MP chatted with viral digital creator/artist Danny Casale (aka Coolman Coffeedan), who first set the internet ablaze when his cartoon “Snakes Have Legs” accumulated tens of millions of views nearly overnight. Casale has since turned his humorous and crudely drawn cartoons into a profession, with an internet following well into the millions. Last December, under his Coolman’s Universe banner, he released 10,000 one-of-a-kind NFTs of his most beloved digital character Spesh, which sold out nearly immediately to about 5,000 people and sold out in under three minutes.
Danny and his Coolman’s Universe team recently wrapped up at NFT.NYC. In addition to his NFT venture, Danny published his first book, “UR SPECIAL: Advice for Humans from Coolman Coffeedan (TarcherPerigee).” Each chapter introduces a new friend and a new hardship, offering the perfect pick-me-up for whatever difficulties. In addition, Danny’s animations will leave you feeling brighter and lighter, tackling topics such as loneliness and self-confidence.
Danny grew up getting in trouble for doodling during class. He didn’t see himself as an artist by any means but loved the process of getting the cartoonish visions out of his head and onto paper. As an adult, he’s taken those doodles and turned them into wildly popular animations that bring a dose of positivity to millions of timelines.
When did you first want to follow an artistic path, and why?
One day in kindergarten, I drew a picture of a green dragon, and my teacher put it on her desk to display in front of the classroom. I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since. The journey of creating art of all different mediums, shapes, and sizes for people to observe and ponder on is such a high for me. I was never quite sure how I’d make this “artist” thing work, but I’m blessed it panned out.
What is Coolman’s Universe, and how is it unique?
Coolman’s Universe is a digital collection of 10,000 unique pieces of art called Spehsies. Each NFT consists of a particular combination of traits, colors, emotions, and lore. It revolves around my main character, a loveable chubby cat-like thing named Spesh, who travels throughout the universe on his homemade rocketship. Spesh focuses on finding his best friend, who went missing, but he keeps finding himself crash-landing on these odd planets and meeting an array of strange creatures.
Who is Spesh, and what makes this character awesome?
Spesh’s motto is “UR SPECIAL.” He has become a cultural symbol of positivity and optimism, something we all need more in our lives. Of course, we can all relate to Spesh’s occasional silly dumb moments. His goal in life is to remind as many people as possible that they are loved, cared for, and indeed… special.
How do you approach developing new NFTs, and why?
For me, it comes down to expanding on the story of Spesh and Coolman’s Universe. They must have a purpose and fit into the larger narrative and ecosystem we are building. The art has to be impactful and challenge me in new ways. I also want to develop them with our community in mind, consistently thinking of ways we can create unique experiences and bring these characters to life.
What new projects are you currently working on, and what can we expect?
We just dropped “The Infinite,” which was an airdrop to all holders of the Coolman’s Universe collection. It’s an evolving NFT that requires four puzzles to be solved before unlocking it. The community is working hard on it, and I can’t wait for it to be revealed soon. Then on top of that, we had our two-day activation at NFT NYC that included an immersive Spesh experience (open to the public with custom experiences for holders) and a private holders-only underground concert. Finally, the second collection from Coolman’s Universe will be released soon, called Babies. They are the intergalactic sidekicks that some of the Spesh characters in the current exhibition are holding. I’m incredibly excited to bring them to life and continue building the storylines.
Generally, what are your thoughts on NFTs as a medium through which art is brought to life, and why?
NFTs allow me to connect with my community in ways I never dreamed possible. It is a unique experience to own a unique piece of art and interact with a community of people who share a common love for it. I’ve never felt a connection with a group of people.
Do you think today’s NFT artists will one day be regarded as the modern-day versions of traditional artists?
Absolutely. Digital art is opening doors to the art world for a whole new generation to experience and own art. Future brands are being built in NFTs across art, entertainment, gaming, etc. It’s also cool to see talented folks from all fields of work (tech, art, business, philosophy, etc.) come together and create something new.
Why did you enter the NFT space, and what are you looking to accomplish?
When I caught wind of the excitement and enthusiasm in the NFT space, it instantly reminded me of when I discovered YouTube in 5th grade. Back then, nobody knew what it was, and they certainly didn’t care to upload videos on it. A decade and a half later, online content creation is now a cultural cornerstone. It was wild to be an early adopter of that new thing and see what it evolved into. Something similar happened with the NFT space, only much more rapidly. My goal, however, is not much different than the nerdy 5th grade YouTuber me to create, have fun, and make people smile.
Cover photo by Alex Stone and courtesy of Danny Casale.