Ann Ahoy: Imperfections Are More Fun!

Royalties for Art, How Gas Prices & Commissions Effect Crypto artists’ Decisions & More

Ann Marie Alanes
33 min readJan 14, 2021
Click the image for the full interview! Cover features watermelon from hell and Ask your thoughts by Ann Ahoy

Rare Digital Bird, Episode 2

Ann Ahoy talks royalties, how gas prices (a.k.a. transaction fees to use the Ethereum blockchain) & commissions effect her decisions, & how much fun she’s had as a newbie in the cryptoart world. This cartoonist, minimalist & blackwork tattoo artist, shares her insights on embracing who we are, how imperfections are more fun, & how addictive it is to get paid as an artist.

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Table of Contents

0:00:00 Coming Up!
0:01:38 What’s Rare Digital Bird?
0:02:00 More about blockchain
0:02:35 What’s cryptoart?
0:04:06 About Ann Ahoy
0:05:10 Ann Ahoy’s artistic journey
0:15:04 Minimalist art process
0:16:23 Blackwork tattooing
0:21:27 Inspirations
0:25:21 Flashy cartoons
0:26:08 The “watermelon from hell” piece
0:28:13 The “Ask Your Thoughts” piece
0:32:28 About Ann Ahoy’s name
0:33:55 What brought you into the cryptoart world?
0:36:44 Comparing Known Origin to Rarible
0:38:03 Benefits of being on Known Origin & Rarible
0:40:07 Splitting payments & royalties when collaborating on Known Origin 0:41:03 How Rarible rewards & includes its community members
0:43:14 Ann Ahoy’s & new member struggles in regards to Known Origin and Rarible
0:45:56 What does “verification” mean in the world of cryptoart
0:47:21 Advice to new artists considering the crypto art world
0:49:12 Advice to those building (on) blockchains & MetaMask
0:50:48 Current shows & upcoming projects

You can read all this, or you can click HERE instead for Episode 2 of the “Rare Digital Bird” Series — with closed captioning!

🙏 Appreciate this transcript? Help me reach other readers by smashing the 👏 button for up to 50 claps at the bottom of this transcript, please and thank you.

[00:01:38] What’s Rare Digital Bird?

Hey, peeps! What’s up? I’m Ann Marie Alanes, and this is Rare Digital Bird — a series about artists, their creations, and their experiences — both good and bad — using blockchain technology.

In Episode 1, I gave you an idea of what blockchains are and how this series, Rare Digital Bird, came to be. You can check that out at the link right up here.

[00:02:00] More about blockchain

Recently, I received the following question: “What is cryptoart?” Before I go into cryptoart, let me give you another nugget of information on blockchains. In a way that we can trust, blockchains record or keep track of who owns what, when, and how much. In the world of cryptoart, a digital artist can use an art marketplace website built on blockchain software to announce that they’re offering, for example, 10 opportunities for ownership, also known as editions of their ideally high resolution art.

[00:02:32] What’s cryptoart?

I’ve seen the word “cryptoart” used in two ways. Number one, it’s used in reference to any digital artwork that is recorded on a blockchain. Some digital cryptoart marketplaces that you could check out include KnownOrigin, SuperRare, makersplace, Rarible, OpenSea, which are all built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, and PixEOS, which is built on top of the EOS blockchain. There’s even one brewing on top of the Nervos blockchain called Pictosis.

The second way I’ve seen the word “cryptoart” used is to describe any type of art that is about or refers to blockchain-related topics. Some of the popular topics include the blockchains and their cryptocurrencies of the same namesake: Bitcoin and Ethereum. Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious person or persons that invented Bitcoin, and the Ethereum cofounder, Vitalik Buterin.

Physical art that doesn’t refer to blockchain-related topics but is recorded on the blockchain using the services of a company like Blockchain Art Collective, interestingly enough, is not usually referred to as cryptoart. And that may be because it’s just not visually apparent that it’s in any way connected to the blockchain. Perhaps blockchain people don’t want to confuse the rest of the world. Now, if you’re an artist who is considering exploring the cryptoart world, or if you’re a blockchain dev interested in creating something better that artists will want to use, consider clicking on the Subscribe button and the notification bell.

[00:04:06] About Ann Ahoy

For our second episode, I’m super happy to welcome today’s guest, Ann Ahoy. She’s a self-taught tattoo artist specializing in blackwork. She started in 2016 and has mastered the clean lines, dotwork, and composition, so valued in blackwork, working in the cities of Berlin, Mexico City, and Oaxaca. After COVID hit, she finally made the leap into the cryptoart world, debuting both her colorful, minimalist pieces, and her fun cartoon art in the cryptoart marketplaces of KnownOrigin and Rarible in July and June of this year. For such a short time being in the cryptoart world, she’s already making a name for herself. You can currently see her work featured in the ILL Show at the Neural Gallery and the She Art Exhibition at the London Gallery. Both of which are in the virtual world of Cryptovoxels.

