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Apr 28, 2022

mfers: Don't Try

Jack Burt
Jack Burt


If NFT collections were people, then mfers would be the type of person who dances to the beat of their own drum.

The stick-figured ‘are ya winning son’ son slouched in their gaming chair, permutated with various backgrounds, headphones, outfits, and nicotine-inputs.

Yup, that's pretty much mfers — even though it's a minimal-effort collection — it wins by virtue of what it doesn’t try to be. At base, it’s a testament to the creator, Sartoshi.

Sartoshi and the Mfers Story

Like many of us, Sartoshi got into NFTs with a blend of incentives – art, crypto, and money – though he did get in fairly early, early enough that he could casually trade CryptoPunks.

And while he credits CryptoPunks as making NFTs click for him, the more he evolved into a species of degen, Sartoshi found himself in awe of how seriously people take the NFT ecosystem. Being an artist himself and having some basic idea of how much work went into these NFT artworks, he couldn’t help but feel the tinge of an ironic wave swell up in him; Why did people make out NFTs to be more than their reality? According to his mfers post, people would say things like “omg this artwork is amazing” and he’d respond “ser you’re at a grocery store and that’s a box of cereal.”

Soon he’d discover that he wasn’t alone in his bimodal feelings toward NFT seriousness. He’d start making a name for himself by writing these cryptic tweets mocking not just NFTs but crypto culture — all though, done in a cheerful, satirical way that people really seemed to resonate with — and occasionally utilizing homemade memes of little stick figures (drawing inspiration from the ‘are ya winning son’ meme) to make his point.


The doodles especially were a hit. Before long, he was encouraged to start listing them as NFTs, and so he did, posting them on Foundation for the minimum price of 0.1 Eth (some have now sold for as high as 10 Eth.) Many of his drawings iterated further on the ‘are ya winning son’ meme, while others went a step further with his own sarcastic flare. Ultimately though, he got to the point where he realized these little stick figure sketches have legs.


Weighing the opportunity to keep creating 1:1 NFTs or to try his hand at a 10,000 piece collection like CryptoPunks and Bored Apes, Sartoshi elected for the former, basically on the premise that more seats were needed for the growing community of like-minded, shitposting degens. He’d name his new collection ‘mfers’ both as an ode to the plurality of degens out there, and as a thematic wink to his beginnings as a shitposter where he commonly dropped a ‘mfer’ in there to lighten the tone.

Next, he got to work on the mfers design process: hand drawing the layers for mfers, brainstorming traits, partnering up with WestCoastNFT to handle the tech side of things, and starting to think critically about the managerial and proprietary consequences that will accompany launching mfers.

With the artwork perfected (“nothing overly polished or overly computerized”) and the tech side wrapped up, finally, Sartoshi took his hands off the wheel — no official discord, no promotions, no roadmap, no Sartoshi as leader type of thing, and no IP (intellectual property rights) or Copyright reservations (mfers are CC0) that could stop mfers from creating derivative products/projects.

In abstract, you could think Sartoshi was merely being lazy, shedding responsibility for the project or whatever. But looking back, Sartoshi knew what he was doing, or at least he had the conviction: if he created sincerely relatable art, then the relay-process would take care of itself. And it did.

Besides a singular tweet the day before the mfers mint, Sartoshi did zilch in terms of marketing the collection, and yet, the 10,021 item collection on the Ethereum blockchain sold out on November 29th, 2021, within ten minutes.



And as you can see from the chart above, it took a few months before the larger NFT ecosystem took notice of mfers, but eventually, Sartoshi’s hands-off approach began to blossom, prices went on a run mid-February (peaking at a 4.6 Eth floor), and perhaps most importantly, mfers the world over found ways to dream up branches of community. Today, there's a mfers Discord (which, true to his promise, Sartoshi didn't start and never joined), 3D mfers, mferverse, mfers ahead, mfers merchandise, dead mfers, ape mfers, the mfer chicks, mfersdoinstuff, crezyies, and so on.


Why, Though?

At the moment, the mfers collection has done 35.1k Eth in volume and rests at 2.1 Eth floor price. Whereas with many other NFT collections we could point to these numbers and draw tentative causation to some utility or roadmap or brand collaboration, with mfers it's not as simple.

Of course, we could try to point to qualitative factors instead, like attention-paid to mfers line opacity, the fact of their collection title being undercase-d slang, or how they were made CC0 (and how no copyright restrictions might have reduced friction for derivative projects), but then again we’d probably be grasping for straws.

If anything, mfers excelled because of what they weren’t; extravagant, over-marketed, overserious . . .

In fact, mfers reminds us of some anti-wisdom the famous poet Charles Bukowski once gave:

“Don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap it and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it.”

Well, mfers don’t try, and still, 5.4k people (unique owners) have made a pet out of them.

Disclaimer: This is not financial advice. This article is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. Do your own research. See Flip’s Terms of Service for more details.

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