David Cash: Hello everyone, and welcome back to NFTS.WTF my name is David Cash, Editor-in-chief. We’re here at ETH Denver and today we’re joined by Foodmasku! How has this week been for you so far?
Foodmasku: I’m excited, it’s only just begun. I actually got airdropped some tokens and bought food from a food truck and the people I met in line said, “You’re Foodmasku, why don’t you mask it?!” So I got my string and put it on my face.
DC: Hahaha, only at a crypto conference.
FM: Yeah, only at ETH Denver would I be able to do that.
DC: So, it sounds like it’s going well.
FM: I think so and it just started, so.
DC: Is there anything you’re looking forward to this weekend?
FM: Just seeing people and seeing what people build, because it’s actually really cool. We have all the artists coming in and it’s very special for artists who have been doing so well with NFTs and now they get to meet all the nerds.
DC: Haha, yes all our fellow people. I know coming from the NFT side when you think of a DAO, staking or any of these mechanisms, we immediately think of NFTs, but the majority of the crypto space doesn’t. It’s really interesting to see the other side of the larger community of the space here, especially around Ethereum, which is exactly what we’re building on for the most part. So how has that been for you, have you had any conversations that you wouldn’t expect to have had compared to NFT.NYC, let’s say?
FM: I’ve had really fun conversations with people who do crypto and they’re like, “Oh I would never collect NFTs, by the way, what shirt are you wearing?” and I told him you can only get it if you own this NFT and he said, “Oh, I want that!”
DC: Haha, you’re converting them!
DC: I mean, they’re easy to convert, Let’s be real. They understand crypto, right,? But there is the apprehension with NFTs. People still see this as a new phenomenon.
FM: Yeah and I understand, because it’s very new and very hyped, right?
DC: It’s also more of a buzzword. It’s just a technology, right? People are just scared of it.
FM: Right, it needs to be tested, but that’s what we’re doing, we’re testing it.
DC: Absolutely, especially when you talk to lawyers, they’re all excited about legislation, like they want to see lawsuits happen, because how else is the space going to progress. How else are we going to create rules? We’re going to have to fail, get reprimanded for it, learn and then move on. So it’s happening right now, right in front of us.
FM: Right, we have to break everything to make sure it will last.
DC: Yeah, destroy to build.
FM: yes, haha
DC: Amazing, so I’m a big fan of your work. I have collected a few of your pieces as you’re aware. Many people probably know you from Instagram, and other social media, seen videos of Antonios putting on these iconic food masks. But obviously, you were doing this before but NFTs just really blossomed your practice and career. So I would love to hear from your perspective, what was your entry point into NFTs, and what was that transition part where you’re like, Alight I making these masks and now I should mint them on the blockchain?
FM: Right, I was I think after the New York Times picked up my instagram story and said o was one of the five art accounts to follow on Instagram. Then two of my videos went viral, I think one got like 500K views and then the now 1.7M and I had a panic attack because I was like, “Oh my goodness, what am I supposed to do?” All of these people are seeing me
David: Like what am I supposed to do?
Foodmasku: Right all these people are seeing me out of context, right? Because before that I was just showing it off to my friends and colleagues, and then I realized some people were reposting these things elsewhere, like on other platforms like Tik Tok, Twitter and also on other accounts on Instagram. So I looked into how to make sure I claim ownership to this? And then I got into the blockchain. And then people started talking about NFTs.
Foodmasku: And then I realized, oh, I have to start minting these. I have to take back and claim ownership to this, but then I didn’t realize how expensive it was going to be.
David: And then you went down the rabbit hole.
