When DC-based digital artist Vincent Cropper first thought to break into the NFT game, he began with a simple philosophy: everything is better with dogs.
After quitting a day job at AT&T, Cropper began looking into stocks before stumbling across Top Shot, the National Basketball Association’s producer of produces digital, NFT-based trading cards. This experience brought him into the NFT market. From there, he found OpenSea, home to plenty of digital art NFTs from artists across the world, and set out to create a canine-focused project: Moondogs.
“What’s really cool about the NFT space is it’s just providing a way for artists to express themselves and make money without necessarily needing some huge sponsorship or art gallery,” Cropper told Technical.ly.
For Cropper, who says he always wanted to be an artist but adds that his cousin landed all the drawing skills, digital art brought a new opportunity for creativity. Inspired by the Mooncats project, he decided to create his own NFT animal — with the twist of donating a portion of the profits to real pets. His 44-pixel art moondogs, which Cropper largely created in Photoshop but feature accessories from other digital artists, are bought and sold with Ethereum. They were posted last August and sold out in about a month. In the end, Cropper took home approximately $35,000 in profits and donated $2,160 to Lucky Dog Animal Shelter in DC.
Cropper, who is a dog lover, said that adding the donation aspect (10% of the profits from a Moondogs “adoption” go to the shelter) is a great way to shed a positive light on the NFT world.
“I just thought that was a really unique way for NFTs to actually help something outside of just what you see on the news, which it’s like: ‘Oh NFTs are just the new Beanie Babies or whatever,” Cropper said. “But there are actually really cool people in the space building tech.”
To keep them unique, Cropper also offered voxel cars — which can be driven around the metaverse — to the original buyers. The moondogs can be resold by buyers after purchasing, but Cropper said he won’t be making any more for this project to keep them rare and unique.
Instead, he’s working on a few other NFT-forward projects with some friends from Decentology, a blockchain community. They’re at work on a manga with NFT options for merchandise and more, which they hope to try and eventually get animated.
He’s also working on an NFT studio for digital artists, where Cropper will lead in-person events and sessions on blockchain and help other artists turn their work into NFTs, as well as gain community engagement.
With the ease of turning an online art piece into an NFT (OpenSea lets you upload for free in exchange, if someone gets sold, for a portion of the profit), he thinks that NFT spaces can be a great spot for artists to launch themselves. With everything online and accessible to anyone with a computer, he thinks this marketplace offers artists that don’t live in metropolitan areas or have connections to IRL galleries something unique. They can instead make the internet their gallery, he said.
“I really like to see all these artists come together in one space, and not have to fight for just enough food to survive,” Cropper said. “It’s just a lot more open for artists and they have a lot more control.”
Given NFTs’ positive artistic and charitable possibilities, Cropper hopes he can help change the conversation and put the technology in a positive light. In the future, while he sees other utilitarian aspects like NFT licenses flourishing as well, he hopes that his studio and NFTs can be a spot for artists to grow together while simultaneously reaching back.
“I’m hoping that this could come back and show people that there’s a good side to NFTs,” Cropper said. “You can actually have a vision and donate to charities, and actually help the world around you, through this medium of art.”