VC #4: Interview with Jakethedegen!
We speak with Jake on the Jenkins drop, what went into creating the 3 pieces, and working in multiple mediums - plus a possible beef with The Mutant
This is Valet Confidential (VC), the best way to keep up to date on Jenkins the Valet, Azurbala, the Jenkins Audio Experience, Book 1 with Neil Strauss, mutant hijinks, and everything else in the Writer’s Room ecosystem.
As a reminder, our journey at VC began with a two-part interview featuring the co-founding legends themselves, Jenkins The Valet and SAFA. Take a moment to go back and read their thoughts on Web3 publishing, worldbuilding, community-generated content, and community-led DAOs in Part 1 and Part 2.
We began to tell the story around the Jake x Jenkins collab in our last post, a recap on how we arrived at the free Jake claim, the art we had a chance of revealing, and a few thoughts from Jenkins and Jake themselves. Spacewalk and I spoke to Jake in the lead up to the reveal, and decided to make the majority of that conversation it’s own post. We discussed all 3 Jenkins pieces in more detail, including some of the tools he used to make them. We also talked about the different type of media Jake likes to use and his embrace of digital art. And finally we touched on Web3 technology and ask the question “do you plan on providing any future utility for the Jenkins piece in your community?” This was an incredibly enlightening conversation and we hope you enjoy.
Planning the collab and all 3 pieces
Valet Confidential (VC): What did SAFA and Jenkins say to you when you discussed this collab? Did they say “take the Jenkins character art and interpret as you want”? And then you just started playing around. And then it was “I think there's a second piece that needs to be here”. And then “I think there's a third that needs to be here”. What was your process?
Jake: Yeah, pretty much. We've talked a little bit about what we wanted to do, but really, they just wanted me to do what I wanted. Ultimately, I wouldn't do something like this if someone's going to say, “You should do that” or “ do this”. I really wanted there to be something that's accessible for people, but also had rarities.
I feel like they're three similar pieces, but they're also quite different. I wanted to do that because I feel like I have a ridiculous range. I've already done a lot of stuff outside of NFTs like videos, clothing, corporate stuff, editing, all different things. I feel like that's part of it, the three kind of drastically different styles. It came about pretty naturally. I don't know, I was kind of stuck for a little bit. And then I just kept working on some different ideas. I got some of the 3D models and messed around. I wanted to do a glitch piece for sure, so it took a little bit to do the outline and get it right.
VC: How did the Mutant get involved? The community loves the mutant. He’s almost an anti-hero within the community. So now the Mutant is bragging that this is his first piece, and he finally got some shine. Is that something that happened organically throughout the process or did you all decide he should be involved?
Jake: Honestly, I just connected the whole yacht thing. I was looking at the Mutant, and he's got all these tentacles and I thought something had to have a little bit of a nautical theme, you know? So the Mutant, it's really just there because he's got tentacles. He wouldn’t be there if he didn’t. In spite of what he may think, he’s not special. (Editor’s note: shots!)
VC: How did the 3D model version piece (Peep Show) come together? 3D feels like a new style for you.
Jake: Yeah, a little bit. So I have always been a visual artist. When I was14 or 15, I used to make Call of Duty videos. So I started on that and shooting longboard videos with friends, you know, random hooligan things. Doing skits. So when I was doing Call of Duty stuff, I’d mess around with Cinema 4D.
I feel like I went to YouTube University, and I still do. I'm very DIY. I do things through a lot of different mediums, and sometimes it might be all one thing like 3D. So with 3D now I’m learning how to model and sculpt. You can build a whole world in Blender and use it as a reference for animation, even just a camera move or something, and then using that to draw over or add things into whatever. So I've always been visual. And I think back to when I was 14. I took a shot from Call of Duty of this lot and then I 3D tracked a camera and made it a whole environment. I made this diamond thingy moving around in there. Ha, it was sick! It actually looked like it was in the video game. I was like “wow I really did that!”. So that type of Jenkins piece is something I've always wanted to do. So doing it in 3D is just like another way to get to a final piece.
VC: Does the “Love Feedback” glitch art piece transition back and forth from a Mutant-centric glitch art piece to a Jenkins-centric piece?
