Jun 23, 2022 - Economy

Amber Vittoria, an artist freed by NFTs

Photo illustration of Amber Vittoria with abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Amber Vittoria

Artist Amber Vittoria's step into the nonfungible token world helped her go "fully abstracted." Think ribbons of color or shapes scattered across the page.

Why it matters: The NFT boom of 2021 fed creatives. As coin prices took off, a marketplace where those coins could be spent blossomed. A downturn in coin values threatens what Vittoria refers to as "the digital art renaissance" — also the name of the panel she led at NFT NYC.

Catch up fast: The soon-to-be LA-based artist started selling her work as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, in March 2021. Now, she can support herself from it.

  • Earlier this week her collaboration with LA-based streetwear brand The Hundreds resulted in shirts with a Vittoria-ized version of the words "JPEG Collector" as well as the Adam bomb logo. (Their pop-up shop downtown has already sold out, according to Vittoria.)

Of her journey into NFTs, Vittoria tells Axios: "It was very surprising. I went from struggling to find freelance work to prioritizing art."

  • "I try to remind myself—in times of uncertainty we as humans forget how resilient we are," she said, acknowledging that people may be less willing to spend on NFTs amid a crypto crunch.
  • "I'm not reminiscing about the bull run either," she added.

Vittoria's first NFT was a CryptoPunk she bought with her husband in 2021 using money meant to buy a car.

  • "Prices were stupid. We still don't have the car, but we have the CryptoPunk!" she said with a laugh.
  • Before selling her first collection on OpenSea, a set of 25 NFTs meditating on and deconstructing the female form, she considered drawing for an NFT shop. But found out they were only hiring artists who draw cats.

Flashback: Vittoria's inaugural NFTs sold out, but she took a months-long break after and "lurked" on the internet, because "it didn't feel right continuing."

  • That collection involved physical works, which she would try to send to her collectors, only to learn that it was a bit of a crypto faux pas to ask for a home address.
  • "The barrier I ran into — physical pieces — I wanted to sell them. They were like 'no, I'm anonymous'," she said. "There's a learning curve."

State of play: Vittoria went fully digital after that, like her painted works, but created digitally.

  • She sells numbered editions of her work in batches or lots.
  • Other NFT artists might solely focus on what are called 1-of-1s, or limited edition pieces that suggest rarity because the probability of owning one are miniscule.
Screenshot: @amber_vittoria (Twitter)

How it works: People can buy Vittoria's art on OpenSea with eth.

  • Her Alphabet Collection comes with freebies. Those who collect a set of five lettered prints can message Vittoria directly on her Discord channel.
  • She also combines these letters to create a separate word NFT and gives it to the collector, free of charge.

What's next: Her next drop of 999 collages comes July 15.

  • A mini documentary from media outlet ONE37PM about her journey to Web3 is set to premiere June 28.

She warns newcomers of using social media to sell, which can draw super fans as well as haters.

  • "It’s really nice to meet so many of my collectors, especially this week at NFT NYC," Vittoria said, while saying the native-New Yorker in her cringes at the thought of being in Times Square.
  • "The biggest difference in [engagement] is the difference between Web2 and Web3. Before it was like broadcasting, 'hello fam I hope you like.' Twitter feels like chatting with people who have become friends and have an interest in art in general," she said.
  • There are plenty of less effusive reactions: "I was like 'here are my NFTs!' And people were like 'you’re a horrible person'.” There are a lot of hot takes on how NFTs are scams and Ponzi schemes," she said.

Bottom line: "It's been life-changing," she said.

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