Lookalikes, snake milkers, mattress testers and Netflix subtitles. In this section we interview the people with a non-standardized answer to the standard question: What do you actually do? This time Jose Mercado (34), NFT designer.By Anna Lillioja
- WHO: Jose Mercado
- What: NFT designer
- Why this profession? “Digital art and 3D art are the future, and technologically advanced companies are choosing to trade with NFTs.”
Jose Mercado started as a designer of notebooks. Now the 34-year-old Mexican works as an NFT designer with 45 employees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are licensing rights attached to digital objects. In Mercado’s case, it is digital art. He creates digital artwork that is sold as NFT.
The buyer gets the rights to such an image and thus owns the work forever. The NFT market is a relatively new market, where, according to Mercado, mainly companies operate that want to enter a new technological world and, for example, already trade with bitcoin.
Due to the pandemic, trade in physical items collapsed. I decided to switch to digital illustration.
Mercado also came into contact with NFTs because he was already trading bitcoin. “I already had an illustration studio,” he says. “For a long time I designed notebooks that were sold online. But the trade in physical items collapsed due to the corona pandemic. I decided to switch to digital illustration.” In February 2021, Mercado started trading NFTs himself, and in June of that year he decided to start making NFT designs himself.
Mercado: “Because I already had a lot of experience with illustrations, automation and digital sales, it took off quickly.” Mercado’s first set of NFTs, a collection of digital artwork, sold for $2,000 (about $1,800). Since then, it has already been increased to first $5,000 and then $10,000. In total, the designer already earned $270,000 with his NFTs under his company name Jfrico Studios.
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The younger generation of artists is used to digitizing
According to Mercado, there is not that much difference between digital art and physical art. “It’s more of a generational thing, I think,” he says. “I work with illustrators in their 40s and they had a hard time transitioning to digital. But some very young artists I know wouldn’t even consider doing something physical.”
Mercado works with an average of eight to fourteen people to create a set of NFTs. It takes between two hundred and four hundred hours for a set to be ready. The company works on a task and on-demand basis for clients worldwide. Often these are technologically advanced companies that see the future of trading NFTs. Mercado and his team receive the lion’s share of their clients and income through the freelance platform Fiverr.
Digital characters and worlds
How does that design work? Mercado: “We first create a digital character that plays the main role in an artwork and then we create a lot of accessories and expressions, with the aim of making variations of the character. A whole world is also created around the characters.” Mercado and his employees are busy daily inventing, designing and selling all these new figures and the many variations.
Mercado also has big plans for the future. He is already expanding his design company from 2D to 3D digital art to the so-called metaverse (the entire network of interconnected 3D virtual spaces of different users). “Think avatars and entire worlds designed in 3D,” says Mercado. “It’s a world that will greatly benefit from the technology behind NFTs.”
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