Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?
I’m Danil Krivoruchko, a designer, director and VFX artist from New York. I was born in Donetsk, Ukraine, but only lived in this city for a few months. My family moved frequently and in the end we ended up in Moscow. Eight years ago I moved to New York and have been living here ever since.
After 15 years of work in various studios, three years ago I became a freelancer and since then I have been engaged in both commercial and various personal projects. During this time I worked for Apple, Intel, Verizon, Nike and released a couple of short films that have collected many awards.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The sci-fi novel “Blindsight” by Peter Watts made an impact on me, so I turned it into a short film. Last October, a collaborative group of designers and artists used 3D-imaging to transform the sci-fi novel “Blindsight” by Peter Watts into a short film. The movie has won over a dozen awards, including the Best Animation Award at the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival. That was a big success for all of us.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in this new industry? We’d love to hear it.
My introduction to the world of cryptocurrencies began back in 2017. I first heard about the intersection of crypto-technologies and art from Andy Alekhin, co-founder of the snark.art platform, and it was about two years ago. At that time, he had already done several digital art projects and he needed help from a motion designer in his current project. Since then, I followed what was happening in this industry, but did not seriously immerse myself in the topic until the beginning of this year. At that time, Beeple’s works were sold in minutes for some absolutely insane prices, and then I saw in the instagram feeds designer names whom I knew from New York studios about their works sold for crypto. I decided to try it too and applied on the KnownOrigin site, waited two weeks and got the status of an artist. I remember how I posted my first work at night, and in the morning I woke up with the notification that it had already been sold. Since then, I have been actively engaged in NFTs. Now I introduced already 1000 Ksoids.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
I invented Ksoids together with my wife Victoria back in 2013. We just moved from Moscow to New York and it was important for me to be visible in the new area, so I did a lot of personal projects. The Ksoids were born out of my love for generative art and my wife’s love for cute creatures. To our delight, the project turned out to be really successful — many near-design blogs reported about it and it seems it had an impact on me being hired by my first New York design studio. I even received an offer from a Chinese factory to start the production of physical toys but luckily I declined because it would have been too much of a headache for me. The project was put aside and lay in the portfolio for 8 years. From time to time, I returned to the site of Ksoids, looked at random pairs — Ksoids seemed to be as cute as before 🙂 Recently, Facebook reminded me of my announcement of this project some eight years ago, so I shared that post with the picture of Ksoids, and Andrey wrote back that it would be cool to turn them into an NFT collection. I thought, “Ha, so I made digital collectibles before it became a trend!” We talked over the phone and the process started. We spent about a month searching and restoring a project from long-forgotten backups (8 years for 3D is already archeology), creating and testing a smart contract that would give buyers a random Ksoid, preparing a website and other materials for launch. On April 22, we launched the project and in just four days we sold more than 80% of the collection. In terms of volume, we got to the first place among the new collections on the OpenSea platform and entered the top ten among all collectibles on the platform.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Once I commented rather rudely in a letter from a client, thinking that they were not in the copy. It was a small project that had been dragging on for more than a year, so in fact, everyone in the team already had such thoughts. The lesson is to stay positive and check who and what you are sending 🙂
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Andy Alekhin, co-founder of the snark.art platform, has influenced me to turn my artworks into NFTs. We worked together on several digital art projects already over the past few years and our current Ksoids project that sold out in just a few days is one of our biggest joint successes.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always working on several projects, usually a mix of commercial and personal projects. It so happened that lately commercial work is mainly about credits for big science fiction and fantasy series for Apple and Amazon. From personal projects, I am now working on a joint super-interesting project in the field of digital fashion. I believe that this art form has a great future, and it would be great if it helps to partially reduce the amount of real clothes that are now being produced to be worn only for a selfie.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. I’m sure you get this question all the time. But for the benefit of our readers, can you explain in your own words what an NFT is, and why people are spending so much money on them?
I can’t easily judge the NFT market from the point of view of a collector who sees art as a way of investment. I look at the crypto-art market as an artist, so I’m primarily interested in the creative part of my works, not the price tag. In addition, now there is chaos on the market due to the general immaturity of technology and often the price does not correspond to the value of a given work (in my opinion, of course), it can be overestimated or underestimated. So, I can only advise you to develop your own taste and keep an eye on what is happening. There are more changes happening in the crypto per week than in the regular art over years.
The NFT industry seems so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
-In my opinion, this is the first time in my career that long-deserved recognition (including financial) has come to digital artists. Before that, I quite often noticed a disdainful attitude towards works that do not have physical embodiment.
-General democratization of the art market, now young artists have many more chances of being noticed than before when they used to try and find their way into the “classic” galleries
-The crypto scene is very fast, and things happen in weeks that can take years in the normal world. There are dozens of different experiments going on right now, many of which will go nowhere — but some will give birth to new names, and perhaps even genres of art.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the industry? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?
-Almost complete lack of control over the authenticity of the authors of the works — there are frequent cases where the artist’s works are in fact stolen from someone else and sold as their own.
-A young market where there is no good way for the buyer to understand the quality and real cost of the work being sold. Many works are sold at incomparably high prices, and at the same time, many really talented authors cannot sell anything at all.
-Energy costs for each transaction should be greatly reduced; hopefully this will happen soon.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about NFTs? Can you explain what you mean?
-That you are guaranteed to earn by selling your work — just like in a “real” art market, no one can give such a guarantee.
-That any work you buy is guaranteed to rise in value. If your goal is an investment, and not just supporting artists whose work you like, then you must understand all the risks associated with crypto-currencies, and in particular, with crypto-art.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they enter the NFT industry? What can be done to avoid that?
- Expectations that are too high (from both buying and selling) can lead to disappointment very quickly.
- The belief that the quality of work corresponds to its price — now the market is too young and often the assessment of work does not correspond to its value when the initial excitement subsides.
- That you will be noticed simply because you posted a new job — in my opinion, marketing and the follower base are now more important in crypto art than the real quality of work.
How do you think NFTs have the potential to help society in the future?
I don’t think this is some kind of technology that will directly affect the whole of society. Specifically in the field of art, there is a chance that the way of collecting will change, direct support of artists can lead to an influx of new people with new ideas and more variety, which will ultimately make our lives a little more interesting 🙂
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- You need a large, very large follower base (preferably on Twitter). If for the last 3–5 years you have been working on increasing not only your skills, but also your Instagram numbers, now is the time to get a return, not only in the form of likes on the size of your audience.
- This is so important that I’ll say it a second time — social media are your main channels for selling your NFT art. Chat, meet, participate in collaborations, create connections with both other artists and collectors.
- Understand the NFT technology itself and the Ethereum blockchain, which runs most of the marketplaces. Many truly interesting NFT art projects are born at the junction of the possibilities that this technology opens up with digital art.
- Be prepared that in the crypto-world (and in particular crypto-art) everything develops and changes at a much faster rate than in the usual one. Trends appear and disappear in weeks, the market situation changes every day — you will need to be constantly “in the loop”, otherwise your strategies will become outdated and quickly stop working.
- Although from the outside it may seem that NFT art is all about instant success stories, the vast majority of them take years to hone the artist’s style and create their own audience. There is always a chance of gaining popularity by circumventing these conditions, but the chances of this are about the same as winning the lottery.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’m not sure that there is such a movement — but if more people thought at least a couple of steps ahead about the consequences of their actions, we would live in a much cooler world.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I have never had role models among famous people. I respect a lot of them for their actions, but it always seemed strange to me to try to get close to them and imitate someone in everything. So, I would rather spend this breakfast with the people closest to me — with my wife and children 🙂
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!