuba. Weaver of symbols.
Richard Masa (@RichardMasaArt) — Abstract-surrealist from Paris.
Maria Fynsk Norup (@mariafynsknorup) — Conceptual self-portrait artist from Denmark. Emotional storytelling.
“Art Angels could be considered somewhat of a Shark Tank show meets the dating game. It’s where we’d connect artists and collectors. It’s been life-changing for some of the artists involved. Saint MG made a 1-of-1 sale on SuperRare and some other sales and sold about $9,000, which is a lot in his hometown of Colombia.”
“Nurart from Cuba has also made life-changing money from some sales and is such a great artist. Richard Masa is absolutely phenomenal, just an amazing artist, be sure to check him out. Maria as a photographer is really special — her work just takes you to places.”
Favorite NFTs in your wallet:
“La Peste Bleue” by Alotta Money
“(r)Evolution” by Alotta Money (gifted by ModeratsArt)
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