Focus on your art and stay true to who you are as an artist. Some have tried to change in order to fit a mold that they believe will bring in more money. Most of the time this has the opposite reaction.
Many have observed that we are at the cusp of an NFT boom. The thing is, it’s so cutting edge, that many people don’t know what it is. What exactly is an NFT and how can one create a lucrative career out of selling them? To address this, as a part of our interview series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ali Sabet.
Ali Sabet (@sabet) is an Iranian American artist that is regarded as one of the top selling artists on NFT. He is recognized for his paintings of beautiful and confident women with large breathtaking eyes and his signature long lashes and defined lips. He is also known for his unique Pixopop (@pixopop) characters.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?
Absolutely, thank you for having me! I was born in Iran and my family moved to Orange County, California when I was just 9 years old. I didn’t know much English, was shy and very tall for my age. I started drawing before I learned how to write so I turned to art. It was my release. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton in 1998 and my first job was working for one of the top advertising agencies in the world as an Art Director. It was an amazing experience. I later opened my own agency and alongside my branding work I continued to paint. I decided to focus on my art full time in 2018 and this year entered the incredible NFT world of art and am now ranked as one of the top 100 artists globally.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The book Quantum -Touch: The Power to Heal by Richard Gordan changed my life. It helped me remove resistance in my life. I also realized that collectors were drawn to my paintings not just for the design but the healing energy I put in each. Later, I learned how to heal others. One of my collectors had dealt with health issues that included a lot of shaking on one hand. I saw her stop shaking for the first time in a very long time right in front of my eyes. It was magical.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in this new industry? We’d love to hear it.
I was one of the lucky ones that knew what I loved early on. I did not do that well in every subject in school but everything I turned in had some artwork or doodling on it. I remember turning in a composition when I was 9 years old and the teacher gave me a low grade but I turned the page and she put incredibly positive and encouraging remarks about the doodles I had on my composition book. I realized that even though I wasn’t the best student, art was the one way that I could always connect with people and communicate with them in a deep and meaningful way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
I had a vision of a symbol and it looked like a person holding an equal sign. I called it LOVEQUALS SERVICE. It’s also made up of the number 1, omega, square root and the equal sign. From alpha to omega, the root of all is “love”. I started embedding this symbol in all of my artwork. Soon came another symbol and then another and now I know a mysterious script called Sabe Love Symbols. I can write and paint this language in a fluently but have yet to decode it. Clients have found their name in a different language in paintings, the name of their child, etc. I now incorporate this language in all of my paintings.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can’t think of a funny mistake but I will share a cool memory. I remember making my Pixopop characters and hoping they would be the next Hello Kitty. It wasn’t until 20 years later that it really started getting recognition and now on NFT they are collectables. The lesson is to do what you love and not worry about immediate success. You will be in awe at how it all comes together at some point…even if it is 20 years later!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
An art collector named Spencer Brown became one of my mentors. He helped me understand that in the art world you need an audience. You also have to have programs that get people excited about your work. This has helped me gain a following on social media and make the transition to painting full time. It also may be the reason I have done so well in the NFT world.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m working on a few large paintings for a few collectors. I also designed the first hypercar vehicle to be auctioned in NFT. You actually get a physical car. I have a few incredibly exciting collaborations that I can’t touch on right now but I will share as soon as I can.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. I’m sure you get this question all the time. But for the benefit of our readers, can you explain in your own words what an NFT is, and why people are spending so much money on them?
NFT stands for Non-fungible token and is part of the Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency like bitcoin. For artists, NFTs can be a digital painting, drawing or music. This has opened up an exciting new way for artists to share their work and for collectors to invest in what they love. For those that are new, I recommend buying digital art that you love instead of just collecting for investment.
The NFT industry seems so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
NFT is exciting and for artists it is a game changer. The art world will never be the same again.
- The ability to communicate with collectors directly. The app Clubhouse holds NFT discussions where collectors can hear directly from the artist why a certain piece was created and ask questions directly. They also get to discover new artists from different parts of the world that they may not have found otherwise.
- Being able to create anything that I love knowing there may be an audience in the world. This is a game changer for artists. If you want to make money as a professional artists, sometimes you have to focus the majority of your art on what has done well in gallery sales, etc. With NFT, it has opened up a huge audience for artists and you feel safe sharing different types of art knowing it will connect with different audiences.
- Collaborating with emerging artists and well known celebrities. In the time I have been on NFT, I have done many collaborations with both new and recognized artists. The beautiful thing is that this type of digital art is bringing together painters, musicians, and specialists in animation and digital art in a way we have never seen before.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the industry? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?
I’ve not seen anything that concerns me. I do believe there is a bit of a learning curve to getting your work on the platform but there are new innovations and platforms that are being introduced that is addressing this.
The App Clubhouse has free sessions for new people that I also attend that provide direction.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about NFTs? Can you explain what you mean?
I’ve heard critics say that the long term view of NFTs is unknown. That can be said about anything new. The reality is that once you start attending the NFT sessions on the App Clubhouse and getting to know both the collectors and the artists, you realize that there are some incredible digital art that is being launched on this platform that has already dramatically changed the way we view and collect art.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they enter the NFT industry. What can be done to avoid that?
I think one of the most common mistakes is to just start buying art in hopes it increases in value. The seasoned collectors have shared that they only invest in art and artists that they love and connect to.
How do you think NFTs have the potential to help society in the future?
We don’t have to wait for the future. It is happening right now. Non-profits from around the world are connecting directly with artists and auctioning for their cause in this space. I was just a part of an auction that sold one of my digital pieces for 55K dollars. The charity worked with multiple artists and raised over 300K dollars.
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Focus on your art and stay true to who you are as an artist. Some have tried to change in order to fit a mold that they believe will bring in more money. Most of the time this has the opposite reaction.
- Don’t shy away from collaborating with artists that you respect and love. If you are new and talented, you may get a flood of collaboration requests. Be selective and find artists that you connect with and the end result will be magical.
- Have a presence Twitter and Instagram. You need to have these accounts to communicate with collectors and other artists. Make sure they can direct message you. Some have created an account just for their NFT world instead of just using their personal account. Announce your pieces on these platforms. I reached out to Whale Shark ( one of the biggest collectors of NFT art) and let him know that I would love him to look at my work. This tweet changed my life. He became a collector and one of my biggest supporters.
- Give back to the NFT community. Once you get your artwork up and start promoting yourself, participate in the App Clubhouse NFT sessions to help answer questions and help other artists. You can also support other artists by sharing their social media posts and commenting when appropriate. The entire NFT community appreciate your efforts — from artists to collectors, it’s very much a family atmosphere even if there are thousands of people involved.
- Participate in NFT Clubhouse rooms that connect you directly with collectors and other artists. The app Clubhouse has been key in my success in the NFT world. Don’t underestimate the power of attending these sessions, listening and sharing. The connections you make on this platform is life changing.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am a big believer in energy and healing. I incorporate it in my art and healing sessions. The more awareness I can bring to the importance of being conscious of the type of energy you release through your work and daily life, the better this world will be. Most people don’t realize just how impactful one person can be.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to have lunch with Elon Musk. He is an extraordinary individual that is continuously changing and contributing to our world.
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success on your great work!
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story!