NFT: king (002). Courtesy Alexander Yolevski / tdotcondos
Maybe you first heard about NFTs (non-fungible tokens) through the $600,000-sale of the Nyan Cat meme, or in the form of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first ever tweet, which was purchased for $2.9 million in March. If you haven’t been introduced, now is a good time, because NFTs have made it to Toronto’s new construction condo world.
This week, a limited collection of condo-themed NFTs launched on OpenSea’s digital asset marketplace, called tdotcondos. The stylized image collection depicts six of Toronto’s iconic new construction projects, including Art Shoppe, One Delisle, Nobu Residences, The Goode Condos, King Condos and The Capitol Residences.
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The tdotcondos series was launched by local marketer and creator Alexander Yolevski, who runs Yolevski Creative Media. Following a career as a food writer and marketer for restaurants, Yolevski slowly moved into the new construction and condo marketing realm, experience that alongside his ongoing interest in Toronto’s growing landscape, became the inspiration behind this real estate-related NFT launch.
Livabl spoke with Yolevski to learn more about the NFT world and the launch of tdotcondos.
Parts of this interview have been edited or removed for clarity and brevity.
So what exactly is an NFT?
I think for me, what makes the most sense of what NFTs are, they are digital assets. Thinking about NFTs as a digital asset is probably the most easy and simplistic way to think about it. An NFT is a non-fungible token, [which] is what it stands for. And basically it’s the ability to own something completely unique online. It can come in the form of art, of images, of music. People even turn their own Tweets [into NFTs.] They’ll take a screenshot of their tweet. For simplicity reasons, just think of it as a digital asset that you can own. It’s the digital version of something that you can own online.
Let’s just stick to visual art, because that’s what is really becoming popular here, and it’s the ability to just collect. I think if you think of NFTs in a form of collection, the reason why you would want an NFT or to buy an NFT, starts to make more sense, because there’s trading cards that people were into, like Pokemon cards, the physical things. It’s the idea of just being able to collect them all as part of a collection and you can sort of either get obsessed or interested in it, and it’s really cool to see a bunch of similar items together in one collection.
NFT: goode (005). Courtesy Alexander Yolevski / tdotcondos
Why did you pick Toronto condo art to make as NFTs, as opposed to landmark city buildings?
I think condos because of the relevancy, just [with] what’s been happening within the city, and also because that’s what I’ve worked with, what I’ve been exposed to. And there’s always a certain type of marketing that I love that revolves around these projects. It’s not just, “Oh, there’s a new building going up.” It’s everything from, “Who’s the designer? What neighbourhood? How will it change that neighbourhood? What’s going to be the architecture of the building?”
It just seems that every time you see a certain type of condo come up, it creates this amazing transformation and you’re always excited. There’s always a lot of hype around it. You’re always excited to see what the renderings are going to look like, what’s the kind of style that they’re going to go with and the amenities that are involved and that kind of stuff.
It’s getting more and more exciting. The condos are getting more and more expensive, but I think there’s a lot more detail and a lot more world-wide attention being spotlighted on these projects coming up.
And why these ones in particular?
I think they’re the most exciting in the form of what I hear about something new being built in the city, I’m always interested in, “Who’s the builder? What’s it going to look like? How tall? Is it boutique-style? What neighbourhood and how is it going to transform it?” I try to choose what I find [to be] architecturally-iconic type of buildings, or at least very different buildings. I just try to choose these iconic buildings I think people would just love to be a part of.
Some of them I just loved what the renderings look like. Just visually, I thought this would look beautiful, and obviously if you’re going to create a collection where the idea is for people to bid on them and purchase them and what to actually collect them, it needs to be something that is visually appealing and looks good and is something that people get excited about.
NFT: one delisle (001). Courtesy Alexander Yolevski / tdotcondos
What’s with the pixelated design of the NFTs?
When I finally started to figure out what NFTs were and started getting excited, what I noticed was a lot of the popular ones, and a lot of these headlines and these NFTs that were selling for millions of dollars and the communities [that] come together and collect so many of them, a big similarity was this idea of [that] the images had been altered in some way. Like a pixel version.
So I did get some influence from that, but at the same time, I didn’t want to just copy that. So rather than going for that sort of original Nintendo system type-of-look these pixel blocks, I thought it would be a little bit more sophisticated to go along the lines of the branding of tdotcondos and just the buildings in general [with] more of a crystallized [look]. But it’s sort of a take off of that pixelated artistic style I guess, which is more crystalized.
How did the launch go NFT? Who is interested in them?
I try to do a lot of things publicly on Twitter, but also on other platforms like LinkedIn, Discord. And I am part of these communities where people are sort of helping each other learn about NFTs [and] creating visual stuff online. I have shared the sort of process of doing this, and obviously because of my background of digital marketing specifically within real estate in condos as well, I have a lot of people on Twitter that are within that industry.
So when I’m talking about and thinking about creating a collection that is related to owning digital real estate in Toronto, I’m getting interest from different developers, real mortgage brokers, real estate agents and people in the industry that think that the concept is really great.
At the same time, it’s sort of funny because people would say it’s getting super expensive to buy real real estate in Toronto, so why not use the opportunity to just be a part of what’s happening in Toronto and sort of collect these digital items, which are obviously much cheaper. But who knows, maybe if they start going for what some of the other NFTs [are worth,] that would be pretty funny.
NFT: nobu (004). Courtesy Alexander Yolevski / tdotcondos
Buying real estate has become more difficult in Toronto. Do these NFTs give people a similar or more attainable ownership experience?
By owning digital real estate, can that ever convert or transfer into the same thing as owning actual, physical real estate rather than digital? That might happen in some sort of segway or some sort of parallel between the two. I don’t know how it would. For example, if you purchase a digital asset for some sort of digital real estate in Toronto, and the value of that goes up or other people show interest as well, it could turn into a deposit or a down payment on actual real estate.
I mean that would be great if it became a stepping stone or a gateway of some sort for people to get into real estate in Toronto at all.
Where is this all going?
Right now, it kind of sounds sort of weird to talk about trying to compare digital real estate to real real estate for obvious reasons, because you can’t live in a JPEG, but I think that it could just get to the point where you just talk about real estate in general. This could be obviously years or decades away or whatever it is down the road, but it could be like, “I have real estate in Toronto, I own real estate in Toronto.” It would be pretty profound to think about owning digital real estate that could be as expensive or pretty close to a starting unit in Toronto.
[Although the online auction for tdotcondos is ending within the month, Yolevsk told Livabl that more small-batch releases are expected for the future.]