But while those franchises have spread far and wide, Mauro struggled to find the funds and platform to fully pursue his own personal projects as a digital artist.
Until NFTs, that is.
NFTs , shorthand for non-fungible tokens, are blockchain-based digital tokens (primarily on the Ethereum network) that can represent ownership in just about anything on the internet. They've become increasingly popular in the music and digital art world.
Crypto artwork sold as NFTs has exploded in both attention and money trading hands in 2021, with February’s trading volume of $342 million topping all of 2020 combined. Given that March has seen the sale of a single $69 million NFT artwork from Beeple at a Christie’s auction and a seemingly unending array of new drop announcements from all around the entertainment industry, there’s little sign that momentum is stalling out on the NFT boom.
Mauro has been another one of March’s big beneficiaries from the excitement around NFT artwork, as his “Evolution” series dropped via the VIV3 marketplace on the proof-of-stake Flow blockchain. Evolution was released as a digital trading card series, with 21 cards in the first wave, and the entire drop sold out within seven minutes , with more than 2,500 people spending a total of $2 million. Flow is the same blockchain that powers the surging NBA Top Shot , and Evolution took on a similar pack-driven model albeit with much different subject matter and at a limited scale.
Speaking with Decrypt one week after the drop, Mauro was still shocked by the response to his artwork. Mauro said that he was nervous the night before the drop and wasn’t certain if there would be demand for the project, a collection of creature illustrations that he had slowly assembled over a decade of his professional career. When the packs dropped and were quickly snapped up, Mauro realized that he would finally have the ability to focus on his own artwork. As Mauro told fans in a video shared after the drop, “You guys really changed my life forever.”
"[Artists] have been conditioned over our whole careers just to feel like everything you do is worthless."
“It will just allow me to have a level of freedom in my life that I’ve never had before. All the years I’ve been working on other people’s stuff, most of that money went into trying to make more cool projects,” he explained to Decrypt . “Even when I wasn't making that much [money], I was still trying to make new, cool things. I think this will allow me to do that in a bigger way. That’s all I really care about.”
2,500+ people from over 10 countries participated in @BenMauro993 's EVOLUTION drop this Wednesday on @VIV3com
Selling out within minutes with a total value of $2M, making it one of the most distributed single NFT drops by an artist
A thriving ecosystem awaits you, on Flow