November 30, 2022

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on my time in the NFT space at this moment. This moment is a few hours before the reveal of my minted out 10k generative pfp collection – Izit-a-Bear. 

Since getting into the NFT space, I’ve been building, building, building. First on Wax creating the Bald Jesus Collective, then moving the BJC assets over to Ethereum, then the incredibly difficult launch of the Bald Jesus Drinking Club last September (a collection of 777 pieces that are still minting!). I’ve been working on two collections as this bear market (Iz it a bear?) engulfs the NFT space. The first was Izita. The other is Balds.xyz which is getting ready launch next week. For the moment, I’ll focus on Izita but before I get into that, I want to spend a paragraph or two looking at what got me into this space.

I’m a writer and a reader more than anything else (If you want to antagonize me just respond with tldr). I love creating new worlds, sharing ideas, and trying to capture with words the things that words can’t capture. That’s the art of writing. It’s also why I’m an artist. Art is, quite simply, a way to express things that cannot be expressed but must be felt. Art allows us to share feeling and emotion. I certainly wouldn’t classify myself as a great artist or even a good artist, but I’m a passable artist and sometimes, I manage to create something that actually speaks to others in the way I’ve intended – so from my perspective – that makes me a successful artist – albeit not commercially successful. Yes, I’ve sold some of my paintings and digital art but it has never been enough to pay the bills. Writing has paid the bills and hustle has paid the bills – and by hustle, I mean buying and selling, creating, and sometimes breaking up concrete driveways with a sledge hammer.

When I saw NFTs – the first thing I thought was ‘This is a new way to publish books! A better way to publish books!’ which is how I became involved with PageDao. At the time I got into the NFT space (late 2020) , it wasn’t possible to be interested in NFTs without being exposed to artists and art. I saw artists who had been ignored making life changing money. Was it life changing because they could buy a lambo or house? No, it was life changing because they could focus on creating art without having to work in a restaurant or break up concrete driveways. That’s what I mean by life changing. That grinding busy work of employment sucks up all or most of your creative energy. You get home and want to create but you are just so fucking exhausted.

From the moment, I saw this – my course was set. The big issue was that I was dirt poor and daily grinding so I can support my family and live in Hawai’i – and frankly, my technical skills weren’t good enough to create the randomizer, write a good contract, and deploy it. I spent most of 2021 finding a way to do that – and the result was the launch of the Bald Jesus Drinking Club – at the worst possible time. Ethereum was at all time highs, gas fees were insane, and suddenly there were dozens of collections launching in any 3 hour period. After an initial bump, the sales dried up. To be fair, I made some mistakes. The timing, of course, but also not allowing people to mint more than one per transaction and having instant reveal – which subsequently revealed all my metadata to anyone smart enough to look. I’m proud of the fact that the holders have been ultra diamond handed. I like to think it’s because I never quit or gave up on them.

Izit-a-Bear? Where did it come from?

I’ve already been asked where this collection came from. I dropped it without any prior notice and with no hype. It was a true stealth launch. I didn’t do any teases or reveals before dropping it. So, where did it come from?

I’m a child of the Southern California that existed in the 1970s and 80s. Cartoons were a big part of my existence. Yogi Bear, Looney Tunes, Felix the cat, Garfield, Huckleberry Hound, Fred Flintstone, Fat Albert, the Jetsons, Baloo, Popeye, Smokey Bear, and even sugar cereal mascots like Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, and the Sugar Bear. I read Mad Magazine, High Times, and Zap Comics. Robert Crumb’s Keep on Truckin’ looms large in my memory for some reason – as does Fritz the Cat, Spy vs. Spy, and other ‘underground’ comic art from that period. All of those influences come into play.

A legendary Balds.xyz 1/1.

As I was creating Izit-a-Bear, I realized that depending on your perspective – my characters could pretty much be any anthropomorphic animal out there depending on a few little changes. I leave the name of the collection as a question for the beholder or owners to work out the answer to.

As far as the timing, the decision to make the mint free, and the stealth launch. The truth is, I was planning on making this a paid collection and launching sometime after the NFT market conditions have recovered. I didn’t want to launch in the worst time possible (again) – but patience isn’t really my thing. I like to create and do, not wait.

I kept hearing people on NFT and Crypto Twitter or in Discords ask in regards to the current economy “Is it a bear market? Are we in a bear? Is it a bear?” and finally it hit me – this is the perfect time to launch Izit-a-Bear. Initially, I planned on launching Balds.xyz (1000 pieces) and then hopefully leveraging success there to launch Izita. Then, Goblintown launched and the free mint ethos really began hitting. In this space, you have to roll with trends – and a couple days ago, I decided – ‘fuck it. I’m going to do it’. So I put my head down and got to work finalizing the art, deploying the contract, and doing a little bit of shoring up of my Discord to protect my community members in case we got flooded with scammers.

And then – yesterday, I launched it. No hype, no announcements of coming announcements, just deployment and then letting people know on Twitter and in a few Discord channels. I really thought it would take weeks to mint out. In fact, I was 75% sure it wouldn’t mint out at all which is why I didn’t put a maximum mint per wallet and I allowed 10 pieces per transaction. In hindsight, I should have realized but I’ve seen so many 10k mints stall at 2k or so, it seemed silly to limit things.

I launched, I saw a little bit of movement and I went out to our IRL blockchain meetup that happens each Friday night here in Honolulu. I was absolutely shocked when I told other people there about my ongoing free mint and they went to mint and told me it was sold out! I’m grateful that I minted some so that I could do giveaways and promotions. At one point there were something like 4500 mints in one hour!

The good news about the mass minting is that the people who minted a bunch of them don’t realize what they have. They are still unrevealed and so they are listed cheap as hell. At the moment there are a bunch listed for .0009.

I think those are going to get swept very quickly after the reveal. After more than a year in this space, a big part of my goal with Izita was to create unique avatars that have personality and can represent owners expressively as a profile picture. I took lessons from the most successful (IMO) profile art in the space and I’m pretty sure that I’ve created a project that will function as highly as Bored Apes, Cool Cats, and Gutter Cat Gang. My hope is that people will bring their Izita’s to life with names, stories, and more.

What’s Next?

Reveal is in a few hours at 12 pm HST (Hawaii Standard Time).

Owners of Izita’s have full commercial and IP rights with no restrictions. These are characters made to tell stories. These are characters made to represent. These are characters that are begging for cartoons, comics, and merch. They are unique, original, and fun.

I can’t wait to see what you guys do with them!

I also can’t wait to hear your answer to the question.

Izit-a-bear?

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