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Crypto Cookie: The Pixls NFT Mastermind

When I first came across Pixls, it instantly clicked. The individual characters are well designed. The roll-out, flawlessly executed. It also doesn’t take a visionary to see that these characters belong inside some sort of video game.

Inside the Pixls discord collectors agree on that vision and have been actively proposing various integrations that would increase the value of each Pixl.

Like many others in crypto, the solo-founder behind Pixls prefers to use a pseudonymous name, in this case “Cookie”. They also use images of Cookie monster as their profile photos.

Aside from a Sesame Street persona, what’s most notable is that they’ve been exploring the world of cryptocurrencies for around four years. Cookie isn’t just an artist, they’re also a developer. This hybrid contributes to a more custom experience and most likely, its success.

It also enabled Cookie to code the ERC-721 contracts versus uploading a bunch of GIF files to OpenSea or another marketplace. It also unlocked more advanced functionality within the token including a pricing bonding curve.

The launch, which happened on their own website, included the simplest of game dynamics. In purchasing a Pixl, collectors contribute to increasing the population of a made up town called Pixlton.

For now, nothing happens inside the town of Pixlton outside of a population sign which shows the number of Pixls that have been sold (currently 5,468).

When I came across the project a couple weeks ago, I had to reach out to Cookie to understand how Pixls came to be.

What was your first entry into art?

I’ve been drawing and doodling ever since I was little. Mostly cartoon style drawings. As I got older I also ventured into Photoshop more and more, which combined really nicely with the drawing, but also opened up new avenues. I’ve built a pixel art style game with some friends a long time ago, so that also allowed me to expand my horizons into that area. In the end, I never really pursued art as a career, so it became more and more of a fun hobby to me.

How has your style evolved over time and how would you describe your style today?

As it’s only been a hobby and not necessarily a full-time vocation I wouldn’t say it has evolved much. My artistic projects have always been about simply doing fun things that I like doing, which spans a lot of areas from cartoony drawings to pixel art to completely abstract stuff.

Prior to selling your NFTs was your art your full-time job?

It was not. I’ve studied to be and have been working as a software developer for almost 15 years, which at this point is still my full-time job. Obviously, I’ve dabbled in graphical hobby projects, but nothing to the scale of what I’ve recently been doing with Pixls. The Pixls project started as something I did to learn new things, and for my own entertainment during a global pandemic that limits social interactions with friends.

Were you previously involved in the cryptocurrency space? If so, how?

I’ve been around since September of 2017. Initially just trading with absolutely no clue of what I was doing. Rode the bull run of late 2017 all the way up, rode it back down again too. Learnt a lot in those days. Around April of 2018 I decided to set up a Twitter account, like one does, to share my random insights. Near the end of 2018 I teamed up with a buddy of mine to set out to combine my coding knowledge with his market knowledge to create an indicator suite / trading system that is still being used by people to this day.

What prompted you to begin selling NFTs?

I’d been working on a pixel art character generation tool for a few months already when my interest in NFTs was triggered by the Hashmasks project. A friend pointed it out to me and the fact that it was generated art kind of clicked in my head with the thing I was already building. This was when I shifted my pet project towards a generated pixel art characters NFT project. Going in with close to 0 expectations, just to see how far I could get with it.

With absolutely no knowledge of tech like Web3 or Solidity programming there was a lot to figure out, but I’d like to think that my coding background meant I could pickup on these concepts fairly quickly. Also obviously taking some inspiration from projects before it which you can probably still see to this day. All of this eventually led to the birth of Pixls.

How are your sales going so far?

Beyond any and all expectations. I had been building my project out in the open for weeks. Posting updates on Twitter, showing what I was working on in different NFT related Discord groups I was in. I’ve also taken in a lot of tips and suggestions from people based on that and incorporated them into the project. When I had finally set myself a launch date my nerves were high for days. I had no idea how big the interest would be, the Twitter account at that point had like 200 followers. I just hoped everything would work as I designed it, as there’s still people’s money involved.

Luckily it did and people went nuts on the sale up to a certain point, which left me absolutely flabbergasted. This started as a project that I built to just explore new tech and have some fun during a pandemic. Absolutely insane.

Sales kind of stalled after a certain point because of a too ambitious bonding curve. I will be the first to admit it was a part of the project I didn’t necessarily spend too much time on. I just re-used existing mechanics. My main focus had been on making the art and getting that to be as crisp as possible. It’s the one thing I regret about the whole experience.

I think setting the 0.5 ETH tier as the ceiling and increasing the tier size below that would have done wonders for the project. A project that sells out has a lot more weight to it than one that doesn’t. Unfortunately changing the bonding curve mechanics is not something you can easily do after the fact.

Have NFTs changed your plans for the future? If so, how?

They have. The amount of money the project raised is absolutely life changing. While that takes away a lot of the basic worries in life, with that also comes a lot of new worries you never really thought about. Contrary to the cowboy mentality that typically goes around in crypto there are things in the real world that need to be handled. E.g. figuring out your tax duties, starting a company around the project or future plans, etc. That’s what has been going on in my personal life since launch, besides also still working a 40h day job.

Looking at the future, I’m quitting my day job. The financial situation obviously gives a bit more breathing room to explore things that I really enjoy doing. One of which is game development, which with my coding experience and my interest in all things graphical could be a nice fit to the Pixls project. Hiring freelancers to produce graphical assets / help code is also something I’m looking at for moving this project forward beyond just being GIF collectibles.

What do you think would improve your overall experience with NFTs?

I think my main gripe right now is that the entire space is still in its infancy. A lof of the money going around is still purely speculation and it shows. People try to get in on NFT projects early (cheap) to make a quick flip and just move on to the next project. With the amount of projects coming out, this can be quite profitable if you know what projects to hop onto.

However, right now this creates a huge graveyard of projects that raised a lot of money, but community interest is dwindling as there’s always a new project vying for attention. Adding long-term value is the way to go in my book after that initial hype phase is over. However, it feels like a lot of investors simply don’t have the patience for that. They want to see hype every single day, but that’s just not realistic because long-term value is not developed in a day.

If you buy an NFT, you should buy it for what it is then and there. Not what it could potentially be. If you like the art and think it’s worth the price, by all means buy it. But if the value depreciates a few weeks after release, flaming the creator for making a “shitty project” does absolutely nothing to change that. It is even detrimental to the motivation of working towards the longer-term goals the creator has set for himself.

Do you have any exciting upcoming NFT projects? If so, any that you care to share?

I dabbled around in generative art that is a bit more abstract than Pixls is. Generating unique pieces based on the transaction hash of the transaction you used to mint the token. This is all still very conceptual though and might not even see the light of day eventually. I think I’ve said it before, but one of the most important things in life to me is “do shit you like”. Doesn’t matter if it eventually leads to something, but at least you’ll have fun doing it and I think that shines through in the end result.

What’s the best way for people to check out your work online?

Pixls can be found at our website and on Twitter @PixlsOfficial. I try to regularly post project updates on there. Our Discord community is probably the best way to reach out.

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