Foodmasku: It went down deep rabbit hole. I spent my stimulus check to mint my first NFT and then in March of 2021 I minted it and then I got onto clubhouse and then somebody listened to me and they were like I know you. I’ve seen you before and I’m going to buy your work, so within 48 hours. Using my personality it’s old wow and because of that, I was able to make more. Yeah and again, it’s uh, claiming ownership to the thing that I wasn’t able to before
David: I think it’s really amazing, especially like I would. I would consider in my mind like a performance artist because you do this stuff. You do it live even if you do record it like you still do it live and I’ve seen you do it, and we’ve done it happening before. , the two of us have been really fun. But there is this element of performance art and one thing I’ve talked to a few different people about, but I think you actually met him. David Henry is nobody junior. A few of these other performance artists or people who do even poets and people in this space. it’s you have a very immediate practice and without recording it and registering that on the blockchain, there’s no provenance around it. It happened. People could say it happened, but there’s no like proof of ownership or proof of work. that it exists performance. There’s no proof of performance, right? I love that you need pop tokens, not poaps But yeah, I think it’s really interesting and so how has it been for you? , is it empowering? , taking your art practice, which is non traditional and creating and bringing that into like a traditional art sense almost through nfts.
Foodmasku: sure, so the reason why I continue doing this is because I showed one of my mentors, Milati, who is the protege of Marina Abramovich and she said hey this is good but you gotta really push this and she was like you have to do this every day and mind you this is the same woman that put me In the river for six hours that doesn’t work.
David: Probably starved you a little bit.
Foodmasku: Yeah no, no.
Foodmasku: No she never starved me. She in fact fed me a lot, but. She was like moved and like afterwards, she’s like you have to do this as a discipline. That’s how you do this, you have to show the process. Like it’s a time capsule.
David: The daily is huge. I feel like daily practice or something really,
Foodmasku: Yeah and I think that’s also why Beeple is also kind of a performance art piece as well ’cause he did it daily
David: Despite what’s going on, he’s going to find a way to channel that Into art and.
Foodmasku: And that’s a beautiful thing about blocking again like I was talking to somebody Joseph Boys would have loved. It’s because one of his least famous pieces but the one I love is he took a piece of fat and then put it on the wall and just left it there. People photographed it, some people videoed it and then one day a housekeeper cleaned it up you know? Yeah, it’s it would have been forever tokenized, Yeah, they exist like a blockchain.
David: No 100% or like Lady Gaga’s meat dress or like some of these things are so femoral they wouldn’t.
David: Be able to exist, and it’s funny. Right? You say that because I always say when I’m doing lectures and stuff Marcel Duchamp would love the blockchain. I would love that NFT’s because you can make anything art, or you can put anything in an art context. And if you take it seriously. Other people might take it seriously, so I think it’s really awesome.
Foodmasku: Exactly, yeah, and we’re saying these names of like artists during their time. They had a lot of people criticizing them right and saying.
David: Saying they’re idiots, yeah?
Foodmasku: Like you got your idiots, what is this? But at the same time they can’t stop thinking about it and that’s why.
David:All press is good press just gotta stick in their mind and you’re in there. Right? That’s amazing, I wanna talk a little bit about your practice because again, it’s so specific and also just to encourage people artists. The creative medium is very open, right? You can do whatever you want and you’re always encouraged to whatever you want and as artists, but I think there is something to be said about finding something like you’re saying, finding your practice and sticking with it for a period of time to to hone and to explore and to create things that otherwise you may have never, , thought to exist, but since you’re like really specific and giving you these parameters, you’re almost more creative.
Have you experienced that and how has that been for you? ‘Cause I know a lot of artists talk about that
Foodmasku: Yeah parameters are really good. A lot of performing arts you go through it using parameters. So giving yourself like a limit because again, there’s so there’s so much that you can explore, but if you limit it to be like OK, it has to be food It has to be eaten, and also it has to be like done in a specific amount of time for you to record it.
David: And you have to be able to tie it to somehow attach it to your face! I love how you’ve almost developed your own, like proprietary methods that I see like if I see somebody like put two like skewers together with like binder clips I immediately think of you and like I don’t know when I would see somebody do that out of context, but like I cannot like even if I see skewers and binder clips like on the same table, I would think of you.
