The Wry and Whimsical World of Bryan Brinkman

BY Matt Medved

February 13, 2024

Despite driving in from Westchester, Bryan Brinkman looks perfectly at home in Brooklyn.

Bearded and bespectacled, the 38-year-old artist and animator wears a wide smile and loud hoodies at both of our meetings — one featuring the bright neon iconography of his SuperRare collection, the other covered in cryptic doodles by fellow artist Vinnie Hager. Framed by a black blazer, a cheeky Kermit the Frog graphic tee peeks out to proclaim “vibe.”

On the surface, Brinkman exudes an unassuming friendliness that fits his artwork’s playful aesthetic; one could almost mistake him for one of the cutesy anthropomorphic clouds in his popular Art Blocks project, “Nimbuds.” However, Brinkman’s cheery exterior belies a dry wit and a penchant for real talk.

“Generative art collectors are the snobbiest people,” Brinkman says with a shrug. “Understanding generative art requires a certain amount of intelligence because you have to understand math and code… Sometimes, people care more about the code than the output. It’s like judging a painting based on the brand of paint that was used. Who cares?”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

One of the benefits of having a resume as decorated as Brinkman’s is the perspective it lends. Few artists in web3 can lay claim to his credentials — sales at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, six solo collections on Nifty Gateway, two drops on Art Blocks, 39 1/1 mints on SuperRare, an exhibition with Unit London. It’s anything but accidental.

“Each of those is hitting a different group of collectors than my normal drops hit,” he explains. “And that just expands your kind of circles. I believe you shouldn’t overburden one collector with too much of your work because that puts them in a very risky position. So the more you can keep stretching out and finding new people, the better.”

Sounding every bit the bearer of sage wisdom, it’s hard to believe Brinkman has only focused on his art full-time for less than three years. But such is web3, where that might as well be three decades.

“Going to Christie’s and seeing my art felt like a personal achievement because I was across the street from my old job,” he reflects. “I would walk in there on my way to work all the time and look at art, so to go in there and see my art there felt like a real moment.”

“Going to Christie’s and seeing my art felt like a personal achievement because I was across the street from my old job.”


Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

Early Animations & Television

Brinkman’s entry into digital art came through the lens of his childhood passion for gaming. His earliest digital creations were custom levels built for Duke Nukem 3D, which led to learning more about graphic software. His high school years were spent learning tools ranging from the Adobe Suite to Cinema 4D, posting his creations on sites like Newgrounds where he connected with a community of like-minded creators.

“They had this voting system where if you got more than two out of five stars, your work could stay on the website. And if it got less than that, it got deleted,” Brinkman recalls. “That became this fun challenge of not only getting on the site but then seeing the comments from people who liked it or didn’t like it. That kept driving me to create more and more.”

His curiosity and creativity led him to study at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, where he expanded his knowledge of animation tools and techniques. Upon graduating, he secured a job doing motion graphics for a fashion ad agency while pursuing commercial work on the side. His work caught the attention of a cartoon series called “The Life and Times of Tim,” which brought Brinkman to Los Angeles to work on the show.

“That was my entry into the LA scene where I was living with people who worked on ‘Adventure Time,’ and all these other Cartoon Network shows,” Brinkman says. “So I met all these awesome artists and got very inspired. Through that, I got put into galleries like Gallery 98 and did these group shows with them.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

Tracing his journey from LiveJournal to MySpace to Facebook to Tumblr to Instagram, Brinkman credits his prolific posting on social media platforms with opening doors and creating opportunities for his artistry to shine. “I think there’s a deep need for artists just to feel seen,” Brinkman says. “So you’re just putting stuff out hoping someone likes it and says this is great.”

Brinkman landed a brief stint with MTV working on shows like “Guy Code” and “Girl Code,” which led to an opportunity to work for “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” As that show transitioned to “The Tonight Show,” Brinkman found his footing in comedy by working for Fallon and “Saturday Night Live” simultaneously.

“It was very fast-paced,” Brinkman recalls. “They write out all their jokes in the morning, and you get a list of things to create. There’s a bunch of different checkpoints to get approved by writers, producers, and Jimmy, and then it goes to a rehearsal at 3 p.m., and then the show tapes at 5 p.m. and airs at night, and then you start fresh the next day. So it’s this constant churn, which I appreciated because I like ADHD, and there was a new challenge not only every day, but every hour.”

