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In the mid 2000’s I was living in Waikiki and working as a freelance designer. I provided web design, flash animation, and logo design services for a variety of clients. However, the logo jobs were my favorite.
I thoroughly enjoy distilling the essence of an entire brand into a simple and iconic design. There’s a real art to it. And I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember. It’s all I ever wanted to be. I attended a visual arts high school, majored in computer animation, and worked as a lead animator and storyboard artist before transitioning into design and development.
My art style was influenced by the surf, skate, and alternative music cultures. As a result, I created several personal logo designs for my portfolio that I felt would be attractive to brands within those industries.
Among my personal designs, I had a favorite. It was striking, bold, and iconic — yet so simple. I referred to it as the “X” skull logo. It captured an aggressive and anarchist mood, and I imagined it representing an alternative lifestyle brand. I thought, maybe, I’ll use it for a brand of my own someday.
Over time, my focus turned towards websites and away from logos. In 2009, I launched a WordPress software company with my best friend. It was an instant success, and the business quickly consumed all of our attention. So my “X” logo collected dust, and my hopes of using it as a surf, skate, and alternative lifestyle brand faded from memory.
As the years passed, the WordPress industry changed. We continued to innovate in the space, but our friends were leaving the industry. I was too busy to notice. I kept spinning my wheels in Web 2.0, designing and developing new products that failed to fulfill my creative needs. It was disheartening. I was experiencing burnout.
Unbeknownst to me, my colleagues were migrating to Web3. Finally, in 2021, NFTs caught my eye.
When I eventually took the deep dive into NFTs and the blockchain, I quickly realized the power of the technology. Most importantly, it provided a way to truly own and sell digital art. This was super exciting for me, as I always felt digital art was significantly undervalued. Then, once I discovered generative art collections, I was hooked.
It wasn’t the collections that interested me as much as the process of developing a collection. The skills required to create a generative art NFT collection just happened to be the same skillset I’ve nurtured as an artist, designer, and developer for the past 15 years. It felt like destiny. I became obsessed with creating a collection of my own.
But where would I start? What kind of collection? What style?
Subconsciously, I gravitated to my “X” logo design as a starting point. It just felt right. I began creating simple variations, and using a personally modified version of the open source Hashlips Art Engine to run generative tests.
The early tests were extremely minimal in form, and included a variety of bold background colors. As the work progressed, I began experimenting with filters, patterns, colors, and rarity. Some experiments were interesting, but overly complicated the results. I wanted to achieve a minimal, bold, and iconic aesthetic. So, I regularly shifted my focus back towards simplicity.
Ultimately, I decided the skulls should be primarily white, on top of a black background. Additionally, I chose to include 4 other possible colors — gold, red, blue, and green. I felt the minimal color usage would be impactful on a black and white design, so I developed every color to be rare. However, the most rare designs within the collection contain all 4 colors, and I ensured only a small number of the randomly generated NFTs featured all the colors.
As the collection evolved, the NumbSkulls were born.
While creating the collection, I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. I was following my own personal legend. Using my “X” design as the starting point felt as though I had come full circle. It was a reminder of how far technology has come — and I’ve come, in a relatively short time.
NumbSkulls reignited my desire to launch the kind of brand that I always wanted — a creative alternative lifestyle brand that pays homage to things that I love: minimal design, quirky characters, animation, and technology. NumbSkulls aren’t for everyone, but the people that get it, get it.
On the surface, NumbSkulls appear simple — maybe even stupid. However, beneath the surface is an ocean of technology, code, animation, and careful planning.
NumbSkulls portray a one-dimensional simplified persona. While in reality, there is much more at work under the surface. The art represents sheltering our true selves from society for fear of acceptance. The brand is about breaking free of this paradigm in order to create a better version of ourselves and the world. It’s about rebirth.
NumbSkulls don’t capitulate to the norms of modern society. We want to live life on our own terms, even when it appears foolish to others. It’s smart to be a NumbSkull.
David Morgan, Creator of NumbSkulls