Artist interview: Pumpametti
Pumpametti with Stacked Podcast & OG Crypto Art Collector Eduardo Lima
LIMA: What is your backstory, how did you get started, and how has brut-art inspired you?
PUMPAMETTI: My background in art is from my lifetime pursuit of art, and then going to art school for BFA and then working in the creative industry. My journey into crypto art started back in 2018, mostly from observing and collecting works from artists like Coin Artist.
Yeah, and then Art Brut is something that made me feel free and refreshing from the shackled art school approach to creation, which, as you know, tend to follow a very methodological way of analyzing and dissecting a painting/sculpture. For me, art should be free-flowing and with the artist’s emotions and observations of the contemporary engrained to the works.
You mentioned a very key point to my insistence on Art Brut as a theme to describe crypto culture. First, the sheer energy and sometimes insanity from this world we call crypto can sometimes be both energizing and overwhelming. Days feel like a blink, weeks feel like days, and one L1 chain to another and one 100x to another or another crash. All are happening like a never-ending theater show. That type of energy and emotion will feel constrained to a canvas/screen if purely adhering to an academic approach of art using ways such as impressionism or modernism. Nothing can fit better than the chaotic, almost insanity-filled Art Brut to fully exert the energy of the raw, of this our constantly changing time in the crypto sphere.
LIMA: How did you find NFTs and this new digital creator economy?
PUMPAMETTI: I found NFTs initially in 2018 due to working in the creative industry and looking for ways for advertising for projects online. Through that search, I dived into the rabbit hole of Su Squares, a project which is one of the earliest using the ERC-721 token standard to offer billboard spaces on the blockchain.
From there and hanging out in that discord, I learned of artists like CryptoArtist and looked into the integration of games with ERC-721 along with graphic illustrations. Then it does not hit me until 2020, when the ERC-721 standard is more mature and can handle a bit more streamlined flow of uploading works and have a bigger artistic community that I realized this would open up a truly unique lane for artists to bypass the gallery model and directly go to find collectors.
I think this community size is very crucial for any artist to consider working in the crypto art field because, as you know, back in 2019, truly not that many collectors around, and it will be nearly impossible for artists to make a living from art on the blockchain. This booming interest from 2020–2021 has truly changed the landscape and, in the process, consolidated the crypto art as an alternative to the IRL art world for an artist to have his or her moment.
It’s another part of the reason why I only started to create NFT fine art collections in 2021, because as you said, back in 2019–2020, truly not that many NFT collection tutorials available on topics such as custom smart contracts and mintable collections, which you can allow collectors to mint works directly from the collection. Then in 2021, as I have always been keeping an eye on this space and Youtube search any videos related to this topic weekly, I was able to find ERC-721 smart contract tutorials with detailed walkthroughs and code-along from channels such as IPFS and Patrick Collins, then from there dived into developer discord as an artist to find this community of helpful developers has grown a lot in size, so I got a lot of my smart contract questions answered that way.
Open-source in regard to the smart contract and NFT development has truly made into next level due to 2020–2021 everyone stuck at their homes I think, a lot of helpful contents online that are changing people’s lives daily.
LIMA: Artist that have inspired your work?
PUMPAMETTI: Giacometti has been a lifelong inspiration of mine, and his composition and free-flowing analysis of sculptures and paintings have been sealed in art history significance-wise. Another one that I always will put some painting images next to my painting station is Francis Bacon, who was a very good friend of Giacometti and a talented chaotic painter. If talking contemporary wise, I enjoy works from a broad spectrum of artists such as Robert Nava, Rob Pruitt, Katherine Bernhardt. These are artists who do not feel confined to common perception and create works as they envision and create with robust energy. I adore artists who paint with energy.
LIMA: What are your thoughts on art made outside of the academic tradition?
