It’s not often you hear a Major League Baseball player trading in his bat for a paint brush but that is exactly what Micah Johnson did in 2018. What started as a way to escape the anxiety and pressure of playing a professional sport has turned into a full-time vocation with Johnson rapidly making a name for himself in the artworld. His works that feature strong gestural charcoal lines complemented with subtle vibrant colors have been collected throughout the world.
Johnson’s latest work, Aku, is a symbol of the limitations of the past, the changes taking place in the present and a movement for the future cast and formed into resin sculpture as well as a digital character. Aku is a character Micah Johnson created based on a young boy who asked if it is possible for astronauts to be Black. Aku has quickly become a symbol of hope and unlimited potential, that rapidly gained a groundswell of support from collectors of Micah Johnson, first time NFT collectors, and communities from around the world.
What began as a handful of Black leaders in the crypto space in a group chat believing in the message behind Aku, turned into a viral release with a melting pot of collectors for AKU: the Moon God, a symbol of a kid who realized his dreams are limitless.
“Late Friday night, when Cuy Sheffield (Head of Crypto at Visa), Erikan (Leader of Crypto for Black Economic Empowerment), and Summer Watson (Co-Founder of Heir Apparent), told me of their plans to activate a community around Aku, I thought there was no way. In minutes, he had assembled a crew of people that would catapult Aku beyond even my wildest imaginations.” says Micah Johnson.
This crew would lead a charge that would extend all the way to the ranks of some of the most prominent names in art, culture, business, and sports.
In less than 36 hours, secondary market volume from auctions held the following day totalled $446,371, with over 200 people seeing on average a 106% return on their purchase. What’s impressive about this achievement is that this community lead launch of the first chapter of Aku’s journey, generated instant returns for collectors from the excitement created by the community. A truly powerful use case for the power that exists within NFTs.
To spotlight one of several ways NFTs can be used to ensure artist royalties in the traditional art world, Art Angels, will be hosting Aku.001–the first physical AKU ever produced (a hand cast, hand painted resin sculpture) in their state-of-the-art vault. This enables ownership to switch hands through transacting the NFT on the digital art marketplace where artists receive royalties on secondary sales. The NFT owner, who purchased the physical AKU for $304K has exclusive access to view the work in the vault anytime as well as resell it on the blockchain.
In stark contrast to how the traditional artwork approaches the secondary market, this solution benefits not only the collectors but ensures the artist receives royalties on every sale of their work whilst still in the Art Angels Vault.
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