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Beeple began creating a new piece of art each day with his aptly titled “everydays” series … which ultimately led to an astonishing $69 million NFT sale. Here, he breaks down how it all happened.

Design Matters: Beeple

Design Matters: Beeple

ARTIST

17.5.21

Beeple / NFTs / digital art / drawing / Blockchain / crypto

Transcript


Debbie Millman:

Beeple is Mike Winkelmann, who describes himself as a graphic designer from Charleston, SC, who makes digital artwork, short films, VJ loops, and who has, since 2007, created and posted a piece of digital art, from start to finish, every day. He’s never missed a single day, even when he got married and even on the days his wife gave birth to their two children. He happily calls his project everydays. Last month, the first 5,000 digital images from his everydays project were put up for sale at Christie’s as an NFT, a non-fungible token. In the wild and record-setting auction, Beeple’s NFT fetched a whopping $69,346,250. And he personally walked away with over $53 million in his own bank account.


Debbie Millman:

While Beeple has successfully created graphics for corporations, including Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola, and performers such as Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and Eminem, as recently as six months ago Beeple had not sold a single piece of his self-generated digital art. In our interview today, we’re going to talk about what an NFT actually is, how on earth he was able to sell his work for nearly $70 million, and why he’s still driving what he describes as a “fucking Toyota Corolla piece of shit.” Mike Winkelmann, welcome to this very special live episode of Design Matters, at the 2021 On Air Festival.


Beeple:

Thank you for having me. I’m so honored. I’ve been a huge fan of Design Matters for many years, so it is a super huge honor to talk. I do have one correction there. The Toyota that I have is actually our good car. The piece of shit car is actually a Matrix. Oh, I guess that is the Toyota. I guess we have two Toyotas. Actually, we just got it assessed for insurance, and it was assessed at $830, the car.


Debbie Millman:

OK. All right. Well, it’s good that you clearly believe in some sustainability here.


Beeple:

Yeah.


Debbie Millman:

Mike, you grew up in North Fond Du Lac, WI, a town of 5,000 people. Your dad was an electrical engineer. Your mother was the longtime director of the Fond Du Lac Senior Center. Is it true that your dad first taught you how to program?


Beeple:

Yeah. In fourth grade, our teacher recommended we get a computer. I’m 39, so this would be about 1991, maybe 1990. From the time we got that computer, it was definitely like, oh, this is the thing. This computer, this is the object. I was immediately just fascinated with this computer and the possibilities that it presented. So when I was in fifth grade, he taught me basic programming in it. I made little choose-your-own-adventure things where you’d have to type in something. And then you’d be able to see the story come out, all text-based and everything. Yeah, that was some of the first activities that I did on a computer, was creating little creative programs. Very simple little things.


Debbie Millman:

Your mom has said that growing up, you liked to draw and write, and direct fun movies with your friends. What kinds of things were you making?


Beeple:

For school, there was one Star Wars thing we did in seventh grade. We had to explain volcanoes or something, and we did this Star Wars thing on a sandbox and recorded it. But in college, that’s where I really started making short films with my friends and stuff like that. And they were very narrative, very weird kind of things, but they were super different than the things that I do now, because they were really just actors and short films, and stuff like that. So definitely, my work has taken a number of areas of focus over the years.


Debbie Millman:

Your mom has said that you weren’t very good at drawing at that point in your life.


Beeple:

Wow. Thanks, mom. Thank you.


Debbie Millman:

Wait. No, no, she’s gone further. She’s actually said that you’re still not good at drawing. Curious to know what you think of her opinion.


Beeple:

Wow. There is my biggest fan. Thank you, mom. Biggest fan. No, she’s actually right. I’m super bad at drawing. I don’t like drawing because you can’t undo, and I really like the undo function on computers. That is a big piece of the way I work, is that ability to just be like, “I’m just going to try anything, no consequences, because I know I can just undo.” Versus with the drawing, you start, “Oh, OK. I just screwed up the whole thing.” You know what I mean? You can just screw up the whole thing and then you’re just screwed. I don’t like that.


