Masterpieces and sound money are closely related. As Dr. Saifedean Ammous observes in his book “The Bitcoin Standard” quality art requires the artist to attain a low time preference.
“In times of sound money and low time preference, artists worked on perfecting their craft so they could produce valuable works in the long run.”
“Modern artists have replaced craft and long hours of practice with pretentiousness, shock value, indignation, and existential angst as ways to cow audiences into appreciating their art, and often added some pretense to political ideals, usually of the puerile Marxist variety.”
Bitcoiners believe in a second renaissance based on the evolving Bitcoin standard. And we can already witness it here and there. Today, I have the pleasure to interview a young artist from southern Germany, who has been working on an impressive graphite drawing titled “Bitcoin-Manifesto.”
I was very curious about his personal story and motivation, and I was surprised not just once during the interview.
Grüß Gott Daniel, wie geht’s? (Greetings Daniel, how are you?)
Hi, I’m fine thank you.
Who are you and what brought you to bitcoin?
I am a bitcoin artist from Germany, who presents and also sells works on Twitter and Instagram under the pseudonym ‘Bitcoin Apex’. I specialize in pencil drawings, all of which are meant to artistically represent a deeper message or core elements of Bitcoin.
I heard about Bitcoin back in 2013/2014 but never paid attention as I assumed it was a scam. My journey down the Bitcoin rabbit hole started in late 2017/early 2018.
However, the entrance to the rabbit hole was not yet immediately exceeded, much more the thought of making quick money was in the foreground. I pooled money with a buddy to “invest” it in various MLM (multi level marketing) programs which promised high, daily returns (up to 12%). Typical for such pyramid schemes we had lost a lot and I decided to exchange the leftovers into bitcoin and (unfortunately) altcoins.
Cryptocurrencies came to my attention because the payment methods of these pyramid schemes often included bitcoin/crypto.
It was only with the arrival of the bear market in early 2018 that I became more intensively involved with Bitcoin and quite quickly it pulled the rug from under my feet to fall down the infinite depths of the rabbit hole.
Let’s talk about your recent work ‘Bitcoin – Manifesto’, what is it and what inspired you to do it?
‘Bitcoin – Manifesto’ is my latest recently completed bitcoin artwork.
It is a Bitcoin modified version of the bronze relief by Lodovico Pogliaghi, created between 1894 and 1908 and since then grandly decorating the doors of the Milan Cathedral.
I had several thoughts that inspired me to create this work of art. On the one hand, I wanted to create a work that is characterized by a lot of dedication, attention to detail and where you can immediately see that a lot of time and energy was spent. A proof of work performance, analogous to the core element of Bitcoin: proof-of-work.
Furthermore, I would like to remind with the drawing how grandiose and magnificent architecture and art were in times of hard money. Due to the softening of solid money caused by the creation of more and more money, high-quality art, architecture and craftsmanship were wiped out just like good money.
A final thought why I have chosen just this religious representation is that I like to make you think. I realize that religion can be a controversial topic – if Bitcoin is the subject of discussion, certainly even more so.
I don’t want to be disrespectful towards religion with this artwork, but it is my firm conviction that Bitcoin – contrary to religion – actually tackles the evils and sins of this world and doesn’t just report about them to let a lot of people hope, believe and tell them how to live.
I see in Bitcoin a real chance to make the world a better place and we are in the middle of this process.
What technique and material was used?
The materials are actually very simple: pencils and drawing cardboard.
The drawing cardboard has the dimensions 11.69 × 16.54″ / 29.7 × 42 cm. At 290g/m², it’s quite a heavy and durable paper, which is what I need for my drawing techniques. Actually, due to its texture, which is very rough, it is meant for oil and watercolor painting but to my drawing style it fits very well.
The pencils are quite conventional, nothing special, but you need a certain repertoire of different wooden pencils and pencil pens. They all have disparate degrees of hardness (6H-10B) which is essential for good results with pencil. Which brings us directly to my techniques.
I like to work in layers. A first base layer with a very extremely hard pencil (6H), which I sanded down, however, because otherwise it scratches the cardboard.
After that I work with softer lead, up to 10B pencils, which looks deep black, almost charcoal-like. The use of different degrees of hardness allows a good hatching and thus to breathe spatiality into the drawing. At the end comes another layer of hard graphite, which causes the fibers of the cardboard to become more saturated and the layers in general look more lively.
At the end of the day, however, you certainly need a certain knack for proportions and perspectives in order to depict realism well.
“I enjoyed every single hour and moment. In fact, towards the end of the drawing, emotionally, I felt a certain sadness as completion drew ever closer.“
How long did it take, and what did you learn from the process?