PUMPAMETTI: In regards to academic tradition vs. non-academic tradition, if we had this conversation back in the 1800s to early 1900s, I would say non-academic tradition has no chance of surviving in the art world due to the very centralized art critic model and the very limited amount of collectors. However, ever since Jean Dubuffet and the born of Art Brut as a validated school of practice in the mid-1900s, along with in 21st Century this expansion of the art market fueled by the internet and blockchain, and social media, the collector base have grown exponentially, and more collectors mean more artists can create works that some collectors will find speaking to them, speaking to their soul and collect what they love. This fundamental question of “Collecting what you love” has been solved and broken down so that not just traditional academic artists can thrive in the art world, both in the NFT sense and IRL sense.
LIMA: Beside NFT art, do you do any tangible art? If so, how do collectors of tangible art differ from those of digital art collectors
PUMPAMETTI: Yes, I do have a career as an IRL artist, part of the reason why I’m interested in exploring NFT art with an anon identity. As an IRL artist, my art is similar to what I construct NFT wise, however with slightly different motif and themes and incorporating into other mediums such as sculpture in fiber-glass and bronze form. Working with a gallery to plan exhibitions and sell works as an IRL artist is not too much of a fun career as galleries will have a lot of unnecessary requirements, and sometimes I need to do commissioned works to collectors I may not see eye to eye. Besides gallery also will take a hefty cut from each exhibition. I would say the difference between my IRL collectors and NFT collectors will come down to the value of community. IRL collectors of mine are more aloof and do not necessarily talk with each other if ever, and it’s a constant competition of who can get the best work from my exhibition/studio as engineered/facilitated by the gallery, sort of a very competitive model to keep an artist interesting and gallery thriving in IRL art world. NFT collectors are totally opposite, they form together an awesome anon community in my discord, and people talk & share their love of not just my art but all things about crypto and art in general. This friendliness and community sense is very different from the traditional elite-feeling, aloofness-filled IRL art world circle. Part of the reason why I enjoy NFT art creation and my NFT art collector community so much. The citadel is breaking down.
LIMA: How does the ability of artist to have successful careers as anonymous artists impact their trajectory in the IRL art world?
PUMPAMETTI: Glad you resonate with this from a collector’s perspective! I think anonymity is super crucial as an NFT artist or IRL artist because art is about the expression of ideas in tangible & non-tangible forms & mediums. NFT just happens to be this medium. By being anon, it strips away concerns of relationship, identity, and potential troubles from one’s IRL gallery relationships and allows an artist to create works freely without strings attached. Also, it will challenge an artist’s ability to build up a patronage circle and collector community from the ground up, from the very zero to something. When I started the identity of Pumpametti with 300 OG Pumpa as a collection with a 0.01 ETH minting price, that first two weeks made me feel like I’m back to the first 1–2 months of graduating art school, not knowing where my future will hold, but that keeps me on my toes and through relentless Twitter engagement and sharing of my art, gradually build up an awesome collector base from top crypto art collectors including those from CryptoPunks and Cyberkongz community. Anon is, I think, the best way for an artist to challenge and express his or her art, to see if they are capable of living as an artist. When all past curatorial relationships, collector relationships are stripped away, will your art stand the test of time and capture an audience of collectors who will support you long term.
LIMA: Why did you decide Pumpametti, Pettametti, Standametti as your first collections?
PUMPAMETTI: For Metti Universe and my art to establish a strong foothold in the NFT art world, I need first to create art that people can immediately recognize the shape/figure whether they have art knowledge or art training. Hence for Pumpametti, Pettametti, Standametti collections, I focused on creatures and figures to immediately grab the collector’s attention and, through my interpretation of Art Brut, to give them a vast amount of energy that long-time crypto world citizens can relate with.
And this mintable collection strategy is something I put a lot of thought into to control the supply of my works. Because one issue in the IRL art world for an artist is if you live a super long life, your works will dilute in value as you with your gallery commitments need to do shows after shows to generate revenue, and there’s no capped number on how many works you will create as an artist. That can be seen in the case of many greats such as Picasso, Dubuffet, Dali, which probably only 1–2 series from the masters can hold up the auction records. In Picasso’s case, it’s the Blue Period works.