Ann Ahoy’s Nina in the She Art Exhibition at the London Gallery in Cryptovoxels

[Interview begins]

Ann Ahoy (AA): Hi!

Ann Marie Alanes (AMA): Hi, Ann! How are you?

AA: Great. How are you?

AMA: Good, good, good. Let’s see. Why don’t you tell me a little bit more about how you started off in art, like maybe in your childhood? How did you get into art in general?

[00:05:22] Ann Ahoy’s artistic journey

AA: Yeah. I guess through my dad, because he has a lot of hobbies, and he has a big hobby basement. It’s kind of a running joke in our family. Whenever I call and it’s like, “Yeah, your dad’s in the basement.” So he has all these tools and weird machines that he does stuff with. And as a kid, I was always surrounded by these funny gadgets and stuff. And he just did it for fun for himself, but he really puts a lot of time and effort in it. And I remember spending a lot of time in front of his computer and painting in Microsoft Paint. So those were my first steps with technology, I guess, very early on, actually. And then later, he gave me his old Nikon camera when I was 14, 15, and I remember playing around with that for a really long time. So he always gave me the tools. I always liked making art in all kinds of ways, but he had the supplies, which was really cool.

And I think, also, in school, I started to notice that I really enjoy observing people, like their weird habits, funny character traits, anything like that. And we had really funny, weird teachers, let’s say that. Like our math teacher. I remember I had to sit in front of the teacher’s desk because I was not allowed to sit in the back because I was too distracting for the other kids or something. But our math teacher was always spitting while talking, and I was sitting there and seeing him spit on my calculator. And so I started drawing these little stories about our weird teachers, and you pass them on to the person behind you, and everyone thought they were really funny, and we were enjoying ourselves. There was so much material in school really. Like another teacher was always throwing his keys at us when we were not behaving. I don’t know. If you were eating in class, all of a sudden you had a key coming in your direction. No one got hurt. But that’s just when you are bored at school, I started drawing these things and observing the funny people that I saw. Yeah.

AMA: Wow. So when you would pass notes, you wouldn’t actually write notes. You’d actually draw and then pass it around?

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: Oh, that’s great.

AA: Yeah, so both. I also made little speech bubbles of what they were saying, because they said funny things really. It was hilarious.

AMA: That’s awesome. That’s such a great story. Did you have any art teachers that you were close to?

AA: Yeah. So art was definitely my favorite subject. And our teacher, she was nice. I didn’t draw that many cartoons of her because she was really cool. And I enjoyed art class. On Friday, I remember Friday was always the fun day because you didn’t have to be so nervous for a test or anything like that. It was something that I really enjoyed since early on. Yeah. And also, languages. I enjoyed that too.

AMA: And this was in Berlin?

AA: That was in my hometown. I grew up in a very small town at the Baltic Sea in the north of Germany. And then later on, after school, I moved to Berlin.

AMA: I see.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: So, I know that you went from Berlin to Australia, and then Mexico City.

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: Can you just bring us through how you went to those different locations?

AA: Yeah. So that’s kind of a long story, I guess. I’ll try to keep it short. The reason why I went to Australia was because I had a creative block, kind of.

AMA: Okay.

AA: It was like the first time that I experienced that. I wasn’t having fun anymore creating anything. And the reason was that I was almost done with my studies, so I came to Berlin to study. And I studied for a really long time, like seven, eight years, I think. And I only did a Bachelor. I didn’t even do my Masters. I really took my time because it was great. In school, first, I got told off for drawing in class. And then it was the opposite. It was like the more you draw, the better. You got good grades for that. So I enjoyed it.

First, I did a graphic design. What’s it called? A normal degree at an arts school. And then I changed to university. And it was a technical university, but they had arts degrees as well. And it was amazing. We were a lot of people, like 50, 60 students. It was like a big playground. And somehow I thought, “I want more. I want my degree at this prestigious art school.” And I made this map again, and I got in. And I had all these expectations that I would be so amazing and cool, and it really wasn’t, at least for me. I don’t want to blame the school or anything. I just think it was not the right match for me. The class was super small. There were only eight people. And I started to become really conscious of my art, of what I was doing. I felt like rather than just experiencing and trying things out, I became scared to do that. I wanted to do it right. And I felt like I was more making art for the professors at some point. Because everyone was taking it so serious, and there was like this heavy atmosphere around it. I don’t know. I was not really having the same kind of fun anymore that I used to, and something inside me was rebelling against that. So I just completely stopped creating anything. And that made me sad, of course.

So, once I realized that that was a thing and that’s going on, I thought, “No. I need to get out of here.” So I had a look through the partner universities of my uni, and I just chose the one that was the most far away from Germany, which was Australia, Melbourne. And I thought, “Okay, let’s just start over new. Go somewhere else. Put yourself in a new situation. See what happens.” Are you going to make friends? Are you going to get along? My English wasn’t that good back then. And I booked the plane and I got there, and everything was amazing. Everything just worked out so perfectly. I had the best time there in Australia really. And I got over my creative block. I started making art again, and I had fun doing it. I met really amazing people. I traveled. Yeah, it was a really great time. I’m glad I did it.

