NFT artist seeks Arts District marketplace, physical spaces

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A flaming sword flickers in the hand of a figure standing on Earth. He has four arms. His head, a single atom. The portrayal of a new era.

According to Leeaux, the Las Vegas artist behind the piece titled “ἄτομος” (Greek for “atomos”), the image is symbolic of society entering the Atomic Age. A representation of when the first atom split.

Leeaux made 10 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, of the piece.

“I gave a few of them to my more noted recent collectors and more, like, high-profile people,” he said. “I have one that’s left that I’m keeping for myself.”

Curiosity and NFTs

Leeaux’s seen a lot of success selling his NFTs on online marketplaces. He says he’s sold around 400 of them.

In short, NFTs use blockchain technology to authenticate ownership of unique digital assets. Some have sold for millions of dollars in recent years, which has caught the attention of a lot of people — especially in the digital art world.

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Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News

Leeaux holds up his iPad and displays an animated art piece called Atomos on Jan. 25, 2022. The flames flicker on the sword. Leeaux made 10 NFTs of the piece and says he gave nine away to some of his collectors and kept one for himself. (Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

In an extreme example that helped skyrocket curiosity around NFTs, the artist who goes by Beeple sold a piece for $69 million back in 2020 at a Christie’s auction.

That was the same year that Leeaux sold his first NFT on makersplace, an online marketplace where his work is currently listed for around $1,000 to as high as over $10,000. He has artwork on several other NFT marketplaces too, like KnownOrigin and OpenSea.

But NFTs have been around for a lot longer than that, and Leeaux has been making them well before the hype.

Blend of passions: art, technology

“I was already in a digital world and it was exciting to be there,” said Leeaux, who has been making NFTs since 2018.

“I got a lot of attention because of how my work looked at a very early time,” he said. “I was able to meet all the really cool, important people that were making moves in the space.”

Leeaux recalls a phone call he was on with John Orion Young, who distributes work under JOYworld and is one of the early artists to mint 3D art on the Ethereum blockchain. “I was able to get on a call with him and that was very inspirational in my time of life.”

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Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News

Leeaux sorts through a stack of his illustrations on Jan. 25, 2022. (Photo: Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

Leeaux’s background is in both traditional art and digital spaces, like web design. He points to MySpace as the website that initially got him interested in HTML.

“I have to balance being creative, the right brain making art and then left brain’s logistics, building sites,” he said.

In the works: Vegas’ ‘unofficial’ marketplace, NFTs in physical spaces downtown

Now, Leeaux says he wants to help other artists realize potential in the space.

He envisions a digital marketplace specifically showcasing artists from the Arts District.

The project is in the early stages, but he has a website up where people can learn more and get information about upcoming meetings and events. It’s dtlvnft.com. You can also follow the Instagram account @dtlvnft.

“Artists in the 18B are going to be able to be on this marketplace that has NFTs underneath the 18B NFT smart contracts, and they’ll have the way for them to make their own NFTs,” said Leeaux of his plans. “It would be like Vegas’ ‘unofficial’ marketplace.”

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The marketplace is part of a larger gallery project that Leeaux started called Project Abracadabra, which has another interesting NFT-related project in the works, though they showcase all kinds of artists. That Instagram account is @project.abracadabra.

Through Project Abracadabra, Leeaux wants to mount screens at various locations in the downtown area to showcase NFTs in real-world spaces.

“Once we got the ball rolling with Recycled Propaganda, other venue spaces kind of became more available to us,” he said of the gallery on Main Street in the Arts District. “The idea is to have a week-long activation in partnership with a lot of our friends around the neighborhood.”

Izaac Zevalking, the artist who goes by Recycled Propaganda and owns the shop, confirms that they are planning to do an NFT show in late March.

That project is also in the early stages, but 13 Action News will be sure to report when official dates are announced.

Side-stepping algorithms, taking control

Leeaux says what he really wants for Project Abracadabra is to create a way for artists to be discovered authentically.

“By use of a real network and not an inflated one using algorithms,” he said. For all of the benefits that digital platforms offer, Leeaux says there are some downsides too, and he points to algorithms for that.

“I’m frustrated with the having to flood my newsfeed in order to be seen,” he said of his various social media platforms. “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to, like, post constantly. I don’t want to be a content-generating mule for these companies that don’t really care about me.”

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On top of that, he points to bias that can shut some creators out of opportunities.

“The art world and the tech world are not kind to people of color and women,” he said. “So we all literally have to rally together, creating these spaces for ourselves, being a more of a community with ourselves.”

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Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News

(Photo: Amy Abdelsayed, 13 Action News)

For now, Leeaux is slowing down on making NFTs and focusing more on art collectives, like Project Abracadabra.

“I’m creating my cornerstone value in the space, my longevity plan,” he said. “My magnum opus is, you know, Project Abracadabra.”

But even when it comes to NFTs, for Leeaux it’s always been about community. In fact, he warns against jumping in head-first with the mindset that it’s a way to make some easy money.

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“People think you can buy an NFT and flip it and make bread,” he said. “And in some instances, you can do that. But sometimes people get into it and spend all their money on stuff and they’re just like, ‘What did I do, what I do wrong?'”

“You should be getting into it for the tech behind it,” he added. “The communities that are created from working together to make this tech is, you know, that’s at its core, its ethos. It’s kind of built on open source principles.”

You can learn more about Leeaux and his work on leeaux.com

Do you know an artist who should be featured in the “Las Vegas Art Scene” or have an upcoming art experience in the Las Vegas area to share? Email amy.abdelsayed@ktnv.com or send her a DM on Instagram @amyabdel.



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