Bitcoinist spoke with Cryptograffiti, who runs one of the most popular crypto art design and merchandise companies in the space under the same name. Cryptograffiti reveals what is the most popular design and explains why art is so important in educating the public even in a hi-tech field like Bitcoin.
Bitcoinist: First, do I refer to you as Cryptograffiti or do you have a name?
Cryptograffiti (CG): Cryptograffiti works!
Bitcoinist: How did you first get into Bitcoin and did you have the “Aha!” moment?
CG: In late 2011, I needed a gift for a developer helping me out with a startup. He was into Bitcoin and RC planes and so my first crypto-related “art” was a shirt design of a flying Bitcoin symbol with a propeller on top. This was before I knew much at all about Bitcoin.
In the fall of 2012 I had a series of ‘Aha’ moments all in one night that had me in awe. One in particular was a forum describing how by charging a fraction of a penny per email, providers could price out spammers. Another thread discussed how micro-payments could curb brute force password attacks. I started thinking about how micropayments could be applied to the art world and down the rabbit hole I went. Next thing I knew the sun was coming up and my back hurt from being hunched over the computer for hours on end.
Bitcoinist: What inspired you to start cryptograffiti?
CG: I wanted to dive into the space but needed a way to contribute. Everyone always said I should do something with my art and this seemed perfect.
Bitcoinist: What do you think you would be doing instead if Bitcoin didn’t exist?
CG: I have an idea for a startup that involves comments that I’d love to have more time to pursue, so probably that.
Bitcoinist: Has it made it possible to pursue your dream of being a full-time artist?
CG: Yes, I just can’t believe how lucky I am. Being an artist in and of itself is like a dream for me. Having it be movement-related adds another layer of passion. And to now have that movement doing well? I seriously can’t even sleep. The bags under my eyes have bags…and a little coin purse.
Bitcoinist: How big is the cryptograffiti team?
CG: Just me. I need advice on expanding.
Bitcoinist: So do you create all the designs, shirts etc. by yourself?
CG: Yeah, I’m up to ~70 designs (now in Women’s!). I make them when I’m procrastinating a fine art project. There’s also a couple coin logos up there I didn’t make, but from projects I agreed to help out as they needed merch and don’t have a store.
Bitcoinist: What would you say is your company’s ethos? In other words, what message do you want to broadcast to the public with your merchandise?
CG: Well my art, as well the merch, is all about spreading the movement…awareness. I see each shirt as little mini billboards. And I think it’s important to bring a little humor into the mix even with something as important and disruptive as cryptocurrency/blockchain.
I see each shirt as little mini billboards.
Bitcoinist: How do you come up with your ideas?
CG: Usually a mix of crypto twists on the status quo, memes and current events.
Bitcoinist: What is your most favorite design, shirt, etc. to date?
CG: YOU CAN BUY A FRACTION OF A BITCOIN has started the most conversations. I recently wore it to the gym and this JACKED…like 350 lb. dude with neck tats came up to me and I thought he was going to tell me to get off his rack or something but he said, “Nice shirt. So, what do you think? Is OmiseGo gonna correct?” But, usually it’s someone saying “I didn’t know that (you could buy a fraction).”
Bitcoinist: What has been your best selling item so far?
CG: The stickers and “Because Fuck Banks” shirt.
Bitcoinist: The crypto space is populated by exchanges, wallets, media, consulting firms etc. Do you think art plays an equally important role in the crypto movement?
CG: Throughout history, art has played a pivotal role in spreading movements. This space is especially important as the subject matter can be complex for the general public. Art helps distill the message down to something more can understand.
[Art] in this space is especially important as the subject matter can be complex for the general public.
Earlier this year, I had an exhibit at Digital Garage in downtown San Francisco that attracted all walks of life. I would explain cryptocurrency through the art hanging in the gallery. It felt like people were more open to asking me questions than they might be a dev.
Bitcoinist: Certainly, the symbolism and designs you create can be just as powerful, if not more, than press coverage, marketing etc.? Do you agree?
CG: I think so. It’s the whole a picture is worth a thousand words.
Bitcoinist: What are your future plans? Will you be expanding your product offerings?
CG: I’m getting to a point where I probably need to hire help for the merch. To be honest, it was really just a way to keep the lights on while I ramped up the fine art. And now I’m fortunate that both are doing well and I really would prefer to focus on art. I’m typing this next to 200 piggy banks that will soon meet their demise with a hammer. And I have a bank’s stack of bills complete with dye pack that I’m looking forward to incorporating into a piece. Lots of stuff in the works, but I can’t help myself…I’m addicted to these damn shirts.
Bitcoinist: Looking forward to see your new designs. Anything else you’d like to add?
CG: You can follow me on Twitter/IG @cryptograffiti. Thanks for the interview!