Fyggex VIP Insiders Interview Series 27: Andrew Ellis, Founder at Eyetoeye Digital

Fyggex had the distinct honor of interviewing designer, serial entrepreneur and experienced business development executive Andrew Ellis, who collaborated on record sleeves for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney, and other 1970s bands, as well as Duran Duran later in his career. We sat down to explore why NFTs were the obvious choice to begin with, and we are delighted to share our interview with our readers.

Fyggex: We just started talking about NFTs. As part of our first series, we wanted to speak to you about how you got into NFTs

Andrew: I am a designer, I did a degree in Graphic Design in London and Manchester then started working for a company called Hipgnosis. We would design record sleeves for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and other 1970s artists. I founded my own design agency in 1982 and started doing record sleeves for my generation of artists like Duran Duran. The internet came along for me in 1994 and I founded EYETOEYE.DIGITAL which is one of the first digital agencies. Having been immersed in tech for the last 25/30 years, I now want to combine my creative work with tech. When NFTs came along, that seemed like a perfect marriage for me.

Overall it’s quite an interesting concept that you are buying something that doesn’t exist in the traditional sense. We are all as a society used to paying for physical objects and then we started paying for experiences. NFT seems to be an extension of that, it is an experience: You are the guy that owns this piece of digital art and no one else owns it, but everyone else can still see it.  

Fyggex: When did you get interested in NFT? 

Andrew: About 3 months ago I would say. I started reading about them and of course it blew up with Beeple, that really started to focus my attention. Then there was a colleague of mine, Roger Dean who was also a record sleeve designer back in the 70s who was very famous for illustrating the ‘Yes’ album covers and he had done the NFT of one of his paintings. I started to see a lot of traditional/contemporary artists, starting to do them. Damien Hirst has done a series I understand but interestingly I don’t seem to be able to find out how successful they have been. It will be quite interesting to workout what the benchmarks are. 

Fyggex: How far do you think NFT can go, as it’s a new technology? 

Andrew: I think it’s restricted by the number of people who’ve got  bitcoin to buy these NFTs with, because they are just seeing it as another technology to sort of have a play around with. In a very short span of time the prices have escalated, my theory is that people see this as the next ride up in terms of increasing wealth. What is nice about the NFT is the ability for you to code in a percentage to the original artist. When those are resold, the artist gets some money.

Fyggex: Some of the developers say that they want NFT to be for the people. Do you think it will stay this way or will it be like cryptocurrency, the big companies and rich people are investing into it? 

Andrew: Undoubtedly there are some brands that have created NFT already. Some of them are donating the money to charity, like Jack Dorsey who did an NFT of his first tweet. Brands are definitely jumping on the bandwagon there. 

Fyggex: Do you think NFTs will be regulated like cryptocurrency? 

Andrew: Anything that’s seeing large sums of money whether it’s digital currency or fiat currency, is going to end up being regulated by governments because governments want to tax you on it. It’s as simple as that. 

Fyggex: What do you think is the biggest competitor to NFTs? 

Andrew: The thing about people buying stuff is that everything is in competition for your money. It’s whatever is getting people’s attention at that time.

Fyggex: Since this is new technology, do you see the problems with scams now that NFTs are new and on the uprising?

Andrew: There’s always the old record industry phrase, ‘where there’s a hit, there’s a writ’. If anything is making large sums of money, there’s going to be a criminal element wanting to get in on the game.

Fyggex: Do you see any future for NFT investments?

Andrew: You only have to look at the Winklevoss twins to see how they have transitioned their money that they got from Facebook into Bitcoin, and then they transferred some of that money from Bitcoin into building an NFT platform or  acquiring a company that built an NFT platform. I’m quite sure they will be buying NFTs, as well as a store of value, and then at some point in the future, trading them. NFTs will have become like baseball cards in America. As a kid I used to collect those little cards that you could stick of soccer stars or you’d collect the little coins that you could get at petrol stations of football teams. NFTs are just digital versions of those collectibles.

Remember the Beanie Baby craze 20/30 years ago- little soft toys that were made by a company called Ty? They released a limited-edition beanie baby and everybody wanted that beanie baby and suddenly the value exploded! Like anything: people lost interest, the market crashed, people lost a lot of money. At one point I had a whole box of beanie babies in the loft, unfortunately before it went up I had given them away to somebody. It turned out they were worth $50,000. It’s down to scarcity, if you can’t get hold of it, the value will go up.

Fyggex: What do you think is the next big thing in NFT? what will make it even higher?

Andrew: Videos, I think. People will be creating moments like an experience that they can watch again and again.

Fyggex: Do you mean like a live event or concert?

Andrew: Exactly. Imagine Lady Gaga performing a song once and it’s never released as a digital song, it’s never mass produced. She just produces that as an NFT, that would have huge value to her fans. I think there’s a great opportunity for the music industry here

Fyggex: Do you think celebrities with millions of fans, who can buy anything they endorse, will take over the NFT market? 

Andrew: Yes. Because if you love Paul McCartney and he does an individual piece of content for you, and it might even just be a guitar solo or song acapella, somebody will pay millions of dollars because it’s the only one. 

Fyggex: Do you think that will make NFT look bad?

Andrew: No, I think again it’s about creating experiences. The fact that you’ve got it on your phone, you’re showing your friends, you’re saying, ‘Look what I’ve got. No one else has got this. Do you want to buy it? You could buy it from me, it’s now going to cost you $3 million’. The artist will get a share of that on the resale, it could be as high as 50%. 

Fyggex: What has been the most difficult time for you personally during your NFT journey?

Andrew: Understanding the technical aspects of producing the file/ coding the file.

Fyggex: Who are your preferences for major NFT market places? 

Andrew: Nifty gateway looks good. There’s a new one that Tom Brady, an American football star is starting: Autograph.io. 

Fyggex: Do you have any suggestions on who Fyggex should interview next?

Andrew: Winklevoss brothers, why don’t you try and interview Tom Brady? My principle in life is if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Maybe talk to Beeple or Damien Hirst who is trying to promote what he does with his NFT drop.  

Fyggex: What would you recommend for newbies who want to learn more about NFTs? 

Andrew: Do as much research as you can, look at all the various platforms that are out there and what sort of information they are asking you to give to get on the platform, subscribe to non-fungible-, which is a great newsletter that goes out. When you’re learning about something new, immerse yourself in it as much as you can. 

Fyggex: I have one final question, what is your best advice for creating your own NFT?

Andrew: Make sure that it’s original, that you own the work that you’re creating, and think about your audience: Who is going to buy this? Are they a music fan? Are they a sports fan? Are they an art fan? Think about who you’re trying to appeal to. 

Fyggex: Just a question since you live in England. Do you think this could work, let’s say with the English Premier League and players, right now with people unable to visit stadiums?

Andrew: It would be really interesting. If you got someone to make an NFT of every player in Manchester United, they could start trading them. It could literally just be a photograph of them.

Fyggex: High value.

Andrew: High value indeed. 

Thank you, Andrew for taking the time for this interview and for sharing your story and expertise. We wish you all the best of luck for all your current and future projects.