He adds: “It kept me very fresh and gave me more tools to work with. I think that all leads to my NFT work, which is very mixed media and all over the place stylistically.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

Chasing a Dream

In February 2020, Brinkman entered the NFT space by minting his first 1/1 pieces on SuperRare and quickly began building a collector base with notable names like j1mmy and WhaleShark. In October, Brinkman debuted his first Nifty Gateway drop, “Cloudy,” which he now considers a career breakthrough.

“My drop ended up being the day after Beeple’s first drop, so there was a ton of heat immediately,” he recalls.

“Bryan always stood out for his unique use of color, the energy and vitality of his artwork, and his willingness to be unique and try things other people were not doing,” says Duncan Cock Foster, Nifty Gateway’s co-founder. “He was always visually appealing and prolific, and it amazed us how he could effortlessly execute on many new styles.”

Brinkman continued flexing his creative muscles, making his first foray into generative art in January 2021 with his Art Blocks Curated debut, “Nimbuds.” Working with friend and coder Manny Morales, Brinkman reimagined the neon colors and cloud motifs from his early work as a 400-piece on-chain collection that remains one of his most recognizable releases.

“When I joined the NFT space, I wanted to start fresh. I started with my piece, ‘Explode,’ with those colors. I realized that if I use those colors, I can try out any style or medium, but it all ties together,” Brinkman explains. “That same idea also went with the iconography. So the clouds from the explosion started to symbolize the clouds that we’re storing all this art on, and then there were the wires that symbolize the connections between each other. You look at ‘Nimbuds’ and see the lineage connected to the Nifty Gateway and the SuperRare piece I did.”

“If these people are spending their hard-earned money for me to make art and grow as an artist, it would be disingenuous for me to continue working full time and just do this on the side.”


As Brinkman’s profile and market grew, so did the pressure to focus more on his craft. However, he did not make the decision to leave “The Tonight Show” lightly.

“There was a feeling of responsibility,” he recalls. “If these people are spending their hard-earned money for me to make art and grow as an artist, it would be disingenuous for me to continue working full time and just do this on the side because this was the dream I’ve always had, right?”

One week later, while working at SNL, Brinkman received the script for the show’s now-famous NFT sketch and was able to include his artwork in the segment. “That was another sign to me,” he reflects. “When that came out, I was like, ‘Oh, this is actually reaching into popular culture.'”

In April 2021, he officially left “The Tonight Show” to focus on his art full-time and poured all his time and attention into preparing for his second Nifty Gateway drop, “Flicker Fusion.” Coming on the heels of a market crash, the collection sold 80% of its supply before stalling.

“It took me all summer to sell it out,” Brinkman recalls. “Then it did well once it sold out. It’s because I went on a Top Shot podcast. I hit a different demographic that I exposed my art to. My advice is to experiment, get weird, try to branch out.”

Brinkman’s market took off as NFT market volume reached new all-time highs that summer. In May 2021, his “Betty’s Notebook” collaboration with Verdigris Ensemble sold for $215,989 on Async Art — marking a career-high for Brinkman. The project delved into Amelia Earhart’s disappearance from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl via a dynamic music NFT accompanied by Brinkman’s visuals and a physical short-wave radio.

“It was split like 40 ways because we were able to pay it out to the choir singers, conductors and composers,” he recalls. “The conductor said it might have been the first time a choir made a profit on music. It was a big moment.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

Cock Foster attributes Brinkman’s success to “his skill, persistence, personality, and his earnest presence on social media.”

“His commentary is often a breath of fresh air, and he provides a perspective you can’t find anywhere else,” says Cock Foster. “His artwork is unique and beautiful, and I can recognize it instantly when it shows up on my timeline.”

While the bull market proved fruitful for Brinkman’s career, he soon found himself overwhelmed by opportunity.

“During the bull, the challenge was not getting overwhelmed,” Brinkman says. “There were moments when I got very burnt out because I’d said yes to too many things. There was this constant comparison problem. You compare yourself to all these VIPs who, in one day, are making twice as much as you’ve made in two years. There’s a mental health problem there, where you’re like, ‘Should I be doing this?'”

“His commentary is often a breath of fresh air and he provides a perspective you can’t find anywhere else.”


He’s carried these lessons into a lengthy and challenging bear market that has tested the mettle of web3’s digital art community.

“It’s a hard time for everybody, including myself,” he admits. “What we’re seeing is the speculation of the space, which is the driving force of volume favors momentum. So we’ll see someone have a month of momentum, which can demoralize many artists who don’t have that moment.”

Brinkman stresses the importance of intentional marketing while building a strong collector base. “When you create games and gambling incentives, you attract people that care less about the art and more about winning.”