Debbie Millman:

And it could be very time consuming to have to do things over and over. I feel the same way. I used to do everything with colored pencils and fabric and textiles. It’s been hard to go back after being able to make art on a screen.


Beeple:

Well, me, it makes it harder to experiment because, in your mind, you get locked into, oh, this is going pretty good. I don’t want to screw it up. You don’t want to take as many chances. So that, to me, is why having that undo function that allows you to really take chances.


Debbie Millman:

You went to Purdue University and graduated in 2003 with a computer science degree. What were you expecting to do at that point in your career?


Beeple:

I went to school really wanting to make video games. I thought, that’s what I want do from the time I got the computer. I really love video games. I was like, “Oh, I’m going to make video games.” So as soon as I got to school and started going through the degree, I realized about a year or two in that I was spending all of my time, all of my free time, making little short films, making weird digital art, stuff like that. I realized that’s probably what I actually want to do because nobody’s asking me to do it. I’m just doing it. So I got through the degree, and then I got a job doing web design. This was a mix of art and some sort of tech. And then from there, really just started putting all of my real energy into my own personal work, and developing skills around doing exactly the type of work that I wanted to do.


Debbie Millman:

Would it be safe to say that you are essentially self-taught, as a designer and an artist?


Beeple:

Yeah, yeah. I think I took two art classes in high school, and I took one semi–art class in college, but that is really all of the training that I have.


Debbie Millman:

You chose the name Beeple after a toy in the 1980s whose nose lit up and responds to light and sound. And I see that tucked away over there on your sofa. But that particular Beeple, I understand, was taken from you when you were 10, and given to your grandmother. And then you somehow got it back.


Beeple:

It’s actually worse than that.


Debbie Millman:

OK. Let’s hear the whole story.


Beeple:

My family gave it to my grandma.


Debbie Millman:

Why?


Beeple:

I don’t know. It was a birthday present or something, I think. I was 10 or 11 at the time. I was much older than toys like that. So we gave it to her, and then it was always at her house. They lived in upper Michigan. It was always at her house. We’d go visit and there’s the thing. And then at some point, I just took it.


Debbie Millman:

You stole it. You stole a toy from your grandmother.


Beeple:

I stole it from my grandma.


Debbie Millman:

Was she upset?


Beeple:

I don’t think she cared at that point. It was just sitting on a bed in the room, and it was just …


Debbie Millman:

Big reveal. Beeple thief …


Beeple:

I didn’t start off on a good note here, with this Beeple saga.


Debbie Millman:

Well, at least the truth is out. Let people make their own decisions about it.


Beeple:

He’s an asshole.


Debbie Millman:

Amidst all the corporate work you were doing, which you don’t talk about very much, you’ve actually referred to the work you’ve done at Apple as Apple crap.


Beeple:

I’m not sure where I refer to it as Apple crap.


Debbie Millman:

Well, you might’ve actually said “shit.” Actually, I think you said “Apple shit,” but I was trying to be kind. You started a self-initiated project in May of 2007. Tell me, why don’t you like to talk about … you have no corporate work on your website, as far as I can tell, unless it’s hidden somewhere. I couldn’t find any of the Apple work and even Nike work. The only reason I know about it—and I’ve the seen the Louis Vuitton work—is because Louis Vuitton has talked about it, and posts about it. So why don’t you talk about that work?


Beeple:

Honestly, a couple of reasons. One of the biggest, it’s probably literally just laziness, because it takes a bunch of time to gather it and put it in proper context. And I’m already putting out so much crap. I already feel like I’m spamming people with work already, that it’s like, here’s this other stuff. And to be honest, it doesn’t feel like mine because it’s somebody else’s. They gave me money to do what they wanted, and I did it. That’s it. That’s how I do client work. I want it to be happy and I want it to turn out good, but it’s their thing.


