Without the Token, All You Have is a JPG

We Are Our Own Martyrs

A Column by By Theo Goodman

Without the token, all you have is a jpg:

As seemingly random cookie-cutter 10k PFP projects blink in times square during the cheaper breakfast hours one might ask, is the top in? These precious collectibles, art, modern cave paintings were reproduced for all to see. One can simply -click- or as some might say -right-click- and a copy is made, so simple, so elegant the reproduction! In the current mania state of expensive jpg, one might forget that without the token, all you have is a jpg, but with the token, you still have “it” the NFT. It is ok if you don’t get it now, you will just FOMO in later.

In darkness what is truth?
The Gesamtkustwerk.

The NFT is not simply an expensive JPG that burns the earth to its core while allowing for new levels of carbon-neutral virtue signaling which give way for unthinkable business plans of feel-good tokenized carbon credits with no accountability. The NFT is not simply a profile picture that one can flex online in social networks by right-clicking the image of an NFT you own or don’t and adding it to your ProFile Picture in order to be part of the club. Want to join my new playground club?
The NFT is not simply a digital image in a vacuum of which one can only conceive of it as a digital image and nothing more. The NFT is a Gesamtkunstwerk(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesamtkunstwerk), total artwork whose concept is not simply the image but the intersection of the image, the token, and the timestamp of the token on a blockchain. This is the total concept, the jpg does not exist in a vacuum. Now you might think that each of these elements is of equal value in accordance to what you have and what you don’t, however, this is not the case.

Just say no

I just right clicked 5000 Bitcoin, I am now Nouveau Rich. If the three elements of the NFT were of equal value then you could simply right-click a bitcoin logo 5000 times and be one of the new elite, one of the nouveau rich with a stereotypical Lambo and walk around in sweat pants and a hoodie since you are probably not old enough to know how to dress anyway. In any case, you are rich enough to do the Zuckerburg dress style, halfway smart casual with trainers, please don’t do that.

Now that you right-clicked 5000 bitcoin logos and have 5000 bitcoin you are good to go, generational wealth and all! Why doesn’t that work, because you don’t have a token. Bitcoin is simply the native token of the bitcoin network (incoming comments -bitcoin is not a token it is just utxo- for all practical purposes bitcoin is the native token just stop having knee jerk reactions to the word “token” thanks!). If you don’t have the token, you don’t have any bitcoin, if you right-click and save Vitalik´s favorite ETH logo, even though it is his fav, you don’t have any ETH without the token ETH. One day the jpegs didn’t load…………..


The day the jpegs didn’t load

One day the jpegs didn’t load. You reset your laptop, the nouveau rich one with an ape sticker, the one with a “NO SHITCOINS” or the one with a “This laptop is carbon neutral” sticker on it. After the reset the jpegs didn’t load, your Bitcoin logo was gone, your ETH logo was gone and all your NFTs were GONE, annndddddd ITS GONE, but wait. They are not gone you have the tokens! Even if the link to the jpg is broken, there is a history of this link. Of course in this case there is an element of social consensus that is needed to agree – which token belongs to which jpg – but in the end, you have the token, without the token you just have a right-click jpg, or as I put it, nothing.

Nothing to shill, move along
The Pirate Bay NFT and Arweave

Let us simply look at the first lines of the Pirate Bay NFT.

“Did you know that an NFT is just a hyperlink [1] to an image that’s usually hosted on Google Drive or another web2.0 webhost? “(https://github.com/ghuntley/thenftbay.org)

This is simply incorrect. If this were the case then the Pirate Bay NFT would have indeed simply right-clicked billions of dollars worth of NFTs, but they did not. On top of that, they shilled Arweave with the [1] which makes me think this is simply an Areweve shill action. The link that is referenced also doesn’t get it, shocking!

“NFTs are fragile because while the metadata may be stored forever, the asset itself is likely not”(https://arweave.news/nft-404/)

Which misses the point that in fact, the token is the asset, and as my friend Joe Loney has said many times “the token is the art”. While I applaud both NFT Pirate Bay and Areweave for continuing the tough discussion on file storage and the future, I do not think either understands what an NFT is. Both are focused on the JPG, either overlooking the token or just in order to highlight that using a dependency like Arewave that is branded as permanent (yet highly experimental and new) is better than just hosting on imgr. It will take another issue of We are our own Martyrs to unpack the perma storage claims, maybe next time.


An NFT is a Gesamtkunstwerk, a Total Artwork. Without the bearer asset, the token you have nothing. If you cant load your jpg and still have the token, you still have the NFT.

The Power of Zeus and the Fury of Hades.


Graffiti and NFTs | The Era of Digital Tagging

Since ancient times, graffiti has been a way for people to express themselves and make their mark in a world that would prefer them to be silent. It’s a declaration of oneself, a sign that says, “I was here.”

