A Conversation with OSF on NFTs, Investing, Art, and Life
Ovie Faruq, AKA OSF, is a former wall street trader turned Web3/NFT investor, builder, and artist. In this conversation Ovie does a deep dive on his background, his art, his work, and much more.
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Ovie Faruq (AKA OSF) on his journey from wall street trader to NFT investor and professional artist
Ovie Faruq, who is better known in the NFT world as OSF, is a Web3 and NFT investor, creator, and artist.
Prior to jumping into the NFT space full-time in early 2022, Faruq spent most of his career in traditional finance as a trader at Barclays. In 2021, after learning about NFTs, he went in big. During the Bored Ape Yacht Club launch in May 2021, Faruq minted 150 apes, most of which he subsequently sold (before then buying more).
Faruq invests alongside his business partner and friend Mike Anderson (better known on Twitter as Mando). In addition to collecting and trading, the duo also launched a PFP collection in summer 2021 called Degenz. The project floundered and essentially went to zero by the end of 2021, before seeing a big resurgence this year (the floor as of this writing is hovering around 0.4 ETH). Faruq and Anderson have some ambitious plans for Degenz, which Faruq discusses in detail in this interview.
In addition to his work as an investor and builder, one of the most interesting things about Faruq is that he is an artist himself. He didn’t release his first NFT artwork until October 2021, but since then he has built up a broad portfolio, an impressive collector base, and a strong following. In early April, one of his pieces sold on SuperRare for 82.88 ETH (it was a secondary sale).
In this interview, we cover A LOT of ground, including:
The best and worst parts of working as a trader
The story of the night Faruq quit his job, got drunk, and minted 150 Bored Apes
What wealth means to him
His vision for Degenz and Re-Genz (fair warning, it may make you want to go buy one now)
His personal art journey
How he plans to reward holders of his Red Light District piece
His upcoming PFP collection
Be sure to read all the way to the end for some very fun questions including an up-and-coming artist he is watching, the music he is listening to, and two books he recommends to everyone.
I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
p.s. Photosensitive seizure warning: A very small percentage of people may experience a seizure when exposed to certain visual images, including flashing lights or patterns that appear in the images displayed below in this interview. Even people who have no history of seizures or epilepsy may have an undiagnosed condition that can cause these “photosensitive epileptic seizures” while viewing art on this website. If you experience any symptoms, immediately exit the website and consult a doctor.
A Conversation with Ovie Faruq
Monty: I'm going to start this interview with a funny question that I'm stealing from a podcaster named Alicia Kennedy.: Can you tell me about where you grew up and what you ate?
Ovie: [laughs] That is a funny question. I grew up in Cambridge, England, which is where I was born. A staple of my diet has always been eating curry. That's what my mom cooked when we were younger and that's what I grew up on.
You worked in banking and trading for a long time. What was the best and worst part of that world for you?
The best part of working as a trader is risk-taking. Similar to a lot of people in this space, I like taking risks. I like a bit of a gamble. Being a trader was a job where I could basically do that day-in-day-out for a living and I really enjoyed doing that.
The worst part of being a trader was probably that it sucked away my life. We were working 7:00 till 5:00, or 7:00 till 6:00 and in the evenings we had to go to networking things, so that ended up being my life for almost 10 years without really being able to do much outside of it.
What does a day in the life of Ovie look like right now?
I just moved back to London. Everything that I do is mostly US-based. It's quite nice because when I wake up in the morning it's quiet.
I wake up and I usually go to work out. I'll go to Barry's Bootcamp, and I'm quite into boxing as well so maybe I'll go do like a boxing workout. Then I'll come back and spend some time reading through the news, catching up on prices and stuff. Then I put together that morning update that I put in our Degenz discord every day.
Then once I've done that, it's getting on with the day in terms of my work. The two things that I'm focusing on right now are first, building out all of Degenz and building the content and the platform we're trying to do there. The second thing is my artwork. Those two things take up most of my day. I also do our Rug Radio daily show which is from 11:30 till 1:00 PM Eastern Time.
I try to get as much of that done without upsetting my wife too much and make sure I still have time to take her out to dinner or something in the evening.
Can you remember when you bought your first crypto?
I can. I remember it very well. The first time I actually bought crypto was Bitcoin in January last year, 2021. So I'm late into crypto. I remember it took me two days to set up my Gemini wallet.
