Catching up with Vinnie Hager, the Man Behind the Letters NFT Project

Shot by Evan McCormick

When Vinnie and I connected earlier this week, I joked to him that I think Letters boasts the shortest timeframe between me finding a project and deciding we needed to profile it. Upon browsing through Vinnie's collection, there's just something about the analog style that seems to perfectly encapsulate the burgeoning world of art that toes the line between traditional and digital. The pieces would look just as comfortable in an old world gallery as they would in someone's Decentraland-based collection.

If you're knew to Letters in general, I implore you to read our previous profile with Vinnie, hot off his time at NFT.NYC. It's been a few short weeks since we last chatted (but in web3, a few weeks can feel like eons), and I wanted to catch up with Vinnie about his future projects and plans ahead of his POAP, which launches today.

In an NFT landscape still rife with faceless developers and un-doxxed artists, seeing Vinnie overflowing with emotional charisma around his art is an immensely gratifying experience. Working with Vinnie reveals what makes NFTs truly so valuable. The new technology has allowed artists to distribute their work in a way never seen before 2021 and the proliferation of web3 tech.

On the genesis of his project, Vinnie emphasizes how he wanted to "bridge the gap between a digital collection and the real world." His artistic style "spawned from drawing with markers and pencils," as he grew up steeped in a more "traditional art" background. "With Letters, it was like a full integration into the digital," he tells me, adding, "but I always wanted to keep some aspect of the physical."

The First Letters Airdrop

Vinnie wants the work to "ebb and flow through digital and physical," a commitment that has perfectly culminated in the project's first airdrop.

Hager's eyes are wide with excitement as he explains the mechanics of his collection's first airdrop to me. Essentially, he randomized all of the Letters holders' wallets, selected 20 Letters, physically printed out each selected work, and then has been in the process of collaging them together into an entirely new piece. He's incorporating other mixed media (stickers from Art Basel, for example) as well to create a new Letter that meshes the iconography of a roster of 20 others.

“I used to make collages all the time," Vinnie grins to me, adding: "just taking it back to being 14 making artwork, it’s kind of fun to revisit things like that."

Once the collage is complete, he'll scan the physical piece (returning the physical to the digital), and each of the 20 holders selected at the beginning of the process will get the new digital airdropped to them.

"I’ve always wanted to do this digital/physical bridge," Vinnie notes to me on how the idea for this collage airdrop came about. By repeatedly slotting his work through a sieve between the digital and physical worlds, he's created a whole new kind of piece existing in the purgatory between both worlds.

The Future for Vinnie Hager

As far as the future goes, Vinnie's future work is dedicated to "continuing to bridge the gap between digital and physical." There are a vast array of potentials avenues for this ethos. He's toyed with the idea of murals or other physical artwork that incorporate a QR code that allows viewers to receive an airdrop—similar to the POAP model.

He recently did an illustration for the Harvard Business Review article on NFTs, a project which has led to him fostering a relationship with Harvard economist Scott Kominers. "So I might team up with Scott from Harvard," Vinnie chuckles to me, well aware of how nonchalant he sounds discussing such an immense opportunity. "It’s almost mind boggling that fun things like that can come up. A Harvard professor wants to just chat about art and puzzles."

At the end of our conversation, Vinnie lets me know that he needs to spend the next day scouring through the incredible amount of submissions he received for his partnership with Cool Cats. Essentially, clon and the Cats team opened up a call for anyone from the Letters community (participants did not need to be Letters holders) to submit a play on the Cool Cats project for an opportunity to earn one of 200 coveted white list spots for their upcoming Cool Pets project. The task—daunting as it may be—didn't seem to stress Vinnie at all.

Through our whole conversation, Vinnie's gratitude and humility remain front and center. "I just get so excited to create different things that the lists never stop," he tells me. I hope the lists don't stop for a long time.

Hop in to today's Twitter Space at 3pm EST to learn how to get the POAP of the day.

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