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Most Influential Artist: Yosnier

Jessica Klein

Jessica Klein is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Fortune, The New York Times, and other publications. She is currently a contributing reporter at The Fuller Project, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to reporting on issues that affect women.

When CoinDesk caught up with Yosnier, a 23-year-old artist based in Tampa, Florida, in November about his image of the embattled FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried, he hadn’t started it yet. To be fair, he’d been assigned a massively influential subject, and not influential in a good way – the man had just lost billions of dollars’ worth of crypto, the extent of his wrongdoings still under intensive investigation.

“It’s anxiety inducing,” Yosnier says. “I'm still conceptualizing.”

His focus, though, fits with the themes of SBF’s story. “Most of my work has to do with growth, personal experiences, and vulnerability,” Yosnier says. He doesn’t want to come across as sympathizing with a guy who lost numerous people’s life savings, and he knows people who’ve lost everything via FTX. Their fall is just as important for Yosnier to communicate in the piece as SBF’s.

Unlike most of the artists who’ve made work for this year’s “Most Influential” list, Yosnier wasn’t “in the art community” before getting into NFTs. “My beginning as an artist and my NFT beginning coincide,” he says. His Tarot reminiscent designs elicit ideas of an uncertain future – like the one his subject is headed towards.

"The sun still rises" (Yosnier/CoinDesk)

How and when did you first learn about NFTs?

I first learned about NFTs around August/September 2020. It was around the time I started putting my work on Twitter. I learned about it from one of my mutuals, who posted about minting on Rarible, so I asked him about it. He sent me an info link on NFTs – I’d already known about crypto and Ethereum.

What was the first piece of yours that you made into an NFT?

It was my piece called “Solana.” I don't want to call it fan art, but I guess it was fan art of the singer SZA from the “Good Days” music video. It was my most popular piece for a while, so I thought to submit it as my genesis piece on SuperRare.

What are your main considerations when thinking about how to create a portrait of a person who's so influential, especially right now, and not in a positive way?

I'm [collecting] accounts from friends and people I know who were personally affected by [FTX’s collapse], which is obviously a bunch of people. I’m not necessarily trying to understand [SBF], but rather understand the space and where we're all currently at with what's been going on. I want to depict that as best as I can.

What artistic decisions do you think you'll make to portray that?

I want to do something based around a fall from grace, like the story of Icarus [who in Greek mythology died from flying too close to the sun]. I wanted to do something that attests to that and includes some elements that depict the unity we all have, not necessarily against [SBF], but in the crypto space at this time.

Can you give me a preview of how you think you're going to do that?

I had an idea of depicting him falling, like actually falling, from “grace.” I'm still trying to figure out how to best portray that because I don't want to make him seem like a martyr. That would be crazy. I’m still waiting to see what feels right and how the FTX story develops.

Obviously, this is about more than [SBF]. To make a portrait that's just him would be kind of tone deaf because his actions have affected so many.

Where do you see yourself in the NFT art world moving forward?

I don’t have a specific goal with the NFT space in that it's ever-changing and moving at such a rapid pace. It's hard to gauge where I want to be. I definitely want to be an artist that inspires others and delves deeper within themselves. I want to keep stressing vulnerability through my art because I still feel like we need that, now more than ever.

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 12/5/2022

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