An Interview with Ishiki Arata, Founder of WAX Arena
We sit down with this devoted artist, designer and developer to discuss Japanese culture, his favourite cryptocurrencies, and the future of his ever-growing dApp!
NFT projects and dApps are at loggerheads.
As the community at large increasingly demands game integration, additional use cases and further utilities to enhance the value of the NFTs they hold, many collections feel the need to reach out to these games, and dApps are having to make careful decisions about which projects to work with, how to work with them, and how to manage community expectations.
It’s rare to hear from someone who understands what both sides of this fence are like, but we’re hearing from one such individual today – Ishiki Arata.
Since founding the Arata Digital collection several months ago, Arata has also been developing a dApp of his own – one which has picked up a loyal following for its approach to utility benefits and future plans, and after speaking with the man himself, we can understand why!
Read through to the end of the interview for our Ishiki Arata Interview Card!
Pssst… there’s three hidden claim links within this article. Happy hunting!
Hydro: Hey! Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?
Ishiki Arata: Hi! I’m Arata, I’m 32 years old, and I’m from Romania. I’m a Fine Arts graduate, specialising in graphical art – mainly monochrome drawings and engraving, but I’m also experienced in graphic design; website layouts, posters, flyers, that sort of thing. I love to paint too! I’ve had some intensive painting periods in my life, where I would paint daily for 8-12 months at a time, mostly working on large abstract pieces, like 2m x 1.5m canvases.
I’ve sold a few paintings here and there, some auction house sales etc. but it was never consistent enough to make a living, so I decided to learn software development. After a year on various courses, and coding for up to 10 hours a day, I landed a job as a frontend software developer late last year. About 3-4 months into my dev career, Alex from NOA Collectibles (who was my high-school best friend!) showed me what he’s doing on WAX. I decided to give it a try, and here we are today!
What projects are you currently involved in?
What is the inspiration behind the NFTs in the Arata Digital collection?
Well, I’ve had a passion for Japanese culture since I was a child, and I’ve carried that with me to this day. It began at the age of 7, when I started to learn Japanese martial arts, then when I was 22, I discovered Zen and Buddhism, and I decided to change my real name to Ishiki Arata. Ishiki means awareness and Arata means new, fresh.
It comes as no surprise therefore that my first drop on WAX had a Japanese theme! I was planning to branch from that into some more abstract pieces, but the feedback from the community was to stick with oriental subjects, so that’s kinda become my niche.
What’s your favourite NFT that you’ve designed so far?
I think that would be Tatarigami.
We’ve had Yokai, we’ve had Oni – what can we look forward to next in the Arata Digital collection?
Next up, I’ll be making a return to my first collection, Samurai, with my Ronin Collection!
WAX Arena has been going strong for a few months now! What inspired you to start this dApp?
After a couple of very successful drops with Arata Digital, collectors were telling me that I needed to join a dApp or add some utility to my cards to give them more value.
I did a little research on what games were available, and for many of them, I found out that you needed to ‘stake’ your cards, meaning you had to transfer them to a holding wallet. I thought that was odd, because as an artist, you’d want people to hold and share your art. It also seemed odd to me, being a frontend developer and working with APIs a lot, that nobody had created a game where you didn’t need to stake your NFTs to gain a benefit. I started to build a rudimentary mechanic, and it slowly evolved into what WAX Arena is today.
The WAX Arena website mentions arena battles, fighting champions and, of course, rewards! Could you tell us a bit more about the mechanics of the game?
In WAX Arena, each WAX wallet will have a character attached to it. NFTs in your wallet from partnered collections give you Power Points, which can be used to customise your stats!
We will have 3 modes planned: PVP mode, Challenge mode and Arena Raids.
In PVP mode, the game will pick someone in your strength range and a fight will play out, regardless of if the opponent is offline or online. This is a straight-up stat battle.
Challenge mode is a PVP challenge to a particular opponent, which they have to accept. In this fight, each character can stake any amount of AEXP (an internal reward token), with the winner taking all!
Arena Raids is a PVE format, which requires the purchase of an entry key. The revenue from these keys will enter a prize pool, with the first player to defeat the Arena Champion winning the pool!
What can we expect from WAX Arena moving forwards?
To have a beautifully designed, complex and functional game, with great attention to detail.
The team is working around the block, some of them over 12 hours a day, to launch the game as soon as possible without hurting its quality. People are tired of waiting and waiting for releases. This space is full of promises, so it’s our duty to work 110% and get the project done, ready for the community to enjoy.
We’ve recently expanded the team in order to do a full UI rework and a full site redesign, even if the current one is not so bad. We want everything to look the best that it can, so expect a lot of visual upgrades once the core functionalities of the game are complete.
What have you enjoyed most about working on WAX Arena and Arata Digital?
For my own NFTs, it’s the opportunity to share my art, reach a large audience, and earn a good income whilst doing it. I’ve spent years trying to find a good way to make a living from my art, and I’ve found that in WAX.