And so, in Australia, I lived in this house. It was like a really trashed, old Victorian-style house. Melbourne was quite expensive to live in, and I was lucky that I found that house. It was full of backpackers and other exchange students living there, and we would share the room with three or four people to be able to afford that place. So we were a lot of young people there partying every day. Not every day. We were also studying, but we were having a good time. And I met a very good friend there. Her name is Christina, and she’s from Mexico. We shared a bed for six months. We were sleeping in the same bed because we shared the room. And she’s also a graphic designer, so she studied a similar thing than me. I think mine was called visual communication, and hers was graphic design. So we had a lot in common, and we immediately bonded. And I knew that I have to visit her. When we both had to return to our homes, we finished our studies, and I knew. “Okay, I have to go back one day and visit her in Mexico.” So that’s how I ended up here.

AMA: That’s awesome. And so, was it in Mexico that you started to…? What type of art did you start to get into on your own? What was the process there?

[00:14:14] Minimalist art process

AA: I think from school, drawing these little cartoons. And I was always watching a lot of cartoons as a kid. I was like a big Nickelodeon fan. I don’t know if you remember Nickelodeon.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: They had Hey Arnold, and the Monsters, and Rocko’s Modern Life. I loved that. And so it went from cartoons to, later in art school, I really liked surrealist artists and the data artists. And that had a big impact on my illustrations, so I started to do a little bit more serious topics, not just cartoons, more serious art. And I liked those metaphors that they were using, and I also incorporated that in my own art. And at the same time, my art is pretty minimalist, minimal. I guess because I’m like that. I don’t really like clutter. I don’t have a lot of stuff, and I don’t like a lot of stuff in my illustrations, in my art. It kind of makes me… It bothers me. I don’t know. It’s like if I don’t see why something is there, then I eliminate it. So usually I don’t have a lot of things in the background of my illustrations. I really just love to put all the focus on symbols or fragments that I use.

And I guess I like to deconstruct something. Like for example, I work a lot with figures, and maybe I will only use the hands or I won’t show the face or things like that. I like to keep some things out in the open. And it’s not that purposefully. I don’t really think about it much. It just happens organically when I draw. And then during the process, I usually have a lot of things. I have a lot of stuff on my canvas, and I reduce, reduce, reduce. Yeah. So that’s like the process of my illustrations, I guess.

[00:16:23] Blackwork tattooing

And then I also have the tattooing going on, which is completely another style of drawing, of course, because you are already limited by the tools that you have: the tattoo machines, the needles. So the style that I work in is called blackwork, and I do fine line and dotwork, which means, for example, I don’t work with shading, with shades. I create those steps with doing very fine dotwork and lines. And I limited myself in that way because I feel, for me, sometimes I work better when I have limitations. So that’s also why I don’t work with color because I just wanted to get good at one thing first, and then I started to have fun. It was really rewarding seeing that style of tattooing illustration grow, that I can show things just with a simple line and dots. I started. Again, the simplicity, I guess. I just really enjoyed that. Yeah.

AMA: Wow. Yeah. I was actually looking through your tattoo art, and I notice that you really like… I see a lot of eyes.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: And also lack thereof eyes. It’s almost like Roman and Greek statues. It reminds me of Roman and Greek statues.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: And I love the bats and the insects that you do as well.

AA: Yeah. Thank you.

AMA: Yeah. It’s really beautiful. So, is there any particular… What’s your most favorite tattoo that you’ve ever created, that you’ve ever designed?

AA: Oh. That I’ve ever designed? It’s difficult. There’s a lot. But from my latest work, I like two, which are both female faces, and I dissembled them. I cut them in the middle, so you would only see one-half of the face and the other half of the face in another angle. And there’s a rose going both these faces. Again, I like to dissemble things and put them back in another context and add other elements. I work a lot with botanical designs or animals. Yeah. I think those are my favorite designs lately. I did two of those.

AMA: Yeah. There’s something about the botanical designs that reminds me of old textbook illustrations.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: I love that so much.

AA: Yeah. Me too.

AMA: Yeah. And also, I noticed that you’ve done hotdogs, both in your…

AA: True.

AMA: Yeah. Both in tattoo art and the art that you have on KnownOrigin as well.

AA: Yeah. True.

AMA: So, is there something about hotdogs that’s special to you, other than they’re probably delicious?

AA: Let me think about it. I hadn’t even noticed that. Yeah. I did that in tattooing and also in my art.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: Well, the hotdog design, I did that during uni. That was for a uni project. We had to write…what’s it called? Not an essay, but write a thesis on how the kitchen had changed over the decades. And in the ’70s, there was this trend that people…you had all these new gimmicks like microwaves and all these fun things for the kitchen, like a kettle and all these things that made your life easier. And fast food became really big at that time, so that’s why I made the hotdog for that chapter of the thesis. And the dog hotdog was for a Halloween flash for my tattoos. So I just found a costume. That’s an actual costume that you can give your dog. He looks like a hotdog. And I just drew that, and it was very popular.

