Alec Monopoly - the king of street art - on the launch of his next NFT collection!
The art world has been disrupted for several months now by the arrival of an NFT wave. Digitalization has come to the art world, a world previously not engaged digitally and rather distant from the newer, more digital generation. At the opening of the very first exhibition gallery in Dubai, we had the chance to interview Alec Monopoly exclusively for Cointribune. Alec recently discussed the upcoming launch of his NFT collection. In the interview, Cointribune had the opportunity to learn more about this artist who has become a real celebrity, friend to the stars, but also a crypto whale. Let’s dive in!
Introducing the artist
Hello Alec, can you tell us about yourself? How did you become the recognized artist you are today?
My name is Alec Monopoly; I’m from New York City and I’m a street artist. I started street painting in 2008, when the subprime financial crisis on Wall Street occured. I became known by staging Mister Monopoly, the famous character from the widely known board game Monopoly. Mister Monopoly is what made my reputation and is also what gave me my nickname in the world of street art. At the time, everyone in New York was focused on this financial crisis and my art was a reflection of how society felt at that time.
What made your career take off in the United States and internationally?
I was arrested by the New York police; my arrest was depicted by the national media and then in art galleries internationally. Since that time, I have not stopped creating based on the character of Mister Monopoly and I am now recognized by the international art world. My works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Bangkok and I am now opening my own gallery in Dubai.
The start of Alec Monopoly‘s story is in 2008, a striking parallel with the beginning roots of crypto history which also occured at the same time of the subprime financial crisis. Similar to the way that Satoshi Nakamoto recounts in his Bitcoin white paper the cataclysm caused by this crisis and the loss of confidence in financial institutions, Alec highlights these events in his works of art in the midst of the New York streets. The comparison does not stop there as Alec has long remained an anonymous character, standing in the shadow of his works.
Can you explain to us your anonymity and why you changed your mind?
Similar to Banksy, I have long been anonymous, using a scarf to hide my face. I did this to avoid detection by the police when I started out on the streets of New York. Today I have decided to reveal my face, because I am recognized in the art world and I tell myself that there is no longer a reason to remain anonymous. That being said, it got me into some trouble with the authorities.
We cannot resist the temptation to ask you if you are the person hidden behind the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” as your career started in 2008 and in anonymity. (Laughs)
(Laughs) I wish I was Satoshi Nakamoto; but no, it’s not me! In fact, I hadn’t even made the connection before our exchange.
Alec Monopoly and his interest in NFTs and the crypto space
How did you become interested in NFTs and the crypto space?
Crypto-investors often recognize some element of themselves in my work. My artwork and the subjects I highlight often revolve around finance and the character of Mister Monopoly which crypto-investors often find meaningful. In fact, there are many “Crypto Whales” who collect my paintings. Again, there are many similarities between the world of street art and the world of crypto. The search for anonymity is a good example.
I saw that you had already done some NFT projects. Can you tell us about the first NFT works you were able to do?
I got into NFT very early, back in 2019, when the trends and the NFT phenomenon that we know today did not exist. The NFT in 2019 was simply one of my designs that was sold for charity. Then, in 2020, I did a collaboration with the artist Ozuna. We staged his bear character and the character of Mister Monopoly for a collection that was a real success and quickly sold out. I will soon officially announce the launch of a generative art NFT project. Holders of my NFTs, which I made with Ozuna, will be entitled to exclusive access including advantages for the drop.
Are you an NFT collector yourself?
Yes totally, I am a big collector of NFTs and I appreciate them as pieces of art in their own right. One of my first NFTs was from the collection of Gary Vee, a well-known entrepreneur in the United States who launched his Veefriends collection. I also have a Meebits which I’ve been using as my profile picture for some time now. I like the fact that we look for NFTs that are representative of our personality and our own characteristics. I even bought an NFT that looked like my girlfriend! (laughs)
You’ve become well connected with many celebrities, do your friends follow NFTs like you do?
Yes, many of my friends are into NFTs as well. For my birthday, Logan Paul gave me a World Of Women NFT. Today there is a real correlation between NFTs and the evolution of the art world – it’s quite fascinating to experience.
I saw that you launched your own NFT platform “Artrail” with your brother. Can you tell us about this project and will your NFT series be released on this platform?
Artrail is a project that I created in order to have my own NFT platform; Artrail also allows my friends to release their NFT projects on a secure platform. However, this project itself is smaller than the series that I will soon announce. I still need to study the different possibilities in order to find the platform that will be able to deliver the greatest security and be able to support high traffic when the NFT gets listed. It is very important to me that all these elements are taken into account so that the experience is as smooth and secure as possible. Usually, when I start a new project or a new collaboration, the websites have a hard time keeping up. I want to make sure everything is good for this NFT project.
The upcoming NFT project
Can you now tell us more about your NFT project?
The upcoming project is a generative art series which I’ve been working on for a year now. It will revolve around a new character that I have been developing for five years. It’s a completely original character, which I created, and is called “Lil Richie”. He somehow represents the nephew of Mister Monopoly.
What message do you want to convey with this collection?
Thanks to the different characteristics that I have integrated into the collection, I want everyone to be able to recognize themselves in the characters. There will be a male character with Lil Richie, but I also integrated a female character who will look a bit like a new version of Jessica Rabbit.
How did you change the way you work in order to create the NFTs?
Some adaptations were made in order to create this series. The collection is created on an iPad with an Apple pencil. Even if the tools change, the artistic base and the ideology remain the same. I created all the elements of the series myself and surrounded myself with a team that made it possible to create generative art.
Today, NFTs are a great way to build a community. How do you want to build/maintain your community with this series?
Unlike many projects that don’t keep their promises, I really want to get my community on board. I want to create real utility for the holders of my pieces, which will be exclusive works of art in their own right. They will also allow immediate access to exclusive events, the first of which will be at Art Basel Miami in December.
Will your NFTs be available in the metaverse?
Yes, the NFTs will originally be in 2D and then we will convert them to 3D NFTs so they can be used in the metaverse. My team and I are currently working to develop a complete experience for this new universe. The Matrix movie was the main inspiration for this project, and I want to convey that for collectors.
Conclusion: one of the most important NFT series of 2022
Alec, what is the message you want to convey to your fans who read this and who are impatiently waiting for the launch of the series?
My works of art have always been very dear and inaccessible to most of my fans, this NFT series will allow everyone to collect one of my pieces and make some of my work their own.
As you now know, Alec Monopoly has been a widely known artist for more than 10 years – originally for his street art and now the universe he has created. He is an NFT collector and member of the crypto space; he now combines his two passions to create what promises to be one of the most important NFT series of the year!
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I’m the co-founder of NFTexplained.info, an NFT site focused on creating educational content primarily for people entering the NFT space. I spend my free time researching crypto and NFTs; I love sharing my knowledge!
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and should not be taken as investment advice. Do your own research before taking any investment decisions.