Ep. 5: ThankYouX

On this episode of Probably Nothing TZ (@TZhongg) and Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian) chat with ThankYouX (@ThankYouX). ThankyouX, also known as Ryan, is an artist whose work is a mix of both art and technology. Throughout the episode you will hear about this intersection of art and tech, the next generation of artists, the future of digital fashion, and more. You'll also hear about Ryan's journey diving into NFTs and what his future plans are.

In Episode 5 of Probably Nothing TZ (@TZhongg) and Alexis Ohanian (@alexisohanian) chat with ThankYouX (@ThankYouX) in Miami during Art Basel. ThankYouX, also known as Ryan, is an artist whose work blends both art and technology. Throughout the episode you'll hear about how this intersection of art and tech is playing out, what's possible for a new generation of artists, the future of digital fashion, and more much. You'll also hear about Ryan's journey diving into NFTs and what his future plans are.

Big thanks to Melissa (@melissa), Marya, Lulu, Kenyatta, Unrvld, and the 776 team for helping to put an incredible live event together.

- Links Mentioned in This Episode - 
- Timestamps -

02:25
: How did Ryan get into NFTs?
04:15: When did Ryan see "the Matrix" and what convinced him?
05:08: What gave Ryan the conviction to dive in?
09:45: How is Art Basel different this year with new artists than previous years?
12:25: Alexis's experience with web2 vs. web3
13:58: What helped Ryan understand blockchain?
14:13: What's the traditional art world like for an artist?
15:29: NFT communities
16:00: What's coming for NFTs?
16:20: What is Ryan up to in Art Basel?
16:45: Next generation of artists
18:20: More about digital fashion
19:25: NFTs as a technology
24:45: NFTs and Virtual Reality
26:35: If you were stuck on an island which NFT would you bring?

- Mentions -

- Show Notes -

*
Ryan and NFTs*

How did Ryan get into NFTs?
  • Ryan comes from the digital art world but loves tech. He was kind of into VR and 360 a couple of years ago, but there wasn't any distribution for it so it faded away. 
"I have always tried to figure out how to marry my paintings with digital stuff"
  • Last September Ryan got sent a few links about NFTs by his friend Chris Mortimer (@slidestream). Chris told Ryan that NFTs were going to be his future, so Ryan dove right into the space. A couple of weeks later Ryan met 3LAU (@3LAU) and they started to talk. 3LAU helped explain NFTs more. 
  • Ryan then met his good friend JN Silva, who was deep into blockchain and helped explain a lot of the backend. They both felt like they didn't fit in the space.
'The Matrix moment' 
  • Last December Ryan had his first NFT drop and they were selling out fast. His wife was pregnant and napping so he couldn’t make a lot of noise but he was freaking out. 
"I just thought wow, this is the future."

The conviction

"I am constantly looking for a marriage between art and tech. I really truly was diving into it. I consider founders of tech companies artists because they are creating something from nothing."
  • Ryan was just searching for that bridge between art and tech and NFTs is that bridge.
*NFT Artists and Basel*

Punk vibes for NFT Artists?

"This is now becoming a mainstream moment where some of those punk bands are signing to a major label and are taking off."
  • Ryan comes from the street art world. People would make fun of him for doing what he was doing, but now they are asking Metamask questions because they want to get into the space too.
How is Art Basel different now than it is most years?

"There is way more traffic now."
  • Ryan gave a talk at the Design Miami Fair - a very respected event during Basel week. He said 90% of people in the audience were not NFT people and they were all trying to learn what NFTs are. 
"Our goal in the NFT space is to make it as welcoming and non intimidating as possible."

"The art world is very intimidating, and they treat you like you don't belong. With web3 we have the chance to show people that they do belong, and they are welcome."

*Benefits of NFTs*

Traditional Art vs NFTs
  • Ryan went to a Troy Carter talk where he spoke about how in the traditional art world they will find an artist, and kind of manipulate the artist's work without their consent. The Museums, the auction houses, the galleries, will manipulate and control the artists market. 
  • They will have one person buy out the whole show, so they can sell out and then the artist only gets paid once. After this, the traditional art world will blow up the pieces and the artists will get pushed to the side.
"Maybe the artist sells his piece for $10,000 but the auction house is selling it for $100,000. But the artists isn't seeing any of it."
  • At the talk, Troy was talking about how artists could get royalties using crypto. When Ryan got home later, he began to write a contract that said if they bought one of his pieces, whatever resales happened, Ryan would get a specific amount. 
"I saw that and thought it was genius. It's true if you have a sale whether it's lower than the primary or not you still get paid"

Community
  • When an artist gets to engage with their community the game changes. The artist is now in complete control of what they create.
"The fact that you have a community and you all make money together, it becomes this unofficial business where you are all cheering for each other it's amazing"

*What's coming?*

Digital Fashion

"I think digital fashion is going to be one of the big avenues" 
  • You are already seeing it with crypto fashion week and the metaverse. People are going to be buying more digital clothes for their avatar.
  • A lot of high fashion houses are getting in the game of crypto and NFTs. 
"Anyone who thinks that a brand doesn't belong in NFTs, doesn't belong in NFTs"
  • NFTs as a technology like the blockchain system for payments, has been proven to work. Even though this is not art related, it goes to show you how the tech behind NFTs can be used in other industries. 
"I think that in the future everyone will interact with the blockchain in some fashion"

Future plans for Ryan
"...being a door opener not a door keeper."

Future of Artists

"I wanna see the next generation rise and how they will help the whole system and help the following generation up"

How can we help artists create more?

"I don't think you should convince people to be artists, that puts the money first, you have to be willing to make 0 dollars" 
  • As an artist you really have to believe in what you are doing. Tech founders are like artists because they can create something from nothing. The difference between founders and artists is that founders are not going to be spending 100 hours a month creating something just because they have to. An artist has to create, there is no other option.
  • There is currently a barrier of entry to the underprivileged community that can’t even afford an iPad. 
  • Illestraeter (@illestraeter_), aka Tim Kang, is one of the biggest collectors in the space. He started a company called Seven Grants which covers the charge for people that can't afford minting.
"How do we get those kids in the community, how do we get them iPads? How do we get them free online courses for cinema and all these programs that get them into the space?" 
  • The real question isn’t how do we get artists away from this so called stereotype of being an artist is not a real job. The real question is how do we make NFT art more accessible to those that can’t afford technology.
If you were stranded on an island what NFT would you bring?

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