Beeple:

So I’ve never really had that much of a super-strong connection to a lot of the paid work that I’ve done. I’ve always been way more interested, invested, in the people work, the personal work where I was completely calling the shots. A lot of the client work I’m proud of, but again, it’s like, you have to get permission, and blah, blah, blah. It was always just one of these, “yeah, I did it, it was fun. It was good, whatever.” I don’t really feel a huge need to show it from there.


Debbie Millman:

You started your first big, self-initiated project in May of 2007, which you now call everydays because you do one drawing from start to finish every day, which you are still doing 14 years later. Today, I believe, is day 5,093.


Beeple:

Well, I’ll take your word.


Debbie Millman:

OK. Now, we were talking a little bit about this in the green room before we started the interview. I do a 100-day project every year with my grad students, and at least 20% of them can’t make it to day 100. I have a new class of students embarking on their 100-day projects at the moment. Today’s day five for them.


Beeple:

There you go.


Debbie Millman:

I think they may be interested in hearing how you’ve managed to stay motivated for over 5,000 days.


Beeple:

After a while, it will not be a matter of motivation. The momentum will carry you. I don’t feel like it most days because it’s like, I’m tired, I’ve got a million other things. I’ve already spent 14 hours in front of the computer. I’m not exactly like, “Oh, you know what I’d love to do? Spend three more hours in front of the computer right now.” But once you get a number of days under your belt, it gets easier and easier, and the project will just carry you. The biggest piece to it though, is going in with realistic expectations for what you can get done in one day, which is very little. It’s very little. You are not going to produce a masterpiece on one day. You are going to produce a sketch, and that’s all it is. You look at it like that, and you look at it as, anything is better than nothing. You go into it with very realistic expectations. That is what is going to keep you doing it over a very long period of time.


Debbie Millman:

I know you posted on your wedding day, you posted on the day both of your children were born, even when your wife was in labor. When did that feeling of, “no choice but to do it,” kick in?


Beeple:

It kicked in pretty quick, very quickly that it was like, “I’m going to do this.” And then it just got stronger and stronger. Then it’s like, I’m not going to miss any days. If I can all help it, which I can, unless I’m paralyzed or some real bad stuff happened, I can definitely do this, because again, I could do it in one minute. If it came to it, if I got hit by a bus, I’m going to just post a picture of a sphere or a cube, and that’s it. It’s dark. And it’s like, I don’t know what you want. I got hit by a bus that day. Again, expectations, realistic expectations. So yeah, it was pretty serious for me, pretty quickly.


Debbie Millman:

Your first post on May 1, 2007, was a small sketch of your uncle, Jim. You did this to try to become a better illustrator. The first year is all drawings. After that first year of drawings, you move to digital art, and created with programs like Cinema 4D and Octane. What made you decide to transition to the digital world?


Beeple:

After that first year, I noticed that I had tried a bunch of techniques that I never tried before; little things that to the average person would probably be very obvious, was not obvious to me. Like, OK, I can draw something and then scan it in, and color it on the computer. That, to me, was like, oh, my God; this guy never thought of that. So there was just a bunch of technique things that I saw a huge improvement in over that year. And I’d always wanted to learn a 3D program. I didn’t know any 3D program. It was always like, oh, man, that would be the ultimate if I could learn a 3D program. So I was like, Well, what if I use this everydays concept to do a render a day, using a 3D program? Which at the time, I’d never seen anybody do. That wasn’t a thing, or whatever.


Beeple:

That’s what I started doing. And I saw very quickly that I was learning this program, because I was spending every single day, two to three hours, learning the program. Pretty quickly, I realized, it was like, OK, this is a very powerful way to trick yourself into actually just working a lot more than you would otherwise. That’s really all it really does.


Debbie Millman:

You have a number of themes you return to, and a range of characters that you use. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Mickey Mouse, Kim Jong-un, Michael Jackson, Buzz Lightyear. Over the last few years, you seem to have a growing fascination with lactation.


