Chris Torres, also known as PRguitarman, is the creator of the internet sensation Nyan Cat, which was inspired by his own cat Marty. When Chris discovered NFTs and its ability to proper credit creators, he could rightfully claim and provide provenance of his works. He reached an all-time high of 300 ETH in February 2021, selling his piece Nyan Cat on Foundation..
Could you tell us about your story and how you got introduced to the NFT space?
I'm Chris, 37, an artist from Puerto Rico. I gained a lot of attention in 2011 for creating a pixel animation called Nyan Cat, which exploded in popularity worldwide. In 2020, a friend told me about NFTs, which allow digital artists to get proper credit for their work. I was really interested in this because Nyan Cat was being used by so many people without anyone knowing who created it. NFTs gave me the chance to claim my art and start my journey in the NFT and web3 world.
What was the first NFT you created?
My first NFT was a remastered version of the original Nyan Cat video on Youtube. I made it with the promise that it would be the only one of its kind (1/1) and it ended up selling for 300 ETH (around $560,000 at the time). This was a huge turning point for me because I was unemployed at the time, and this completely changed my life for the better.
Which tools do you use to create?
I've been using a program called Macromedia Fireworks for all of my pixel art. It's not the most user-friendly option, but I enjoy the challenge of animating art on limited software. Plus, I think it adds a unique charm and magic to my work since everything is handmade.
What are your biggest influences or sources of inspiration?
I'm a big fan of retro video games from the 1980s and 1990s, particularly the Nintendo era. Games like Super Mario Bros 1-3 and The Legend of Zelda on SNES really sparked my love for pixel art and I always try to incorporate that aesthetic into my work.
What has been the most rewarding part of being involved in the NFT space?
One of the best parts for me has been getting to know and connect with other artists and communities in the space. There are so many creative and talented people doing really cool things and it's been amazing to be a part of it.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a creator within the NFT space?
First, don't get overwhelmed. The NFT space moves very quickly, so it's important not to get caught up in hype or FOMO. Second, learn to use your own contract. Don't use the OpenSea shared contract because it can cause long-term issues for artists. Manifold.xyz is a great platform to start with.
Also, engage with other people in the community and try to make friends rather than just finding customers. Finally, know your value and don't do anything that goes against your values. Integrity is key in the web3 world.
How do you cultivate a relationship with collectors?
Treating collectors like actual humans is important. I try to get to know my collectors as much as I can and follow them on both my main and Nyan Cat accounts. I'm also transparent about updates with my community and always try to help out with any questions collectors have. I believe that collecting art in the web3 world should be an enjoyable experience, so if collectors feel good about their purchase, they'll value the art even more.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities within the NFT space in the coming 5 years? Culturally, artistically and financially?
I believe that the NFT space has the potential to empower artists by giving them proper credit and enabling them to monetize their work. Web3's built-in royalty feature allows artists to showcase their art to millions of potential buyers. I also think NFTs will play a significant role in new systems of ticket access and gaming through token linking.
As a creator, is there something that you feel is missing in the current NFT space?
I think that entry is still too difficult for newcomers. You have to create a crypto wallet, learn how to avoid scams, learn how to mint your own works and market your own art. It can be overwhelming for new artists. What I'd like to see is an easier way for people to get started in the NFT space so that we can see more widespread adoption.
What’s the best piece of advice you have been given?
The best advice I've received is to stay consistent with my work and understand that it's often a slow process. It took me 20 years to get to where I am professionally, but I do it because I enjoy it. If you make art for the sake of making art, then any success that comes afterwards is just a happy surprise.