AMA: That’s great.

AA: So I don’t necessarily like hotdogs. I’m not really a big meat-eater. In fact, I try not to eat meat. But sometimes I do. But there’s something about them, about this fast food thing that fascinates me, about that culture of eating, I guess.

AMA: Yeah. It’s definitely a culture of eating, for sure.

AA: Yeah. I’m not free of it. I eat a lot of fast food. I try not to, but of course, I do.

AMA: What’s your favorite fast food? What is your favorite fast food vice?

AA: Fries.

AMA: Hmm?

AA: I think everything with potatoes, fries, because I’m German. Germans are obsessed with potatoes, you know?

AMA: Yeah.

AA: So anything you can make out of a potato, I eat that.

AMA: That’s so funny. Awesome. So, tell me about who or what inspires you when you do all of this art.

[00:21:36] Inspirations

AA: Well, people, human nature. As I said, I really like to observe the people around me, my friends. A lot of inspiration comes from my friends, funny things that they say when we have a beer together, when we hang out. I will write them down and I will draw it for them. And from there, I start to get ideas for more serious illustrations. With that, I mean illustrations where I put more time into it and more effort. Cartoons are really there for me to be quick and do something quick. Because I have a lot of ideas, and that helps. But yeah. So usually it’s the people around me that I observe that I find funny. Everyday life really.

And I’m a big fan of graphic novels. I love graphic novels so much. For example, there’s one called Black Hole. It’s by Charles Burns. I think it’s from the ’90s, and it’s so amazing. It’s all just black line work, no colors in it, but he puts a lot of details in the illustrations. And I find the topic really interesting. It’s about a group of teenagers. They grew up in the suburbs. And there’s this weird disease spreading throughout the teenagers, which turns them all into weird-looking… How do I describe it? Like one of them grows a lot of hair in the face. The other one loses all the hair. One starts to have all these tiny mouths growing all over the shoulders. So they look horrible. It’s like a horror graphic novel. And at the same time, they don’t really seem to notice it. They become outcasts. They live in the woods. But they don’t really talk about it that much. You just see it as a viewer. And so those kind of weird stories, I find them very inspiring and so interesting. Yeah.

AMA: Wow. Yeah. There is something about your art that also tends to have more of a macabre feel to it.

AA: Uh-huh. Yeah. Yes.

AMA: So I could see how that would inspire you too.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Especially in your tattoo art. Yeah.

AA: I also love these horror movies from the ’80s, because I can’t really watch horror movies from today. They are just so creepy. They haunt me for weeks if I watch a horror movie. I can’t walk my dog in the night. I’m so stressed out.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: So that’s why I love these old horror movies from the ’80s where they were trying to make these shocker effects more with masks and props, you know? Just because…

AMA: Yeah.

AA: …it’s funny.

AMA: What are your favorite ’80s horror movies?

AA: There’s a lot. Like “The Thing,” “The Fly.” They all start with “The.” The real old ones. I haven’t seen them in a while now, but those I remember. They are just so funny. And there was another one. It was not really a horror movie. I think she was called Elvira, goddess of something. And it was just this super babe coming to this small town, and she has these huge black hair.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: And everyone hates her in the town, but she got a house inherited, so she just comes for the house and she’s just a badass.

AMA: She is. Yeah.

AA: Yeah. These kind of movies that you watch for Halloween, you know? I really love them.

AMA: Yeah. There’s something campy to it almost.

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: Yeah. I could totally see that. Yeah. Could we talk more about your cartoons? Because many of your cartoons are like they’re flashing.

AA: Uh-huh.

AMA: What is your thought process with all of that?

[00:25:38] Flashy cartoons

AA: No thought process. That’s the fun thing about the cartoons.

AMA: Okay. You mentioned that already.

AA: I really just have fun when I do them. The ones that I uploaded lately, they are super old little doodles from my sketchbook.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: And now that I’m rediscovering them, I just have a lot of fun seeing them again, like “Oh, yeah.” And I have good memories with them. So I like to keep it simple with the cartoons. That’s why I don’t really put a lot of thought in it.

watermelon from hell by Ann Ahoy

[00:26:08] The “watermelon from hell” piece

AA: The first one I uploaded was the “watermelon from hell.” And I did that one because my roommate at the time, he hated watermelon, and I thought, “That’s so weird.” And he did it with so much passion. I thought, “How can you hate a fruit that much?” It’s odd. So I started to draw a lot of watermelons, like huge watermelons, but they were from hell because he hated them. And I then wanted to make it even more ridiculous, so I made a gif and I made it really flashy. And that was the reason behind it. And I just uploaded it on Rarible to try that platform, and people loved it. The reaction that I have from my friends. I don’t really think so much about it, and then people always have really good reactions to them, so I started to upload more. Yeah.