Beeple:

Really?


Debbie Millman:

Come back.


Beeple:

Should we go there?


Debbie Millman:

Why those characters, and why that subject matter?


Beeple:

I have no idea. The worst answer for that, I have no idea. That’s for some shrink to figure out. I don’t know what is going on here, to be quite honest. With a lot of those characters in the scenes a lot of times, I think there’s some sort of power dynamics, and there’s some higher-level concept of somebody feeding something, and having power over them, or them giving life or power to this other thing, or them needing the other thing. So that’s been something that I’ve played with in a number of different things, from these characters to tech companies. That’s another thing that I’m very interested in, and did a lot more work with before. The relationship between politicians, people, tech companies and the power dynamics between those, I think, is very interesting. Apparently, I’m needing to express that [inaudible].


Debbie Millman:

There’re a lot of boobs. A lot of boobs.


Beeple:

I wish I had a better answer for you. Your guess is as good as mine.


Debbie Millman:

Do you consider your work political satire?


Beeple:

I think a lot of it is, yeah. I think right now, it is. If you go back three years, none of this stuff—there’s no Kim Jong-un. It’s much more like sci-fi and way more abstract and completely different. So the stuff that I’ve done over the last two years, especially a lot of the stuff with Trump, was very much reacting to the just insanely stupid things he was doing on a daily basis, and wanting to give some voice to that, wanting to make some sort of commentary on it. And I think it’s, to me, interesting, doing that within the context of these insanely powerful 3D tools that we didn’t have before. This is just stuff that was not possible even 10 years ago, but the speed at which I’m able to make these images …


Debbie Millman:

In going through the very early work, I came across some things about art homos and black dildos, and—


Beeple:

There’s some definite … go on.


Debbie Millman:

No, no, no. I was just wondering how you feel about that work now. And does that reflect—


Beeple:

It’s terrible. It’s terrible. There’s plenty of things in the past there that are just like, OK, that’s just … and quite frankly, very embarrassing, where it’s just like, that is not me. That is just not cool, not good. So if people are offended by that, I am offended by it as well. And it’s just like, that is something that I very, deeply apologize to anybody offended by that. And that goes to all the pictures, because I’m really never, ever trying to offend people. I’m always trying to inspire and bring joy to people, make them laugh. The pictures are meant to be funny, and they’re meant to brighten your day. They’re never meant to attack anybody. I mean, besides probably Trump.


Beeple:

They’re not meant to attack anybody or cut anybody down. So yeah, those suck, but the reason for not just taking them down is, I want to show this journey. I want to show that it’s like, OK, that’s not me now. This is a journey, and everybody’s on that journey. Now everybody’s said dumb shit that they fucking regret, and it’s not them. That’s what this is about. The everyday project is about improving over a long period of time and showing that improvement.


Debbie Millman:

I think that there’s something really interesting about watching an artist or anybody that creates anything evolve. I listen back to my early podcasts from 2005, and I am just horrified by the way it sounds and by my lack of empathy, and my lack of curiosity, and just my terrible questions and cliches. But I keep it up there and out there because this is how you grow.


Beeple:

Yeah. And I think it’s important for people, especially young people I see at a lot of conferences and stuff that I do. The question I get is, “how can I be like you?” And it’s like, well, I can show you very easily. It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to take a lot of time. But here’s the entire process. Look at how bad I was, look at how much dumb shit I did before we got to a place where I was starting to do, at least better shit. So I think showing the warts and all, and the fuck ups, the mistakes, I think that’s very important. And I think it’s something that can really help younger people because we’re in a world where everybody’s showing every day their polished, best version on social media. That’s not real. And I think, getting into that mindset, especially for younger people, it’s very toxic. That’s the only image of people you’re seeing, is the perfect, polished version.


Debbie Millman:

Yeah, it’s positioning.


