A former professional baseball player turned quickly into an NFT mogul after trying his hands on the digital art industry. Micah Johnson’s NFT art sales fetched a handsome price of $19 million in total according to Cryptoart.com. But how did the two worlds collide?
Johnson was active in the league from 2015 to 2017, and after suffering multiple injuries, he finally bade goodbye to his baseball journey to become a full-time visual artist in 2018.
In 2019, Johnson while expecting a child, felt a weird urgency to try innovative new ways to sell his art and came across the digital token industry. During that time the space was primarily dominated by white men and Johnson felt like he was ‘something of an anomaly.’
Gradually he learned more about NFTs through conversations on Discord and Twitter and then decided to give digital art a try. He sold his first NFT in 2020, an animated portrait of a baseball player titled “.15 Seconds.”
Johnson NFT ‘Aku’ is a trailblazer in itself
His inspiration for the next subject came from a conversation he overheard where a young boy asked his mother if there are any black astronauts. Johnson then created his now-famous NFT character, Aku—a young Black boy with dreams of being an astronaut who wears an oversized space helmet.
The first Aku NFT got sold in February of last year, and he has been a major recurring character in the artist’s work ever since. His next collection titled “Aku: The Moon God Open Edition,” featuring a space helmet character walking through a hallway of art has managed to rake in an impressive $2 million dollars in sales during a 24-hour auction period.
And Aku has since made history as the first NFT character to be optioned by a major production company for film and television.
In addition to that, Aku is the first such unique digital collectible, astronaut-themed or otherwise, to actually go into space on July 28, 2021. “We sent the Aku file through that channel and allowed Aku to orbit around the Earth once. That was really cool,” Johnson told Fortune.