Graphic Designer and NFT creator Alex Ness has exploded on the NFT music scene and created successful artwork for artists like Travis Scott, Diplo, and Imagine Dragons. In this episode, he discusses his company Ness Graphics and how he went from a humble freelancer to a sought-after creator.
Who is Alex Ness?
- Background: Alex attended the University of Connecticut and studied digital media design. He has been a freelancer in the music industry for about five years. Since December of 2020, he hasn’t taken on new clients and has been focused only on NFTs.As a digital artist, when he creates NFTs it doesn’t feel like work. He does plan to take on new clients and is looking for ways of bringing value to his NFTs through concerts. Some of the visuals in live shows could have pieces of his current NFTs.
- His portfolio: The graphic artist started in the music industry in college five years ago. He felt he wasn’t learning anything new, had always been techy. He wanted to teach himself and used YouTube to learn. Later, he started creating and posting art on Instagram. From there, he connected with other artists and industry leaders. His first opportunity was working with the Imagine Dragons to work on their show.
- NFT drops: Alex Ness recently had his first solo NFT drop on Nifty Gateway, but it wasn’t his first project. Alex Ness got involved in NFTs in August of this year. He did his first NFT in November. Before that, he dropped an NFT for the ABV Gallery. The auction sold out within minutes. He did a split drawing where 15 editions were held for collectors and the other 10 were open to anyone. Up to 50 people were allowed to enter the draw. There were 1,500 entries. The names of people who enter are not made public but those who bought the pieces are.
- “With NFTs, since only so many people can own it, the more eyes who see it or the more people who just download it (…) all of that brings value to the people who own it.” (Timestamp: 6:20)
- “There is definitely a couple of other very successful freelancers who are successful NFT artists right now.” (Timestamp: 17:22)
- “A lot of the big players in the music industry, a couple of the big ones, are doing NFTs now and making a hell of a lot more than they would in the music industry.” (Timestamp: 21:30)
- College experience: The advanced classes in his program were geared towards people who were beginning to use the software. He had learned about them six or seven years before. He felt this would be a waste of time and wouldn’t make him stand out in the industry. The programs were also expensive.
- Career opportunities: Ness had thought he would end up working for an agency but through Instagram, he was able to promote and become Ness Graphics. He became a freelancer and started his company. Since a young age, he has been doing freelance work. Playing Call-Of-Duty is what got him into digital art originally. He began creating animated intros for his friends’ usernames.
- Cinema 40 and cars: He began learning how to use Cinema 40 and made YouTube intros for other people. He had an interest in watches and cars and was hired by a watch company to do watch rendering and 3D modeling.
Entering the music space
- Starting out in the music industry: At the age of 19, Ness got involved in the music industry. He mostly works with Creative Directors who figure out what the musicians want. They will let me know their preferences such as colors, favorite foods, and other things they want to incorporate into the music. He sometimes gets referrals or works directly with musicians.
- Working with music artists: Some musicians work directly with artists. He receives free tickets for any of the shows he works on. He attends rehearsals to ensure everything is working properly. However, he doesn’t tour with musicians. He doesn’t care when he meets the musician but gets excited when another artist has worked with them.
- Technical support: Ness makes sure the videos are working properly and works with technicians. When shows are local or in NYC or Boston, he attends and takes pictures. He’s met several artists in the process. He recognizes other freelancers who have become very successful.
Getting Into NFTs
- Discovering NFTs: Ness first learned about NFTs on Instagram in 2018. Maker’s Place emailed him about his freelancing services. Recently, he discovered Kidmograph and Gavin Shapiro post in August. He dove in and started to understand what it was. He applied at Maker’s Place and Nifty Gateway and was accepted by both.
- Missed opportunity? If he had understood what crypto was sooner, he would have gotten involved before.
- Following his passion: He continues to work freelance because enjoys making shows and working with his friends. Despite having made a lot of money in crypto, he doesn’t want to stop being who he is. He still works on shows and helps people who need it. Now, he doesn’t need to say yes to any project. He can be selective about what he does.
Big Players in NFT
- Post-pandemic return: Ness says many of the big names in the NFT industry are making good money, more than they would in the music industry. He wonders if they will come back to it. If they invest properly, they could be set for life. Because shows haven’t really started up again since the pandemic hit, it’s hard to know what will happen when they do.
- Market saturation: The market is becoming saturated, and it gets harder every day to stand out. Success in the crypto art scene is 30% art and 70% engagement with collectors. It’s important to let them know about the value they’re getting. Platforms like Foundation now have over 10,000 artists.
- Standing out: How do you set yourself apart? It will be interesting to see strictly NFT galleries pop up. A few artists have curated a collection with Superrare, a digital market on Ethereum.
Advice And Contact Info
- Guidance for collectors: There is a disconnect between the artists, what they’re making, and what it is. There are many ways to create digital art. Offering guidance to collectors would be a great way to get them to understand what they’re buying.
- Consider the value: For the most part, celebrity and musician NFTs don’t hold that much value. It will be interesting to see their value over time.
- Engaging with collectors: You can find Alex on Discord at discord.gg.nessgraphics. It’s an open space for his collectors or people who haven’t yet. He’s open with the people there and talks about current NFTs. He’s also on Twitter. DMs about NFTs have been overwhelming so he is selective about answering.