Beeple:

I think it’s much more interesting to just show the whole thing, warts and all.


Debbie Millman:

OK. Let’s talk about NFTs, non-fungible tokens. I doubt there’s a better expert to teach our audience exactly what an NFT is. So, in two minutes, because we have such a limited amount of time to talk today, what exactly is an NFT?


Beeple:

Sure. An NFT is really just … it uses the Blockchain. It uses Ethereum Blockchain, and it really is just like a proof of ownership. It’s very, actually, simple, in a way. It’s really just proving ownership. And that ownership can be attached to a bunch of different things. In the case of my work, it’s being attached to a picture, really just a JPEG, to show this person can prove they are the only person that owns this JPEG. And it’s like, again, a certificate of ownership and authenticity that I made that, and this person owns it. So in this way, people are now able to truly collect digital art in a way that they could not before. Because before this, there was really no mechanism. JPEGs were out there, and everybody had a copy, and copies were everywhere.


Beeple:

It’s the same thing that gives Bitcoin value. Bitcoin has value because you can’t just say, “Oh, I’ve got one Bitcoin. Copy, paste. Look, now I’ve got two Bitcoins.” That’s not how Bitcoin works, and that’s why Bitcoin is worth almost $60,000, is because you can’t just copy and paste it, and make more. That’s the same with these NFTs. So in the future, I believe NFTs will be applied to all different things. I believe you’ll have one for your house, your car, anything you want to prove ownership. And people will have, potentially, thousands of these things to track a bunch of different real things and virtual things that they have.


Debbie Millman:

Companies like MakersPlace or SuperRare, or Nifty Gateway, are the big players in selling NFTs. And last November, you sold your first NFT with a piece called “Crossroads.” It sold for $66,666. Did this surprise you at the time? I mean, you hadn’t sold anything.


Beeple:

It did not really surprise me because I had seen how much other people were selling things. The way I came to NFTs is people kept bugging me. Again, I was very well-known in the digital art space, had a couple of million followers at that time. Again, this is October, this last year.


Debbie Millman:

Right.


Beeple:

People kept hitting me up, being like, “You should check out NFTs, you should check out NFTs.” And when I did, it was like, oh my God. Wait, you can sell a video file? I didn’t think that was possible, much less for the prices people are paying. It’s just like, oh my God. This is crazy. I knew all of the people in the space. It was like, oh, these are all my colleagues, other artists doing very similar work to what I do. So I did know, I was like, “They’re making some pretty good money here. I might be able to make some money here. This feels like this could be a thing.” So I really went all in, and immediately, this was like, [inaudible] focused on this space.


Debbie Millman:

Shortly thereafter, a body of work you called The Complete MF Collection, sold for $777,000. I know, the numbers are really big. I’m not used to these numbers.


Debbie Millman:

And they’re getting bigger. Then on Feb. 26, “Crossroads” was resold on the secondary NFT market for $6.6 million, of which you got a 10% cut. Is there any relevance to these six, six, six, six, seven, seven, seven, seven numbers and numbering?


Beeple:

There is. That’s something that, again, I didn’t know before this, but that sort of bidding patterns and numerology is a big piece of the crypto part of this, because again, this crypto is the Blockchain technology that makes this possible. So 21, I mean, some more slightly immature like 69, is a big number in this space. There’s a bunch of special numbers, 33. So there is a lot of numbers in this space. It is a very fascinating subculture. That’s why you’ll see those numbers a lot. People like playing with numbers like that.


Debbie Millman:

In December, just a few months ago, you sold $3.5 million worth of art in one day. Was that when Christie’s first was like, “Maybe we should get involved in something like this?”


Beeple:

Yeah. I think it was pretty soon after that, that MakersPlace convinced Christie’s that this space had some value. From there, Christie’s or MakersPlace approached me, and said, “Would you like to do this? We’ve got this opportunity with Christie’s.” And obviously I was like, “This is an amazing opportunity. I would absolutely love to do this.” So that’s how it came together.