The only reason I bought it was because I was super worried about inflation. I'd read about crypto for a long time, and never really believed in it, but I just got my head around the idea of Bitcoin as being a good inflation trade. That was the view I had at the beginning of last year.
Then you started collecting NFTs around March of last year. Tell me about that.
It was my friend Mando that got me into NFTs. He had started about a month earlier than me in February. I didn’t get it at first. I had just gotten my head around crypto and accepted it after years of being skeptical. Moving from that to buying JPEGs was a big leap for me, but I saw some of the stuff Mando bought, and I like art, I've always been a fan of art and I saw the appeal of it. So in March 2021 I took the plunge and bought my first NFT, which was a one-of-one piece on SuperRare.
Wow. Going straight for a one-of-one.
[laughs] Yes. That's all I really understood at the time. I didn't really understand the collectible thing, but I understood the application of NFTs as a medium to art, to digital art. I got my head around that. That's what I felt most comfortable with at that time.
That's March. Then at the beginning of May, you went big into Bored Ape Yacht Club. Can you just walk me back to that week and what was going through your head and why you decided to mint so many?
Yes. Funny story actually.
I quit my job twice last year. The first time I quit my job was to move to a different bank. I had just resigned, and it was a super stressful process resigning.
I came home and I had a few drinks and I couldn't really sleep. It was 3:00 AM and I was still up. I was scrolling through Twitter on my phone. I saw a bunch of people minting this thing called Bored Ape Yacht Club. I had really no idea what it was, but I saw some big names minting it. At this point, I had never bought anything else other than 1-of-1 art.
I was completely new to collectibles, but I went on the website and this was the first NFT collectible project where the website looked really good. They'd done it properly. You could see there was this early idea of being part of some membership club, some access to whatever it was. It was vague. At that time I had no idea what it would be, but I just liked the idea of, "Okay, I'm going to buy this and this gives me access to some yacht club. I have no idea what it actually is, but you know, I'm just going to go for it." It was a mixture of emotions. I was a little bit drunk. I just quit my job. It looked cool and I went for it. I think I minted 150 of them.
I was telling all my friends, "Hey, you guys should look at this." I remember telling Mando and he was awake, and his response was like, "Dude, I know what's going through your head, you quit your job, you're in a bit of a panic life crisis mode. I think you should stop buying these."
That's the true story of how I ended up minting a bunch of them.
I ended up selling most of them over the course of the next month and I still didn't really believe in the whole idea of Web3 and all that stuff, it was still a really foreign concept to me. That was my first real foray into collectibles.
Usually, I tell people not to drink and then go NFT shopping, but maybe there's something to it.
[laughs] Yes. There are two things that I did while I was drunk, it was that, and it was buying a punk at 25 ETH. Maybe I need to drink and buy more often. [laughs]
One amazing tweet during that Bored Ape period back in May was you shared an image of two apes and you said, "People used to gift new babies Microsoft shares. I'm gifting these to my niece and unborn nephew.” I'm curious if you can give me an update on this one. Do they still have them? Did they sell them? What happened to that?
Gosh, that's one of the most insane things about last year. I remember as I was selling all these apes, over a hundred of them were listed in OpenSea, In my head, I was like, "Oh, I should probably keep some of these.”
My brother and sister-in-law had a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and my sister-in-law was pregnant. I was like, "This would be a nice gift to give the kids."
My brother-in-law said, "Yes, just keep them in your wallet for them," and I said, "When they're 18 they can decide what they want to do with them, but until then I'm just going to keep them on my hardware wallet.”
To this day I still have them. There's one that I minted and there's one that I bought on secondary, a day after, because I wanted them to both have sailing apparel. I still have both of those in my hard wallet for my niece and nephew. They're good ones as well, one of them is like a blue fur ape, one of them is a cheetah ape and they must be worth $300,000, $400,000 each.
They're going to have the opportunity to decide what they want to do with them when they're 18, which is still 13, 14 years away. That's going to be an interesting one.
Last September you wrote a blog post that basically laid out your thesis for NFT investing. You noted five key criteria you look for, and those were (1) community, (2) IP, (3) airdrops, (4) liquidity, and (5) cultural and historical significance. I'm wondering if you would say those criteria are still the key ones you look at, or if your philosophy has evolved at all?
I think some things have changed. That's how we viewed the world last year, and it's amazing how fast this space really moves.
This thesis applies to collectibles, not art, because art I think is its own world and its own thing. For art, you don't need any other utility other than the art itself.