Mint Gold Dust’s Producer Seth Scher knows this world well. Growing up in Philadelphia in the 1990’s, he was exposed to the thriving straightedge hardcore, rave, and hip hop culture there, and the graffiti movement was the cultural thread that tied it all together.

Fast forward to 2007, Seth was introduced to graffiti artist and designer Curve on a film set.

Curve moved to Philadelphia by way of New Haven, CT where his passion for exploration was forged and his introduction to graffiti began. It was in Philadelphia where he found himself immersed into the scene. His teenage years were spent painting in the streets, tunnels, and rooftops, using the city environment as a workshop and stage to express himself. This led to exploring other art-forms, which graffiti has roots in: including illustration, animation, and graphic design.

In 2020, Seth Scher was analyzing NFTs for his own work when he and Curve first discussed the idea of graffiti NFTs. The ultimate goal was to capture the essence of graffiti and create something that serves as a permanent historical record. Selling an NFT was one thing, but preserving a cultural echo and oral history was another. Graffiti by nature is ephemeral and defined not only by its markings, but by the space it occupies– a unique challenge to solve in a digital landscape.

Around this same time, Mint Gold Dust founder Kelly LeValley Hunt was having some of these same thoughts. She explains,

“Graffiti is our modern day hieroglyphics telling the past, the future, but most important, the present day story without a political media spin but with a grassroots version of our present day lives. If we don’t document this work on chain then we are erasing a large part of our history that some believe is not worthy of historical study.”

Chaos Curve, Curve, 2021

After going back and forth on how to retain the essence of graffiti when translating them into NFTs, they decided to simply borrow materials done on a wall, be it a tag or an art piece. Once hi-resolution images were taken, Curve’s pieces were then digitally enhanced to add depth or variation to each piece. The blockchain offered a permanence and formal authorship to work that was temporal and co-opted, but the story didn’t end there.

Curve was connected with Mint Gold Dust partner Illust Space to geo-drop his NFTs into the physical world through Augmented Reality, essentially creating a digital tag. This digital act of disruption is able to act as a record of where the original piece was tagged, offering a permanence that was unachievable before, or it can help writers create new tags that can be dropped anywhere in the world creating a new wave of graffiti.

We recently caught up with Curve to discuss his latest works on Mint Gold Dust and his thoughts on blockchain technology. Check it out below.

In your own words, why do you think NFTs are a good medium for graffiti writers?

From my understanding NFTs allow artists to have ownership of their work. Graffiti has been co-opted, exploited, and straight up stolen, and NFTs can create opportunities for graffiti artists to profit from their work on their own terms. It can also allow writers to keep their anonymity, which is very important for some.

Would you say that the disruption that decentralization and NFTs bring is attractive to you and other writers?

In part yes, because it’s new and exciting. Although I cannot say that I completely understand it. I think graffiti grew alongside other disruptive and anti-establishment movements, so there is definitely a lineage there.

What’s your process when digitizing your works? How does having video files supported influence this chapter in your artistic process?

My process for the most part still involves old fashioned sketching and drafting. Although with my iPad I don’t need to scan anything. If I paint a wall, I can begin digitally manipulating it immediately. I still create graffiti in a traditional manner and often digitizing is an afterthought. When it happens, that is when my pieces change and alter in their form and function. When I started sharing my graffiti on social media in 2013, I began to see this potential. There are times when the addition of digitization has made me approach my traditional process differently. For instance if my goal is that a particular piece be eventually animated, the steps with which I start it and finish it, will allow for that option, making my creative process very different from my norm. I enjoy experimenting with all the technological tools offered, without completely knowing what the outcome will be. While there has been a small video art tradition involved in graffiti since the 80s, I think our phones have made us all part time multimedia editors and artists. The supported video files have opened new doors and ideas for my work. I have been able to collaborate with digital video artists, who have many years in that field, and may have never got a chance to work with graffiti art as a subject. I also enjoy adding a musical or sound element to my pieces. The association with certain musical genres has always been alluded to, but has never been able to be explicitly shown until now.

Tell us a bit about your AR NFT pieces. How do you see this technology being a solution for writers and taggers?

The concept behind my AR NFT pieces is about the dilemma of seeing graffiti digitally versus the real world. The environments where graffiti exists are intrinsically tied to the process of making it and the aesthetics of said graffiti. The experience of viewing it outside, in person, and in the elements where it was created, are an important part of how graffiti grows, expands, and holds its power. I don’t seek to change or reinvent graffiti in a digital space. Since that is our current reality and affects so much of how we interact with one another, I seek to comment on this with my graffiti. I see the current technology as providing new avenues for writers to keep doing what they’ve always been doing; Getting Up.

What’s next for you? I’ve seen Zoidrecords on IG, are there any plans to do audio NFTs in the future?

