Artists and entrepreneurs are flocking to the emerging cryptoart industry. Flourishing with opportunity, this new medium allows artists to explore the intersection between digital culture and traditional art. Bringing this growing sector of the art world to Philadelphia, City Caps is a cryptoart company centered around creating Non–Fungible Token (NFT) sports–themed social media profile pictures inspired by cities and their teams.
Commish Doyle is the artist and driving force behind City Caps. He’s also the founder, developer, marketer, finance division, and frankly, anything else needed to make his business successful. Although he works with a small team of collaborators and friends, City Caps is largely Doyle’s labor of love. For many Crypto artists, the drive to learn and adapt as an entrepreneur is paramount to their success.
“Some [NFT projects] have big teams, and are well–funded, and do some really amazing things, and then you have solo artists that are just out there trying to get their art into the world,” says Doyle.
Doyle is the latter, and was inspired to dive in on his own in March 2021 after immersing himself into the crypto community and taking an interest in the intersection of cryptoart and sports. He notes Gary Vaynerchuk as an influence in explaining the crypto scene through his YouTube videos.
“I had been actively involved in the crypto community. I had been involved in NBA Top Shot. And I just saw the momentum and the excitement that was building around the space and I decided to jump right in,” says Doyle.
After choosing to go down the route of making the cryptoart instead of collecting it, Doyle got the idea to make something that he thought would resonate with sports fans, which has now manifested in the form of City Caps.
For instance, if Doyle wants to get into the Phoenix sports scene, but doesn’t have anyone on the ground, he’ll put a call out to the internet asking for a volunteer to lead the street team. That person becomes the captain of the Phoenix League for City Caps.
The captain has several duties including managing the city discord server and selling crypto caps to fans in the area. Secondary cap sales occur after sufficient hype is built, especially if the teams compete in championships and make it to the finals.
Doyle’s art style is clearly inspired by the internet and modern game culture. The blocky, pixelated style of the caps placed on the heads of the avatars is reminiscent of popular games including Minecraft, Undertale, and several others. The NFT caps would fit seamlessly as a profile picture for any of these games or for those who use social media to supplement their gaming.
While Doyle stresses that he could just tell the computer program he uses to do some form of generative art, what makes his NFTs special is that he makes each custom. While one doesn’t need to be well–versed in every art style to pursue cryptoart, drive and passion are imperative. Doyle’s process mostly consists of late nights where he cranks out anywhere from 15 to 20 caps in the wee hours of the night. Regardless, even when he ends his work day at 3 a.m., he stresses that he remains energized about his work, saying that he’s “not in it for the short game.”
“I'm enjoying that when there's an event going on … I could create a cap for both the teams that are playing. It's fun creating on the fly and doing things in real time that match the emotion that comes with a live sporting event,” says Doyle.
Although creating cryptoart may seem spontaneous, the logistics of running an NFT business are highly thought out. The forward thinking, networking entrepreneur cap always stays on.
Like most business endeavors, how one markets is almost as paramount to success as the quality of the product itself. Today, a celebrity endorsement, whether that comes from a Hollywood star, athlete, YouTuber, or TikToker, is a sure method to increase eyes on a project and most likely boost sales.
Doyle relinquishes tidbits about his connections saying, “I have some buddies that played football, played basketball and I would love to convince them just to jump on board, because if I can convince them to jump on board and be the captain of Atlanta or Phoenix [they probably have a great network] ... But I'm all for the dude in Milwaukee [that wants] to run the Milwaukee league.”
The cryptoart space seems bright and inviting, full of promises of innovative digital success. But there’s a danger—survivor bias. The play to win, risk–taking energy swirling around the community is reminiscent of the start–up frenzy that circles Silicon Valley. The problem is that most people won’t hit the jackpot, but the only stories that one seems to hear are about the average person quitting their day job to become a tech millionaire.
However, when mainstream celebrities like Jimmy Fallon enter a crypto space, those communities get excited regardless of the risk one takes by beginning their NFT journey. Unfortunately, there are sometimes unforeseen consequences.
“All of a sudden, what may have been approachable for someone is now no longer there. Now we have the potential for a country club of Jpegs that have locked out people that were there early on and but had to sell because the price was right. I think that it works itself out in the end,” says Doyle.
Despite the threat of the crypto space being overtaken by celebrities, there will always be room for passionate crypto enthusiasts, artists, and fans.
“A lot of NFT Projects that are doing well [refer to themselves as] blue chip. But, I think any project that has a following and a passion for people that support the art, they're going to continue to appreciate what they've invested their time and energy into,” says Doyle.
Overall, the future of City Caps seems bright, with an energetic, creative founder steering the wheel. Like most small businesses and creators, Commish Doyle is always planning ahead and searching for avenues to diversify.
Doyle cheerfully says, “I have a lot of ideas around where this could potentially go. Such as exploring what college caps would look like. So stay tuned. Lots of exciting things. Jump in and interact if you're passionate about the city.”