Foodmasku: Yeah and a lot of artists have done derivatives of my work and they’ve illustrated it and the first thing they always do is binder clips and skewers
David: – and usually on the eyes, I like that so you’ve been doing this practice for some time. You started minting the blockchain. You’ve done one of ones. You’ve done limited editions on a couple different marketplaces, and then you wanted to do your own PFP collection. But using your practice exactly, I think that’s something for anybody who’s not aware that’s something that Antonio has been working on and minted successfully and they all sold out.
Foodmasku: It’s sold out
David: And now a lot I do see people on Twitter with delectables as their profile picture which is super cool. And , I have like a trait that I prefer. I’ve collected some of that trait, so you’ve really taken, and it’s interesting because it’s a mixture of photography and your performance art. And , uh photography PFP project is already super rare.
Foodmasku: It was the first actually
David: Is it the 1st? Not to bring super yet, but is it?
Foodmasku: The first
David: So cool congrats congrats, but I’d love I’d love you to tell the folks a little bit more about about.
Foodmasku: Thank you, yeah.
David: I’d love for you to tell the folks about that project and how that came about.
David: Oh my God.
Foodmasku: And was like 200 or so traits.
David: Did you film all of the processors?
Foodmasku: I did not know
David: But you just stuck your rules.
Foodmaksu: I stuck to my rules, I was like OK, I’m still going to use food, but I’m still going to eat it right? and they’re going to be like Photoshopped out and put into this..
David:how long? Did it take to do the whole shoot?
Foodmasku: Process it started from August and we didn’t finish until late October.
David: Wow, so you did like a few every day?
Foodmasku: Oh yeah. I was like Oh my gosh, yeah there were. There were days when I just woke up and I did photos and I went to sleep. And I woke up and did it again I got it but I…
David: I mean it worked out, . You have a community of people around it, and maybe I’d be curious from your perspective because. I think you’ve done something a lot of people who have, , found a challenge around which is going from being a one of one or a limited edition artist and then creating a , PFP collection or something. that’s a lot of a larger scale, and I think you did something really smart by doing. a series I believe what? 400 and 4400 or 888 like you had two
Foodmasku:I have 2000.
David: 2000, But there you go, It’s a high number, but it’s not, you’re not going to. Do a 30,000 collection out of the blue. So I think you, you may, I don’t know. It’s a sequential leap and it’s very calculated. So I’d love to hear what instigated that thought process. Was it an experiment around? , a reaction to profile pictures? Or was it you wanted to expand your community, maybe both.
Foodmasku:It’s both yes, but also the realization that like if I do this and I want it all the food that I wanted it would have taken a year because yeah, food comes with all the combinations.
Foodmasku: Right So like if you do it all in one time I wouldn’t have like a pumpkin. , I wouldn’t have a watermelon in the same collection. So we’re doing it 2000 at a time to make sure that the seasonality of food is also incorporated into.
David: that’s fun.
Foodmasku:And it just came organically that like hey, it actually worked out that like that’s how you grow. You don’t do it immediately. You go slowly and you slowly stack up people who really like your work and then they share and they put it on as pfps and then more people ask. Ask questions about it.
David:I’m smiling because. I’m thinking the perfect description of your work is organic growth. You need like a USDA organic seal sticker.
David:Certified organic growth.
Foodmasku:Yeah, actually I’m gonna start doing it
David:let’s go. It’s yours. No, I love that, and I think you’ve also done a really great job of like organically and again, organically growing a community because , I don’t see you doing anything. there’s a lot of profile picture projects. There’s a lot of marketing that goes into profile picture projects, and I think you from the beginning in this space is all. There’s always been a huge level of authenticity. you’re doing what you would be doing, whether or not.
Foodmaksu:Whether or not.
David:This all existed, .
Foodmasku:Whether or not I’m getting any crypto out, I’ll still be doing it.
David:So yeah, I think that that’s really encouraging to people in this space. But at the same time, maybe you have some words . I’ve asked a few of the people that we’ve talked to today. What’s one thing you would say that you would recommend people not do when they’re putting together a project?
