Inside the Inked x London Reese NFT launch

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Inked Magazine and London Reese, with advice from metaverse and web3 consultancy, Burrata, are set to launch an NFT experience like no other. As the world’s premier tattoo lifestyle brand, Inked naturally wants to explore the NFT metaverse. When you think about it, tattoos are the original NFT. Each tattoo is a unique work of art, even when taken from the same flash, two tattoos can never be the same.

Bitski will be hosting our Gold Ticket auction which started on 12/16 at noon PST and will run until 12 noon PST on 12/21.

The winner of the Golden Ticket auction will receive:

  • A unique portrait of the NFT Dead Icons by London Reese
  • An 8-hour tattoo session with Reese at Inked NYC, Inked’s headquarters in New York City
  • Video of Reese creating the original portrait… and destroying it with fire!

Reese chose the iconic artist Jean-Michel Basquiat as the subject of the portrait. Basquiat turned the art world upside down in the 1980s, providing a constant source of inspiration for Reese.

In addition to the Golden Ticket auction, there will also be an Open Edition sale of five additional NFT “Dead Icons” drawn by Reese. Each will be a series of 100 sold for $ 100 each.

In the interview below, we spoke with Reese about what made him want to get involved in the exciting NFT scene. Check out the auction and market here.

Why are you eager to enter the NFT world?

I am delighted to be part of this new revolution in the fine arts. Technology, modern culture and fine art are fusing together in ways never seen before and I love it. Art, for me, has always been about defying the rules, being different and making an impact. The NFT landscape has broadened my ability to do more exciting things, with my art, and to take more risks. There are no rules and the possibilities are endless; and that’s what turns me on the most.

Do you see a correlation between tattoos and NFTs?

There are a lot of parallels between tattoos and NFTs, which is why I think I’m so interested in this modern digital art landscape. All tattoos are unique. The person wearing it is just as unique as the art itself. Collecting NFTs that are really 1/1 is like collecting physical tattoo work. I find it incredibly cool and extraordinary.

Can you tell us a bit about your Dead Icons series and in particular the portrait of Basquiat that you are doing for this project?

I started the Dead Icons series during the first months of my Covid-19 quarantine. I have always been intrigued by iconography and fascinated by celebrity building and its resulting infamy by-product. I had a lot more free time to create, due to my forties, and wanted to explore my curiosity for icons. I decided to create a series of cultural iconic figures and post the process of it all on social media. It quickly became apparent that others were interested in what I was working on and they even started making requests and asking me to create custom icons for them. It was kind of like my tattooing process; where I take clients’ ideas and create something unique, just for them. I made dozens of original mixed media illustrations and paintings and sold them to people all over the world. It was amazing and I am eternally grateful to the collectors and fans who helped fuel the experience. As soon as the world started to open up again, I was able to go back to my normal tattoo workflow; I knew I wanted to develop the Dead Icons series more on the skin and more. I was haunted by it. I started the Dead Icons tattoo series and knew it wasn’t going to end there. Rumor has it that NFTs are being used to create digital art and become legitimate commodities. It overwhelmed me. I became fascinated with the concept and knew I had to bridge the gap between my Dead Icons series and this new world of digital art. Thus, the DEAD ICONS project was born. I had to do something unique with it. I knew Basquiat was going to be the subject because I always liked his punk rock spirit and his quirky style. He broke all the rules, made his own way, and always became the icon that he is. His prolific work has been heavily inspired by graffiti art, in the same way that my works are heavily inspired by tattoo art. Our environments and interests directly influence the art we make. I also feel a connection with the aesthetics of his work. Tattooing is technical. I found myself exploring a more abstract approach in a lot of my own personal artwork, so it made sense to pay homage to him with this new digital venture. Basquiat’s work is emblematic. It is iconic. His work is filled with iconic symbols. He is in the club of 27 and tragically died in his art studio. His art is worth millions and is loved by millions of people. He was absolutely the legend I wanted to pay tribute to for this series. He is a true ICNE and the perfect subject for this special art series. I decided to make my art, in a more traditional way, rather than digital, to honor his work. I used different papers and canvases, graphite, oil and acrylic paints, spray paint and charcoal and mounted it on a cradled birch board. Basquiat’s own work and some of his direct quotes inspired many layers of mixed media in my final work. I wanted to create a feeling of soothing chaos in the room.

I’ve been told that you plan to burn the portrait down once it’s completed, how do you think the destruction will make you feel?

It became clear that it would not be enough to create a work of art that honors this legend. I felt compelled to do something extraordinary. I knew I had to destroy it. So I built a monolith, erected it in the middle of the Southern California desert, hung my art there, and sacrificed it to the gods. It was exciting and scary because we only had one chance to do it right. I was sad to destroy something that I spent all this time and effort on, but it became part of the artwork and the experience. I felt like I had to do it. I wanted to create something that was as iconic as the subject itself, and turning it on and sending it into the Hereafter seemed like the only way to achieve it properly. I’m just excited to do something unique, inspired by the work of a legend and the ever-changing art world and human technological milestones.

The auction ends in a few days, so hurry up and place your bid on the Unique Experience / NFT here!


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