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Bryan Brinkman on Animation, NFT Market, and Importance of Being Mentally Balanced
BY ERIC P. RHODES - Eric is an award-winning Crypto Art artist, renowned Trash Art artist, and creator of the iconic NFT collection, Unofficial Punks. Working exclusively in the Web3 space since 2019. 💬 Follow Eric on Twitter
Bryan Brinkman is an artist and an animator who makes cartoons, drawings, and sketches. He also collects NFT art, helping young artists grow in the space.
We had a great time chatting about his passion for animation, the impact that art school had on his career, and the power of the NFT community.
We also talked about how to hustle your way to the audience, the challenges artists face, and the importance of having people you trust.
He also shares how to hustle your way to the audience. So, jump in and find out!
Who was the 14-year-old Bryan?
Back then, I was just starting to get into computer graphics. I was discovering Flash animation, Newgrounds, and basic coding.
That was the period when I was learning how to make websites and graphics for the web.
I remember the first website I made was a RollerCoaster Tycoon fan page on GeoCities.
As a matter of fact, a lot of times, I feel like I'm still that same 14-year-old boy, just making graphics for the internet.
Did you go to college for graphics and animation?
I did. I went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Before that, in high school, I'd taken many graphic design courses. I did Newgrounds and Flash animation. So I went for traditional animation at the college.
I was deciding whether I want to be a graphic designer or an animator. After shadowing a graphic designer in a magazine in Omaha, I thought it was so boring. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do for a living.
Then I asked myself whether I want to be an animator or a filmmaker.
In that period, a buddy of mine that I knew from Newgrounds went to this college. He said animators learned everything that filmmakers did, plus illustration and all the technical stuff. That meant I'd get two degrees in one by doing animation.
That is how I went for traditional animation.
But it was also a bit experimental too. They were into mixed media, pushing the narratives more than the style. I think that lends itself to what I'm doing now – combining many different styles and aspects in a collage.
What is the Nim Buds project?
Nim Buds was an Art Blocks generative art project I did with my buddy Manny Morales.
It was a completely generative project where we didn't know what the results would be. That was a fun way of thinking about how to create art.
After we made a cloud and a wire, we thought about making the thing more unique. So we hit the drawing board. We made randomized circles and those mouths that have curves.
Initially, I wanted it to be a pretty small release. But, as it got closer, it was clear there was some demand for it. There was a fear that several people would buy up the whole thing. We decided to double the minimum amount to 400. We also added more variation.
We secretly added mustaches and blushing and some other color backgrounds, trying to give it a little more uniqueness. But then, we also wanted to keep it all like a bit of a secret. We wanted to make sure that everyone that wanted one got one.
But in doing that, we didn't test on the main network. We only tested it offline. The whole thing was launched and sold out in five minutes. But it appeared the mustaches didn't work. We were in panic mode, but then we were able to fix it.
It was a lesson that keeping secrets is both good and bad.
How important is the power of community in the NFT space?
I guess that was instilled in me long before I joined the NFT space.
Since I was 14, I've always had a website. I was putting my art, photos, whatever on it.
I think I've always been an artist in general. Once you get out of school, you're built to be a hustler. That's just a part of finding work as an artist and an animator. You have to knock on doors, you have to be outgoing, you have to be quick to share your work.
I worked on an HBO cartoon. They found my website and my art and realized that my art matched their style. That's why they invited me to work on their show.
We're just seeing that now in the NFT space. Artists are just changing it from trying to work on TV and commercial projects to appeal to a bigger audience. That's why we see this space thrive. It's just artists trying to connect with other people and hoping something comes of it.
The people that succeeded in the NFT art are the ones that are willing to step away from their safety net, which is tough. Especially for introverts.
The space got huge. Does it take a toll?
I feel very fortunate that I joined the space early and connected with a lot of really great people that I trust.
I don't think the NFT space got bad. But I guess everyone's intentions before it got huge were more virtuous. If I had joined it now, I would have a much more toxic and cynical view of everything.
We're surrounded by people observing and commenting. It certainly takes a toll.
What keeps me sane is the community. It's great to have people to talk to about the challenges. You need them both in the space and outside of the space because you need both perspectives.
I talk to a lot of people all the time. I also have a wonderful wife, and she keeps me balanced to a large degree. She is my rock.
Without other people, you can get lost in the rabbit hole and not know where you're going.
Are you a collector?
I collect a lot of art. And I've flipped some of it. You got to flip sometimes because the secondary royalties are a part of what makes this space great.
You'd have to make sure you flip it for a price that rewards the artists and doesn't devalue them. I think there's plenty of benefit to that.
Besides giving them a little bit of secondary money, it also creates more attention for those artists. If I flipped, for instance, a Killer Acid, he gets a little bit of money, and more people talk about that piece.
I think collecting art is a sign that you believe in the longterm value of the system and the ideas behind it. The truth of the matter is, if you invest in new artists to help them out early on, it will motivate them to keep on creating and growing in the space.
And that increases the odds of the art you invested in going up in value like 100 times.
Did you freak out when the NFT market went down?
I didn't. You have to have a perspective of what the space was and will be. It's all relative.
The market went down, and everyone's losing their minds - the NFT market's dead. But it's not dead. It's back to where it was two months ago before it was hyper-inflated. It was just a market correction.
A lot of people came in to earn quickly and easily. I get that, but I don't play in that too much. That's a gamble that probably hits some drug points in your brain.
Anyway, my advice to all artists is, don't buy in, if you don't have to - just earn. Earning is the key. Find ways of earning - making art, or collaborating with artists in a way, or whatever. There're so many ways to earn in the space that are less risky than investing a huge amount of money expecting to make a quick buck.
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