FEWOCiOUS talks about the importance of drawing on his own story and how NFTs have created a ‘moment’ for young artists
‘Someone just tweeted a video of me freaking out,’ says the artist Victor Langlois, aka FEWOCiOUS, whose new series of unique NFT works, paintings and ephemera goes on sale with Christie’s in June. ‘I feel like I’m in a dream or something.’
Known as one of the world’s leading digital artists, the 18-year-old has staged multiple successful solo releases, as well as two groundbreaking NFT space collaborations — with digital fashion brand RTFKT Studios, and collaborators Odius, Parrot_ism and Jonathan Wolfe — leading to sales in the millions.
His latest project, Hello, i’m Victor (FEWOCiOUS) and This Is My Life, offers five unique works that detail the journey through his teen years so far, growing up as a transgender male in an abusive household. The works will be on offer at Christie’s beginning 25 June.
This series needed to be intensely personal, he says. ‘To be so young and to have this spotlight, not only in the NFT space, but also the traditional art world… The world is seeing this, and it felt important to not come up with a story; it felt important for this big moment to be like, this is who I am.’
Victor was raised by his grandmother, who moved to America from El Salvador, and ‘had three jobs and four kids, a single mother. And I think she struggled so much that she just wanted security,’ says Victor. ‘So to see me wanting to pursue art, she was like, “What? Be a lawyer.” Which I understand. But it hurt when she would say, “Your art is ugly and that’s why you can’t do it.”’
The series’ first work represents the year that Victor began to question his gender identity. ‘Twelve and 13 were kind of a blur. I ran away from that bad household and I didn’t really get footing until I turned 14. And that’s when I really got into art heavily,’ he says.
Beginning as a way ‘to avoid eye contact’ at school, drawing and writing thoughts down became an outlet for what he was going through. ‘My mom told me if I ever cut my hair, she’d never want to see me again,’ he remembers. His family refused him therapy and ‘art was the one place where I could say everything’.
His hyper-detailed imagery comes directly from personal journal entries (‘I think in words,’ he says) and diaristic text or remembered speech runs throughout.
Year 2, Age 15 — My Mama’s Dream features a distorted figure holding a mask, on which reads ‘Hi!! I’m Victoria’ and ‘Am I pretty enough 4 you?’ In Year 3, Age 16 — When A Child Feels Lost, motifs include a gravestone reading ‘R.I.P No one knows your name’.
‘Infinite percent, art has saved my life,’ says Victor. He realised this would be his career even before the success he found in the digital sphere, after selling a T-shirt for $180 from his own website. ‘I was like, if I just work really hard, then I can make a living.’
At age 17, he began minting works online and it was after his first drop on Nifty Gateway that he was able to move from his hometown, Las Vegas, to Seattle on his own and set up a studio. This independence is represented in Year 5, Age 18 — I Taught Myself How To Fly.
Victor is hoping to hand-deliver components of each work to buyers personally in a suitcase. Each NFT is accompanied by a physical painting and a ‘gift’ selection of archival drawings, also minted as unique NFTs.
The gesture is inspired by his moment of escape. ‘I didn’t really want my family to know I was moving,’ he says, so he only took one bag and filled it with his art. ‘Hopefully, maybe one day, a collector will be just in their house, looking at it, and reflect on their life and their journeys and what they had to go through.’
He jokes that he ‘got tricked into learning about fine art’ at age 12 via the cover art for Kanye West’s album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which shows a George Condo work, and through that, Surrealist painters such as Salvador Dalí.
The lo-fi hero Daniel Johnston is also an inspiration, as is children’s book illustration, and Alexander McQueen — particularly the Voss collection from spring/summer 2001, which reflects the designer’s interest in transgressive beauty with models in a padded cell cut off from the audience.
‘I just like that it was so much more interactive and a little bit dark for the time,’ says Victor. ‘And everyone was like, “What are you doing?” And he was like, “I don't care. Look at the story I want to tell regardless of what you think.” I like that confidence in story.’
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A digitally native artist, Victor sees this as a moment for his generation. ‘A painter can sell a painting for thousands of dollars, but a digital artist never had that. Maybe you get a good commission for some company or from some musician, but never really respected for just the digital craft itself. NFTs are giving digital artists that same platform.’