- Damian Augustyniak ran a successful business designing T-shirt and album graphics for metal bands.
- Some customers on Fiverr began approaching him to ask if he could also design NFT collections.
- Augustyniak charges between $1,300 and $7,250 per collection creating between 100 and 10,000 JPEGs.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Damian Augustyniak, the 30-year-old founder of GuziKart living in Makarska, Croatia, about his business. It’s been edited for length and clarity.
When I was 20, I got my first job, making furniture in a factory in my home country of Poland. The job was mind-numbingly boring. I loved to draw in my spare time, so I started to draw some T-shirt designs for bands. I found some local heavy-metal bands and some in the UK and United States and offered them my designs for free. I just liked their music.
A few bands liked the stuff so much they decided to pay me, even if I didn’t want any payment. I got fired from the furniture job, which was a blessing. I could now freelance for metal bands full time.
For five years I worked alone, designing T-shirts for the likes of Joey Ramone, Slayer, and Sabaton. But it got very busy, so I set up my own company, called Guzikart, and hired an assistant in July 2017. Every six months, I needed to hire someone else. I built up a team of five assistants who were able to create and manage the design process for T-shirts. By October 2021, my t-shirt design business was making $15,000 a month.
I’d had an account on gig-work platform Fiverr since 2017
In October 2021, people started contacting me to ask if I could produce NFT collections as well as T-shirts. I hadn’t done anything like that before, but the process seemed similar to making the designs for T-shirts.
I published an advert on Fiverr saying I could produce the artwork for NFT collections for people. My prices start at around $1,300 for one unique base illustration and 100 NFTs from that, with around 10 different traits. They go up to around $7,250 for 10,000 NFTs and 100 different traits.
I put an official advert up on Fiverr on October 13. The next day, I had one customer. Then things started to snowball. By November 10, I had 18 new NFT clients from Fiverr alone, and more from other platforms.
Right now, I have around 110 orders — about 80 of them are NFTs. We’re responding to around 100 or 150 messages every day asking about NFTs.
In the beginning, I did everything by myself, but just like the T-shirts, I needed to hire assistants to design the attributes for the characters. I also can’t do 3D design, so I hired some designers to handle that. I have a few assistants who chat with potential customers in my inbox so I can focus more on the artwork I’m creating. And I have a manager who keeps track of deadlines.
I did my taxes recently and figured out that I’ve hired 40 employees
I want to give all my employees the job security I didn’t have starting out. They are all on contracts, so they feel safer.
When customers approach me to ask about designing their NFT collection’s art, I ask a few questions, like what kind of style they want and what they expect. I charge $300 for creating a base character with a few traits. This way the customer can see if the character design works for them and I am still paid for my work. Ninety-eight percent of the time, people are happy.
Then we move on to the full collection. The customer writes down every trait they need in a list. My assistants work on the traits and every attribute unless it’s very difficult to draw, then I do it. We work until we’ve got 100 traits completed alongside the base character, which we aim to do within 14 days.
Then we take all the artwork and run it through a Python program we bought from a developer that generates 10,000 NFTs from 100 traits. We also record the rarity of each NFT through that collection — very important information for when the NFT is minted.
Since October, I’ve been creating 10 or 15 NFT collections a month with my team
In December 2021, I made around $57,000 from designing the artwork for NFT collections. Just a month before that, I was worried the market would collapse, it was expanding so quickly.
I’m making my own NFT project called the Apes of Tomorrow. It’s a project that will include books and audiobooks for children that teach them about empathy.
I have a strange relationship with NFTs and cryptocurrency. I’m not a fan of people who are creating NFTs just to produce pictures and turn a profit. Although it’s very early to join the NFT market, I think if you invest in a project that has long-term ideas and applications, it can be worth it.