An Interview with Alex, Co-Founder of Noa Collectibles
We catch up with this Romanian digital artist to discuss cryptocurrency, travelling, and how he’s using blockchain technology to immortalise the strongest human emotion – love!
What is the most powerful human emotion? Love.
It is the one emotion that can change our whole outlook on life, and the best part is that it can be found in so many ways – through hobbies, through activities, but at its strongest, through eachother.
Without a doubt, the strongest love is that between a parent and a child, and we are incredibly fortunate that one NFT collection on WAX has decided to immortalize this love to share with us all – Noa Collectibles.
We all enjoy a good dose of fiction, but real-world narratives, stories and experiences will always evoke the strongest reactions within us. Once you hear the real-life story behind Noa Collectibles (and Alex and Andreea’s sister collection Destinations), and set your eyes upon their mind-blowing art, I’m sure you’ll understand why we, amongst many, many others, have become huge fans of their work!
Read through to the end of the interview for our Noa Interview Card and a unique collab, dropping next week!
Pssst… there’s three hidden claim links to previous Interview Cards within this article. Happy hunting!
Hydro: Hi! Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your background and how you got into NFTs?
Alex: Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve been a graphic designer for 10 years.
Ever since high school, visual arts have been part of my life. I went to an art high school, then studied Graphic Design at the Art University of Bucharest. I’ve been a freelancer for a couple of years and then co-founded a company through which we designed and sold pre-made templates for other creatives and businesses to use in their projects.
My partner, Andreea, went to the same high school and then got a degree in Design at the Art University, and another in Architecture at the University of Architecture and Urbanism in Bucharest. We’ve been together for 15 years now, creating, working and doing everything together – and this also applies to NFTs!
We got into NFTs whilst staying up-to-date with everything going on in the crypto space. Inevitably I saw headlines about NFTs, and since we were already selling graphics exclusively online, it was just a matter of time until we switched our focus to this space. Very soon after founding Noa Collectibles, we stopped all of our other activities and focused 100% on creating and growing our NFT collections.
What’s the story behind Noa Collectibles?
Noa is our baby boy, and he is the one represented in all of the cards, impersonating different characters. He was only 6 months old when the first cards were created, and they originated as a gift I made for his mother to keep as a fun memory of when Noa was a baby.
Out of my love for pop culture, games, and comic books, in November 2020 I started creating a set of physical cards with illustrations of Noa as different popular character stereotypes found in movies, cartoons, and comic books. The printed cards were presented as gifts in the pockets of an advent calendar that we had hanging in our house in December. This is how most of Series 1 was created.
A couple of months later, I found out about WAX NFTs, and of course, discovered the digital trading cards on the blockchain. I immediately knew that I had to turn the cards I had created of Noa into an NFT project. The rest is history – as we’re doing this interview, we’re working hard on the second series, whilst also keeping busy with our second collection, Destinations.
Where do you believe the roots of your interest in the creative fields come from? Was it a teacher at school? Did you draw a lot when you were younger?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been drawing and painting. As a kid, I started with all kinds of very basic representations of common objects, animals and people, but later I started to introduce stories. I had entire scenes of battles between different sci-fi factions that I had come up with. Of course, the drawing level was very poor since I was around 8-9 years old and I had no idea what I was doing, but it was a lot of fun!
As I got closer to high-school, I gained an interest in painting, and was trying to reproduce various images or other paintings. Everyone around me, including my teachers, were saying that I should study art further, so in 8th grade, I spent an entire year preparing for a two-stage exam, covering drawing and painting. I passed and got accepted into an art high school.
In 11th grade, I started to become more and more interested in graphic design, and focused most of my attention towards creating digital works. In 2009, I was admitted at the University of Art Bucharest to study Graphic Design – and graphic design is what I’ve been doing ever since.
It must feel incredible to have had such a wonderful journey in art, and now to have Noa be a part of it! Has Noa shown any artistic flair so far?
It’s been really great indeed, and we feel very lucky to have discovered what we love to do the most, and to be able to make that our living!
Noa is too young to have shown much interest in visual arts. We tried drawing with him, but he’s more interested in chewing the pen than he is actually drawing something!
He does like music a lot though, and dances as soon as he hears any type of melody or beat! Not sure if this is a sign… but I guess most 1 year-old toddlers tend to enjoy music and dancing!
