Spent any significant amount of time on crypto Twitter? You’ve likely seen the handiwork of Bold Leonidas.
The pseudonymous Australian illustrator has displayed an admirable knack for reading the room in the crypto space, tackling the topics of the day in hilarious, hand-drawn cartoons featuring a cast of recurring characters, including apes, bears, Rektguys, and of course, his signature take on Pepe the Frog. Think Beeple’s “Everydays” in comic strip form.
Following in the footsteps of memetic monetizers like mfers founder Sartoshi, Bold Leonidas has parlayed his following into a burgeoning collector base, selling 77 pieces in his “Bold Pepes” 1/1 series on Foundation and moving 1,443 mints in a recent open edition release. Counting many of web3’s most notorious degens in his corner, Bold Leonidas is primed to be a player in the next NFT bull run.
Every week, nft now’s Next Up unveils a new artist from our curated list of ascendant talents who have been making significant waves throughout Web3. This week, our spotlight turns to Bold Leonidas.
nft now: How did you first become interested/involved in digital art?
Bold Leonidas: From a very young age, I was obsessed with both technology and art. However, it actually took me a surprisingly long time to figure out a way to combine my two passions. As someone who dominantly worked with acrylic paints, the feeling of painting just really didn’t transfer to the likes of Wacom tablets; looking at the screen whilst my hand dragged a stylus over a different device felt so disconnected from what I was doing – never mind the color mixing, lack of texture, etc. As the technology improved, I kept trying to create artwork, but I never felt quite happy with the results. Finally, I came to realize that my mistake was that I kept trying to emulate painting instead of trying something entirely new.
At the time, I was spending hours reading children’s books with my son, and I realized I was starting to fall in love with illustration. Reading those books was a catalyst for me. From the very first time I attempted my new style, it just felt right in a way that painting never had. For me, it actually felt better than working on paper or canvas, so I was hooked from that moment. I haven’t looked back since. How would you describe your art? To be honest, I feel strange calling it “art” or calling myself an “artist” – I even find I’m hesitant to call myself an “illustrator.” I suppose the best way to describe what it feels like to me is that I have just found my niche. I have interests in psychology, technology, cryptocurrency, and humor – I feel lucky that I have just enough “art” in me to get it across the line.
What’s your process like? And where do you usually find inspiration?
To be honest, I literally almost never stop. I jot ideas down constantly – sometimes even climbing out of bed at night to go and write something down – and I tend to draw on the iPad for 3-4 hours per day. However, I probably spend more time thinking about ideas than I do drawing. I get up at around 6 a.m., and I usually head to bed around 2 a.m., so I’m not sleeping a lot at the moment. I put ideas that are still forming into notes on my phone (I currently have about 100 comic ideas in there), and there are a fair few others just floating around in my head. When I’m scrolling through Twitter, I can let ideas stew in my mind until I feel ready to open the iPad to a blank canvas and just start drawing. I actively refine whilst I’m drawing, and anyone watching my timelapses can see this refinement process in action. At this point, unless I am mistaken, I am the most prolific artist currently in the web3 space, with over 1400 completely original, hand-drawn pieces created in under a year. To date, I have only minted 76 of these.
What was your breakthrough moment in web3?
I must admit, when “Motion” sold for 8.5E, I couldn’t believe it! I still think of my account and work as very small-scale, as I have so many ideas for moving forward and how I want all of this to grow. So, I’d definitely call that an amazing moment, but I’m not sure I’d call it my “breakthrough moment.” I’m not sure I’ve had that yet.
What are the biggest challenges facing rising artists in web3?
In my opinion, artificial intelligence is the number one problem. A.I. provides a medium that is naturally digital and is advancing at such a pace that it’s hard to see where traditional art fits anymore. It’s becoming harder and harder to separate the two. However, A.I. was actually a huge motivator for me when it came to doubling down the effort I was putting into my comics, as I felt like it was going to be quite a while until A.I. would be capable of doing what I do (in terms of making subtle jokes and implications). It’s also why I always start with a blank canvas so that I have the video as proof of my work from start to finish. Whilst I could simply copy and paste the Bold character for each new comic, I don’t. I draw him from scratch every single time, and so he is inherently imperfect – he changes size, shape, etc. all the time – but, for me, that adds authenticity. It gives my work a human element that A.I. cannot recreate.
What advice do you have for rising artists in this space?
In the web3 space, I’d advise rising artists to be careful with supply. I see a lot of relatively small accounts completely overdoing it on mints; they are extracting value from their followers and fans as soon as possible, then just banging out another piece or Open Edition a week later. In my opinion, that kind of treatment leaves a sour taste in the mouths of those who grabbed your last one, and it will ultimately drive your audience away. Even if it adds a few sheckles to your coffers short term, it’s a surefire way to kill your progress and, more importantly, your community and support in the long run.