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A freelance artist behind a multimillion-dollar NFT collection

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A freelance artist behind a multimillion-dollar NFT collection

If you were in Miami during December, you may have seen a Pudgy Penguins club night. Cole Thereum, the founder of Pudgy Penguins was present. He was surrounded by penguin art and etched into ice .. Antoine Mingo was also there, sipping a gin-and-tonic in the back, but he kept his profile low. Although he drew the bodies and faces of the penguins’ heads, his connection to this project has been kept under the radar. He was not recognized by anyone at the party, unlike Cole.

The Miami event marked a turning point in Mingo’s unconventional career as a NFT artist. Tokens built from his art have sold for upwards of $400,000 even as he remains largely on the sidelines. The founders of Pudgy Penguins, who coded and promoted the project to potential buyers, are the true leaders in the NFT world. Mingo’s case is a good example of this. The visual artists are considered hired guns. They also benefit from the boom mainly through their reputation.

Mingo started to take an interest in art when he was in school in Woodbridge, Virginia. He began drawing portraits of his favorite players and tried to capture the details of the game. He began to take on smaller commissions as he grew older. First, he created album art for Woodbridge rappers. Then, he made logos for local businesses. Each gig lead to the next.

” I was trying to find my niche. He says that he wasn’t sure who he was selling to. “Work just fell into my hands .”

After graduating, he began at a community college to learn the rules of typography and graphic design. These skills were essential, but he was disappointed by the slow growth of his freelance business. He recalls that time as a low point of his career as an artist. He says, “Honestly, I didn’t even know [clients] were into art that much.”

Looking for new challenges, Mingo found his way to Upwork, a gig-work platform for graphic designers. Upwork is controversial with some artists — particularly its 20 percent cut and sometimes abrupt labor policies — but for Mingo, it was perfect. Mingo was able find gigs all over the globe, sometimes paying more than his local clients. He was able to see the portfolios of other artists and get advice. He started his career designing rugby jerseys for an Australian client. He began to drift into logo design and learned the techniques that make it work on the platform. Although he still needed to work part-time to survive, he was beginning to master the game.

Then, he was offered a job for an NFT project. He had no idea about NFTs, but he did know that cryptocurrency was volatile, and that his friend had lost a lot money when he tried to time the market incorrectly. The pay was only $150 at first, more for consulting and batting around ideas than producing a finished product. He was not used to cartoons and the NFT trait system on which most NFT collections are based was completely new to him.

“I’m normally a realism artist but [the founder] really wanted me to draw these simple penguins,” he remembers. “When I was drawing them, in the back of my mind was the penguins from Mario 64.”

The Pudgy Penguins founder, Cole Thereum, showed him how to build separate traits over the same base penguin shape, so the trait can be swapped in and out to create new tokens. Antoine created a series of hats, clothes, glasses, and color schemes — more than 100 unique traits in total. As an additional rare find, there were penguins with different backgrounds and themes. Once Mingo handed off the traits, developers combined them into 8,888 images, the first batch of Pudgy Penguin NFTs. The finished product came with a huge payday: $23,000 in dollars and $37,000 in Ethereum.

Cole Thereum reached out two weeks later, raving about the project’s success. Mingo didn’t know that Pudgy Penguins was so successful, as Mingo did not have any connection to NFT Twitter. The founders appeared on CNN and Bloomberg TV soon after, with many people comparing them to the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Without knowing it, Mingo had become the artist for one of the biggest NFT collections ever made.

“Everything changed,” he says. “I had a wild view of it all. It was all just a spectacle .”

.

He no longer had to search for commissions on Upwork. Instead, people were approaching him to make NFT collections for them — such as with the Unbanked NFT project. He continued to be involved with Pudgy Penguins, creating a second collection and content for their website and social media channels. He was invited to Miami’s party, but it wasn’t enough to make him the centre of all the action. Pudgy Penguins was not his best client but it was one of many.

When scandal hit, he was as shocked as everyone else. Twitter user @9x9x9eth posted a thread explaining that Cole Thereum, the founder of Pudgy Penguins, had emptied the project’s treasury before looking to sell the company for 888 ETH (over $2 million). Soon Cole was expelled from his company. Mingo was involved in one of the most infamous betrayals of the NFT scene.

“I felt a little betrayed,” Mingo says, “but not to the point where I wanted to say something crazy online.” A few months later, LA-based entrepreneur Luca Netz bought Pudgy Penguins from Cole and started up the project again, launching a new headquarters in Miami and setting plans for a book.

Mingo is planning a move to Miami soon too, following Pudgy Penguins and the broader buzz around crypto art. He still sits in his same room as he did last year, at the exact desk where the Pudgy Penguin artworks were created.

It’s not the usual reward for an artist whose work is selling for six figures — but there are other kinds of satisfaction. Mingo still remembers the moment he saw that Steph Curry had bought a Pudgy Penguin. Mingo had to step back from the computer and return to the feeling that got him started drawing.

“It was confirmation that I was good enough. Mingo stated that I needed it to keep going. “If I kept going the same way, I don’t think I would still be drawing the way that I am now .

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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