Seattle cutout artist Rudy Willingham teams up with singer Lil Nas X for TikTok’s first foray into NFTs


A cutout of Lil Nas X from a stop-motion creation by Rudy Willingham. (Photo by Rudy Willingham)

Rudy Willingham, the Seattle artist known for his colorful stop-motion cutouts on social media, is teaming up with rapper / singer Lil Nas X to release TikTok’s very first NFT.

Willingham has 4 million followers on the video platform and went viral this summer with a track he produced for Nas X’s song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)”. The video was made from 81 cutouts of the singer set against different backgrounds and photographed by Willingham.

The unique Lil Nas X TikTok NFT, or non-fungible token, edition goes on sale Monday as part of a collection called TikTok Top Moments, featuring “six culturally significant TikTok videos from some of our most beloved creators.” , the company said in a blog post Thursday.

TikTok said Nas X “broke the internet” with his song and Willingham broke it again with his video creation, which TikTok called a “hypnotic kaleidoscope of color and sound.”

@ rudy_willingham81 frames printed, cut and shot in camera! Happy Pride Month everyone! #lilnasx #pridemonth #foryourpride # prideanthems ♬ MONTERO (Call me by your name) – Lil Nas X

Willingham told GeekWire in an email interview that he has been extremely curious about the NFT space for some time, but wants his first drop to be at the right time with the right partners.

“This opportunity presented itself and I was like, ‘PERFECT’. This is it, ”said Willingham.

Willingham, a former GeekWire Geek of the Week, has made a name for himself in the city and the internet with his unique cutouts of pop culture icons. He’s also a successful DJ and musician, and a former drone pilot whose images of Amazon spheres gained attention in 2017. TikTok catapulted his reach.

“It’s hard to say how much this means to me,” Willingham said of his viral success. “When the pandemic hit, I lost almost all of my advertising customers overnight. I had a baby on the way and no paycheque in sight.

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He said he thought his dream of running his own advertising business was over, and he applied for entry-level social media jobs at a ton of local tech companies. But he couldn’t even get an interview. So he started creating TikTok content.

“Things exploded very quickly. It changed my life, ”said Willingham. “Their algorithm is absolutely amazing at connecting creators to large audiences, and now I can make art for a living! Unbelievable.”

Some of Willingham’s customers include T-Mobile, Whole Foods, ESPN, Microsoft, United Airlines, Adidas, Amazon Prime Video, and others. He calls his job “ads people want to see, no have see.”

Nas X video and his other creations are often a very tedious process, with printing and cutting and photography. It can take up to two weeks, “depending on how many sleepless nights my wife and I have,” he said.

NFTs are virtual certificates of ownership that are registered as part of a blockchain computer network and have sparked a craze among cryptocurrency collectors and enthusiasts.

TikTok NFTs will be available on Ethereum and will be powered by Immutable X, which promises carbon neutral NFTs at a time when the environmental impact of blockchain-powered transactions has raised concerns.


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