There are few artists in NFTs right now who can boast as interesting of a resume as Blake Jamieson. When he and I first met earlier this year, we were connecting to talk about his work on an upcoming NFT collection with Terrell Owens. Before that—and since then—Blake has built a reputation as one of the preeminent artists in the sports world, creating portraits and pieces for some of the biggest athletes across the globe. For our 25 Days of POAP, I was eager to catch up with Blake again to hear how the rest of his year has gone, and to see what he's got in store for 2022.
Blake Jamieson Talks His Year of NFTs and What's to Come in 2022
A Look Back at 2021
Blake tells me that 2021 was one of the best years of his career, in terms of growth and the projects he got to work on. In 2020, he had a big break working with Topps. But the new technologies bubbling up this year have created even more opportunity.
"This year, NFTs have been more impactful than anything that’s happened before," Blake tells me. He was able to strike a balance this year that many artists strive for, splitting his time between working on personal projects and working with major clients.
When I ask Blake for some of his project highlights this year, three come to mind. First is the avatar project that he created the artwork for. "Knights of Degen is probably what I’m most proud of," Blake smiles to me. To this day, Knights is one of the more recognizable sports-based PFP projects in the space, owed in large part to Blake's trademark art style.
But to take it back, he also acknowledges the importance of the TO project he worked on early in this year. "That was the first big athlete collab that I’d done in the NFT space," he tells me, adding: "That taught me that one of the most important things is the athletes really participating in the space." The TO project became a turning point for Blake, demonstrating his ability to work with athletes on creating visually interesting collaborations. This opened up the door to his next major athlete partnership.
Later in this year, Blake worked with another major athlete when he collaborated with Dez Bryant on his project, The Juggernauts. Working with Dez and his brand Personal Corner allowed Blake to continue to prioritize education in the space, onboarding athletes and sports fans into the world of web3.
And then finally, Blake had the opportunity to open an IRL gallery space this year called Minty Garden. The gallery actually exists right underneath Blake's Brooklyn-based apartment, and features physical art, frames of digital art and more.
"Minty Garden" as a name comes from Blake's growing commitment to a flower motif in the latter half of this year. "The whole second half of 2021, I’ve been in this flower phase," he tells me, adding how it's "symbolic of how I’ve been working hard in the NFT space to plant seeds." You can see this inspiration clearly in his POAP; join our Twitter Spaces at 12pm EST today to learn how to get it.
SECRET WORD: HEARTOFALIONx137xBLAKE
What Lies Ahead
Blake isn't slowing down in 2022. He's developing the artwork for a forthcoming expansion to FlexNBA, a partnership from Sequoia Games and the NBA. The innovative game utilizes an AR/3D component in addition to an IRL mechanic. He can't spill the beans on all of the details of the project yet, but clues me in that the expansion is expected to drop in Q1 of the new year, incorporating NFTs and other web3.0 tech into the gameplay.
Additionally, Knights of Degen will be launching a companion drop in early 2022: Steeds. Whereas the OG Knights came in a quantity of 8,888, he tells me that Steeds will come in a much smaller quantity, with a portion reserved for early Knights supporters.
Blake is not only an artist, but also an avid collector in the space. So he and I spend a bit of time chatting about his experience with different marketplaces, and how he views their pros and cons from both perspectives. "Throughout 2021, I tested every NFT platform I could," he tells me. He and I can go back and forth about the best and worst marketplaces for quite some time, but the thesis we come to is that the coming Coinbase platform will likely rupture the ecosystem entirely.
"I’m really bullish on Coinbase; that’s gonna be such a game changer because it’ll bring new people into the space," Blake notes, something I agree with wholeheartedly, as Coinbase is poised to drastically streamline the NFT onboarding process.
Finally, as someone who worked in traditional art for a long time before pivoting to NFTs, Blake has some developed thoughts on how the new art world is evolving. "The difference between NFTs and traditional art communities is that NFTs feel inclusive, lifting everyone up," he tells me, adding that it "doesn’t feel like there’s competition." This is a throughline in the entire NFT space.
"The better we all do, the more people come in the space," Blake notes, a phenomenon which we see recurring daily on Twitter. WAGMI.