Five years after rising to international success and stardom as talented artists and comic book creators, Israeli couple Maya and Yehuda Devir are taking their award-winning art to another level.
The married couple and parents of two will begin offering their visual pieces as NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a type of blockchain-based merchandise that has taken the art world by storm.
Technology provides digital creations with a kind of certificate of authenticity, allowing ownership of something that could otherwise be reproduced endlessly. Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are highly speculative investment vehicles, each backed by creative work or action, and represented by a unique – or non-fungible – digital token recorded on the blockchain ledger.
This new type of encrypted digital artwork has become extremely popular and some have sold for millions of dollars. There are also NFTs of photos of Golda Meir, Bible verses and a digital copy of Chaim Herzog’s signed oath of office.
NFTs can be used to exchange representations of physical objects, such as images or a painting, or digital creations, such as audio files, videos, or any other type of creative work. The NFT becomes something like a one-of-a-kind trading card, the value of which can increase or decrease depending on demand and thus be exchanged for cash or other NFTs, or kept as a collectible with the bragging rights that come with it. (Owning an NFT is not the same as owning the object, and therefore a buyer cannot control the reproduction or licensing, allowing the underlying work to continue to be reproduced or proliferate in line.)
The nascent NFT space also has its naysayers and critics who raise significant questions about its legitimacy and long-term viability — issues the Devirs said they took seriously before jumping in.
They partnered with Israeli firm PickCherry, a blockchain-focused marketing firm founded by TV celebrities Rotem Sela and Assi Azar, along with Ido and Smadar Regev, another married couple, with whom the Devirs are dating. are connected as spouses and business partners.
The couple told The Times of Israel via video link this week that they initially received mixed feedback on their NFT push from their community of followers, which number in the millions on social media platforms.
“We knew [the NFT space] had a mixed reputation and it’s totally unregulated, we thought ‘it’s a bit risky’,” Maya described. But as they worked slowly and methodically to find out more, they said they loved the focus on community and creating something very new.
For half a decade, the Devirs have engaged their audiences on sites like Facebook and Instagram, posting often funny and relevant illustrations, and drawn from intimate moments of their daily lives as a couple, newlyweds, and then as new parents. . (Among their most recognizable early illustrations was “My Sexy Wife,” an exaggerated depiction of a shared shower where the high temperature “melts” on Yehuda Devir’s face.)
A selection of the work went viral a few years ago, opening up a world of possibilities for the Devir that led to the publication of two comic books (“One of These Days,” Volumes I and II), merchandise, coveted appearances at top designer and entertainment conventions, influencer awards and a dedicated fan base.
The couple have a server on Discord, a group chat platform originally designed for gamers where many online communities gather and interact with people around the world at special events such as “party games, cooking sessions, open-mic nights, sanity check-ins,” Maya said.
“Our audience has changed our lives,” she explained, and Avenue NFT is a way to give back, they explained.
Once the pair started looking into NFTs, they quickly “realized that we could give our audience something valuable, something they can own, it’s like a gift for them.”
The Devirs took their time developing a concept for the NFT collection, settling on a visual idea that relies on their characters engaging in a kiss “to reflect love and affection,” Maya said, the describing as different and sometimes opposite elements like fire. and ice or prisoner and policeman.
“Each room and each couple [in the NFTs] tells a story, it’s really a philosophy of the relationship,” she explained.
The result is a collection of 10,101 coins (“That’s a cool number! Plus, it’s a binary number”) that also come with built-in treats.
Fans who purchase the artwork will also find that their purchases aren’t just any NFTs, they’re utilitarian NFTs, or ones that have practical value or experience beyond art. One of the Devirs’ partners on this is Israel-based hospitality company Selina, a coworking and accommodations business that caters to millennial and Gen Z travelers and workers, or “digital nomads.” “, in dozens of properties in North and South America, Europe and the Middle East.
Some of the 10,101 NFTs offered by the Devirs as part of their collection, dubbed “xoxo,” will offer free nights at Selina properties around the world. Other brands with services or products are also on board with offerings like Personal Meet the Devirs, online courses, art supplies and other merchandise.
Maya said the pair were looking for “utilities” that would be widely liked. “We haven’t taken a vacation for about four years, since our eldest was born. For many viewers, it’s probably the same – busy lives between family and life [and work] and they need rest. We wanted to give them something that we would love for ourselves,” she said, explaining Selina’s choice.
The Devirs feel that their move into the NFT space was not only a good business opportunity, it was also an embrace of new worlds and an evolution of their art.
“We have the impression of rediscovering art. It gave us the opportunity to create new things,” Maya said.
“Think of it like playing,” Yehuda said. “When a comedic actor suddenly does drama, people pay attention. Like Jim Carrey wants to do a Holocaust movie. For actors, it’s evolution, growth, expression. We can continue to do ‘One of these days’ [volumes] for the rest of our lives – so what? We wanted to try new things,” and explore new technologies.
Both admit to working excessively and being “all in” on new and old projects. The collection took them five months to put together and they talk about it with enthusiasm.
In another analogy, Yehuda described the launch as “making a great dinner for your friends, and you can’t wait for them to eat it.”
“It’s a masterpiece,” Maya said.
The two hope the NFT movement is one of many that will explore new worlds and new art forms in the future.
“We’ve been together for 13 years, we’ve grown together, for better or for worse, we’ve been through a lot together,” said Maya, who met Yehuda during their respective military service.
In the years to come, they hope to “continue to be productive in our lives and in our work,” Maya said.
Shoshanna Solomon and AP contributed to this report.