Laertes: My Story

5 min readNov 22, 2021

How Non-Fungible Tokens are helping me explore my passion from a different perspective.

Let me start off by introducing myself, my name is Laertes and I am an artist from a small country named Albania. Growing up, I always had a passion for painting, however, as many people know — it’s very difficult to make a living from simply being an artist. Mix in the reality of growing up in a communist country with very few opportunities and things start to become complicated. In 1994, I ended up leaving Albania and immigrating to a city named Piraeus, about 15 minutes out from Athens, Greece. During my 13 year stay in Greece, I was painting pretty regularly, whether it was portraits or abstract paintings. During this chapter of my life is when I also met my beautiful wife and started a family. At this point, my passion became an occasional hobby as my priorities shifted once more. I worked at a local pastry factory to make ends meet, however, this wasn’t what I wanted the rest of my life to be — I knew something had to change.

In 2007, by pure luck we win the immigration lottery to move to the United States and decide to settle in New York, which is where I currently reside to this day. Let me say this one thing, immigrating does not get easier the more times you do it. Learning a new language becomes harder as you get older, you don’t have the same energy as when you were young, and it’s tough rebuilding a social life from scratch. Fast forward a few years and I end up working for a French interior decorating company in Manhattan. Throughout my time with them, I moved away from just painting and acquired new techniques such as molding, gold leaf work, wood and marble imitation, and much more. The company I worked for had a very rich clientele list, ranging from members of the Saudi Royal family, the former mayor of New York City, and many uberwealthy individuals you and I have never heard of before. Seeing the way these individual’s lives differed from everyday people like you and I was really shocking to me. I had never see estates and penthouses that exist in New York when I was living in Albania and Greece.

However, the perks of this job were far and few. I had to deal with long commutes daily, and while my company was profiting from 6–7 figure contracts, I was left with a measly $25 dollars an hour for work no one else could replicate. After nearly a decade of working with them I finally got a pay raise of $30 but once again I was faced with the decision, is this all I want to do for the rest of my life? The pandemic changed my perception of things, what’s now being dubbed as “The Great Resignation”, millions of people in America like me realized we could make just as much money working for ourselves at home or investing our money, rather than getting underpaid for strenuous labor. A couple of months ago I decided to take a leap of faith and decided to quit my job as a decorative painter for that company and pursue my own endeavors. Although I’m still scared and sometimes doubt whether or not this was the right decision, I would’ve never taken the chance if it wasn’t for the pandemic changing my perception of labor.

Picture of Salvador Dalí, circa 1939. || On the right is perhaps his most famous painting, “The Persistence of memory” (1931)

If I had to pick an artist that has influenced my art style the most, I would have to pick Salvador Dalí. Dalí was an extremely talented surrealist artist with a very bizarre personality. Upon examining his work, it makes you wonder what must’ve been going on in his head during the creation process. Aside from just his stunning art, he had some memorable quotes — the one that resonates with me the most is when he said, “A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others” (Dalí). Through my art and my actions, I try to uphold this adverb, money, fame, and status are things many people aspire to achieve, however, when the day comes for us to cross worlds to the other side, the only things left behind by us are memories and inspiration.

Below are a few of my paintings that I have created. There are dozens of more paintings stashed under the stairwell of my home, but these are some of my favorites.

At the end of this article, I want to announce that I (in collaboration with others) will be releasing a generative NFT collection project named, “The Lost Ancients”. It will consist of 10,000 unique NFTs with hundreds of traits hand-drawn by myself. The Lost Ancients are an attempt to fill in a gap of a Greek Mythology/multi-cultural NFT project that I feel is missing in the space as of today. More information will be revealed as time goes on, however, this will be the beginning of something great. This project, will not only be an NFT collection, but will also be the start of a community that conveys inspiration and unity to everyone that comes across it. I hope it will show people that if I could make leaps of faith moving 7,000 miles across the world or quitting my job, you can overcome any obstacle that comes in your way too. I truly believe that we are a part of a cultural revolution that will be birthed from the innovations of blockchain technologies and the communities that arise from those innovations as well.

— Laertes