You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can believe in you. The power of manifestation and law of attraction is real. No one wants to invest their money into someone who doesn’t enthuse a winner’s mindset or someone who doesn’t have vision or believe in what they’re doing wholeheartedly.
Many have observed that we are at the cusp of an NFT boom. The thing is, it’s so cutting edge, that many people don’t know what it is. What exactly is an NFT and how can one create a lucrative career out of selling them? To address this, as a part of our interview series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry”, we had the pleasure of interviewing ARTZ.
A self-proclaimed “reject” with a dream, Brooklyn emcee ARTZ embarked on his musical journey at the young age of 15. Surviving a stray bullet to the face at 17 and having embraced the type of introspection and honesty that many of his peers in the rap game normally shun, ARTZ’s dedication to his craft has helped him create his unique sound & approach by blending hard hitting raps, melodic vocals, and curated visual art to partner with his music releases, performances, merch & NFTS. His hard work has helped him garner major radio spins, press and co-signs from the likes of Hot 97 personalities such as DJ Enuff and Peter Rosenberg, as well as major media outlets like Revolt, Rap Radar, Elevator, The Source Magazine & more. His talent and ambition have also landed him collaborations & songwriting opportunities with critically acclaimed recording artists such as Ari Lennox, Emeli Sande, Smoke Dza, Duckwrth to name a few.
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 grew up in Brooklyn and went to school in Queens, with Hip-Hop culture coloring my lifestyle and Rap music playing the soundtrack to my life. My parents have roots in Puerto Rico and Sicily and instilled in me my passion, blue-collar drive and unflinching approach to my craft. I started writing and creating music when I was a kid, and I recorded my first song at 15. Early on, I made the decision to brand myself a “Reject” with a “Dream”, using rejection to be the fuel that allows me to overcome adversity in life. Embracing introspection and honesty. Thus, “Reject Dreams®”, this community of outcasts, was born.
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 book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho really impacted me a lot — particularly the story of the shepherd and baker really resonated. Paulo writes about how the life of a shepherd is built on fulfilling your destiny and how completing your journey can lead to your biggest treasures or blessings. While in comparison, the baker’s more fixed lifestyle — staying in one town, not traveling, owning a business and being in the same bakery everyday — is used as an example of where safe decisions can lead. If there’s no risk there’s no reward, and this is how I chose to live my life. As a reject dreamer and a shepherd.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in this new industry? We’d love to hear it.
I survived a stray bullet to the face at 17 years old, which led me to leave home, attempt college, kickstart my community and get into the music industry. I traded a comfortable living situation for a musty basement room and financed the majority of my music dreams with just barely enough to make it. All while dealing with the loneliness of being a few states away from my family. For the first time, I had to give up what I knew at home to discover myself and understand what I really wanted out of my dreams. It caused me to look inward and prioritize sacrifice, endless hard work and passion to manifest my music goals.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
I’m so blessed and grateful to have so many moments in my career that served as affirmation, but one of the more interesting moments was when one of my songs got played on “Hot 97” radio by DJ Peter Rosenberg. I’ll never forget it. At the time, I was working the overnight shift at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue. I received a text from a friend that my song was being premiered as the first song on the show. I ran to the break room just in time to hear him shout me out and play the song. It was such an amazing feeling because growing up in New York City, “Hot 97” was the soundtrack to a lot of our childhoods, so to be on this station and to be in rotation for three months was so inspiring.
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?
Years back one of my first opportunities was opening for Nipsey Hussle — rest in peace to the legend. A friend of mine helped me book a show at SXSW to perform. This show happened every year and usually brought out 10,000 people, so I decided to use my whole income tax check to finance a drive to Texas with a few of my closest teammates. After 27 hours of driving, we arrived in Austin to find out the promoter dropped the ball on booking Nipsey and he didn’t show up. So instead of 10,000 people, I performed on a big stage for 20 people. It showed the importance of contracts and needing to know the finer details before making impulse decisions.
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?
I have so many great people in my life who have contributed to my success in and out of music. Although I would love to name all of them, I would say my grandmother was key to who I am today and prepared me to have the right mindset. Growing up, my parents were separated so on the weekends I would spend time with my dad and my grandmother who was my caretaker. She was nurturing but very stern at the same time. Education was her biggest focus. She would allow ten minutes of TV time and then I would have to read a book for an hour on her rocking chair. After reading, she would quiz me. She would purposely use vocabulary from the book to see if I knew the definitions and I fully understood what I read or if I just glossed over. If I didn’t know the right answer, she would make me grab one of her big dictionaries. The book probably weighed more than me at the time, but she would make me write the word five times, use it in a sentence and define it to fully understand it. I’m thankful because she was preparing me for the real world, preparing me as a wordsmith and educating me by showing me that in life, there are no shortcuts.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I recently was featured as an artist and curator in PHI Auctions “I See Future ‘’ NFT collection curated by Alex Garber. Amidst a flurry of interest and intrigue surrounding digital art collecting in recent months, PHI Auctions, a prominent fixture in the global traditional art space, became the third traditional art house in the world to feature NFTs. The full collection and auction featured some of the biggest modern artists — Andy Warhol, Banksy, Rembrandt, Jeff Koons, Kaws & more — alongside up and coming NFT visionaries. Ten of my pieces were featured as part of the collection. I’m honored to help inaugurate NFTs to the world of traditional art and help bring new and undiscovered artists into the world of art.
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?