That if we dissect in NFT language, those artists are already doing art with an NFT collection mindset in mind, separated by themes and time periods of the work. In Metti Universe and my NFT art career, I want to improve this artist work supply situation by creating only mintable, capped art collections so that collectors can be rest assured there will only be 300 OG Pumpamettis out in the world, only 300 Pettamettis out in the world, and only 4500 Standamettis out there so forth. It’s a way to preserve the artworks’ rarity while controlling the supply of works.
LIMA: If you were pitching Pumpametti art to collectors, what would your answer be in terms of why they should collect Pumpametti art?
PUMPAMETTI: If I’m pitching my artworks to potential collectors, I will think in terms of conveying the importance of the uniqueness of my art, having something in your NFT collection from an artist who knows about art history and has the knowledge about the art creation, art promotion and how to grow his or her art career in general with a plan. I think my works have a divisive effect in the NFT art world due to not many friends here knowing about art brut prior nor heard about art brut’s art market status, with works like Robert Nava, Katherine Bernhardt fetching very high prices in both primary and secondary auction sales. I think of art brut as this gap that has not been explained that much in the NFT art world compared to the 3D rendering and pixel art projects, and I will focus on trying the best I can to have a place in this gap.
To be honest, I never expected my NFT art career would take off so quickly due to me being 100% anon and building up my collector base from absolute zero. And I cannot thank my early Metti Art Patrons enough for helping me expand the art collector community, liking my works, and sharing them relentlessly on Twitter and various social channels, both virtual and in the real world. And I, as an artist who has a bit of experience in the IRL art world, will cherish this collector base and continue to foster and grow it. It makes me feel grateful to my community, and at the same time extra motivated that my understanding of the art world, whether IRL or NFT wise will work in similar parallels, just NFT art world is more open, more close engagement with collectors, and at the same time more competition due to this art world being 24/7 non-stop!
LIMA: How to explain your artist ethos: “Welcome to my dark twisted art corner where you are my sunshine to salvation”?
PUMPAMETTI: For me, that quote is both the symbolization of my personal upbringing as well as me being an NFT artist to challenge what the IRL art world has confined me to do. Art for me, both IRL and in the NFT art world, have been ways to express my story, my emotions growing up in a single-parent household and do not have many nice things to enjoy but to explore and create my own world through my brushes and canvases and pens and papers. It’s a part of me and this melancholy this emotion will always be with my art, and having collectors appreciate and resonate with my emotion through my art means everything to me, and I cannot thank them and you guys enough. Also, this salvation effect comes from our previous discussion in regard to how to balance the IRL artist identity with that of the anon NFT artist identity. The IRL art world gave me a chance to make a living since the 2010s, and I’m forever grateful for that. However, as you know, it’s a very dinosaur, citadel-like model with various layers of gatekeepers and only serving a small fraction of collectors/institutions’ interests with tax-deductible strategies fused art donations and some other not so elegant aspect of the art business. By being in the NFT art world and being close with my NFT collectors and people who love my art, it’s truly refreshing and for me feel like this is how the art world will be in the future, this Web-3 community-based connectivity and allowing artists to truly be connected with his or her collectors without shackles of a gallery as the middleman. This is the true salvation for me as an artist, both from personal journey wise and breaking through the mold of IRL art world-wise.
LIMA: Any final words before we wrap up this podcast?
PUMPAMETTI: Thank you, Eduardo, for having me on this podcast. From my prep for this podcast, I learned of your journey of collecting NFT art with your niece and venturing into collecting works from XCopy, CryptoArtist so early, truly pioneering moves, and I will definitely enjoy coming back to chat with you. And thank you to everyone who tuned in today.
To all NFT artists out there, the NFT art world is fascinating, full of freedom and opportunities but sometimes can be an intimidating place as you as an artist are not solely competing with other artists in an art world setting where art collectors may have a bit or a lot of knowledge about art, you are competing with projects from gaming side and from all various spectrums using NFT’s utility layer, just like you use NFT as a medium to express your art. Do not feel dismayed with low sales initially and keep pushing and keep promoting your art, building up your own collector discord and value every single one of your collectors. Your time will come once you continue to do these things day by day. Keep pushing!