If you look at the collectible NFT world, it does seem like the things that have success are those things that represent some seed investment in some brand or game or whatever it is that they're building that has the ambitions to become very large. I think that's what you need for an NFT investment to be profitable in the medium to long-term.
What I would add to that is, I guess if you're just collecting artifacts and stuff, historical and cultural relevance is important, but now we also need to ask, "Okay. We buy this NFT and then it gives us access to this thing? Does it give us future airdrops down the line? Is there going to be a token that we can buy? Can that actually be worth anything or have utility? Is the idea just a brand? Is the idea a metaverse?” All these kinds of things.
It ends up being more like seed money I'm giving someone who's raising money to build an idea in Web3, and that's more how I view it now. I think that apart from just the degen stuff that we do, we won't put a large amount of money into things unless they have the ambition to be a large future player within Web3.
This idea of being a seed investor applies to both projects and platforms, maybe like but also to artists. Did this influence your decision to do something like Red Light District which is basically a seed investment in you and you'll reward those holders over time?
I noticed you've been collecting a few “reward tokens” from other artists like that.
Yes. I like that. I know that art is just the art, I know I just said that earlier, but I also think it's important for artists to differentiate.
You have NFT collectors, and NFT collectors aren't art collectors. If you want to keep engaging NFT collectors who have very short attention spans, there needs to be something more than just buying art.
That's why I collected Jake's Degen token. I collected Jak's ArtBot token. I collected the 0X pass yesterday because I can just hold those and they'll give me art. If I want to sell some of the stuff they give me, I can, if I want to keep them, I can. It's a cool way of keeping things interesting and keeping things engaged.
In the Bloomberg article that came out about you, your partner Mike (AKA Mando) has a quote about the NFT market. He says, "It's an illiquid market with large price swings. So much of the same discipline and skill around trading high-yield and distressed assets are transferable." What skills from your career in trading do you think you did transfer to your new life in NFTs that you built there and are relevant here?
I think there's a lot. I was surprised at how much crossover there was when I started trading NFTs and getting involved in NFTs. When we were at Barclays we traded high-yield and distressed credit. It was an over-the-counter market, so it wasn't like equities or a foreign exchange where you have an exchange and it's super liquid. It's an over-the-counter market and it was illiquid. So you'd have big price swings in either direction. You could only really trade it if you had spent time understanding each different company and formulating a view and building risk positions, et cetera.
We found that NFTs were very similar, the way the prices moved was the same, it was very gappy. Things would go up extremely high, things would drop to zero very quickly, and it's an over-the-counter market. It's not like when you want to buy and sell ETH you go to Coinbase or whatever and you'll always get a price and there's an exchange and you trade it. NFTs aren't like that, you don't always have a price for liquidity, and part of it is creating or finding your own liquidity. The way that the NFT market traded was just almost exactly the same as trading high-yield bonds or trading high-yield Credit Default Swaps. It felt natural in that regard, in terms of how prices moved and how people interacted.
The other big transferrable skill was that both of us used to take a lot of risks when we used to work. We built up good risk management structures in our heads.
Now every time we buy or sell NFTs or crypto or whatever it is, I have a game plan in my head. I know what levels I'm buying at. I know what levels I'm selling at. I'm not chasing higher prices, I'm not selling at lower prices.
We very rarely are the people that FOMO into something just because other people are or just because someone else has told us to. We’re more trying to say, "Okay. We have spent a lot of time looking at this NFT project, we really like it, we're going to buy a ton of it now early, and then we'll see what happens." That was our strategy when we were at Barclays and we have that same strategy now.
What does wealth mean to you? What does your rich life look like?
Wealth to me is a few things that have to do with my mental state of mind or state of being. I'm someone who loves to learn. I want to learn more about different things within the world of Web3. I want to learn more about coding - I used to code when I was younger, and I wish I didn't stop. I want to learn more about how VC-style investments work. I want to learn more about traditional art, it's not something I've ever studied.
I want to learn more out of curiosity. I know if I know more it will help me make more money, but that's not really the reason behind it. I just have a genuine curiosity about a lot of things. For me, that's part of wealth.
Another aspect for me is helping other people. Yes, I'm competitive, and I want to do really well, but for me doing well isn't necessarily defined by doing better than other people or putting other people down. I really like to put out content that's helpful, and I like the feeling when people say, "Oh, wow, I read this thing that you wrote, and I applied it, and I made some money off it" or, "This really helped me start doing XYZ." If I've had an impact on improving someone else's life in that regard, that makes me feel really happy, I get a genuinely good feeling out of that.
