Most Influential Artist: Oveck

The New York-based artist depicted one of the year's NFT success stories – Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape phenom – for CoinDesk's Most Influential series.

AccessTimeIconDec 5, 2022 at 1:36 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 28, 2023 at 2:22 p.m. UTC

More than a decade ago, multimedia artist Oveck “fell in love with photography” while retouching images for a photo studio in New York City, where he lives. In 2020, after an infection damaged an eye, he took up oil painting. “Still today my right-side vision is obstructed, which makes lines distorted and a bit blurry,” he says.

Nevertheless, he parlayed his varied body of work, combining photographic images and digital painting, into non-fungible token success, with his first blockchain-based art piece combining his old and new media to signify a “new beginning” for the 44-year-old artist.

As of late November, Oveck was making his way from Buenos Aires to Antarctica on an expedition he’ll document photographically for a Copenhagen-based travel company. He feels lucky for the opportunity but admits it’s difficult to find time to finish his Yuga Labs portrait for CoinDesk. Still, his southern adventures aren’t hampering his commitment to NFTs.

“One of the main things I want to do is bring in more investors and collectors into this space, because there's only so much money collectors can spend,” he says. “The more the merrier, right?”

"VStrange" (Oveck/CoinDesk)
"VStrange" (Oveck/CoinDesk)

More: An NFT of this work was sold at auction on Coinbase NFT. A percentage of the sale went to

How and when did you first learn about NFTs?

The first time I heard about them was back in late 2020, but I wasn’t paying much attention. All I knew was that technology and art were involved, and as an artist for many years, those two things didn’t sound like they matched.

Then a couple of friends started getting big into the NFT space, like Dave Krugman. They spoke to me about it, and before we even dropped anything we started collecting pieces from different artists. One of the first pieces I collected was by Josh Pierce. I loved it so much, I wanted to do this, as well – not only collecting but also dropping.

What was the first piece of NFT art you made?

I wanted to get into the NFT space with a different approach than what I've done before by interlacing photography with digital art. I took one of my photos and I started painting over it on my iPad. I minted that on Foundation in early 2021, when Foundation was invitation-only. I think the piece sold within the month for two ETH, which was then somewhere around $2,500.

What were some of your main considerations when creating your “Most Influential” portrait of Yuga Labs?

I just learned about the project last week, so I haven't had the chance to finish it. But I've been involved in the NFT space for two years, and I've seen how Yuga Labs got a huge following. When I learned that the CEO was a woman, that made me feel a lot better, since there aren’t a lot in the NFT space. A woman being behind one of the most successful Web3 businesses gave me inspiration to create.

What might you do in the piece to highlight the fact that Yuga’s CEO Nicole Muniz is a woman?

I’m going to highlight strength and women’s empowerment in general. It’s hard to go into details right now. I'm an instantaneous artist. I like to go with the flow of what I'm creating, so I'll see where it goes.

It’s not just Muniz that you're depicting, but all of Yuga Labs. What about their work in the blockchain space do you personally find the most interesting or inspiring?

They were able to create a cult-like following. They [remind me] of Radiohead, one of those bands whose music makes people want to follow them. There’s a natural feeling that you follow. I feel the same energy around Yuga Labs.

Who/what are your main artistic influences?

Many different artists and photographers have influenced me. Amanda Demme is a portrait photographer who’s been around 20 years. Garry Winogrand, a street photographer, and Ansel Adams, as far as landscapes, are inspiring. As far as paintings, I love the Baroque.


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Jessica  Klein

Jessica Klein is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Fortune, The New York Times, and other publications. She is currently a contributing reporter at The Fuller Project, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to reporting on issues that affect women.