Famous Israeli Comic Artists Explore New Worlds with NFT Collection

Five years after finding international success and fame as talented comics artists and creators, Israeli couple Maya and Yehuda Devir are taking their award-winning art to another level.

The married couple and parents of two will start offering their visual pieces as NFTs, or non-replaceable tokens, a type of blockchain-based commodity that has taken the art world by storm.

The technology provides digital creations with a kind of certificate of authenticity, giving ownership to something that could otherwise be endlessly replicated. Like cryptocurrencies, NFTs are highly speculative investment vehicles, each backed by a creative work or action, and represented by a unique – or non-replaceable – digital token captured in the blockchain ledger.

This new breed of encrypted digital artwork has become extremely popular, with some selling for millions of dollars. There are also NFTs of photographs of Golda Meir, Bible verses, and of a digital copy of Chaim Herzog’s signed oath of office.

The NFTs can be used to trade representations of physical objects, such as photographs or a painting, or digital creations, such as audio files, videos, or other types of creative work. The NFT becomes something like a unique trading card, which can rise or fall in value depending on demand and thus can be exchanged for cash or other NFTs, or kept as a collectible with the bragging rights that come with it. along. (Owning an NFT is not the same as owning the item, and thus a buyer has no control over reproduction or licensing, which allows the underlying work to continue to be reproduced or disseminated online.)

The burgeoning NFT space also has its detractors and critics raising important questions about its legitimacy and long-term viability — issues the Devirs said they seriously considered before jumping in.

They teamed up with Israeli PickCherry, a marketing firm specializing in the blockchain space founded by TV celebrities Rotem Sela and Assi Azar, with Ido and Smadar Regev, another married couple, with whom the Devirs were linked as spouses. and business partners.

The pair told The Times of Israel via video conference this week that they initially received mixed feedback about their NFT push from their community of followers, which run into the millions on social media platforms.

“We know [the NFT space] had a mixed reputation and it’s completely unregulated, we thought to ourselves ‘it’s a bit of a risk,’ Maya described. But as they worked slowly and methodically to learn more, they said they loved the focus on community and creating something completely new.

An illustration by Maya and Yehuda Devir from ‘One of Those Days Volume I.’ (courtesy)

For half a decade, the Devirs have been engaging their audiences on sites like Facebook and Instagram, posting illustrations that were often funny and relatable, drawing from intimate moments in their everyday lives as a couple, newlyweds, and then as new parents. (One of their most recognizable early illustrations was “My Hot Wife,” an exaggerated depiction of a shared shower where the high temperature of Yehuda Devir’s face “melts”.)

A selection of the work went viral a few years ago, opening up a world of possibilities for the Devirs, leading to the publication of two comic books (“One of That Days”, volumes I and II), merchandise, coveted appearances at top conventions for creators and entertainment, influencer awards and a dedicated fan base.

The pair have a server on Discord, a group chat platform originally built for gamers where many online communities come together, interacting with people from all over the world with special events such as ‘game nights, cooking sessions, open mic nights, mental health check -ins,” Maya said.

“Our audience has changed our lives,” she explained, and the NFT avenue is a way to give back, they explained.

When the pair started researching NFTs, they quickly understood that we can give our audience something of value, something that they can own, it’s like a gift to them.

Israeli cartoonists and husbands, Yehuda and Maya Devir. (courtesy)

The Devirs took the time to develop a concept for the NFT collection and came up with a visual idea that builds on their characters kissing “to reflect love and affection,” Maya said, depicting them as different and sometimes opposing elements such as fire and ice or prisoner and police officer.

“Every piece and every pair [in the NFTs] tells a story, it’s really a philosophy about relationships,” she explained.

The result is a collection of 10,101 (“It’s a cool number! It’s a binary number too”) pieces that also come with built-in tidbits.

Fans who purchase the work will also find that their purchases are not just any NFTs, but Utility NFTs, or those with practical value or experience outside of the arts. One of Devirs’ partners in this is Israeli-founded hospitality company Selina, a co-working and lodging company targeting millennials and Generation Z travelers and workers, or “digital nomads,” in dozens of properties across the North and South. America, Europe and the Middle East.

The Selina lobby in Cancun, Mexico. (Selina)

Some of the exactly 10,101 NFTs the Devirs are offering as part of their collection, dubbed “xoxo,” will earn free nights at Selina properties around the world. Other brands of services or products are also on board with offerings such as a face-to-face meeting with the Devirs, online courses, art supplies, and other merchandise.

Maya said the couple is looking for “utilities” that would appeal widely. “We haven’t had a holiday in four years since the birth of our oldest. For many in the audience it’s probably been the same – busy lives between family and life [and work] and they need rest. We wanted to give them something that we would enjoy ourselves,” she said, explaining Selina’s choice.

New creations

The Devirs believe that their move to the NFT space was not only a good business opportunity, it was an embrace of new worlds and an evolution of their art.

“We feel like we’ve rediscovered the art from scratch. It gave us the opportunity to create new things,” Maya said.

“Think of it like acting,” Yehuda said. “When a comedic actor suddenly makes a drama, people pay attention. As if Jim Carrey wanted to make a Holocaust movie. For actors this is evolution, growth, expression. We can keep making ‘One of Those Days’ [volumes] for the rest of our lives – then what? We wanted to try new things”, and explore new technologies.

The two admit to working excessively and being “all in” on new and old projects. It took them five months to put together the collection and they are enthusiastic about it.

In another analogy, Yehuda described the launch as “making a great dinner for your friends, and you just can’t wait for them to eat it.”

“It’s a masterpiece,” Maya said.

One of 10,101 pieces in the new NFT collection by Israeli cartoonists Maya and Yehuda Devir. (courtesy)

Both hope that the NFT movement is one of many that will explore new worlds and new forms of art in the future.

“We’ve been together for 13 years, we’ve evolved 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 coming years, they hope to “remain productive in our lives and in our work,” Maya said.

Shoshanna Solomon and AP contributed to this report.

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