If your child is still drawing in crayons on paper, you may be missing a trick – because an eight-year-old Japanese elementary schoolboy has been doing his doodling in a digital form, turning his creations into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and then selling them online for relatively big ethereum (ETH) profits.
The boy, whose name was withheld both on his social media channels and in an interview with Business Insider Japan, is known only as Zombie Zoo Keeper. He presides over a fast-growing digital art empire named Zombie Zoo where secondary sales on individual items are posted on the OpenSea platform for prices as high as ETH 18 (USD 61,190).
The Zoo Keeper says he is “currently” filling up his fast-growing emporium with around three new zoo-themed designs a day, including dragonflies, crocodiles, and items such as headphones.
He cranks his output up to “between seven and nine” items a day “on holidays” – with the aim of buying some Pokemon-themed toys with his profits.
But as previously noted, these super-young crypto art prodigies rarely work alone – zeal-filled parents are rarely far away with their “support.”
In the Zoo Keeper’s case, this role has been taken up by his mother, the artist Emi Kusano, who runs his social media platforms and takes care of curating the tech and financial sides of the fledgling business. She too has created digital art, some of which she has sold as NFTs.
Indeed, Kusano appears to have taken the canny move of bumping the Zoo Keeper’s royalty fees up on secondary sales from the standard 2.5% to a whopping 10%, with secondary sales booming on OpenSea.
The Zoo Keeper’s ETH wallet is in rude health at the time of writing, with over ETH 3 currently nestling in it (worth well over USD 10,000).
The Zoo Keeper gets on with his elementary school life during the daytime, but when he returns home, it’s time for more art creation – using what his mother explained is “a free app that lets you draw pixel art on iPads.”
His rise has been meteoric.
After listing his first works for as little as ETH 0.006 on August 25, he endured a “low-response” first week before a flurry of activity began on September 2. Since then, everyone from notable Japanese illustrators to the virtual influencer Lil Miquela creator and Brud founder Trevor McFedries have been getting their digital hands on the Zoo Keeper’s work.
But the success story has also drawn a few unsavory characters to the table, with fake Zombie Zoo items reportedly now circulating online.
The Zoo Keeper, however, says he is more worried that his newfound crypto wealth could bring about negative consequences. He stated:
“I was happy when I made my first sale, but I was wondering if it would be okay if I was earning too much money. If I have too much money, my life would change.”
The Zoo Keeper, who wears a colorful face mask in photos to protect his anonymity, says that his school pals are incredulous about his crypto activities. When he told a friend that he had sold a drawing online, the classmate didn’t believe him.
This has led the eight-year-old to vow to keep his activities a secret at school…for now. He concluded:
“Until my work becomes truly famous on the internet, I won’t tell my friends or teachers about it anymore.”