Mohawk, Daniel Johnston, and Peelander Yellow Release NFTs on Emergent Online Marketplace
Austin music jumps into the collectable digital art trend
By Kevin Curtin,
3:05PM, Wed. Apr. 7, 2021
Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, one-of-a-kind digital collectibles selling for surprising sums, now arrive in Austin. One featuring the art and music of late songwriter Daniel Johnston comes up for sale on Friday. Another NTF, a visual representation of local music venue the Mohawk, auctions tonight.
The Johnston NFT features six colorful frogs that blink as a keyboard instrumental from the 1985 track “Fly Eye” plays. The late outsider artist’s famed phrase “Hi, how are you” sits at the top and one frog speech bubble reads “Fine thank you.” The words “Daniel Johnston is alive somewhere” run at the bottom. According to Daniel’s brother, Dick Johnston, the image comes from a drawing the family found shortly after the singer and visual artist’s passing in 2019.
The Johnston estate collaborated with Daniel’s manager, Tom Gimbel, Lee Foster of Electric Lady Studios, and the United Talent Agency on the exclusive crypto art, offered through the Foundation.app platform. It’s a 1-of-1 edition going on-sale Friday at 3pm EST. The bidding cycle lasts 24 hours with no reserve price.
Like many art NFTs, Daniel Johnston is Alive Somewhere maintains no tangible representation. Others, including the Mohawk’s colorful digital GIF, include a utility aspect. The purchaser of the Red River venue’s Golden Ticket NFT, designed by acclaimed digital artist Young & Sick (aka Nick van Hofwegen), receives entry to any show at the Mohawk, with a plus one, for a year. The reserve bid for it currently lists for $23,591.27.
The fundraiser for the shuttered club, plus the NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) organization, joins nine other Hofwegen illustrations for additional landmark venues nationwide. In addition to Mohawk’s Golden Ticket, their series of Open Edition Collectable run roughly $700 a pop. That auction, which accepts both credit cards and crypto currency, begins tonight at 6pm EST and remains open for 48 hours.
NFTs remain alternately intriguing and head-scratching. Famously, digital artist Beeple (Michael Winkelmann) sold a collage NFT for $69 million at Christie’s last month. Shortly after, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million and donated the proceeds to COVID-19 relief efforts in Africa. The band Kings of Leon, in March, released an album as an NFT with tiered perks including front row seats for life.
More practically, NBA Top Shop created a popular marketplace of basketball NFTs, because like sports cards, they’re tradable. They also hold a record of who owns it and how much they paid. Here’s a video that explains the new art medium in terms even most luddites can understand.
Joey Janisheck, founder of the Austin-based digital consulting business ScreenDUET, foresees a future where NFTs decorate our homes in the virtual reality worlds we’ll inevitably inhabit to some degree. He also says they’ll trade easier than physical items because of “friction free environments” where no physical product ever needs fussing over. Recently, he helped Austin painter/musician Kengo Hioki of Peelander Z mint several pieces of NFT crypto art, which are currently for sale online.
Janischeck sees NFTs as a new income stream for artists and, in Hioki’s case, potential earnings until it’s safe for “him to be crowd surfing over our heads again.”
“The interesting thing is with these NFTs, they’re digital contracts and you can program them,” Janisheck explains. “For example, every time Kengo’s work changes hands, he gets a 10 percent referral fee in perpetuity.”
Given the surging popularity of NFTs, it’s only a matter of time before you can be the sole digital owner of an NFT representing the “I love you so much” wall on South Congress. I’ll be saving my money for an Old Emo’s Bathroom NFT so I can own an authentic metal piss trough urinal in my future virtual reality abode.