Debbie Millman:

Noah Davis, the specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s, noted that it’s a really radical gesture to offer for sales something without any object. And we may as well lean into that. The expectations of the sale of your collage, your first 5,000 days of everydays—a square pixel that was 21,069 by 21,069 pixels—the expectations were quite mysterious, and I believe the estimate going into the auction was unknown. It sold for $69,346,250. After fees and so forth, you got 53 million bucks. Congratulations. That’s life-changing. Really incredible.


Beeple:

It is definitely insane.


Debbie Millman:

And you’re still not going to replace your car? Mike, you’re not going to replace the damn car?


Beeple:

No, we do have to replace the car. The car is definitely super annoying me. It’s like a dune buggy at this point. You get into it, and it’s like … so yeah, we will replace the car. But to be quite honest, beyond that, I’m not going to replace it with a Lamborghini or something. I’ll probably just get another Corolla or something. I’m most interested in using that money to make better art. That’s really the only thing that I’m really interested in in using the money for, because anything that I can just buy, it’s like, well, anybody can just buy that. To me, that’s just not that interesting, versus something that I have to make myself, that I cannot buy. Those are the things that are interesting to me because there’s work behind it. I can’t just have it. I have to work for it.


Debbie Millman:

Someone named Metakovan had the winning bid and he bought the work in Ethereum. Is that how you pronounce it?


Beeple:

Yeah, he paid for it in that.


Debbie Millman:

In a cryptocurrency. This was also the first time that Christie’s had accepted payment that way. You kept some of the cryptocurrency, but converted most of your payment to U.S. dollars. Are you nervous about the cryptocurrency and the constant fluctuations?


Beeple:

Yeah, honestly that’s … I was never, honestly, somebody who was super into crypto. I had a little Ethereum, but it wasn’t something that I was super, strongly invested in. So when we got the money, which was crazy too, because literally, the auction closed Thursday morning. By Friday night, the transaction was completely done. He had the artwork, I had all the money. Done. Literally, the next day. So as soon as we got the money, it’s in Ethereum. Ethereum was going up and down. Every time you would hit refresh, it’s looking at the phone there, it’s up or down, 300, 400, $500,000. And it’s like, OK, this is moving pretty quick here. This is moving pretty quick. It’s still quite volatile.


Beeple:

I absolutely believe in it, long-term, but it was like, OK, let’s just put this into cash, take a beat here. I don’t know what the hell is going on. We might put it back in Ethereum, but let’s just chill for a sec here and get our bearings here, before we go ape shit on anything.


Debbie Millman:

I had to learn a lot about this world prior to our interview. I started to do some reading about Metakovan and who he might be, and what he’s doing. And it seems as if he’s also purchased earlier works of yours. He’s bundled them together in a digital museum, locked them in a smart contract, and then fractionalized it into 10 million shares, which he sold. And you said that there’s at least a decent chance he’s going to do this with his $69 million acquisition of your work. From what I understand, that’s called DeFi, or decentralized finance, which actually sounds a lot like what happens on Wall Street. Am I right?


Beeple:

100%.


Debbie Millman:

Oh, good.


Beeple:

I would say yes. Everything you just said is actually completely correct. And a lot of people, to be quite honest, when they’re reporting on this, they’re not getting it correct and they fudge it a bit. So yeah, that’s actually completely correct. That was honestly not something I knew was even possible. So after the December sale, it was like, oh, here’s what I’m going to do. And it was like, wait, what? OK. You’re going to do what with it?


Debbie Millman:

But you still own the copyright. You still own the copyright of the work.


Beeple:

I still own the copyright. And to be honest, part of the reason I didn’t know that could be done is because nobody had done that.


Debbie Millman:

OK.