The technical answer is that an NFT is a non-fungible token, which is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset. NFTs can be used as photos, videos, audio, art and other types of digital files. I think it’s important to educate yourself on the technical side in order to understand smart contracts, but I look at it as a stock that can serve as a collectible and art. In traditional collecting, people collect everything from art to sports to Pokémon cards. Over time, depending on the rarity and scarcity of what you collected, these things have the opportunity to grow in value to be resold. NFTs use that same logic while providing certain unique utilities and giving the collectors the option to invest directly with the creator. NFTs seamlessly keep a ledger that is transparent and shows everything from the existing owners, resellers, transaction history and allows the original creator royalties every time one of their creations are resold. I think there are a couple of reasons why people spend a bunch of money on them. One of them is because I think for the first time ever, anyone can be a collector, and what you collect shows an extension to who you are. Some people buy the valuable NFTs to make profits on the secondary market and some are just enjoying the sense of discovery and option to collect artists that they feel hold future promise. That’s why I compared it to a stock earlier. Imagine being able to directly support an artist like Van Gogh years ago by just coming across his work on the internet and being able to buy a piece from him that moved you without knowing who the person is. It’s like investing in a company you feel is on the verge of something special or buying a pair of shoes. You might not personally know the CEO of the company or the designer of the shoes but there was something about the idea or the design that moved you to spend your money with them.
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.
The first would be the first time I sold an NFT. I was in a Clubhouse room full of 100 people and I shared my story, music and my first curated NFT collection. As I was speaking I was notified that one of the NFTs sold for 350 dollars and it was just the most amazing feeling in the world. Not only did I get paid for my music but I was able to get the visual artist paid for their work too. It just opened the door to the reality that people who are true fans of your work will invest in real artists with purpose.
Second would be being able to directly interact with your collectors, fans and supporters. Sometimes when you get a view on YouTube or a listen on Spotify you don’t know who the person is behind that stat. When an NFT is bought, in my experience, most of the time the buyer shares the work of what they bought and you get to build a direct relationship.
Finally, I’ve seen NFTs allow emerging artists to make a sustainable and sometimes life-changing income to focus on their career, quit their normal 9 to 5 and focus on their art. It allows the chance to educate yourself on a new tech and form of currency when you deal with blockchain and crypto currency.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the industry? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?
Whether music, NFT or any other industry, the one thing I feel is always needed is a fair chance to give every person the opportunity to be seen. Marketing plays a huge part in today’s world and not every artist knows how to be the best marketing expert or has the finances or relationships to jumpstart some of these things.
I think these industries need to prioritize spotlighting emerging, indie and underrepresented communities of people by doing more discovery and outreach. A lot of the industries need to get people who are trailblazers and tastemakers like myself to advise them or give more ideas on what’s happening and who is new and contributing to the culture. Oftentimes it takes a really long journey to get things to mainstream and a lot of ideas and people get lost in the shuffle during that process.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about NFTs? Can you explain what you mean?
That it’s just a bubble or pyramid scheme. I think the doubt and the skepticism comes from people that are not fully educated in the space or people who haven’t seen artists change their lives in a short time from NFTs.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they enter the NFT industry. What can be done to avoid that?
Thinking that just because you create art as an NFT you can sell it right away. It’s important to understand that promotion and marketing comes into anything you do or want to sell. Don’t get me wrong I’ve seen people randomly sell NFTs, but that’s more rare and random.
How do you think NFTs have the potential to help society in the future?
Through the utility of NFTs I think it gives the endless opportunities for use cases and to create possible generational wealth amongst artists and their families by passing down collections or showing them the ropes and giving knowledge on how the tech works.
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.)
- Create from a place of authenticity. I’ve seen collectors buy NFTs just by hearing someone’s story, purpose and the passion in their voice.
- Stay consistent. It’s not a race, it’s a marathon. Your catalog of work will show your promise and add to your story. My constant workflow has led to more traction and even this interview.
- Promote, market and share. What’s old to some is brand new to others, discovery is endless. An NFT I put out two months ago that originally sold five copies just got retweeted by one person the other day and sold four more copies, just like that. Don’t give up.
- You have to believe in yourself before anyone else can believe in you. The power of manifestation and law of attraction is real. No one wants to invest their money into someone who doesn’t enthuse a winner’s mindset or someone who doesn’t have vision or believe in what they’re doing wholeheartedly.
- Don’t overthink. Do like Bruce Lee says and be like water, be one with yourself. Create first be vulnerable then think strategy. Sometimes your mind can be your worst enemy if you let it. It can lead you to procrastinating or second guessing your true artist intuition.
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. 🙂
To continue to spark and spread the message of the Reject Dreams movement. This is an open format community that welcomes all people from different walks of life, not just creatives. We accept people for who they are and give them the opportunity to be themselves, learn from one another and help each other develop and grow. Each one teaches one method. This movement and who I am today can show the other rejected dreamers of the world that you can make your dreams come true regardless of your circumstances. Through dedication, love and hard work, along with unifying with good people, anything is possible.
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 would say Elon Musk because a lot of his ideas and innovations tow the line for the present and the future change in the world. I think in order to really make a better place for the future beyond science and tech, you have to be able to see it from every community’s perspective. I believe in my walk of life being an indie recording artist, art curator and simply a Puerto Rican, Sicilian guy that made it out of the ghetto of East New York, Brooklyn, I can speak to not only innovative ideas but ideas that represent inclusion and equality amongst all groups. I have been very fortunate to have met and dealt with people from all backgrounds throughout my journey. From artists that are now signed to record labels, to street hustlers, wealthy crypto investors and homeless that were once rich and hit rock bottom. In order to find a solution to something you need to understand where the problem roots from and fully understand it.
Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!