When New York-based artist WhIsBe — short for “What is beauty?” — first reignited the then-dormant flames of his creative fire in 2011, he was mostly concerned with following in the footsteps of his heroes in the traditional art world. Through graffiti, he thought, he could iterate on the works of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The result was commercial imagery intent on the disruption of public spaces — WhIsBe’s take on graffiti art.
But amidst all of WhIsBe’s subversive iconography, one recurring character in his works sticks out in its biting critique of the US criminal justice system: the Vandal Gummy. Originally, this character — an anthropomorphized gummy bear draped in prison garb — found itself on walls hidden in New York alleyways. Eventually, sculptures of the Vandal Gummy were produced, with one such sculpture finding its way into the personal gallery of billionaire New York real estate developer Larry Silverstein.
WhIsBe’s unifying force in Web3
Today, the Vandal Gummy now lives on the blockchain as well, with WhIsBe offering his work as a canvas for 24 of the NFT space’s leading artists. In our latest episode of Behind The Drop, WhIsBe discussed his future plans for the iconic Vandal Gummy character, and the value of collaboration in the NFT space.
Following the success of WhIsBe’s original Vandals collection, which saw him bring over the Vandal Gummy into the NFT space via an 11,111-piece collection, the New York-based artist is set to add to that initial collection with the Vandalized Edition: a 600-piece drop featuring collaborations with some of the NFT space’s best and brightest artists. “If we’re going to practice and preach community, […] we’ve got to walk the walk and not just talk the talk,” WhIsBe said in an interview with nft now.
Headlining the 600-piece drop are reinterpretations of the Vandal Gummy character by Steve Aoki, Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova, FVCKRENDER, Mad Dog Jones, XCOPY, and more. With this initiative, WhIsBe hopes to pay homage to some of the NFT space’s most important voices and artists, while fostering its continued growth. Speaking on the NFT space, WhIsBe stated: “I think it’s trying to find its identity. I think everybody’s trying to find their identity but forgetting to forget being the cool, popular kid at school and stick to what they believe in.” Working together is definitely a step in that direction. Vandal Gummy’s Vandalized Edition is set to go live on September 28.