Trevor Jones – a story of art and NFTs

I never planned on or expected to be an artist. Although I took art classes in high school in Canada (as I had a natural talent) it wasn’t until my early 30s that everything changed. I left my home country in my mid-20s with a backpack to explore the world, working mostly in hospitality to get around and ended up in Scotland a few years later on a UK ancestry visa. After making some bad decisions I spiralled into depression, and I hit an important crossroads in life. For some strange reason, I decided that art would ‘save me’.

Proving one’s never too old to follow one’s dreams, I enrolled in a foundation course at a small school in Edinburgh and the following year I was accepted into Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art for the 5 year MA Fine Art programme. Thankfully, I managed to escape the dark depths of depression by the time I graduated; however, I now found myself at 38 years of age, broke and armed with very little but a huge student loan and an art degree.

Moreover, after two moderately successful commercial gallery solo exhibitions, I came to the conclusion that it was near impossible to make a living as an artist. So, there I was, working two jobs; managing a small art charity and teaching part time whilst running an Airbnb year round at my flat, to make ends meet all while spending every other spare moment painting.

I realised that if I were to make my art career dream viable that I would need to somehow differentiate myself from all the other artists exhibiting in Scotland, which led me to exploring and integrating new technologies with my work. In 2011 I was investigating QR code oil paintings and by early 2013 I was employing augmented reality as one of the first professional painters in the world to use AR.

I was more than excited when it came to exploring art and tech innovation but unfortunately it appeared the Scottish art world felt almost the exact opposite to me. As constant rejection of my artworks continued to fuel my frustration with the institutions was mounting, I decided to troll the legacy artworld with various tech inspired stunts.

For example, after my AR painting was rejected once again from the annual Royal Scottish Academy open exhibition, I snuck into the RSA building the day before the opening to photograph all the works on display. That night I augmented over 60 paintings and digitally ‘replaced’ them with my pieces. I counterfeited 25 invitations and turned up to the posh opening night with a bunch of friends with smartphones and tablets and my AR app turning the event into the Trevor Jones solo exhibition. Some of the ‘old guard’ weren’t too happy with me after this stunt but at the same time I also managed to build a little excitement and momentum around my artwork.

Fast forward to 2017 and for once I had a bit of money in the bank after a successful AR solo exhibition – one that I’d organised myself as commercial galleries were no longer interested in showing my paintings. I invested in Bitcoin and very quickly became consumed with the world of crypto. I began coordinating my next solo show, which was titled Crypto Disruption: The Art of Blockchain. Almost all the paintings sold to crypto enthusiasts internationally via bitcoin and eth (which completely boggled my mind at that time!) and it was by far my most successful exhibition.

Near the end of 2019 I dropped my first NFT, a collaboration with the late, great Alotta Money, which broke all previous NFT sales records and really put me on the cryptoart map. I think I was a bit of an anomaly, as an academically trained painter coming into this space filled with almost entirely digital artists; which again, likely helped to differentiate me from the rest.

Things have continued to go from strength to strength with the last couple years being quite literally life changing both creatively and financially. Along with my record breaking Bitcoin Angel open edition drop on Niftygateway, seven figure sales collaborations with Pak, Metacask and the legend Ice Cube, and hiring Stirling Castle in July to throw an exclusive party for 300 of my angel collectors, I’m now working on a commission which will be a gift for a very high profile individual who makes electric cars and rockets.

My dad always used to say to me, “Son, life’s a funny thing” and he wasn’t wrong. I guess I’ll now add to his words with, “Work hard, persevere, focus on being different and you never know where you may end up.”