AMA: Yeah. I love it. I mean, it says “hell,” but it’s just so joyful and happy.

AA: Uh-huh. Yeah, that weird contrast.

AMA: There’s a weird juxtaposition there.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Yeah. And just the fact that everything’s flashing. It’s almost like a party.

AA: Yeah. Cartoons are always going to have a special place in my heart because they helped me in times when I was stuck with my art. And now I know every time I get stuck, it’s because I’m not having fun. I’m thinking too much. I’m doing it not 100% for me. And then, when I’m stuck, usually I just draw some cartoons. That helps me. And it works against trying to be perfect, against this perfectionism. With cartoons, it’s the opposite. The more perfect they are, the more boring they are. Then it’s not funny. They have to have some crooked legs or some, I don’t know, weird teeth or something like that.

AMA: Oh my gosh. I love it. Okay. So let’s go to your next piece that you have on KnownOrigin: “Ask Your Thoughts.”

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: There’s a lot going on here.

Ask Your Thoughts by Ann Ahoy

[00:28:24] The “Ask Your Thoughts” piece

AA: Yeah. That was my genesis piece, actually, for KnownOrigin, the first one that I ever minted.

AMA: Oh, wow.

AA: So it’s also a special piece for me. It’s a bit older as well. It’s not a recent piece. I think five or six years ago, I did it. And now looking back at the piece, I know why I did it. But of course, while I was drawing it, I wasn’t thinking. I was just doing. I really just sit down with a glass of wine and some music, and I draw. Or wherever. It doesn’t have to be at home. But yeah, I don’t really think too much about it. I’m really like in the flow and do the thing. But now when I look at the piece, I can see, yeah, that was the time when I was talking a lot with my friends and noticing that we all have these issues with ourselves, with our bodies, that everyone has them, and that we tend to be so hard on ourselves with it. Like this distorted view on us, other people will probably never notice that, you know?

In fact, when friends tell me what they dislike about them, I often think, “No, that’s charming. That’s what makes you you. That’s a good thing.” I mean, in the piece, the woman has these crazy boobs, and she has hair growing in weird places. So I guess it was a form of saying we really have to embrace ourselves the way we are. And that’s also what happened in these conversations with my friends. We were like, “Yeah. So what? I have weird hair in a weird place. Who cares? My boobs are not perfect. Whatever.” It’s about accepting yourself. And not just physically. It doesn’t have to do anything with your body. It’s also mentally, this little voice in our head, how we talk to ourselves, like “You are too much of this. You are maybe too less of that.” It’s good to become aware of those thought patterns that happen unconsciously. Because I think if not, then they’re going to start becoming a problem later on.

AMA: Yeah, for sure. When I saw this piece, I totally understood what was going on here. And also the fact that there’s no head, no arms. For me, I interpreted it as someone else’s view of you, like almost objectifying you. Because hands are so personal, you know? Your face is so personal.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: And those are cut off there.

AA: Yeah. It could be anyone, you know?

AMA: Yeah.

AA: It could be me or my friends, whoever. Yeah.

AMA: And I see that it says here, “A surreal study of the female body. Part of the series ‘Fragments.’”

AA: Uh-huh.

AMA: So there are other pieces?

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Can you tell me more about those?

AA: I guess it’s the pieces that I have in line, kind of, that I’m working on. For example, what I also often do is I only show the hands, for example. I find hands somehow very fascinating because you can communicate with them. And I find them very elegant. I don’t know. So I like to work with that, which is also just a fragment of a body. And I have a lot more of these female figures with weird hair growing. I just haven’t released them yet. But it’s like a whole series. Yeah.

AMA: Wow. Awesome. I can’t wait to see those. Okay. So, I guess we can go into the blockchain crypto art part of your life.

AA: Sure. Let’s do it.

AMA: Oh, actually, before we get into that, your actual name, Ann Ahoy, is that actually inspired by your tattoo art?

[00:32:36] About Ann Ahoy’s name

AA: I started using that back in the days when Facebook was a thing. I was really late during Facebook, and I didn’t really want to at first. And then I didn’t want to show my real…I didn’t want to give my name. I remember you had to give your first name and your last name, and I was like, “No, I don’t want to do that.” So, my real name is Yohanna, and Ann Ahoy is just Yohanna backwards.

AMA: Oh.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Okay. I was thinking too deeply about it, like, “Ann Ahoy, that reminds me of ships. That reminds me of Sailor Jerry,” you know?

AA: Awesome.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: So I thought it matches really well because I come from that small sea town and I grew up at the sea.

AMA: Right.

AA: I was always going fishing with my dad. And “ahoy” is like the greeting from sailors. So I thought, “Actually, yeah, that resembles for me, so I’m just going to go with that.” And I’ve been overthinking alot about coming up with a cool artist name, and I just couldn’t… I was like, “Nah, it’s a good name. I’ll stick with it.”

