Hawke’s Bay trio (left to right) Anita Jones, Kowen Houston and Amy Baker are ready to hit their NFT collection of New Zealand-inspired fantasy Cryptowild Druids. Photo/Warren Buckland
A trio from Hawke’s Bay are set to make their own fantasy-inspired contribution to the wave of blockchain-based digital art known as NFT.
Computer engineer Kowen Houston and his friend Anita Jones, a web designer and artist
of Hastings, joined Napier graphic designer and marketer Amy Baker to create Cryptowild Druids.
NFT (Non-Fungible Token) is a style of digital art that has an encoded “smart contract” linked to a cryptocurrency database that marks it as unique or original.
It could be compared to proof of original artwork, rather than a counterfeit or copy.
Houston said he traded NFTs about a year ago and came up with the idea of creating his own NFT project.
“I’ve seen quite a few people hype it up a bit and it was like I imagined the beginning of the internet at the time of the dotcom boom.”
He said the hand-drawn artwork by Jones and Baker was inspired by New Zealand’s natural beauty and Dungeons & Dragons-style fantasy.
“I’m not a Dungeons & Dragons player but I know fantasy stories, I grew up reading Harry Potter and stuff like that, but Anita and Amy are in Dungeons & Dragons so they kind of do an adventure and are trying to create a strong lore and story behind the NFT.”
Some NFT collections get managed services to write their smart contracts, but Houston and his friends are self-taught and write the code themselves.
“I spent about a month learning just because I was interested, NFTs, blockchain, Ethereum and all the coding that would be needed to create an NFT.”
He said their supporters come from all over the world.
“It’s everywhere, I’ve seen people from Palestine, from the United States, from all over Europe and oddly enough, I’ve seen so many people from Australia, but personally I haven’t seen so many people come from New Zealand.”
He said NFTs still seemed fairly unknown to most New Zealanders and there wasn’t much interest domestically.
Houston said there was a lot to learn from the negative attention another New Zealand-based NFT project, Pixelmon, received nationally and internationally earlier this year.
Pixelmon, created by Waikato man Martin Van Blerk, sold NFT for $104 million and was accused of misleading investors with a ‘comically bad’ art output contrary to what had been announced.
“He promised a big game and I don’t think he was able to deliver and unfortunately he didn’t live up to people’s expectations.
“When we saw that, it was like okay, let’s remember what we’re going to do just so we can actually meet expectations.”
He said they were all doing the project in their spare time, but they would like to make NFTs and crypto their full-time jobs.
“It would be pretty cool to create websites and code for other NFT projects and help other people create their own stuff in space.”
Financial adviser and CEO of the Stewart Group, Nick Stewart, said he hasn’t received many questions from clients regarding cryptocurrency or NFTs.
He said most financial advisers don’t deal with fringe assets like cryptocurrency because they’re hard to research and there’s little regulatory oversight.
“Most retail investors want the protection of regulatory oversight and it’s just not there.”
He said regulators were doing a lot to increase activity in the cryptocurrency and NFT space, but it was a work in progress.
In the meantime, he said those who chose to invest in these areas were “swimming at the bottom of the pool”.
The first Cryptowild Druids drop will have 4,000 NFTs with a public price of 0.1 ETH, or approximately $440 NZD each.
If all are sold, the trio will make a profit of around $1.8 million before factoring in costs.