Welcome to Third Act’s Collectors Spotlight where we feature collectors from around the NFT industry. Benny is a creative with over 15 years of experience in branding and advertising. He envisions the potential impact NFTs will have for all brands in the coming years and is a passionate advocate for Hedera NFTs. Benny is both an NFT collector and creator. His Twitter handle is @HairyHashgraph.

Third Act: How did you first learn about NFTs?

@HairyHashgraph: I first became aware of NFTs listening to a Guardian Australia Podcast; at the time, NFTs were making news because of Beeple’s ‘First 500 Days’ piece selling for millions of dollars. As a creative, I was instantly interested in how this might relate to my practice.

TA: What was the process like of going from first hearing/learning about NFTs to jumping in and starting your collection? Did you have any trepidations?

HH: My early NFT exploration took me to the Ethereum network, however, I was initially resistant because of the extortionate gas fees. I also found it difficult to form a connection with most of the artworks, I could see some appeal, but it wasn’t enough to get me hooked. Instead, I took a deep dive into the world of crypto. That’s where I heard about Hedera and then discovered Hedera NFTs. 

I initially saw these as investments; but found that to obtain the NFTs, it was necessary to join a community of early adopters to get on a whitelist (a guarantee to be able to purchase an NFT from a creator). 

This was daunting at first, however, it’s the element that was missing at the start – the social aspect of NFTs is what keeps me coming back. Once I was part of a community, I felt way more confident about my decision to purchase. Unless you’re confident buying crypto from an exchange, and then transferring it to a wallet, purchasing can be overwhelming. I’m not great with sequences of numbers, so making my first few transfers involved many rounds of checking wallet addresses. However, it is getting easier and easier for people without crypto experience as more wallets become available that include fiat on-ramps.

TA: Do you have any advice for someone looking to start their own collection?

HH: My advice would be to create Twitter and Discord accounts specifically for NFTs. These are the two communication channels that are most used in the space. It’s then a case of finding a project that you like on Twitter, then joining that community on Discord. 

The Hedera NFT community is very welcoming, and you see the same collectors across multiple projects. In this sense, you start to feel like part of the scene and get introduced to new projects and collections on an almost daily basis.      

I would also recommend taking a virtual tour of the Hedera Gallery which gives a good overview of popular projects on the Hedera network.

TA: What do you think the space will be like 5 years from now?

HH: The entire NFT space is in its infancy, the Hedera NFT space more so. NFT art is just a small aspect of what NFTs can be and I see so much being tokenized in the next five years. The utility NFTs provide is so exciting; from crowdfunding where NFT holders become ‘part-owners’ to ‘tokenizing carbon offsetting data’ to ensure sustainability; NFTs will give value and utility to everything. Gaming is also another huge sector to look out for. 

In terms of art, I’m hoping to see more fine art enter the space and a big push towards music and performance as NFTs.

TA: What would you like to see more of in the NFT space? This could be anything from a wish list of specific collections based on a film or television property, or simply just a direction you’d like to see fans and industry leaders heading in or thinking about.

HH: As much as I love pixel art and PFP character design, I would love to see more fine art enter the space. There have been a few artists popping up recently and I would encourage artists of all disciplines to explore the possibilities and opportunities to expand their practice with NFTs. 
One artist I have my eye on is Mark Francis Williams – he’s a British artist living in Bucharest, working in mixed media. His Beautiful Decay collection has this wonderful texture and gritty eroded aesthetic, it’s a black and white series that is really captivating.

TA: We know that in this industry, things are always changing, and there’s always something going on. Is there anyone you follow for up-to-date information?

HH: Great question. A few key people that I would recommend following would be @HelloFutureBuzz @HBARMORY @HGP_Patches @Vcente__ and @HBARGremlin, all of whom deliver some great Twitter Spaces that provide the community with insights, advice, and knowledge to navigate the Hedera NFT ecosystem successfully. I also recommend reading this thread by SEVO and giving him a follow. In the thread, he shares some amazing insights.

TA: Which piece of yours do you think is undervalued?

HH: I’m going to say my Vccess Metacore as this NFT provides access to a Creator Studio which aims to allow holders the ability to build Market Places and Experiences in the Vccess Metaverse. This project is still in the early phases; however, I hold out hope that the functionality and utility of this NFT will be extremely useful as the project grows and the adoption of Metaverses takes place at an exponential rate.  

TA: If you could put any of your pieces in a museum, which one would you choose?
HH: It would be my NEONZ. It’s the only NFT I have that isn’t minted on Hedera. NEONZ are a limited collection of 10,000 unique avatars, randomly generated from futuristic neon character art by Australian graphic artist Sutu. The NFT can be viewed with Augmented Reality (AR) and has a ‘Lightfieldz’ NFT accompaniment that unlocks AR world effects.  The reason I’d put this in a museum is that it is an early artifact of the metaverse era, one of the first examples of NFTs that are blurring the lines between the real world and the digital.

TA: Do you ever have trouble explaining to people what it is you do? How do you go about talking to people who know nothing about NFTs?

HH: I think there has been a lot of buzz about NFTs, especially in the last few months so people recognize the term yet aren’t always familiar with the technology or can’t grasp why someone would “pay for a JPEG of an ape they can get off the internet for free.”   

I try to overcome the latter by explaining that it’s like supporting a musician by buying an MP3 – you can enjoy their music, but you don’t own anything physical. If they grasp that, I then talk about scarcity, the value of collectibles, the idea of being in a community of other holders, and the utility NFTs can provide.   

I do feel that, for a lot of people outside of the crypto space, the artworks aren’t relatable. I think this will change when more examples of conceptual and fine art enter the space.

TA: Along those lines, do you find that most people outside of the community who you end up talking about NFTs are receptive?

HH: I still get a lot of eye-rolls, however, once people understand that NFTs can provide utility above being just an artwork, they certainly become more receptive. There are also lots of people interested in NFT artworks as investments, people become really receptive when I talk about how the value of an NFT can quickly escalate.

TA: What other creators, and collectors do you have your eye on?

HH: I love the work of Yukidoodle her Citrus Sumo Series is inspired by traditional Japanese art with a novel twist and it is utterly delightful.   

I’m also watching HBAR SHADY’z, I’m an OG holder of two Gen 01 NFTs. Gen 02 is dropping very soon. This is a project with a big following and has the backing of a fantastic community with members that are really engaged across the Hedera NFT space.

TA: Anything else you want to share?

HH: I’m really excited to see where this year takes Third Act, especially with more shows and audiences returning to theatres post-pandemic. I’m sure there will be some fabulous collectibles appearing on your site, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out.   

Finally, a bit of a shameless plug… I’m excited to be launching my first collection this year; Hash Heist is a ‘Who done it?’ NFT project that follows the story of a heist at the San Hedera City Vault. Each NFT is a character in the story, and through a process of elimination, the culprits behind the robbery will be uncovered and the spoils of the heist shared.

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