Fantom Community Spotlight – Aspenth
A three-time Emmy Award nominee, Aspenth took his skills as a documentary filmmaker to shine a light on Fantom’s DeFi and NFT subcultures.
Now, as the resident artist for SpiritSwap, he’s bringing to life his idea of a tight-knit community, and that includes bringing us all together for the Monopoly board game experience you remember from growing up. Only this time, it’s Fantom-themed.
What brought you to crypto and what were you doing prior?
I’m a filmmaker, living and working in the Hollywood area. I’ve been in the profession for over a decade, and I’ve come to find my niche in documentaries.
I’ve also traveled to many countries to film for various projects, including Iceland, Slovakia, Poland, and South Korea. I’m proud to say that three of my documentaries have been nominated for Emmy Awards, and I’m now a member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild.
I got into crypto around December 2017, right before the big crash. I threw some money into a bunch of random ICO projects and lost most of it—I had no idea what I was doing at the time.
During the ensuing bear market, I told myself I would never get into the space again until I had educated myself.
I reconnected with an old friend of mine with whom I used to play MMORPGs and who already had significant crypto experience; he saw how interested I was, and he took me under his wing.
You can’t underestimate the value of having a mentor to help you navigate these shark-infested waters, because they are not for the faint of heart.
In 2020, he and I were forging this learning path together; after the launch of Yearn Finance, we became familiar with the “test-in-prod” mastermind, Andre Cronje.
Somewhere along the line, a game theory materialized and we quickly sensed that the public nature of the blockchain could be used to our advantage. It allowed us to study the moves of people more informed than we were, such as Andre. We saw he got involved with Fantom, and that was enough to pique our curiosity.
We both got into FTM pretty early, but even then I had an exit strategy in mind just in case things went south. Of course, I never had to act on that, and the community kept me around.
When did you become active within the Fantom community?
SpiritSwap was the catalyst that really made me feel very welcome in the space. As an artist, my first real opportunity for exposure came around April or May of 2021, right around the time that SpiritSwap formed.
The team had just created their mascot Soully, and they had initiated a Twitter contest to find their resident artist. I won that contest, and they presented me with an offer to assume that role.
From that point onwards, I found myself in a fortuitous – perhaps enviable – position of being able to sell anything I created, because NFTs on Fantom hadn’t yet hit critical mass adoption.
How did you find a way to apply your existing skill set to DeFi?
I never expected my filmmaking and design skills would ever be on a collision path with the crypto world. I always saw them as the two outer circles of a venn diagram, and never thought there would be a time they could meet in the center.
Now I have fun working in the space, because NFTs have allowed me to express myself visually and turn that into a source of revenue.
And it’s not just the money that’s a plus: you get to build lasting personal relationships with your buyers, and some of them even end up becoming lifelong friends.
I often think about the quote, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” Building global relationships now makes this space a much more personal experience for me.
It’s hard not to get excited about how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to travel.
How have NFTs changed the game for artists?
There are so many artists out there who are insanely talented, but they struggle when it comes to finding an enthusiastic community of buyers.
Many of my friends are just oozing with creative energy, but their sales potential is throttled by geography. There’s just not enough people living in the area, and connecting with a buyer at a flea market becomes less likely based on the sample size. In other words, if you’re an artist and you’re not living in a large metropolitan area, you have a problem.
Crypto, on the other hand, is by its very nature global and borderless. Whether it’s via Discord, Telegram, or Twitter, you can put your work out there and sometimes instantly attract an audience of thousands.
How can newcomers immerse themselves in the Fantom NFT scene?
First, learn to filter out the noise. You need to have your ear to the ground by monitoring Crypto Twitter. Start building a presence on Discord and Telegram.
With Twitter, become a “reply guy/girl.” In the beginning, you don’t have to be the one initiating the content, but responding to other people’s comments gives you a chance to engage. Participate on platforms where strangers are welcome. If you have a thought or opinion, insert yourself into the conversation. Just don’t forget: always be kind!
Regardless of whether you’re an artist, a buyer, or even just a lurker, you’re going to find people who have similar interests to you. It’s all about finding your tribe and realizing you’re never alone in this space, regardless of who you are or what you do.
Don’t presume to know how much money people are willing to spend to feel a sense of belonging somewhere.
What are you working on now?
I’ve got a few different projects I’m working on simultaneously, because I am a creatively restless individual.
The inspiration for this collection is derived from all of the terminology that exists in DeFi, which most outsiders have never heard of. If you asked the average person on the street to define a liquidity pool, for example, they would have no idea what you’re talking about.
DISTURBIA is my attempt to visualize what these ideas would look like in a real capacity, all while honing in on the dark aesthetic found in many Fantom protocols.
SPIRITOPOLY comes as a byproduct of collaborating with SpiritSwap. I have a lot of loyalty to them because of what they did for my visibility as an artist.
SPIRITOPOLY is on a completely different vibe level to DISTURBIA. I decided to make something that was community inspired, but it also had to be family oriented. I grew up in a family that valued board game nights, and my favorite was always Monopoly.
I decided to make a version of Monopoly where all the spaces around the board represent different Fantom protocols.
The first phase of this project is an NFT collection, which is already minting now.
This is 3D art of Monopoly style game pieces, all of which embody the various Fantom DeFi protocols and travel around the board. The mints are all set to custom music created by Steven Vinyl, who is a long-time friend and collaborator on my films.
As with almost everything in the grassroots NFT space, the revenue from selling these NFTs will be used to bootstrap the development costs to build the actual gameplay component.
SPIRITOPOLY is a giant love letter to everyone building on Fantom. This game will not be a quick thing to build, but I look forward to the day when people will be able to play with their friends and become emotionally invested, because they’ll look at the board and see it as a testament to what we’ve built as a community.
Eventually, I hope we will see recurring, competitive game nights where every protocol can host individual competitions or tournaments for their community and give out prizes.
Fantom Episodic Docu-Series
My third endeavor is not an NFT collection at all, but I suspect it is the one that may generate the most excitement.
I’ve heard the communal desire for more marketing. Given my profession and geographical location, I’d be remiss if I didn’t set out to do something about that.
While creating all of my artwork, I’ve been secretly planning an episodic docu-series about Fantom’s NFT artists and the human stories behind the avatars. This idea has already received funding, and I’m beyond grateful that it found immense support from my closest friends as well as the Fantom Foundation.
Expect this to be executed at a professional standard; the entire community will be invited to participate when the time is right.
Anything else you’d like to say to the Fantom community?
First, I’d like to give a very heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who has supported me, my art, and to those whom I’ve personally ushered into the ecosystem and who have in turn welcomed others.
There’s something genuinely amazing about the people here; I’ve explored my fair share of other ecosystems, and they didn’t hold a candle to what being a part of the Fantom community feels like.
Second, thank you to everyone who is making Fantom inclusive and welcoming in every way. Keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working, and it’s bringing in people who have typically felt isolated. There are people out there who are fighting battles you have no idea about, and you cannot measure the positive effect of giving a new artist a heartfelt compliment on their artwork.
One of the most stunning realizations I’ve made about Fantom is this: there are communities here that you don’t even know exist, where you already belong.
Please keep taking steps to ensure it stays this way, and you might just change a stranger’s entire outlook on life for the better.