“I feel for collectors,” he adds. “Anytime I make a purchase, a bunch of artists hit me up, ‘Man buy this, buy this.’ So I can only imagine how much a collector has to deal with in those terms. It’s hard to tell an artist I think their work is cool, but it’s just not my style.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

The State of the Union

Brinkman has no shortage of opinions on the state of web3.

He laments the downfall of creator royalties amid the battle for market share between Blur and OpenSea, which he describes as having a “horrible impact” on the space. Brinkman feels that it has turned away many artists drawn to the space by its promise and has limited how artists can engage the community.

“I understand everyone wants to make as much money as possible, but it came at the expense of artists doing airdrops, free mints, or things collectors liked,” he says. “Now we’re stuck with just doing sales all the time. I feel like we lost a lot of the fun when we lost creator royalties.”

“I feel like we lost a lot of the fun when we lost creator royalties.”


Brinkman is optimistic about marketplaces like Magic Eden, Deca, Sansa, and others safeguarding royalties, believing they can help reclaim some of the lost revenue streams to creators.

“I’ve always looked at the marketplaces as a garage sale versus a vintage shop,” he explains. “You can go buy something really cheap at a garage sale if you dig around and get lucky and find it. Or you can pay a premium to a curated vintage shop because it’s collected and easy to find quality. I think we’ll see artists’ marketplaces come up and be that kind of place.”

Brinkman always looked up to OG crypto artists like Sarah Zucker and Coldie, who allocated a certain percentage of their art sales to supporting fellow artists. Unfortunately, he feels they are a dying breed, expressing disappointment with a new generation of artists who extract value from the web3 space without giving back.

“I see a lot of artists that do really well in this space who don’t put that energy back towards others, and that bums me out,” Brinkman says. “Why aren’t you buying more? I could see it sometimes being the appearance of endorsement. Some of it might be frugalness. Maybe it’s just a matter of not fully believing in the technology long-term.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

While Brinkman recognizes AI technology as a “powerful tool” and “a topic of our time,” he’s also a wry realist who believes “99% of AI art will go to zero.”

“I think the trends of it are so short-lived that a lot of the art being made with it right now will look very bad,” Brinkman says. “I worry that a lot of artists are chasing these trends, and a year from now, they will just have a bunch of unsellable stuff because those trends will be replicated to such a crazy degree.”

“99% of AI art will go to zero… I think the trends of it are so short-lived that a lot of the art being make with it right now will look very bad.”


He adds, “It’s like Roope Rainisto said: we need to embrace how bad things are right now. I think there’s truth to that, but will the 50 projects that look just like ‘Life in West America’ hold value? You have to be the first or have a very strong storyline and voice; otherwise, it’s just going to be the same as a PFP where it’s just going to go to zero.”

One area where Brinkman remains bullish is consumer adoption of AR technology and its intersection with the art world.

“I think there will be a digital overlay to all physical art in the future,” he says. “So if you’re looking at a painting in AR glasses, you’re going to be getting virtual highlights, additional context, and more information on the art in a way that combines physical and digital.”

Credit: Bosh Jerns for nft now

Looking Ahead

On Oct. 6, Brinkman held his first solo gallery show in New York with Blackdove, debuting three new pieces in his “Sky Lines” collection and showcasing a retrospective of works tracing his career journey. Guests sipped champagne and meandered through the exhibition, collecting signed prints, floral stickers, and enamel pins beside candy-colored displays.

Viewed in close proximity, the juxtaposition made evident the evolution of Brinkman’s artistic output and the common themes that tie them together as a body of work.

“I think having all those different works together helps people understand that bigger picture I built with iconography and these threads that connect everything,” he says.

Credit: BlackDove x Bryan Brinkman

As the gallery show was one night only, it left Brinkman with an appetite for more in-person activations. He muses about throwing a concert at NFT NYC but recognizes it would be a different beast.

“The nice thing about the gallery is there wasn’t a lot of competition,” he says. “But NFT NYC, where you’re competing with ten other events?”

In the meantime, Brinkman remains focused on several forthcoming projects while still finding time to experiment with new art formats, including a series of generative theme park maps with Pindar Van Arman that may or may not see release. Ever curious, he recently purchased a plotter and 3D printer and is “having fun playing” with them while eyeing future crossovers between his digital and physical works.

“There’s no shortage of cool things to work on in this space,” he gushes. “I’m excited to play more with physical merch. I’m excited to target more interesting communities where you make a piece for a curated set of artists’ drops. I’m also excited to do more experimental work, whether playing with AR or generative works. It’s just fun to have more tools in the belt.”

Credit: BlackDove x Bryan Brinkman
Dive Deep

Features & Guides