It's the same thing with the art and the NFTs that I've sold. People have messaged me saying, "Hey, I hope you don't mind that we're going to sell this Red Light District so I can go on holiday or whatever." That to me feels really nice, like "Wow, I just made some random piece of art and someone made money on it and they've been able to go and do something cool with it." That to me feels like wealth because I feel like I've impacted other people positively.
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Back in March 2021 when your OSF account first started on Twitter, you shared a piece of digital art that you made a decade earlier. I don't know if you remember this, but it had a spacey planets theme. Can you walk me back and tell me about your art background and when did you first start getting into art. and how has that been a theme throughout your life?
I used to be really into art, and I actually forgot that for a very long time. When I was a kid I was always drawing and painting. I was good at doing it at school, I liked being creative.
When I was a teenager and discovered the internet, I started making digital art and I had a DeviantArt profile. I did all sorts of things. I used to sell cameras as my first job, which got me interested in photography. I saved up, bought myself an SLR camera, and did photography and edited them in Photoshop and stuff.
I used stuff like 3D Studio Max to try my hand at 3D stuff. The thing that I did most when I was a teenager is I would take photos, and I'd edit them and create planets and stuff in Photoshop and create these images that were half outer space, half on Earth. I always liked that idea of a hybrid real world and imaginary world.
Then I turned 18 and went to University. I just didn't have time to continue art as a hobby when I started university. I basically just dropped it.
When I rediscovered NFTs last year in March, my first instinct was, "Oh, maybe I should try and start creating art again." I posted that picture you mentioned and I started looking at all the art that everyone else was doing and I was just blown away by how good it was.
Digital art had moved on so much in the 10 years since I gave it up, and I was stuck in the late noughties. There weren't iPads and stuff back then, so I used to draw everything with my mouse, which is super frustrating.
At first, I thought I wouldn't pursue art and would just stick with collecting and trading. I felt like I was way out of my depth doing art. Then last year when I went back to work at Barclays, I was just doodling stuff in my notepad during morning meetings and stuff, because I'd lost interest in whatever we were doing.
I ended up doodling a picture of this guy wearing a hoodie with a skull face. It's a semi-autobiographical character that's in most of my pieces. I was just drawing that in a notepad and I thought, "Why don't I just make a random story about this guy and try and draw something digitally." I still have the physical version of that by the way, I managed to retrieve it from the Barclays offices in London, maybe one day I'll mint it or something.
So I translated my doodle onto an iPad and put some candlestick charts behind it and stuff. I just minted it on Foundation for fun, I didn't really expect it to be that big, and someone bought it. I think someone paid half an ETH for it.
The comments from people were like "Oh, this is actually really cool. I really like this." I was quite surprised, I didn't think people would actually like it. So I did another piece, and it sold for less - for like 0.25 ETH. I was like, "OK, maybe people don't really like this stuff as much as I thought."
The third piece I did was the first animated piece that I did and I'm pretty sure I still don't know how to animate properly because all I do is create multiple frames and loop them together, which I think is an extremely old school way of doing it. Anyway, that's how I animate stuff. I animated the first animated piece, which is called NFT NYC, right after I got back from NFT NYC. It had flashing lights and skyscrapers in the background and stuff, which is what a lot of my pieces now have. That was the first piece that I think was animated, had those themes, and had the character in it. I really liked how it came out. It's not as detailed as some of these other pieces that I do now, but I really enjoyed how it came out.
One of the things that I'm really fascinated by it is the nightlife in different cities. I just love going to different cities, walking around at nighttime, seeing the flashing lights and stuff, and you just get the vibe and atmosphere.
If you had told yourself a year ago that you would be creating art regularly and it would be selling at the levels it's selling at, I'm sure you would not have believed yourself.
Yes, no way. I still have to pinch myself. I feel extremely grateful, because of everything that I've done in NFTs so far, it's the one thing to me that's pure.
When I'm sitting down drawing stuff, I enjoy it from start to finish. When I do other stuff, it's always like, "This thing is a bit stressful. This thing is annoying, whatever." With the art, it's never like that, and I just feel extremely grateful that I'm able to do something that I really enjoy in a pure way and have that as an option as a potential career.