When did you get into cryptocurrency?
I think it was around 2016 when Ethereum caught my attention. I knew about Bitcoin from a news piece on TV many years before, but in Romania, I didn’t know of an easy way to purchase cryptocurrency. I discovered a company called Bitcoin Romania that allowed you to sell and buy Bitcoin and Ethereum at certain pay stations around the city, and there was even a Bitcoin ATM in the city centre, so I started buying both.
Over time, I sold some of my crypto, and bought some back in the price dip of 2018. When COVID-19 hit and the markets crashed, I started to pay close attention to the markets. A few months later when Bitcoin started going back up, I started to buy again, and branched out into altcoins, as I felt there was a lot of opportunity there.
Are there any particular altcoins you’ve got your eye on, or are holding?
My main altcoin holdings are Ethereum, ADA, and of course WAX!
If I had to pick one, I don’t know which I’d choose for the long-term. Ethereum has the history and the advantage of the wealth of projects built on it already, whereas Cardano is so promising and has a lot of potential.
WAX is also very promising, and the judging by the current community, I feel it is here to stay for a very long time. We see big household names launching every month – and this is only the beginning. The collections are getting better and better, and with all the dApps in development, I see a great future ahead.
I also hold some Elrond because it’s a very solid project that I happen to know quite a lot about, since it was developed in Romania.
I’m holding either very little or none of the following, but I feel I should invest more into Solana, Vechain, Polkadot and Binance.
What brought you to WAX?
In January 2021, I had bought into several altcoins, and was watching a lot of YouTube content about what was going on in the crypto markets. I don’t like trading – I like to hold crypto for the long run, but I was watching and reading as much as I could to understand as much as possible.
Inevitably, I kept hearing about NFTs but had no idea what they were – even though I’d been playing CryptoKitties since the first day it came out. I started looking into NFTs, what they are and where to buy and sell, and ended up on OpenSea – which is where we initially wanted to launch Noa Collectibles, but I quickly realized it was not the right space for what we were trying to accomplish.
I’m a collector myself, owning many sci-fi and fantasy action figures, as well as a lot of pop culture memorabilia. One day, I was listening to a live show on YouTube and they kept mentioning WAX. I looked into it, and discovered it was exactly what I was looking for.
I spent most of February and March collecting various WAX NFTs whilst working on the designs for our own collection. On the 23rd of April, Noa’s birthday no less, Series 1 of Noa Collectibles launched, with our first pack drop – more than 700 packs were sold.
Fast forward to the 23rd of the next month (May), and we held our second pack drop. 750 packs were available, and we sold out!
Meanwhile, my partner Andreea was working on the card designs for Destinations, and creating the websites for both.
Destinations is a relatively new collection – could you tell us a little about it?
Destinations is a project that heavily features photography shot by myself and Andreea during our travels over the past 7 years. We’ve created multiple printed photo albums and a variety of other projects using these images, but through NFTs, we’ve found a much better way to showcase and share some of the special places we hold dear.
These images are inherently personal, and NFTs are a great way to showcase our visual style and eye for design. The best part of the project is that we’re able to share some of the beautiful images we love with the entire community, which is truly an amazing thing.
Photography is often taken for granted – no one places too much value on digital images that can be easily obtained online, even if the photographer had to go through a lot for that one image before it was shared with the world. I think blockchain technology is changing that.
Between your two collections, yourself and Andreea have certainly grown a passionate following!
Thank you – I appreciate that a lot!
One hallmark of Noa Collectibles, other than Noa of course, is the quality of your art. What does the process of creating a Noa NFT look like?
The process is a bit complicated. I’m not an illustrator – it’s never been my strong suit. All the cards start with an actual photo of Noa. This is edited as much as possible to get the desired look, then manipulated through drawing, sketching and modifying with brushes.
I use a mix of different techniques, textures and overlays that are specific to the way I’ve created many of my past works. The general atmosphere of a card is very important, and all cards are created with a great emphasis on layout, contrast, colour balance, composition and clean design.
Even before I started using a computer to create my art, mixed media was my preferred technique to achieve the look I desired, so I guess I brought a little of that into the digital world.
Other than Noa of course, where does the inspiration come from for the art for Noa Collectibles?
Most of the inspiration comes from sci-fi, fantasy movies and games. I love looking at art – I’m the kind of guy that bought discs, games or magazines just because I thought the cover art looked good!
