“Constraints Lead to Creativity”: an interview with DEAFBEEF

  • His motivation to make art
  • How did he get into crypto and NFTs
  • Why the name DEAFBEEF
  • Experimentalism vs. conceptualism in his art
  • How to think about scarcity and secondary market
  • DEAFBEEF’s plans going forward
Still from Deafbeef Series 2: Transmission — Token 143, Deafbeef, 2021

The motivation

I’ve always been intensely motivated by exploring and discovering. Whether it be learning to play an instrument, taking up a craft, mathematics, science, music. These are activities that in one respect, I put in the same category — there is the possibility that you may discover something new, even if it is only new to you.

Crypto and NFTs

In 2013, I set up a mining rig for Litecoin. Soon after, my kids were born and I abandoned many hobbies/interests due to extreme time constraints. I ignored crypto for 8 years. I didn’t even know that Ethereum was programmable until Feb 2021. If I had known sooner, perhaps I would have taken a greater interest.


DEAFBEEF is an example of ‘hexspeak’, words that can be made up of the symbols used in the hexadecimal(base 16) numbering system (16 symbols 0–9,A-F). This is probably familiar to crypto users as transaction hashes and accounts are also represented in base 16.

Experimentalism vs. conceptualism

[editor’s note: this concept has been explored by author David Galenson]

Scarcity and Secondary Market

To be honest, it’s been difficult to balance the expectations of collectors, community members, and artistic goals. I’ve seen valid and invalid criticisms on all sides.

What’s next?

My plans are to continue to explore and selectively release interesting things that I find along the way. I have many ideas, but not enough time to realize them, especially in the short term. In my country we are still in lockdown and under the time burden of childcare (schools are closed). I would wish for a slower pace to properly explore, as it was prior to the rush of crypto. Some areas on my list:

  • Longer form musical compositions. (all stored on-chain.)
  • Interactions with physical components (tangible items). For example, we are planning to make an album of the curated audio, and release it on analog media such as vinyl or magnetic tape. As a commentary on the duality of information representation, and how to truly record something permanently (embed it in culture).
  • Generative models influenced by physical processes(subject of my past research). Mathematical descriptions of fluid motion. As a commentary on the connections between mathematics, geometry and art.
  • Procedurally generated architecture and geometry for metaverse worlds. A big opportunity IMHO.
  • Read much more deeply to understand the historical overlap between art, mathematics and science, to better contextualize my work moving forward.



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