Is there any piece that you're particularly proud of, that you want to call out?
Yes. I would say there are two pieces. I really like Red Light District. That was not super autobiographical or anything. I'm not someone who just walks around red-light districts, but I have always been fascinated by them. Because you're seeing something that you're not sure if you should see.
It triggers these emotions of, “this is enticing, but this is wrong,” and blurs moral concepts and that stuff. I've always just been fascinated by that, and just fascinated by the lights and colors. I was really happy with the way that piece came out.
Originally, it was meant to be a Valentine's day piece, but everyone was doing Valentine's day pieces. So I thought, why don't I take the dark side of Valentine's day. Here's a guy who is single and doesn't have anything to do on Valentine's day, and is strolling around this red-light district and is a little bit seedy. That's what I was going for with that.
I never intended for it to be this utility NFT for airdrops or anything like that. It was just going to be a piece. I decided to make it an edition because I just wanted more people to collect my art.
By the time I released one, a lot of people had said they really liked my stuff, but the pieces were trading at maybe 3 or 4 ETH, so it was too expensive for a lot of people. I was like, "Well, I'll just sell this as an edition, and I'll make it cheap, at 0.069 ETH. I gave Degenz a bunch of allowlist spots, and the rest of it I just put on Twitter.
Then the concept grew because I somehow decided to give holders an airdrop without even really planning it. I just did it one day - it was like you can walk into this red-light district and buy this piece and you don't really know what you're going to get, but you're going to get something, and it feels a little bit uneasy entering this world, but it may be something great.
None of this was planned. I just made things up as I went along, but that was really cool.
Another piece I really like is professional degen 3.
I've got three professional degen pieces, which are more autobiographical. It's me on a trading floor, or me trading NFTs.
I think a lot of people can relate to the idea of loads of screens sitting there doing degen stuff.
In all those pieces, I'm really just trying to encapsulate what's going on in this world right now, where all of us are on our screen doing all this degen stuff. I'm just trying to take snapshots in time of that.
Is there anything you can say about your vision for holders of Red Light District?
I made a promise that I will give Red Light District holders a monthly airdrop every month until I die. I full-on intend in doing that.
As I said, I love creating art. I find it extremely therapeutic. I really love learning about how to do new things and achieve different effects and stuff. The prospect of creating one piece a month is by no means daunting at all. It's something that I look forward to.
Every day when I've done my other stuff, and I get around to my art, I really look forward to it.
For RLD, I thought"These are the early collectors that supported me when I wasn't really known as an artist.” I want to create something that rewards them.
The plan is it will be a monthly airdrop. I'll always try and do it for the first week of the month, but you know, that might vary depending on how busy I get. I'll just keep doing that basically until I die, or until my arthritis is so bad and I can't hold a pen and I have to think of something else to do.
The way I see it, it’s a great deal: You buy one and you get a monthly airdrop for the rest of your life or my life. Then if I die, it's probably a good thing because the art should appreciate [laughs].
Degenz was a project we did in July of last year. Mando and I did it. We were like, "Hey, we should just get involved in creating NFTs."
We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
We just thought we could create a profile picture thing and make it happen. But we did a lot of things wrong and it didn't work and the whole thing basically went to zero by the end of last year.
We were both on and off work throughout last year, and we didn't have time to spend on it.
When we quit our jobs last year, I was like, look, the first thing we need to do is figure out what to do with Degenz because we sold these to a bunch of people. I get it, a ton of NFTs go to zero. Many will say it's part of the game, but it's not in either of our characters to leave something unfinished.
Plus we're both competitive people who want to succeed and do well and do right by people. That was the first thing. We were like, let's just figure out what we can do with this project to make it work.
We realized that what we were trying to do last year was create a Web3 brand. I was like, “Look Mando, we're not experts in any of that, we're not good at any of that stuff. We're traders, we're finance people. We've done well in NFT, we've done well in crypto. Why don't we just turn this into a resource where we share the information that we have with the Degenz and Re-Genz communities.”
The original idea was to create an alpha group. I'm always a bit worried about the term “alpha group” because I think it has negative connotations and it's usually people doing stuff like pumping and dumping.
That's not what we’re about. We're trying to move away from that branding now, but that was that idea at the beginning — let's just make gated Discord that you can only access if you have Degenz or Re-Genz and we'll start putting in helpful information that people will find useful.
