In January 2022, the sales figures from the NFT pioneer Bored Ape Yacht Club and their complementary collection, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, saw record-setting sales figures eclipse long-standing arts institutions. Collectors all over the world fuel this future-forward ecosystem, as NFTs continue to affect our culture daily. Through both the blockchain technology in which they are stored and the art itself, NFTs have become part of many people’s daily vernacular.
Enter NYC-based artist Craig Redman, founder of the design collective Rinzen, one-half of the beloved Craig & Karl art and design duo and creator of Dour Darcels—a collection of 10,000 unique characters from Redman’s charming Darcel Disappoints world. Many will recognize Redman’s illustrations from his Colette Paris collaboration, or his imaginative work with Louis Vuitton. But he is now taking his creations into web3. We spoke with the artist to see what life looks like in the metaverse for Darcel.
Tell us a little bit about Darcel—what has he been up to since we last saw him?
Darcel is a character I created when I first moved to New York. I created him to represent me in an illustrated blog documenting my adventures in New York. Over the years, I got to work on different projects with him, including a lot with the Parisian store Colette where I had a couple of exhibitions and with whom I got to work on a collection for IKEA. There are always a few things on the go with Darcel; he’s the character that never sleeps, particularly now with the creation of Dour Darcels.
Why did you decide to make the jump into NFTs?
I was bored during the height of the pandemic and started digging into NFTs more. The more I dug, the more interested I became. As an artist that does mostly digital work it can sometimes feel like your work isn’t valued the same as more traditional mediums; NFTs flip that idea on its head. Posting artwork on Instagram suddenly didn’t seem so interesting, there’s a whole new approach to digital art now that I find so much more intriguing.
What has been the most surprising thing you’ve learned about the space?
It’s gotta be the community that each project has. I like that everyone finds the community they fit in with best, there are so many projects and each has its own point of view. It’s about being drawn to projects that you feel a connection with, whether it’s to the art or other members. The Dour Darcels community has been so supportive so far, it really gives me an insane amount of pleasure to see the people excited about the project and contributing to it in their own way.
What are some projects you’re following?
Coming from a design and illustration background I’m really into the projects that have great art—I love Doodles, Cool Cats, Friends With You, Clone X, Weather Report, WonderPals, Deadfellaz and JPG People. Cycloobs is a smaller limited PFP project I’m really into as well, same for bktr.io which is a collection that’s added to over time.
Can you tell us a little bit more about how your forthcoming NFTs will differ from your prints? What are the traits that they’ll have?
The prints were focused on pop culture figures (people like Karl Lagerfeld and Kanye, for example) whereas Dour Darcels is a whole new community of characters that are specifically created for web3. Visually, I decided to create Dour Darcels as dimensioned characters, rather than the previous 2D iterations, to signal this kind of new beginning, one that’s less focused on me and more on a wider community.
In terms of traits, Darcel has always been about his eye, and that’s the focus of the “PFPs” [an NFT acronym for profile pictures]. I really like the eye trait called “Moody,” when it’s paired with a frown the character looks gloomy, but with a smile it becomes really mischievous. I also really like the unicorn horn, it’s a super-rare trait and adds a kind of mystical twist whenever it appears.
Can you share some of the “utility” [NFT vernacular for “additional assets”] behind them?
The first set of utilities will be clothing drops, collaborations and airdrops, released over time. As we evolve, the utilities will move more into the metaverse, though I would like to keep some IRL, too. I think it’s good to have a mix. In a way, I’ve been working on Darcel utilities for 15 years already, and I’m excited to see which direction the community wants this project to head.
How can people get involved in the minting of Darcel?
Everyone can follow along on our Twitter and Discord. We’re doing lots of giveaways and competitions leading up to the mint so there are plenty of ways to get creative and to win a pre-sale spot. I’ve been so impressed with some of the competition entries so far, the community is super-creative, and I love seeing all the different takes on Darcel—stuff that I would never have thought of myself.
Community or creative—in your opinion, which is more important to the success of a project?
Community for sure. I can make amazing looking avatars but it’s the community that makes the project.
The Darcel Dours collection will launch in March via Redman’s website, dourdarcels.io
Images courtesy of Craig Redman