Beeple:

This was very new. And he’s like, “I want to take these very expensive works and make them available.” Because in the past, looking historically at art, for a long time it was churches and stuff. You would go in a church and everybody could see the art. And then it changed to, well, if you want to see the art, you need to be very rich because a rich person’s going to buy that and they’re just going to put it in their house. And then the world’s never going to see it again. It’s just in that dude’s house. So that was part of the reasoning of him wanting to do this, is making art a little bit more democratized again, and available to everybody. This is a way that it could be done in a sustainable way where he’s able to monetize that in a sustainable way, to keep doing that. It’s definitely an interesting concept and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.


Debbie Millman:

One thing that I thought was interesting was the cut that you get versus what usually happens with galleries. I know that there’s a television show now in development with some of your work. Have galleries been approaching you about representing you? And are they willing to work with that same, more generous cut to the artist than the gallery?


Beeple:

I have talked with some galleries. I’ve talked with some pretty big galleries, pretty big galleries. I think there’s still a little hesitation with digital art. I think they’re still a little gun shy just because it’s happening very fast. Again, people in the traditional art world, that’s what I think is really fascinating. The two worlds were so separate. People in the traditional art world, who are around art their entire lives, this and that, had never heard of me two months ago, yet I had millions of followers.


Beeple:

So millions of people did know about me, but these people who are traditional art world, I guess, had never heard of me. So I think there’s still a little bit of like, wait a second. Who’s this guy? What is this thing? Still a bit of hesitation, but I honestly think that’s going to fade away very quick. And people are going to realize that digital art is no different than any other type of art. It has the same nuanced intention, color, form, technique, craft, as any other type of art. It’s just done on a computer. But OK, everything we do is done on a computer now. So it’s like, what is the difference here? I think it’s really an exciting time, and I feel very humbled and honored to be in this position, and really just wanting to bridge those two worlds as best I can.


Debbie Millman:

I read that you don’t want to call yourself an artist because it sounds pretentious and douchey. Really? Still?


Beeple:

I don’t know. I just feel like people take their work way too seriously sometimes, and that we’ve lost the sense fun, and just creating just to create, like you did when you were a kid. You didn’t think about, what does this mean? How does this fit into the context of cultural, blah, blah, blah.You just made something and you just got out of your head, and you just made the thing. That’s where I would like to see art go back to, a little bit. I’d like to push the needle just a tiny bit back to, let’s just create things to just create things, and use it as a form of therapy. Use it as a way to just express yourself. And it’s for everybody, it’s not just for artists. That’s why I think the term has gotten very loaded. I think if we can just take things down a notch, everybody can be an artist.


Debbie Millman:

As for your next steps, your website states that you are not stopping until you’re in the Museum of Modern Art, and you’re not stopping until you’re kicked out of the Museum of Modern Art. Which would you prefer? I guess you have to be in it to get kicked out, but why kicked out? You want to be a bad boy there too?


Beeple:

No, but I do want to push the boundaries of what is considered art and what you would see in the Museum of Modern Art, because again, I feel like there’s a certain type of work that’s approved, and then there’s a certain type of work that’s like, well, that’s not approved. That’s not art. And that’s been also really interesting, seeing people say that about my work—“you’re not an artist. This is not art.” And it’s just like, what? I spent a measurable portion of my life drawing pictures, and you’re saying this is not art? That’s an interesting take. Yeah, it’s been an interesting a couple of months here.


Debbie Millman:

Well, I’m looking forward to seeing you in the Museum of Modern Art, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when you get there. Mike Winkelmann, thank you so much for joining me today at the On Air Festival—


Beeple:

Thank you for having me.


Debbie Millman:

—and having this conversation with me on Design Matters. To see more of Mike’s work, you can go to www.beeple-crap.com. This is the 17th year we’ve been podcasting Design Matters, and I’d like to thank you for listening. And remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both. I’m Debbie Millman, and I look forward to talking with you again soon.

And remember, we can talk about making a difference, we can make a difference, or we can do both.  — Debbie Millman