It just started as that morning update on the markets that I write every day. I used to do the exact same thing when I worked in finance, I'd spend a bit of time reading. I'd see all the trades, see all the information, I'd put it in an easy-to-read format and that was something I did when I was a trader. People appreciated it, I'd get phone calls off the back of it and it opened up more doors for me. I just took that exact same thing and started doing it with NFTs and I added the finance stuff into it and wrote how I was thinking about the market.
We're getting the web website redone so you're going to be able to log in with your Ethereum wallet and access all the content. We're just growing that as a fundamental NFT resource platform.
And I think there are many more things we can do. Right now we have gated alpha channels in the Discord where we talk about NFTs, talk about coins. We've got some allowlist partnerships with people.
Our goal is for this is to be a little bit like Kevin Rose's PROOF collective, but a more accessible entry point and more supply [Editor’s Note: There is 6481 total supply between Degenz and Re-Genz].
But we haven't been marketing it aggressively. I've been adamant about that. Mando’s like, "We're doing so much here. We should hype this up." I've been like, "Look, let's just have the finished gameplan, have something a bit more built out, and then we can start marketing it."
It's all been pretty low-key, but right now it's confusing. It's like, "Do I buy a Degenz or a Re-Genz? Do I need both? What's the difference between them?” It's super confusing and convoluted at the moment, but in five to seven weeks, it's all going to be a lot clearer when we have the website done. We'll have some rebranding. There'll be a couple of other things that will look different that will make people realize it’s going to be more of an access pass to really cool things. That's the essential idea.
The stuff that we spend every day doing, like the NFT research, crypto research, various things, we want to just unleash all that knowledge to everyone who has access to this. That's the long-term idea for that.
Now for the question that everyone wants to know about your PFP collection and one word: Wen?
Most of the artwork is pretty much done. In addition to the standard pieces, I teamed up with Alien Queen to do some 1-of-1s as well. There'll be some really cool 1-of-1s in the collection.
Our aim, I think is either by the end of this month [April 2022] or the beginning of May.
Nice. Is it a 10K collection?
Yes. I think so. It's going to be a free mint. It will be mostly allowlist for different projects. Obviously, anything that I've produced like any of my one-on-ones or editions, Degenz and Re-Genz will also be included. Then I think what we'll do is we'll give some allowlist to different projects. I'm a big believer and fan of CCO so I want to give allowlist to CCO projects.
Then, for anything leftover, we’ll probably do a public allowlist raffle using Premint and the whole thing will basically be done by allowlist to avoid gas wars.
Give me the lay of the land on the art.
They will all be unique. We have 10 different traits and there are a bunch of different things that will vary between the traits. It's stuff like the bottle the guy's holding, face attributes, headgear, the hoodie, the liquid in the bottle, the background, and the logo on the hoodie.
This is actually going to be an animated profile picture collection. I've written the code to animate the background, and depending on how the background looks, there are some very cool combinations. Not every piece will be animated. Some will, some won't, but each one will look very different.
That's the skill - it’s making each one look unique, but not so different that it looks like a completely different collection. But I think I've just about found the right balance after a lot of trial and error and I think I’ve nailed the right vibe for it and it should look good.
I know Twitter doesn't support animated profile pictures yet, but Discord does. I just signed up to Coinbase's basic platform and it looks like their PFPs are animated as well.
I'm curious what your total portfolio allocation looks like — percentage in crypto, NFTs, stocks, real estate?
I would say about 75% in crypto plus NFTs, so quite high. I sold almost the entire $APE drop and put it all into Fiat. That was the money I've taken out that I'm going to use as my living expenses and whatnot so I won’t have to worry about it.
I made sure once we quit our jobs we were good to cover our living expenses, and then the rest of it I have in NFTs and crypto, probably with a 40-60 split with 60 weight to NFTs. Most of that is Bored Ape Yacht Club. We own a lot of apes, and that takes up a lot of the portfolio, but I think we're still comfortable owning those. I don't have anything in equities at the moment, I'm really bad at equities. But I do have some cash set aside to buy equities because I think in the next 6 to 12 months, I think there will be a good opportunity to buy.
I also own a flat, so a small amount of real estate, and then the rest of it is cash.
I am one of the people whose portfolios is super skewed to crypto and NFTs, but I've made sure I've taken out enough cash so that if it all goes to zero, I'm not going to be in a tough spot.
Do you ever have doubts about all this like, like “Maybe I'm wrong, and this is all going to just pop and go to zero or close to it?”
When I first started, I did. Then in May last year, when everything crashed, crypto crashed, NFTs crashed, I hadn't been in the space long enough to really feel that I believed in it. I was doubting, I was like, "Is this all just a scam? Is this just a Ponzi? Have I just bought the bags of other people?"
It took me a good few months, I guess almost a year of being in the space to now truly believe in it, but I've been very cognizant of making sure my big positions are things that I really, really believe in from not just a five-year standpoint, but a 10-year plus standpoint, and I view them as long term investments.
I used to look at prices every day, but now I'm not worried about the price action on a daily basis. I check BAYC once every two or three days. I own a bunch of SuperRare tokens [$RARE] and I rarely even look at that. I'm just confident in those things being good long-term investments, and I'm not worried about those.
So now I am at the point where I am confident in the things that I own. I'm not worried that it's going to all go to shit or anything like that, because the longer it lasts, the more it's sustained, the more money that comes in, the more it becomes justified and the more legitimized it is.
There's a lot of big money that's going to be coming to NFTs. Mando and I have had unsolicited calls from a handful of people who want us to manage money for them and do an NFT fund in Europe with a size of 50 or 100 million. This is all just unsolicited incoming calls. I think if we went out there and tried to raise money that will be pretty easy, but there's a lot of big money coming in and you just can't really ignore that.
There are a lot of comparisons of this to the dot com bubble, but even if and when it pops, there will still be 1% to 10% of the survivors and that stuff will be worth trillions in the future.
So I'm definitely past the point where I am worried about it being a scam or anything like that, but I do think you have to be super careful about what you choose to put your chips on.
People always talk about surviving in a bear market, but it's also hard and maybe sometimes harder to survive a bull market and just to actually stay in and not take your chips off the table.
Yes. That's the hardest thing. Isn't it?
I'm going to finish up here with some more rapid-fire questions and some more fun stuff.
Most of the things that you do for work, including your art, are in front of a screen. When you feel unfocused or overwhelmed or overloaded on screen time, what do you do? Do you have any routines or practices that you use to help yourself relax or focus or reset?
When I feel overwhelmed and I feel like I have a lot to do, I always walk away from the screen, I get a piece of paper, I get a pen and I just write down the things I need to do, and what I'm going to do to achieve them.
It's really nice to just sit down there with a pen and paper and think clearly and plan out my day or plan out my week or plan out whatever I'm trying to do. That's really helped me and that's something I've been doing for a long time. Even back when I was trading, I had some times where I lost a lot of money in the space of a day. I remember COVID, the second day of COVID, I think I lost like $7 or $8 million in one day.
You feel very overwhelmed, but I always return to getting a piece of paper, a pen, and then writing: This is the situation. What steps can I take?
That always gets me from a state of feeling overwhelmed and frozen to feeling like at least I have some plan of action. That's always helped me.
I also love playing sports. I need to do that on almost a daily basis. I need to work out or play football (as in soccer) or go to boxing or something like that. I need to do that at least every other day because that's my time away from screens, away from all the chaos where I can just do some physical activity, get some endorphins going, and relax.
I know it sounds weird to play football and find that relaxing, but it generally helps me feel a bit more zen from doing that stuff. Those are my two things.
You mentioned earlier that you love cities and it influences your artwork. What are some of your favorite cities in the world?
I'm in love with New York City. I lived there for three years. I've always had a fascination with it even before I moved there. When that plane lands and you see Manhattan, when you get into the cab and you see the skyline, there just isn't really anywhere else in the world that gives you that same electricity and that same feeling. I had the best time living there. I moved there when I was 27 and I was single. I ended up meeting my now wife there.
Anyone who's ever thought about living and working abroad in a city where you don't know anyone, I'd highly, highly recommend it. I think that's just one of the most amazing cities in the world.
I do actually intend to incorporate New York into my art in the future. Right now, some of the recent stuff I've been doing has been more London-based, but as time goes on, I'm going to add some New York stuff in as well.
I also love London. London just has this charm about it that I think nowhere else in the world has. Like being able to go to a pub that's 400 years old and drink some ale with people and have your dog in the beer garden or whatever.
I also really love Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve visited. There is a massive soccer culture, which I love, the beach is stunning, the people are so amazing and hospitable, and the scenery is amazing.
