My name is Mark Kelly (but I’m known as Saucebook both as a collector and creator). My background is in programming, auditing and consulting. For the past 10 years I have been focusing on financial services compliance, and had a stint as Compliance Manager at Coinbase in the UK in 2019. That’s about the time I got interested in crypto, though NFTs came much later.
My personal creative life may be a bit more interesting. I play bluegrass banjo and guitar and have been writing for recreation all my life, producing a couple of novels. I woud say writing is my main creative expression and I still run a publication on Medium My first attempts at NFT creation were literary NFTs, created on OpenSea in March 2021. I think their time will come, but haikus and short stories are read once and then put aside, and no-one is too worried about owning them outright or trading them, despite the existence of a lively trade in physical first editions. Development of that niche will probably need a J.K. Rowling or similar to make a new story exclusively available as an NFT.
That experience, however, gave me a taste for NFTs and I spent six months of 2021 as an avid collector of art on Nifty Gateway. Poor timing, dubious selection criteria and paper handed for sure, but there was no denying my enthusiasm. I have continued to collect right up to today, but I’m no longer solely dependent on the Nifty Gateway drop schedule.
In Fall of 2021 I was waiting for a GAN (AI) minted purchase to be revealed, which was taking days, and decided to look into the technology behind it. I found the tools were readily available to convert text to image, with AI assistance. This was the door to the visual art space opening for me, as I was sure I could craft the text prompts required to generate beautiful visuals.
The hacker who took over my wallet in February of 2022 may have done me a favour, as it forced me to delete most of those early efforts, which I can’t look at now without wincing. It turns out that it’s easy to generate an abstract hot mess of colours with AI, or a nightmarish monster, but it’s harder to create something that other people will appreciate. It’s taken a full six months before I have started creating 2D still pictures that I feel to be at a professional standard, and I think I still have some way to go on the 3D animations.
Where are you from? – UK, currently living in Hatfield, just outside London. I was born in the North-East of England, near Tyneside, and still have a little of that Geordie accent.
What is your favorite thing to do on a weekend?
Hate to say it, but currently churning out NFTs and learning ways to make them better. I still have some day-job responsibilities, which occupy some of my Monday to Friday, so weekends are a chance to forget about them and do exactly what I want (and a little of what my family wants too)
One thing you cannot live without?
Nothing is irreplaceable, but if there was a single product that combined coffee, alcohol and nicotine, that would get my vote. Nicotine patches are my sarcasm suppressor. I can’t explain it, but everyone around me knows if I’m not wearing one.
Who is your favorite artists (Non NFT)?
Simon Stahlenhag. It’s such a shame that he has deeply entrenched anti-NFT views, which kicked off when someone hijacked his images for a Marble card. My introduction to Stahlenhag was via the Tales from the Loop TV series, which I think perfectly captured his dystopian rust-belt post-tech world.
Who is your favorite NFT artist?
Surprisingly not an AI artist (though I like and support many of my peers). Perhaps because I have no skills in this direction I’m in awe of 3D model NFTs. And among the 3D crowd, no-one has my attention more than Jonathan Foerster (@atleastwedream), whose Imperatrix is my favourite NFT in my collection (and possibly anywhere).
What made you pursue NFT art?
Opportunism (think Beeple sale) made me start with literary NFTs. Love of the art got me started as a collector on NG, then thinking I could do this too was the spur into AI visual art. I would probably not have persevered had it not been for very generous (and premature) encouragement from folk like Colombeat, Cedric/33 and Mal from NFT Culture.
My big break was Noealz taking a chance on me with a collaboration between his photos of Asian cities and my AI overlay. Very grateful to have worked with him, and the experience of a sell-out drop is a further spur to keeping on grinding. I’ve developed a Twitter presence and following, but I’m trying to present work rather than shill. The key to me seems to be to improve your skills and product until you can’t be ignored.
Biggest piece sold?
Two pieces from my Cornucopia FND drop sold for 0.4 ETH each (both to the same buyer).
What is the one piece of NFT art you wish you had purchased but missed out on?
I wish I’d been less dismissive when all around me on the NG Discord were buying Apes. Just for the economic benefits, not because I love the art. If there’s one piece of art that I wish were sitting in my collection it would probably be L0g1st1cs by Ness Graphics.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
Seychelles or Saint Lucia (need some sunshine after two years lockdown). Longer term, Malaga is firmly in my sights as a retirement location.
Anything else you’d like to share?
AI art techniques are developing every day. I get as distracted as anyone by the innovative possibilities that are coming on-stream. But I recognise that if the end result isn’t accessible to non-technical art-lovers, the niche will gain limited traction.
Where we are now is just a waystation on the AI art journey. Some way down the track I can envisage real-time art creation from verbal input rather than typing, or why not using thought control via a Neuralink chip. Or AI creation of physical objects by the use of 3D printers. You can end up endlessly discussing techniques rather than focusing on the end product.
The market gives us the feedback we need to know when we are going off-piste. I was pursuing a goal of creating animations with music soundtracks. The market said “actually we prefer these ultra-detailed 2D pictures that we could envisage hanging on a wall”.
When I can create animations that are truly jaw-dropping for the casual observer, I’ll return to that zone. The bar is high, when you consider the 8K resolution games which are almost indistinguishable from live action cinema. But I am tooling up with hardware and software that will get me a few steps closer!
Where can collectors find out more?
Link to Website: None (email@example.com for written works)
Social links: https://twitter.com/saucebook
NFT marketplace links: