Conscripted as a child into the medium of comic books and raised on a diet of pop cultural confections, Juan Doe is a writer, painter, and illustrator with 20 years of experience working as a professional comic book artist. He has produced over 200 covers and 11 graphic novels for Marvel, DC, Image, and Aftershock Comics.
For his Portion Genesis Drop on Tuesday, April 27 at 7PM EST, Juan Doe will release 5 new covers from his epic JUAN DOE Cover series. These single edition pieces showcase the supercilious superhero of shadowy, artistic subterfuge starring in his own comic book.
We chatted with Juan to learn more about the cover series, his experiences as an artist in both the traditional and digital art world, and why he's excited to be participating in an emerging creative economy.
Tell us a bit about the pieces that you’ve created for your upcoming drop on Portion.
"The 5 covers for my Portion drop follow the slap stick mis-adventures and meditative musings of Juan Doe, a “serious” artist and mythical character who climbed over the fourth wall of the imagination to create art within the bustling activities of the “real” world and the Metaverse.
The covers are created as cultural touchstones that explore the nature of Juan Doe’s reality, using the comic book cover format as a stage to showcase Juan Doe’s internal solipsism and how it relates to the cultural zeitgeist of the moment."
Why is it important to you that these covers are here as NFTs?
"The Juan Doe covers were first conceived over a decade ago and the original pieces were never shown to anyone outside a small circle of friends. Once I understood the power and value of the NFTs and their permanence, I minted the first 5 Juan Doe covers on the blockchain. This cemented my commitment to the character and more importantly to the project. This drop on Portion showcases a brand new series of Juan Doe covers that represent the current state of existence for Juan Doe and his creative endeavors in the real world.
The pieces look and behave like a traditional comic book cover, which is meant to draw the audience’s attention with big and bold visuals but the contextualization of the material relates to a much wider spectrum of ideas that go beyond traditional comic book tropes without excluding it."
As an artist, how do you think about the end product when you begin creating?
"With the Juan Doe covers, since the cover logo and title have been established, it becomes about the variables of the content and the specific ideas that the character wishes to express. Each cover serves as a singular story that can express itself as a visual gag or a satirical meditation on a specific subject or idea. There’s a component of humor and levity that is important and I’m always trying to express things in a multi-dimensional way, to resonate with different emotions through the visual data I create. Any idea, no matter how trivial can be extracted to create a powerful visual piece that demands to be seen, which ties everything together with the power of a comic book cover.
For me, the focus is always on the art, on pushing my creativity, on unlocking and discovering new nodes of expression and on discovering and collaborating with amazing artists I would’ve never encountered if not for the NFT space. That’s an invaluable experience, it opens up the paths of expression, it spreads the community of creating, making a space where the artists can have more agency over their work and where you can discover and be influenced by an incredible array of storytellers interacting on a global scale."
How did you find your way into the NFT and crypto rabbit hole?
"I got started in the NFT world in the fall of 2020 – At first I thought NFT platforms were just another marketplace to sell prints like Red Bubble or Society6. Once I started reading about the mechanics behind this ecosystem of blockchain and NFT technologies I quickly fell into the rabbit hole of learning everything I could about what was happening in this space."
"As both a digital and traditional artist, it was empowering to find out there was a way to create true ownership of digital assets and to power digital creations as a legitimate layer of art that is worth collecting and has tremendous value in our increasingly digital first society. Learning about smart contracts with automatic royalty systems that allow for provenance on a permanent blockchain was really the game changer for me. Having had experience in the traditional art world, the idea the artists could take part in the control and agency of their own creative economy was practically revolutionary."
"The NFT space is a mass of undulating waves of ideas that merge art, technology, ownership, and finance in a way that has never been experienced as a society. It’s certainly a disruptive alternative to the traditional ways of creating and selling art and opens up possibilities in the distribution of art that never existed before.
It’s a fresh paradigm that is evolving in real time and that is very exciting."
Do you think we're experiencing a creative renaissance on the internet right now?
"I think this is certainly happening in many areas relating to digital interaction. With the recalibrating events of Covid and the pandemic, we’ve seen an exponential migration to more enmeshed levels of communications in the digital realm and the Metaverse—beyond what we’d seen with traditional social media.
NFTs and crypto art have been creating their own scene and community for years and the current interest has spread so quickly that we’re seeing a rapid onboarding of artists and collectors and it is creating a lot of interesting interactions that never existed before. There are so many amazing creators that have been unleashed and the NFT space has helped create a way for a global audience to discover and interact with art they’ve never experienced before."
What opportunities do you think NFTs present for comic artists?
"I think the power of NFTs can empower and present some interesting opportunities for many comic book creators. Comic book art and stories are an extremely under-appreciated art form and the creators are also undervalued relative to many other creative disciplines.
How do you find great comic art on a mainstream level, in an increasingly digital native eco-system? NFTs can help bridge some of those discovery gaps by offering an opportunity to connect to an audience that has the pop cultural awareness of superheroes and comics but who have very little exposure to the actual art form and the incredible artistry and craftsmanship involved in creating comic books."
"There is also an overlap of mechanics that the comic book medium and NFTs share, the idea of scarcity and the power of collecting. Comic books are some of the original items we associate with collecting and we can see that same paradigm at play with NFTs. If we can create those pathways, I think you can see the medium have exposure to a new audience that can appreciate the craft."
What do you think digital art collecting will look like in the future?
"We’ve already seen a new class of collecting through NFTs and blockchain technology. While a lot of the focus sometimes goes to the higher ends of the scales in relation to sales, there is much more activity happening at different levels and all that it is redefining what it means to appreciate, define, and collect art.
The traditional art-world has always been a collection of gate-kept institutions, one of the largest unregulated market in the world. So to have this environment where transactions are on-chain where you can see the value being exchanged and managed by the artist is quite revolutionary."
"Overall, we're seeing the emergence of a powerful token economy and the rise of the artist as a collector. This is a powerful paradigm shift, a new layer of collecting that is driven by the tastes and curation of the artist, where artists gain success from the community and re-invest in collecting the work of other artists. It is the ultimate example of game recognizing game and showing that support. A great model for the future of collecting."
Follow Juan Doe's drop here.
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