On WAX Arena, it’s the experience of bringing to life an amazing project that started as just a crazy thought, an idea in my head. As the project moves on and different parts of it materialise and come together, it’s just a joy to witness. This is only possible because of the great community on the WAX blockchain. A project such as this consumes a lot of time and money, so to see all of the community support is incredible. Directly through out drops so far, we’re now in a position where there’s 7 people actively working on the project.
Are there any NFT artists/collections that you admire, WAX or otherwise?
What hopes do you have for the future of WAX Arena and the Arata Digital collection?
I hope WAX Arena can grow to become a stable, reliable game. We’re less interested in short-term hype, and more interested in developing a lasting, healthy and sustainable project for the WAX community.
The same philosophy applies for Arata Digital. I’m constantly trying to evolve and improve my art, my animations, and everything else related to my collection.
I’m very community focused, and I understand that without the support of the community, none of this would exist. When I say that, I do not mean it superficially – we are really listening to what the community wants and we try to implement their suggestions wherever we can.
Were you involved in cryptocurrency before you started minting on WAX?
My first encounter with cryptocurrency was at the age of 17, when I heard about Bitcoin – it was around $5 at that time! I told a friend of mine that we needed to buy $1,000 of this thing, but after spending a whole day trying and failing to figure out how to buy it, I thought that if it was so hard to buy, then it’s a piece of crap that’s not worth the time, money and effort.
For next 5-6 years, whenever anybody mentioned Bitcoin to me, I would completely disregard it. Sometime around 2016, I watched a YouTube video that explained what BTC was, and how it worked in detail. I was blown away!
I started to invest all of the extra money I had into BTC. It was around $1,600-$1,800 at the time. I cashed out at right at the first peak – around $19,000. Since then, I’ve always had my eyes on the crypto world, and have invested in some cryptos like VeChain, Solana, ETH and others.
If we could turn the clocks back, I’m sure we all wished we could’ve been early on Bitcoin! Are there any altcoins that you have particular faith in at the moment?
There’s a lot of interesting ones, and many that are viable for short-term profit, but the only altcoin I’m invested in (besides WAX) is VeChain. It has a lot of use cases, and they’ve already signed contracts with big companies. Even if it doesn’t have the explosive potential of other coins, it definitely has room to grow.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say directly to the reader?
I’d like to say that we’re all lucky to be involved in the very early stages of this incredible NFT journey, both the creators and the collectors. I truly believe that in 3-5 years, WAX will have achieved amazing things, and we’ll be able to look back at this period of time and be proud and grateful that we were here so early.
It’s quick-fire time!
What fuels you?
The joy of living and the beauty of this planet fuels me. There’s so many mind-blowing things in this world that you can’t be anything else other than extremely grateful to be alive, grateful for the opportunity to witness these things, and grateful for the ability to interact with people, animals and everything around you.
On a side note, I love sailing and I’d recommend everyone to give it a go. It just connects you with nature on a level unlike anything else I’ve experienced.
What price do you think $WAXP will be at on 1st January, 2022?
I believe it will have easily surpassed the $1 mark.
One unusual fact about you?
I’ve legally changed my name to Ishiki Arata!
You can invite three people, real or fictional, to dinner. Who do you choose and why?
Mooji, Conor McGregor and Al Pacino.
Mooji – for my spiritual side. His videos have helped me through some very difficult times and meeting someone like him in real life I am sure would be a life-changing experience.
McGregor – for my ego side. His ascension from poor to extremely rich is very interesting. I’d love to find out more about how this experience has changed him, how he feels about his sudden success, and other thoughts and feelings that he doesn’t share publicly.
Al Pacino – this man has lived such a full life, and he’s been my favourite actor since I was like 13 years old. Who wouldn’t want to have dinner with Al Pacino?
What is your purpose in life?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question myself. Like everybody, I have short-term desires, but if you mean the deeper meaning of my life purpose, I’d rather answer with a Zen quote that I stumbled upon many years ago;
‘The purpose in life is not to find the answers to your questions, but to stop asking any questions”.
My of this is to just enjoy life, have good intentions in anything I do, and pursue whatever paths appear to me. I’ve done 10,000 different things throughout my life, but each one of them I’ve pursued with maximum intensity and enjoyment.
How can we follow you and your work?
Arata is a stoic, passionate, dedicated man. Through his words, you can tell he speaks carefully, with an intelligence and conviction of one who believes he has a lot to give to the world, and through Arata Digital and WAX Arena, we are certainly seeing his prowess on display.
To be leading a niche NFT project alongside the development of an increasingly-popular dApp is no mean feat. Time will tell if these endeavours lead to long-term success, but judging by Arata’s confidence, I wouldn’t bet against it!
To mark this interview, we have our Ishiki Arata Interview Card, dropping tomorrow at 22 UTC!