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LOS ANGELES — With the collapse of the FTX crypto exchange, alternative currencies are no longer the darling they once were. But that is not stopping local artist Tristan Eaton from experimenting with a new idea.
The street artist and toy designer is making miniaturized, limited edition prints of one of his large-scale paintings that can be used to purchase other pieces of Eaton’s art.
“I wanted to create money that looks like art and art that acts like money,” Eaton said in a statement announcing the new currency called Slices. “This is not crypto. It’s physical.”
Going on sale at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Slices are based on a painting Eaton created at his LA studio earlier this year. Called “Apocalipstick 2022,” it’s a street-mural mashup of the "Apocalypse Now" movie poster, smiling femmes fatales and the Mega Millions jackpot game spray painted on wood.
A third-party appraiser valued the 16-by-8-foot piece of art at $75,000 — an amount that is painted into the artwork itself. Fractionalized and miniaturized into a limited edition run of 100 Slices, each piece is worth $75 and can be used to purchase other pieces of Eaton’s art for the next five years at in-person events.
Slices that are used as currency will be resold so they can be put back into circulation with a new value determined by upcoming appraisals of the original "Apocalipstick." Each year, Eaton said, the painting will be updated with its new appraised value.
Eaton said the project is inspired by the Gold Standard — a system that determines the value of a country’s paper money based on the value of gold. “But in this case, the gold is an actual painting, the cash is an edition of limited art prints and Fort Knox is a temperature-controlled art storage unit somewhere in California,” the artist said.
Eaton is best known as the co-founder of vinyl art toy producer, Kidrobot, including a pair of its most iconic designs: Dunny and Munny. He is also a well-known mural artist whose work decorates walls in cities from Los Angeles to New York to Shanghai.
Slices, he said, is “an affordable, egalitarian, experimental approach to print making,” that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. “Money is powerful, scary and polarizing. It’s taboo to talk about and it controls all of our lives. This makes it ripe for artistic dissection and introspection. Slices seeks to take back control of the money in our lives and make it social and beautiful.”
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