Posters are what I love most. Poster art, be it for movies, games or concerts, is very special, no matter the decade, because that single image has to say everything about the event or product that it’s promoting, so a lot of creativity is required.
What is your favourite NFT that you’ve designed so far?
It’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m usually very excited about whichever the last one I designed was, because I always create a story about that character in my mind as I’m creating it.
If I were to pick one, it would be the Collector’s Edition Darth Baby from Series 1. It’s Noa with a black hood and a red, glowing, animated lightsaber (click on the image to view Darth Baby on the secondary market).
What have you enjoyed most about working on Noa Collectibles?
Turning my baby son into so many characters that I hold so dear. Noa means everything to me, and to be able to create a collection for him where I can also pay tribute to all the stories and characters that I’m so passionate about – it truly is a dream come true.
Noa and Destinations are both stakeable within WAX Arena. Are there any plans for stakeability in other dApps?
Not any dApps in particular at the moment, but in terms of collaborations, there’s a couple of projects we wouldn’t mind being associated with!
We’re always open to collaborations with other respectable projects, and there’s many out there right now. The fact that we can come together and move forward as a unit, creators and collectors alike, is what makes the WAX community so great and special right now. We all look wishfully towards the future, and we know that if we and the WAX blockchain are to be successful in the years to come, we must be united and work together as a community.
I see a lot of collaborations between projects and collections, rather than competition, which is amazing in my opinion.
Are there any other NFT artists/collections that you admire, WAX or otherwise?
I admire many projects on WAX, and I appreciate all the hard work and creativity that artists put into their NFTs!
If I were to choose one, it would be Bitcoin Origins. It’s the first collection that caught my attention when I first visited AtomicHub – the idea behind the project is fantastic, the illustrations are amazing, and the team is awesome. I’ve become fascinated with the cards, and the fact that they document the history of Bitcoin in such a beautiful and unique way.
I’d also like to mention Beeple, because he’s such a good example of what can be achieved through hard work, passion and consistency. He’s worked so hard and created so much in the past few years, and to see a digital artists’ work be recognized in the way that it has is truly amazing to me.
Where does the future lay for Noa Collectibles and Destinations?
We plan to keep moving forward with both collections – what we’ve done so far is only the beginning!
The next step is to give utility to the NFTs. We’re already working with dedicated developers and designers to create our own games for the community. We know we’ll bring more value into the space this way, and increase the value of our collections for the community as well.
We also hope to continue to collaborate with other creators, because this is what this space is all about right now.
Currently, we’re working hard on Noa Series 2, which is almost finished. Very soon, everyone will meet Cryptobaby!
We don’t have a drop date set because it’s very likely that this series will include specific NFTs that will be related to the dApp we’re looking to release in the autumn.
Destinations has been a real success and was received very well by the community. We’re also working on a Series 2 for Destinations, featuring a new location, new designs and some new features which will also be a part of the dApp we’re designing.
Is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you’d like to say directly to the reader?
I’d like to thank all the collectors, creators and the entire WAX community for being so awesome! It’s an amazing space, and I’m very glad be here at the beginning of something so special.
I’d also like to give special thanks to all the collectors who’ve supported us, because thanks to them, we’re able to dedicate ourselves full-time to our collections, and now, we work hard to improve and bring more value to everyone who’s holding our NFTs.
Quick-fire question time!
What fuels you?
Coffee, for sure!
Long-term, which will be the predominant currency, crypto or fiat?
Crypto, but government-controlled fiat posing as crypto is a very probable scenario in future.
One unusual fact about you?
I drink 10 cups of coffee every day… and can still sleep like a baby!
You can invite three people, dead or alive, to dinner. Who do you choose and why?
Siddhārtha Gautama, Muhammad and Jesus – that would be the most enlightening dinner of all time.
What is your purpose in life?
How can we follow yours and Andreea’s work?
Alex and Andreea’s story is a very special one, and in Noa Collectibles and Destinations, they have two of the most wonderful narrative-driven collections on WAX. They’ve chosen WAX NFTs as the way to immortalize the most important moments of their lives together, and we couldn’t be more fortunate to be able to enjoy these memories together with them, through their utterly gorgeous art!
To mark the interview, we have our Noa Collectibles Interview Card dropping next week, as well as an awesome collab in the works!