Because a lot of people give advice. You should do this. You should do that. But , we’re at a place in the space not to be negative about it, but a lot of people are creating projects.
A lot of people are coming from square 0 to square 100 and they’re moving to market really fast. But when you’re building a community, what’s the one thing you would say not to do?
foodmasku:Don’t plan for it to sell out and we said work instead on the project itself and think about.
What if it doesn’t and only one person minted one thing? Would you be proud of that? And like I am if only one person, you.Minted my work and you got this one delectable out of it, I would have lost a lot of money, but I would have been very proud of that one piece. So that’s what. I suggest, do not plan on it selling out.
David:no, that’s excellent advice, ’cause I feel like, , we’ve talked about this with a few of our other guests, but , and NFT when you multiply what is what is 5000 10,000 2,000.
It can very quickly become like a like a media company, and I mean you did a great job of building a team around yourself so that you had people to kind of fill those roles that a traditional company might already have but, it’s a different type of environment and it’s it’s way more decentralized. And it’s , way more person to person so it’s theres that learning curve for a lot of people when they’re entering this space and try to get into what are they supposed to do? And the real answer is, you dont have to do anything you do whatever you want, so I love that you focus on your practice first and I think that more people need to, , follow suit in that the art comes first
Foodmasku:Arts the utility. It is yeah it is utility and also don’t put in too much utility in because .Why did you do it exactly? Don’t undervalue, right?
David:And then I’m also something that you obviously do a lot. you’re very active on live audio apps, Twitter spaces, clubhouse all across social media. But I feel like something that people in your community can say is that, you go beyond a road map. people are investing in you in this space because you keep pushing forward and keep , fostering community.
Foodmasku:I think so.
David:So how would you, maybe? , I don’t know if there’s a way you would quantify that.
Or, , put that into words, but any recommendations for people if they’re trying to get into this space. I know that there’s to be authentic, but anything that you would say if somebody wanted to start a discord right now, or if I’m somebody watching who really, really wants to foster community.
One thing you would say if we’re going one thing not to. Do one thing they should do?
foodmasku:One thing you should do is. , don’t think about people as numbers, because unfortunately, that’s what I hear a lot. They’re like, oh, I have this many followers. I have this many people in my discord, but.
David: Theyre trying to do math. They’re trying to like what percentage of them will convert?
Foodmasku:Right, but instead like look at what they’re saying, listen to what they say and , what’s really crazy is like in my discord. It goes very fast and I read it, but I don’t have the time to like reply to everything, but when I do, they’re like, oh I didn’t know you knew that about me. It’s like of course I read everything. So yeah, and if it went too fast, the growth went too fast. I wouldn’t be able to do that and also if I thought about it as numbers, I wouldn’t care exactly.
David:Yeah you would just stop caring.
foodmasku:Yeah, I would have stopped
David: and there is that immediacy in that human aspect and I feel like I, I love how you’re also, I’ve seen you like NFT NYCI see like you’re also trying to bring in these, like IRL, community aspects like.
Please come meet me like I know you guys by my work, so I’d love to meet you.
David:and I feel like that’s also something kind of missing from this one on one and like one thing I’ll say and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this when I’m talking to artists you started as one of one artist in this case, or like a limited edition artist in this space. I think there’s a big difference between going to market with a profile picture project versus the one of one and a lot of people try to market them the same way they try to do clubhouse rooms and pitches and trying to boost grow their discord server and put in a bunch of fake followers. But really, when you’re selling a one of one, the only person you need to buy that is one person, one person, and then they have to have a personal connection with you in some way, shape or form. So I think you’ve done a great job at fostering a great collector base of people who either believe in you, believe in what you’re doing, or just genuinely love your art. So once again, I know we’re going to advice, but I think you have a lot to share for folks in the space, especially where we’re at right now, what’s one thing you’d say in terms of collector relations that you do that you don’t see other artists maybe doing enough?