Jake: Kind of. When I drew Jenkins his shirt kept coming up, and it looked like a heart to me, so I made a heart and then it's like a heart with all these cables coming out of it. Then I put it through analog and I was like, “this kind of looks cool”. And then I was just gonna have it be the piece itself, but I thought the glitching was kind of dope. A lot of that stuff is all analog, video glitch synthesizer running it through CRTs, and reshooting. It's really fun doing that stuff. Honestly.
The Jenkins community is really dope. They’re really active and post a lot of stuff. I've noticed a lot of people post support for me too. It's really cool to see the amount of support and everything. When I went in the discord people were excited. I just focused on making all 3 pieces as good as I could. If all of those pieces are just good, that is just such a value add.
Jake’s evolving art and the digital space
VC: Are you thinking about projecting your art into what the metaverse might be? Are you considering the fact that a lot of these objects will now be in 3D? Is it a question of, “ I need to figure out how this medium works so that my art can live in the metaverse” or it's just as simple as, it looks cool. It's interesting. It's another way to create. It's a way to see objects interact, etc..
Jake: It’s just another medium. I put out a 3D version of the degen token , because I felt we just needed a 3D version of it. I didn't model it necessarily, I did a collaboration with somebody else. But he killed it, absolutely killed it. It would take me a couple of months to be able to do that if I did it myself. I'm really trying to work with a lot of different artists that I've worked with before and pay them. And, I don't care if they want to make NFTs or not, because even if they just get money to do what they want as an artist, that's freedom enough, right?
I haven't gotten VR goggles yet, so once I do that and sculpt things in 3D, that’ll be exciting. But for the Jenkins piece, I just used the 3D art as a canvas, and then drew all over it, basically. That's what I do a lot.
When I used to do music videos, Once I cut it, I’d put all the 20 clips on top of each other, but the song at the bottom of it. Then I’d play the song. And then I just cut and then unclick each video layer and try to find the best one for every single shot I wanted. And then once I did it all the way through and I had one stringed out layer, then I go all the way back to the beginning, and play it again and cut on new pieces of the music, and then edit a whole other video on top of it basically, and then keep editing videos on top of themselves. And then you go “ if I take this whole chunk out here, from what it was before, it might be better”. Music videos, in particular, are fun to edit. I feel like that's a process of mine. I just kind of do things on top of each other, Do a piece one way, and I might glitch it, or put it through analog and then take that as a layer, bring it back into Photoshop with the other layers, and then blend them. Basically do a bunch of different stuff and see what happens.
VC: So would you say your focus right now is digital art? Or are you also still sketching, painting, shooting videos, etc..?
Jake: Yeah, I'm doing all the above basically. I'll do some 3D stuff. And I'm on my iPad a lot doing animation. Right now I'm doing this one, and it's four frames, because all you really need is four frames. Four is pretty good. Some people like eight and six. That's a lot of frames. You could just do four, then take one from the middle and put it at the end. And then you have six frames, basically. So I've been doing this pretty crazy piece (“WAR HAUL”-below). It’s kind of oil painty and I'm trying to animate it. I’ve been watching art documentaries. A lot of it is about the idea. Just seeing images and putting them together and all of a sudden I say “That's a fucking crazy idea”. And I didn't even think about the name until later. A fucking crazy idea . I feel like it's all about the concept. Also, I think I’m going to get a barrel and then recreate the barrel, and then just have a physical of the barrel which is pretty fun.
There's some other pieces of mine that are way more detailed and maybe don't have a concept. With my SuperRare debut piece, it's a lot of detail. Honestly, I started it with an idea that if you keep zooming in, you could just screenshot it, and it could be another piece. It was such a good, image, it doesn't need to be animated or anything.
Web3 and possible Jenkins utility?
VC: So you have the degen token. You've clearly embraced Web3 technology and the Web3 ethos. Can you give us any hints? Are you thinking that your pieces for Jenkins might have any future utility in your world?
Jake: I'm not sure. But maybe, I don't know. Maybe sometime? Maybe at some point, but I probably wouldn't ever say anything ahead of time. Sometimes I'll just take a snapshot for myself. And then it's like, well, if you owned it, you don't have to worry about it. I'm not mad at people selling my stuff or making money, that's a lot of money. People can pay off their mortgage. I flip stuff for sure, why would you not?
