The 9-Year-Old NFT Artist Who Made Millions and Got His Own Anime

BY Jex Exmundo

April 08, 2022

One of the best things about NFTs is that just about anyone can participate in the growing community. Yes, even kids. Meet Zombie Zookeeper, the anonymous nine-year-old NFT artist behind the Zombie Zoo gallery. The young artist’s pieces have sold for as much as 18 ETH – roughly $61,190. He’s currently one of the most prominent figures in the nascent Japanese NFT art scene, having been selected for 2021’s Forbes Japan 100 list.

Who is Zombie Zookeeper?

Zombie Zookeeper’s rapid ascent can be traced back to his mother, Emi Kusano. After noticing her son making Minecraft-inspired pixel art on her tablet one lazy summer afternoon, she issued him a challenge: to find a buyer for his art.

As Kusano encouraged her son to keep creating art, she got to work getting her son’s pieces up for sale. An experienced artist herself, she was extremely savvy about the art world’s current climate. As such, she knew the best place to feature her son’s pixel art would be on the internet: OpenSea, to be specific.

In a few short clicks, her son was officially an NFT artist. She even created English social media accounts for her son, giving the rest of the world a chance to communicate with the young artist.

Despite a slow start, things quickly picked up for Zombie Zookeeper when well-known DJ Trevor McFedries featured the then-8-year-old’s art on his social media profiles. After that, pieces from the Zombie Zoo collection skyrocketed in value and started happening fast.

Life as a young artist

Barely a month into his career as an artist, Zombie Zookeeper had reached levels of success most artists can only wish for. Understandably, his friends at school wouldn’t believe his news upon coming back from summer break. In an interview with Business Insider Japan, Zombie Zookeeper shared that his peers were in disbelief about his recent accomplishments. In response, he decided that he was simply going to have to keep his art career going in secret. 

When he’s not focusing on school, Zombie Zookeeper works on three pieces a day and up to nine during the holidays. His parents make sure that whatever he earns over the course of his career goes towards his future. According to Business Insider Japan’s report, the most his parents have done so far with his earnings was treat the nine-year-old to a brand-new pack of Pokémon cards.

From OpenSea to your TV

After stewarding her son into the NFT space, Kusano went on to start an NFT project of her own. With the help of Ayaka Ohira and several other collaborators, she launched the Shinsei Galverse project in December of 2021. It features characters heavily inspired by classic magical girl anime, and with the help of the project’s supporters, will hopefully be featured in an original anime in the future.

With this in mind, the latest big development in Zombie Zookeeper’s art career is sure to have made his mother proud. Japanese animation studio Toei Animation just signed on to bring characters from the Zombie Zoo collection to a TV screen near you. Currently, an anime series based on the characters is in the works, and Toei hopes this adaptation will add to their list of successful children’s anime series, which includes Digimon Adventure, Yu-Gi-Oh!, and One Piece.

Undoubtedly, the future is looking bright for this young artist.

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