Foodmaksu:This is actually something I’m realizing now. There’s a lot of gratitude I have for my collectors. I ust want to give them the world actually. But they don’t want the world, and it’s actually very fascinating. ’cause like sometimes I just feel like oh thank you so much I really appreciate it. But like they are grateful that you would reach out and say thank you but like that’s that’s all you need, right?
David: Yeah 100%.
Foodmasku: So understanding that and accepting that and believing that that’s enough that you’re giving values.
David:But you’d be so surprised how many people don’t even say thank you like you spend. Like , two grand on their piece or something not. Even a message like not even a DM.
Foodmasku:Well, we don’t know they’re all story to one time I actually totally missed that one of my pieces sold for an eth and a half.
David: Oh no.
Foodmasku: And then I reached out to the collector like 2 weeks later, I’m like I am so sorry. I need to settle this auction right now, but I didn’t even know it sold and it was because I was off In Martha’s Vineyard to do a piece like a physical piece, and it’s like In the middle of the island, right?
David: You’re allowed to take time for your life
foodmasku:I didn’t get the messages ’cause I didn’t bring my meta mask right? So yeah, definitely like understanding that and like NFT space moves so fast but the real world also exists, , and it’s OK.
David: And it’s nice to tow both edges. a lot of us have, it, it is a rabbit hole and a lot of us have gone down very deep. I mean, it’s still nice to have one foot back and the real world and and we’re all people and we’re all interacting even if it’s just a bunch of profile pictures on clubhouse or Twitter spaces so
Foodmasku: And it’s so much fun too right? like just being there is so much fun. The energy you get from people and talking to them and listening to them and seeing their art. Actually, that’s why I went in there because it was so much fun.
David:100% and I feel like , I haven’t asked you this before, but I feel this kind of synergy with a lot of us. a lot of us have extrovert energy, but we’re also technically introverts, , so I feel like clubhouse and Twitter spaces and these kinds of live audio platforms are like perfect for this generation, especially on the tail end of COVID. We’ve all been inside so much and we’re so used to doing that. Just maybe to end off this, , discussion on how you’ve had growth in this space maybe just a couple words on live audio ’cause obviously it’s so important to you and what you do. I know that you are really big on clubhouse now you’re on Twitter spaces. I think almost every day.
foodmasku:Almost every day.
David: What would you say about kind of where we’re at right now? Do you see yourself continuing on clubhouse? Are you really a Twitter spaces guy now? And yeah, the power of live audio. What does that mean to you?
Foodmasku: Live audio is so beautiful because you don’t get the nuances of somebody’s story unless you hear it and the other thing about it is also there’s also a lack of diversity of voices, right? So I know my voice, and it sounds very different than like many other peoples voices, right? And like I, I am an openly queer man. So like I think like it, you can sense it for my voice, right? So I think it’s actually very valuable and in the beginning I was very scared.
David: Contacts, yeah.
Foodmasku:I was very scared about being. Like around the open, ’cause like my voice I’m not comfortable with it. But then I realized like people are not listening to me for my voice. They’re listening for the story and then yes, and they get meaning from.
David: What are you saying, yeah?
foodmasku:How I speak, so yeah, I would say to everybody like, , get over it and just jump in.
David:Then there is that sense of fear, and I say I even remember. I’ve done radio. I’ve done TV and like when you sit in that room and you’re trying to like it’s like . That first almost like asking for permission to
David: Try to try to speak and then eventually you just gain the confidence to just you have an opinion that matters and share it.
Foodmasku:Yeah, and I guess what I like about Twitter spaces at the current moment is because you can actually message people in DM’s being like hey…
David: yeah you can ask the social aspect to it.
Foodmasku:You have that added social aspect, yeah? But I think clubhouse can do that too now so yeah, we’ll see.
David: There’s the battle of the best
David: We’re going to figure it out, but now I see them both. having their place, so yeah, it’s quite interesting
Foodmasku: for sure.