I think doing something where it's like maybe if you hold all of them you get something. For the degen token, I've been thinking about how many it would take for you to burn it and get a 1/1. Maybe it’s 10. And then I could make a website. It shows the 1/1 pieces that are already done and if you burn the degen tokens you get one. But you might not get the one you want, it's just like a gumball machine. And then maybe the token gets down to under 50 or something. I think maybe I eventually want to get them all burned, something crazy.
And I was thinking about making a real life vending machine. Have IRL little degen tokens. Some stuff has future utility, but it's more like “it just happens”. You just got something your wallet. You don't have to do anything. It's just airdropped to you, not on Polygon. My airdrops take me a long time. Like my piece Existential Dread took me a minute. That took me a while to do. And I was like, damn, this piece is sick. Should I just give this to everyone? I’m like of course, my collectors will love it. I’m just one guy basically. Even the 3D degen tokens, it was a collab, but it's my brainchild. I like to think that you can do a lot in the Web3 space just by championing other artists, collaborating with them, paying them.
And yeah, maybe once they’re (the 3 Jenkins pieces) all out there, there'll be something where if you own all of them, something happens. If I feel like it, sometimes it'll just happen if I have a really cool idea.
VC: There seems to be some mixed feelings from artists on NFTs. How do you feel abotu NFTs, in general?
Jake: I love them. I mean, I love them. I just don’t think that they have to be called NFTs. Let’s come up with a new name. I feel like, when you understand that future, provenance, then you can kind of understand. Why would you ever post anything on Instagram, right? Because things became not scarce at all. I would just make things and put it out because it was dope, or just make a collage or something. But then I’d put it on Instagram, because where else are you going to put it? Flickr? Tumblr? I guess I'll just put it on Instagram and get 100 likes or if it's a banger get 1000 likes, and some comments, and then some people say it’s sick, and then someone just fucking screenshots it and uses it in a mood board.
So it's an evolution. Because now you can see the first pieces that I put out. The thing with me is I’ve made a lot of stuff. I haven't over minted. One thing it’s helped show me is I'm trying to be an amazing artist and painter. I want to get into Christie's or Sotheby's, maybe even not through NFTs.
I'm really influenced by artists that are punkish. Not even punk, but just unorthodox. Warhol and Basquiat. I'm inspired by people who you can't pigeonhole. I read a Basquiat interview and they asked, “why did you write chicken bone on this”? I love doing stuff like that, purposely doing stuff that's poking fun at something. It’s really an exciting time to be an artist. Like I said, I try to buy other people’s art. And I’m developing a gallery and I want to put other artist’s art out there.
It’s an interesting time for artists, especially artists that can do a lot of different things. Now for one piece you can do it all. It can be I drew it. I added glitch. I did a bunch of analog video. I used 3D things as reference. I also minted it on my own smart contract and added code, and then made it into this thing. It's like a renaissance in my opinion. There's a lot of good art being made. Imagine doubting the power of digital ownership. So NFTs have just given me creative freedom to not have to do anything I don't want to do. The freedom to basically say no.
It was a wide-ranging discussion and we can’t thank Jake enough for his time. It was so interesting to hear about his process and how he thinks about making art. Jake is in constant exploration mode and it really came through that he cares about his art, his collectors, and Web3 at a high level.
As expected, there’s been discussion of possible utility and some ideas suggested by the community. I will be following those discussions closely, and we will take a closer look at the roadmap and speculate on project direction in an upcoming post. Speaking of utility, did anyone else catch Jenkins publicly touting the possibility of burning your NFT to receive a physical copy of your Jake piece to hang on your walls? Fantastic idea, and I would certainly participate if that becomes reality. We need some art for the Media DAO office walls anyways. I wonder how they could accommodate burning the ultra rare ‘Love Feedback” piece? Something like an Infinite Objects physical? I am very thankful and was incredibly lucky to pull that piece with my only Jake x Jenkins token. What did everyone else reveal? Did you get the piece you wanted? Are you planning on collecting all 3?
This was a very smooth and successful drop. The art is killer. The community is pumped. Collaborating with Jake shows a very keen eye for artistic talent, and only makes me more excited about the mystery artist for the Book 1 NFT covers. Congratulations to Jake and the Tally Labs team, and we all can’t wait to see what’s next.
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, FilmBook and SpaceWalk are WR collectors and long-term hodlrs.