The nightlife is awesome, there's this place called Lapa in Rio, which is amazing and they just serve caipirinha by the jug and it’s super busy and super hectic. That's another art piece that I want to do at some point.
Is there any music that you're loving right now?
Is it embarrassing to say I've been listening to Avril Lavigne all day? [laughs] Because I have.
Are you just rolling through her catalog on Spotify or is there a specific album or song that you throw on?
I'm very weird with my music, since 2008 I've organized my playlist into quarters for every year, with songs that I’m listening to each quarter.
I have 14 years’ worth of stuff. Sometimes I go back through older playlists to be like, what was I listening to then? And I was recently listening to one of my playlists from like 2009 or '11, and some Avril Lavigne songs came on. So I just started listening to a bunch of her stuff.
Editor’s Note: Ovie followed up with me after the interview and gave me a link to his Spotify profile, in case anyone wants to check it out and follow along. In addition to his quarterly playlists, you might be interested in his playlist “Wedding Dinner” (he got married last December).
Are there any books that you often gift or recommend?
Yes, my favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. That book is really meaningful to me.
I read it at a point in my life where I felt lost and I wasn't really sure what I was doing, or what I wanted to do for work, et cetera, and that's right around the time when I moved to New York. The book is about a guy who goes on a journey to figure out what his personal legend is and to figure out his meaning in life.
That's one I always recommend to anyone really because I think we're all trying to figure out, what are we doing here? What am I trying to do today? What's the point in me doing this and what am I working towards? And I think that book just helps you think about things more clearly.
There’s another book I love called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
It’s about not caring what anyone else says or thinks or anything, and just doing your own thing. There are so many benefits you can get from having that mindset. Not in a self-absorbed way, but just doing things without worrying about what other people think of you. I think the way that he writes makes it a must-read.
Are there any underrated artists or projects you'd like to shout out to help bring some eyeballs to their work?
Yes, there are. I recently collected something from an artist named Denise Rudolph Frank. She's an Austrian artist and she's actually a very successful traditional artist. She messaged me about wanting to get involved in the NFT space and she really seems to be approaching it in the right way.
I think a lot of traditional artists coming to NFTs, they either have like a stigma against it or a chip on their shoulder, or maybe they're a little bit too arrogant, but she was just like, "Look, I just want to like learn how to do this and get involved in this market, understand it and all this stuff.”
I really love her art — it's got a retro vibe that I think is cool. She's super talented and I have no doubt that she is going to be successful. I think she's relatively young. She hadn't sold any NFTs, so I just bought her first mint on OpenSea and I bought a couple of her editions. I think she's on Foundation now and selling some pieces.
There's also a cool project I’ll shout out called Peacefall. If you ever played Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat, the artwork looks like those and it's actually a game that's functional and you have all these small animated characters that are like pixel art doing like street fighter moves. You can actually fight these characters against other people. It's like rock, scissors, paper the way it works, but it's really fun.
It's built by a bunch of guys from a studio in Brooklyn. It has just the perfect video game, retro vibe about it. And it has this element of gamification, which is fully functional now. I'm a big fan of that.
Are there any other Twitter follows you'd recommend?
Yes. Someone who is very underrated is a guy called Mooncat2878. He actually was one of the early collectors of my art.
We got talking and he's been involved in crypto for a while and he's been probably the most successful NFT trader that I've seen this year.
Last year, a lot of people made a lot of money. It wasn't hard to make money. This year's been a bit different. You kind of had to be in the right place or have the right calls, but he's done really well.
He's had the right project calls and he's had the right calls in art as well. Like he bought my stuff very early before it blew up. He bought Jake the Degen’s work very early before it blew up. He was buying these art utility tokens before they blew up.
He is someone that originates his own ideas. Just has a good nose for a trade and he's not someone who has an ego or anything like that. He posts threads every so often. They're written in a very matter-of-fact way like, "I spent X on this project, this is why." He'll tell you about his wins and he’ll also tell you about his losses. It's really interesting to follow.
I think he has something like 31,000 followers, but he's definitely a rising star in the NFT space. I have a feeling he's been involved in crypto and been around it a long time. This may be a different persona for someone probably better known. He is one of the best follows right now.
I am also a big Mooncat fan and I really appreciate the value and transparency he brings to the space.
Ovie, thanks for being here, I super appreciate your time!
I really appreciate you reaching out and the conversation. I enjoyed it.
You can follow Ovie Faruq and his projects and art in the following places:
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