AMA: This is a cool artist name.

AA: Thank you.

AMA: It has so much meaning. I love it.

AA: Yeah. It’s very personal too.

AMA: Okay. So let’s talk about how you got into blockchain, cryptoart.

[00:33:50] What brought you into the cryptoart world?

AA: Yeah. Okay, so how did I get into it? Well, I was really into my tattooing. I’ve been tattooing the last four years. And it still is really amazing because it was the first time after uni that tattooing enabled me to live professionally from my art. And I really enjoyed it because I was in close contact with my clients. Some became regulars. Some became friends. And it was a really good experience. And then when COVID happened, I lost more and more clients to the point that I just couldn’t work anymore. And at the time, I lived together with Neurocolor, and he encouraged me many, many times, “Hey, you should try this cryptoart thing.”

And I just didn’t have time at first with the tattooing. I was like, “Yeah, but, you know, I’m like…” It sounded like such a big thing that you can’t just get started so easy. I thought, “No, it sounds like too good to be true. It’s not going to be that easy. It’s never that easy.” So then I was waiting to the point that I really had zero clients, and I was like, “Damn, I need to pay my rent.” So I was like, “Whatever. I’m just going to upload the pieces I have now (like old pieces).” I wanted to put a lot more effort in it and make a whole new portfolio. And this is like the perfectionist again in me that’s usually working against me. It’s not a good thing. But due to the situation, I just had to put something out there. And I’m really glad I did because it’s been so much fun ever since. And I’m so happy that he encouraged me.

He also encouraged… We have two roomies that are also in this whole cryptoart thing now. They are musicians, and they created the project called Worms. And they created a music video entirely for the blockchain. It’s super short. It’s just two and a half minutes, I think. And Neurocolor made the visuals for it. And we think it was the first ever minted music video NFT out there, probably. And I think Hans bought it for 3.5 ether or something. It’s a really great piece. It’s amazing. So we are like this big crypto artists’ apartment. We always talk about it, which is cool because, otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to talk about this with my parents. I think they would just be like, “What? What’s going on?” So it’s good to have other people that understand this dimension that you are diving in.

AMA: Yeah. It’s good to have that community around you.

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: So, you’re on both KnownOrigin and Rarible.

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: How are those different? What are those platforms about? They’re art marketplaces, different types.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: What’s your experience been like with both of those?

[00:36:58] Comparing KnownOrigin to Rarible

AA: So, I first started out at KnownOrigin. I sent my application there. It’s a curated platform, so you send your application, and if you’re lucky, they take you. And that was really cool. That happened. I was so happy. And then Rarible is like pretty much… KnownOrigin is curated. You can see on their website that they really put a lot of effort in showcasing the artists and having interviews or the trending artists on the website. And Rarible is like this Wild West. I don’t know. It’s like the free market. Anyone can put their stuff out there. So it’s like the opposite, but it’s very fun as well. They both have their own charm. And I started Rarible because I heard about it, and I heard it’s so much fun, and I thought, “Okay, let’s just try it out. Why not?” And it’s been so much fun. It’s so addictive.

AMA: Yeah. Cool. Can you talk more about the benefits that you’ve gotten from being on those platforms and the community around that, the joys and benefits that you’ve experienced all around that?

[00:38:19] Benefits of being on KnownOrigin & Rarible

AA: Okay. Let’s see. Well, as I said, Rarible is just so much fun.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: I think what happened to me was as soon as I saw that RARI board flashing, it was red, I was sitting there, “Why is this red? Why is it like that?” And then someone explained, “Yeah, you sold something.” I was like, “Oh, I see.” So I immediately got hooked on that board. It’s like a serotonin rush on your brain. Whenever that light goes on, you’re like, “I’ve been paid! Someone bought my art.” It just feels so amazing. And the fact that they have the RARI token, of course, makes you feel very close to that platform, because you really feel like everyone’s making these decisions together, and you have an impact on deciding where the ship is going. And the community really, it’s very much like a family. It’s a great feeling.

And what I like about KnownOrigin is that I find them very organized. And I like that because I’m an organized person, I think. For example, they have on your artist page, you have this overview of all your sales and from who and where and when, how much. And I love that because after some time, you start to lose track about all these little sales, and you really have an overview of “Oh, okay. How have I been doing and stuff?”

Another good thing is I guess more for artists that work with video also. You can upload 50 megabytes on KnownOrigin, which is really great. And for the collaborations, I know that Worms and Neurocolor, when they made the collaboration together, they minted the piece on KnownOrigin because there you can directly mint it in the contract that says, “Okay, the art is from these two artists.” And it’s written like that for everyone who blockchains. So that’s a good thing about collaborations on KnownOrigin as well.

AMA: Cool. So, when you have both of those artists on KnownOrigin and that piece gets sold, so they would both split…

[00:40:43] Splitting payments & royalties when collaborating on KnownOrigin

AA: Exactly.