My plan is to take my Zoidrecords project to the auditory level. Ultimately, releasing music and graffiti asmr is the idea. I’d like to treat these aspects as important as the graffiti that is seen.

Check out our 2 part podcast series with Curve, Seth, and Mint Gold Dust curator Eleonora Brizi below:




The Bauhaus of Web3

Mint Gold Dust is an ecosystem for artists, collectors, and collaborators from a variety of different industries that aims to transform the way people interact with the digital world. Our ecosystem was built to support artists and collectors on a micro and macro level to create our very own self-sustaining economy for Web3.

The Partners

We are accomplishing this goal by investing in strategic partners to offer unique opportunities to our community. Some of our partners include SmartSeal who is providing NFC solutions for physical assets, Illust Space who is transforming the way we view NFTs with AR technology, and Gilded Finance, a software and reporting company that provides infrastructure for marketplaces to support their artists and collectors with financial data. “There’s always art for art’s sake, but once you start buying and selling NFTs — those are business transactions with tax and financial implications. It’s a real challenge for artists and collectors to make sense of what’s essentially a minefield of blockchain data,” said Raina Casbon-Kelts, CxO at Gilded. “Gilded’s NFTOPS makes it easy for NFT platforms to provide financial transparency and tax-ready reports to their users. It’s imperative for artists and collectors to have that financial insight so they can focus on their art and not worry about a surprise tax bill at the end of the year.”

We also recently spoke with Rob McCarty, CEO of Illust Space, about what they are doing and what plans they have for the next year, “Illust Space is localizing the metaverse for Web3. Our wallet to world utility The Space features a set of publishing and discovery tools which give artists and collectors alike the ability to anchor and display their NFTs using augmented reality and GPS coordinates. Going into 2022, the team will enable publishers the ability to launch their own scavenger hunts, art walks, and experiences, fostering connections between artists and their patrons, projects and their communities, and the public with their neighborhoods.”

In September, Mint Gold Dust partnered with Illust Space and SmartSeal to help launch a fashion collection at NYFW with Assembly.Fashion. Inspired by the collection, Illust Space captured the likeness of former Miss Universe Paulina Vega wearing styles designed by Maria Intscher Owrang, Misa Hylton, and graffiti artist Curvazoid and created a 3 story tall version of her in augmented reality. That model was then geo-dropped in front of NYFW hub Spring Studios, creating our very own runway.

The styles from this drop were made with SmartSeal NFCs, allowing the physical pieces to have their authenticity and proof of ownership recorded on the Blockchain. Co-founder and CEO of SmartSeal Mark Shekleton explains, “SmartSeal connects physical assets to NFTs through cryptographically-linked Near Field Communication (NFC) chips which are embedded in the artist’s work. This process creates a one-to-one coupling between the artist’s work and an NFT. The NFT is used as a certificate of authenticity and proof of ownership and can be verified with just the tap of a smartphone. Selling artwork through these ‘digital deeds’ helps artists retain royalties and provides provenance to collectors.”

The historic event served as a small taste of how NFTs can revolutionize the fashion industry and an example of how Mint Gold Dust’s ecosystem can come together to work for you.

The Marketplace

Mint Gold Dust’s NFT Marketplace was designed to connect our artists with new patrons and collectors while focusing on value over volume transactions. Rather than focusing on the flipping economy in the secondary market, we are honed in on the primary market experience. When an artist mints on Mint Gold Dust, they are invited to create an Artist Passport, a series of information and memoir entries that help educate the collector about the piece, the artist’s process and inspiration, and more. Not only does this Artist Passport travel with the piece from owner to owner, the collector is also able to contribute to the passport to record their thoughts and feelings surrounding the piece. This helps establish a personal connection between the artist and the collector.

Another way we support artists on the platform is by offering media and marketing opportunities. This can take the form of a podcast, Twitter Spaces, artist profiles on social media, and coming soon, our web zine. Mint Gold Dust aims to support the artist from the moment they sign up for the platform.

Our marketplace is also unique because artists can choose which royalty structure they would like to employ, 10,15, or 20%. We also use ERC1155 contracts which allow artists to batch edition work quicker or and more efficiently than other Smart Contracts.

The Auctions

Mint Gold Dust also hosts in person live NFT auctions, taking the traditionally online experience to the next level. These auctions include primarily rare NFTs, including hard to find RAREPEPEs. During NFT NYC, Mint Gold Dust sold a Series 1 RAREPEPE, RAREPEPE NAKAMOTO, issued in 2016, for $500,000 to MetaKovan, the famed collector of Beeple’s EVERYDAYS. In 2022, Mint Gold Dust plans to expand this program.

When you collect or create with Mint Gold Dust, we are providing more than a platform, we’re inviting you into our community and acting as a bridge between the digital and physical worlds. Join us as we Mint Gold Dust.