In total, it took me almost 210 hours spread over exactly 30 days to complete my drawing. This shows that I drew an average of 7 hours a day. Of course, there were days on which I had only 2-4 hours swung the pencil, but there were also days, mostly Sundays, on which I sat 10-12 hours in front of the drawing board.
Two things struck me in the course of completion. Since this drawing was the project I had invested the most time in so far, it became even clearer to me than usual how much it pays to use your own limited life time for those things that fulfill you. It didn’t feel like work at all, I enjoyed every single hour and moment. In fact, towards the end of the drawing, emotionally, I felt a certain sadness as completion drew ever closer.
I felt fulfillment and along the way I delivered a true work record that I can be proud of and that pleases other people.
Furthermore, through the drawing I learned to accept more negative opinions and comments. I can’t decide what opinion who has about what – but not to let myself drift away from my goal or get demotivated because of it.
I have received some nasty comments on Twitter about my drawing, there have been regular updates on progress and thus controversy. I have to deal with that.
How can fans of the work get their hands on the original or the print edition?
The original is available for auction since 2022-07-12 on the Bitcoin auction platform plebeian.market at the following link.
For 10 days fans have the opportunity to buy my drawing – the free market decides!
I chose this platform because it is a young start-up that offers Bitcoiner and Bitcoin artists a very straightforward solution to exchange art for sats.
Prints of the original will soon be available for purchase on my website bitcoinapexart.com.
I plan to offer a more affordable print for the masses, alongside a limited edition of hand-signed fine art prints.
“When observing art from the Renaissance or Baroque periods and compare it to most of today’s art, I wonder what went wrong.“
How do you see contemporary art or ‘fiat art’?
Certainly a controversial topic, where I let one or the other shake his head with my opinion and answer to the question.
In short: I miss the proof of work in many artworks that nowadays change hands for vast sums or have acquired a certain status.
When observing art from the Renaissance or Baroque periods and compare it to most of today’s art, I wonder what went wrong.
How could such magnificent, masterful, time-consuming art – and also architecture – marked by love of detail, come to such inanimate, simple, quickly fabricated artworks and buildings?
In my opinion, the answer lies largely in the bad, unsound, inflationary money that our civilization uses. Whereas centuries ago hard money enabled people to devote more of their life time to individual talents and interests because their money was sufficient to sustain them, the fiat money of our time increasingly ensures that more and more people are trapped on the hamster wheel and must sacrifice more of their free time.
Less elaborate and lovingly produced works of art in a system characterized by inflation, speculation, profit, competitiveness and quickly emerges a clumsy red square, which is traded for millions.
Which artists and masters do you look up to?
There are a few. Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Leonardo da Vinci.
The one who impresses me the most is Michelangelo, because in my opinion he was able to reproduce the human anatomy incredibly well, be it at the brush, through frescoes, or sculpting.
To reproduce the human anatomy in a hyperreal way is not easy. You have to have studied it well to present it artistically on a grandiose level. An artist I really appreciate from today’s time is Jono Dry, who is simply a pencil-magician, redefining hyperrealism.
What did you do before Bitcoin?
I have been working in the same company for over 10 years. A branch of a supermarket chain.
I started at the age of 18 during high school. Only mini-job-like to earn some money on the side. When I had A-levels in my pocket, I applied for a teaching degree, but dropped out during the first semester because it didn’t feel right.
As a result, I increased the hours at my job at the supermarket until, at the beginning of 2018, I got an offer from my boss to take over as team leader of a department at the Market.
After initial hesitation, as I didn’t need much money due to my minimalist lifestyle – I pay 180€ rent, don’t have a car, live alone, don’t need new clothes or luxury goods regularly – I accepted the offer because at the same time the Bitcoin orange pill worked on me and I wanted to earn as much fiat as possible to collect as much bitcoin as possible.
You tweeted once that Bitcoin allowed you to do what you do now, how did you get to that point and what’s the trick if people are trying to do the same?
The question suggests that Bitcoin made it possible for me to achieve financial freedom.
But it was meant differently: Bitcoin gave me the reason again to do what I’m actually good at – drawing. One might assume that I could have done that without Bitcoin, but I lacked any motivation to draw regularly. I had no drive and only through Bitcoin, which sparked an immense urge in me to be an active participant in this renaissance of our civilization,
I found my way back to the pencil.
I firmly believe that no matter what talent or interest you have, you can always relate it to Bitcoin and thus give satisfaction to a possible, inner, moral obligation to show Bitcoin to the world.
Due to my minimalistic lifestyle, in October 2021 I decided to hang up the team leader position again, massively reduce the hours and now work only part-time, dedicating the free time to my Bitcoin art and the things that fulfill me.
I was happy with the stack I was able to accumulate since 2017, my Bitcoin art will hopefully allow me to continue stacking sats in the future and if we’re being honest:
Bitcoin is incredibly rare, but your personal life time is unique.