AMA: …the royalties.

AA: Automatically. It automatically splits the price and everything.

AMA: Wow.

AA: So that’s really cool.

AMA: That is cool.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Can you tell me more about Rarible, the tokens, and how they include the community, and voting, how that works?

[00:41:00] How Rarible rewards & includes its community members

AA: Okay. I’m going to try.

AMA: Yes.

AA: So, with the RARIs, well, you get based on your activity on Rarible. You get “paid” in RARI at the end of the week every week. So that can be you sold an artwork or you bought an artwork from someone. They reward both the artists and the collectors because both are really important for this little ecosystem to function. And it’s good that they give everyone the same chance to influence this whole thing. And then based on your RARIs that you’re getting, you can vote. For example, right now, there’s a vote app on their website where you can choose about the future fees. So, for example, KnownOrigin, they take a 15% commission. And Rarible hasn’t had any fees so far, but I really think that they should start introducing them because they need to grow their team. I always wonder, “How do they do it? They need to be paid for what they’re doing.” So right now, that’s up for discussion how much fees there will be. And it’s just a good feeling to know. Someone asks you about it and you can actually vote. And it’s a very fair system because based on how active you were, that’s how influential your vote is going to be. I mean, of course, there’s also a lot of discussion about this RARI token. And nothing is ever perfect, but I like the direction where this is going. And it makes you feel very much like you are a part of it and your voice matters, kind of.

AMA: Yeah. I like that. I like how it includes the whole community.

AA: Yeah. It’s very inclusive.

AMA: Yeah. So those are the great things about it. What about your struggles with that? Has there been anything like things that you’ve…?

[00:43:03] Ann Ahoy’s & new member struggles in regards to KnownOrigin and Rarible

AA: Okay. Let’s see. I don’t really want to say anything bad, but I think what I’m saying (both of those platforms, they already know it), the thing with KnownOrigin in the past,

my issue has definitely been the gas fee. Because the gas there is a bit more expensive. And then in times where gas does crazy stuff, it just becomes too expensive to mint there for me. So that’s why I sometimes haven’t been that active as I wish I would have been. And you also give the 15% commission, so then on top with the gas together, I hope that they can fix it somehow with the gas fees, that they can, I don’t know, change the contract somehow.

AMA: Mm-hmm.

AA: But I know that they’re already aware of it and that they’re already thinking about the solutions. It’s just as an artist, on that end, it definitely has an impact on the decision. “Oh, where do I mint my next piece?”

And with Rarible, I guess it would be the verification process. I know that they’re a bit slow with that right now. Personally, I didn’t have any problems with it. When I started there two months ago, it was super fast. But I know that right now, there’s so many new artists coming in. And I see it in the Discord that the verification requests channel is completely full. That’s what I mean that they really need to introduce the fees so they can keep up with all that work that they have right now.

And I saw that one artist, he has a really, really amazing portfolio. And I wasn’t sure if I should buy from him because he wasn’t verified yet. And on Twitter, he has like 6000 followers, so I thought, “Is that really the guy on Rarible, or is that just someone selling that dude’s artwork?” And I texted him. I was like, “Hey, is that really you on Rarible, or it’s maybe someone else?” Because we had already asked in the Discord, like “Hey, what’s up with this artist? Is that genuine or not?” And he wrote me back on Twitter and said, “Yeah, that’s actually me. I already thought they had forgotten about me. I’m never going to sell anything.” I was like, “Oh, I’m so glad that’s you. Don’t worry. You just need the verification thing. You just need your little tick and you’ll be good. You’re going to be selling really well.” It’s just a bit slow right now because there’s so many people coming in.

AMA: Yes.

AA: So it’s very requested.

AMA: It’s very what?

AA: It’s very requested, that website. Rarible is really going through the roof right now.

AMA: So, verifying. Just for the people who are interested in cryptoart, don’t really know much about it, you’re basically verifying your identity, making sure that…

[00:46:03] What does “verification” mean in the world of cryptoart

AA: Uh-huh. Yeah. Making sure that that’s genuinely the artist selling their own artwork on the platform and you’re not buying from someone who just…

AMA: Pretending.

AA: …took the jpeg or something. Yeah. And then you have this yellow tick next to your name.

AMA: Yeah. Okay.

AA: So that’s how you know they did the background check on the person.

AMA: Yeah. That’s very important, for sure.

AA: Mm-hmm.

AMA: Awesome. So, let’s see. And you did mention. Is there a Discord community for Rarible as well as… I know there is one for KnownOrigin. There’s also one for Rarible?

AA: There is a lot of Discords.

AMA: Yeah, there are.

AA: I can’t keep up with it, honestly. There’s so many Discords. KnownOrigin has one. Rarible has a Discord. Then they also have their Telegram channel.

AMA: Oh, yeah.

AA: So a lot of places to ask questions if you are new in that space. Yeah. Definitely.

AMA: Yeah, for sure. Let’s see. Okay. So, what would be your advice to an artist thinking about entering the world of cryptoart?

[00:47:18] Advice to new artists considering the cryptoart world

AA: Okay. Trying to look back when I was entering. Well, the first thing I remember,

I was a bit scared of all this technical stuff that I had no idea how it works. And especially because you’re dealing with money. It’s like your money, so you don’t want to mess that up. And it’s definitely a good thing to be cautious because there is a lot of scam out there. The amount of times that I got an email saying, “Oh, you won 0.7 Bitcoin.” I have like three of those emails. So for someone who is new to this space, I would definitely advise, be cautious. If you got those things, ask in the community. I would always double check with someone else.

But also, don’t let it intimidate you too much. It’s completely normal. We have all been so new to this, and we have all learned so much in the last… I’ve only been there two months and I already learned so much, which is a really cool experience. And all I can say is that the community is so welcoming and warm and supportive. So don’t be shy to ask your questions and definitely engage with the people. Try to do collaborations. Try to do exhibitions with other artists. It’s so much fun to have an exhibition. I can be in Mexico and the other person can be in Europe, and we’d do the opening event. We have a party together. We are both in that gallery at the same time. It’s so cool. It’s the future really.

AMA: Yeah. That’s so awesome that you can do that.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: And how about for blockchain developers or teams of people who are actually creating platforms, things like that? What would be your advice to them on how to improve it, things like that?

[00:49:08] Advice to those building (on) blockchains & MetaMask

AA: That’s tricky.

I guess just be gentle with us because, as artists, most of us are not the most techie persons. I’m speaking for myself now, for example, with my MetaMask. I always have a very hard time figuring out what’s going on there. The other day, I noticed that one of my pieces had sold on a secondary market, so I thought, “Well, you probably got royalties then.” And I was trying to find these royalties in my MetaMask, but it’s like all these long… It’s not that user-friendly for me, what I’m used to. I was spending like an hour to find where it was. And if that somehow could be made a bit more user-friendly. I guess it’s also for security reasons, you know? But maybe there could be an internal view that only you see, that shows a little bit easier what’s happening there. So in general, I guess just try to make it as simply explained as possible for people that are coming new into the space.

But I think most of those platforms, they are already doing that, and they are aware of that, and most are doing a really good job. Yeah. But that’s the only thing I can think of really.

AMA: Yeah. I think the cryptoart space, because there’s so much activity on it, it’s one of the spaces that have been able to advance more into improving the experience for artists, for sure.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Awesome. So, what are your current projects or exhibits you’re in? I know you’re in She Art and ILL Show, and it’s probably still up, right?

[00:50:56] Current shows & upcoming projects

AA: Yeah. They’re both still up.

AMA: Awesome. So I’ll be sure to make sure that that’s in the description below. And also, do you have any upcoming projects, things that people should look out for?

AA: Yeah. So I’m currently working on an exciting new project. I started to make portraits of the icons in my life that have inspired me on the way. And I’ve been working really long to get to a kind of, I don’t know, like signature style, but like your style, that’s really fun for me. It’s a bit cartoony as well. I only used three colors plus black, and I wanted it to be really bold and just popping. And I really like those portraits, so there’s going to be a lot more of those coming. And I’m also starting to paint them. I just ordered some big canvases and I bought a lot of paints. So I’m excited to turn them into physical objects as well. Yeah.

AMA: Awesome.

AA: And definitely the two exhibitions. Yeah.

AMA: Yeah, for sure. And where can people find you?

AA: On Twitter. Ann Ahoy on Twitter. The same on Instagram. My tattoo account and my illustration Instagram, they both have the same name. It’s both Ann Ahoy, but one has a double underscore. But if you go on one, you find the other, so they are connected with each other. And I have another project on Instagram. It’s called Bad Ideas Berlin. I do that with a friend, and we make clothing.

AMA: Oh, wow.

AA: So mostly T-shirts with designs inspired by tattoo culture. So yeah, they are just like…

AMA: Oh. That sounds great.

AA: …another.

AMA: I’ll check that out.

AA: Yeah.

AMA: Awesome. Is there anything else you want to say or…?

AA: I don’t know. Just that I’m really happy that I discovered this. I still feel a bit like I’m on a computer game. I can’t believe this is real. We all just got this… Not everyone, unfortunately, but a lot of people just got this free unicorn money, you know? I was like, “What is happening? How is this possible?” So I feel so lucky that I was at the right time, in the right place, and now I’m completely addicted.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: That’s all I have to say.

AMA: Yes, it can be very addicting, both on the creating and the collecting side.

AA: It’s so much fun really.

AMA: It is, yeah. It is. Well, thank you. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

AA: Thanks so much for having me.

AMA: Yeah.

AA: It was really fun. I was nervous, but this was fun.

AMA: Awesome.

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Ann Marie Alanes

Pastry-loving stan of the NFT crypto art and music space, and your self-appointed stylist. I am not funny.