Welcome to “An NFT Evening With…” our weekly feature shining a spotlight on some of the community’s most talented NFT artists. This week we speak with Cozy and Val the husband and wife team behind Dead Freaks.
Dead Freaks is an eccentric collection of uniquely hand-drawn vampires, lycans (werewolves), and witches. It uses vibrant colors and subtle animations to depict dark horror with humorous undertones. A hallmark of the collection is the eclectic “Fang Gang” community on the discord site. They’re collectors gathering under the Dead Freaks banner where fun is almost as important as collecting the art itself.
NFT Evening: First of all, I’d like to talk about the nature of your partnership on this project, and in general. Have you guys worked on something like this before?
Cozy: I’m the main artist and Val does a little bit of everything else: assist with designs, concepts, utilities, and community management, etc.
We are husband and wife in real life! This is definitely our first time partnering in any kind of project actually so it’s been surprisingly really fun and exciting to bounce ideas together and learn that we’re not wanting to kill each other [laughs].
Val: I was anti-crypto because I got burned a few times. But when [Cozy] introduced me to NFTs, I knew instantly this was different. So, I hopped onto this project and went all in! We both work from home and talk about NFTs 25/8, so it can be a bit unhealthy. And sometimes I want to strangle him! But for the most part we have great chemistry and work well together lol.
NFTE: What’s your background, each of you? How did you guys start?
Cozy: I grew up loving to draw at an early age and even remember selling portrait sketches for 25 cents in elementary school [laughs]. I had young dreams of becoming a cartoonist. But my interest in art eventually got hijacked by things like video games, music, and fashion. I did end up majoring in Digital Arts in college but never desired to pursue a corporate career with it.
Fast forward to 2017. I learned about crypto and made my first investment in ETH and a few other altcoins believing that was the future. Of course, everything crashed shortly after that. However, in early 2021 is when I first heard about NFT’s and I knew this would be a game changer. I started out by minting a few 1/1 pieces but didn’t sell for a while. Then I tried a few derivative projects of Punks and Bored Apes where I got my first sales and I was blown away! From there, I knew I wanted to launch an original collection of mine and the rest is history.
Val: I am a gamer girl, anime nerd, makeup artist, animal whisperer, plant mom and my genre of choice will always be fantasy and sci-fi. All of these contribute to Dead Freaks one way or another, but probably my obsession with games/love for fantasy plays into it the heaviest. I love games that require strategy, puzzles, and my favorite MMORPGs.
Back in college I built my own super game computer to optimize gameplay in Lineage. I spent every single day PVE (oh the endless grinding!), PVP (I sucked but I still loved it), and hanging with my guild mates. (I went by Valkyrie back then too.) That is, until I realized I was failing at everything in real life.
Fast forward a few years. I also had the opportunity to work as a game tester at Mythic Studio on a project called Warhammer Online which ended up being the best job ever. All to say, stepping into the NFT world felt natural to me because it’s that same vibe!
NFTE: How did you guys first get into NFTs and what made you want to create them? What was that decision like?
Cozy: I first heard about it from a musician’s Twitter I follow, who announced a 1:1 NFT collaboration with an artist. This led me down a rabbithole and learned about the concept, technology, and unlimited potential. Naturally, the thought that I could start creating art again but combined with my love for crypto amazed me. I think my desire to create art again was already brewing for so many years, and this was the spark that I needed to revisit this passion of mine. The decision was basically me giving a short breakdown of what NFT’s are to Val and telling her I wanted to give it a try. She didn’t really understand it at the time and was just like…. “okay sure lol”!
Val: Cozy introduced me about 3 months ago when he started the project and I had no clue or context what an NFT was. Then I jumped on and for the first month I wasn’t aware of any other projects except ours. I just concentrated on creating content and getting to know our community. Our discord community started to grow pretty quickly and through them, I learned about other projects and became a collector myself! In fact, 3 of them gave me one NFT each as a Newbie Starter Kit ?. Oh, and I made Cozy break me off some ETH. Coming back to the point though, I think as a creator in the NFT space it’s also important to collect, not only to have your finger on the pulse, but also to support other artists we appreciate. We’re all just trying to make it out here.
NFTE: That is for certain! In a race to be unique but relatable, where did the Dead Freaks idea come from? What influenced you there?
Cozy: I could be wrong but the art that might have sparked my inspiration is the art from the old school book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. The stories were haunting, but the art made them even scarier. I remember I couldn’t stop staring at it while being terrified at the same time. Also in all my artist bio’s I mention that I’m an artist inspired by horror & kawaii. I just have a weird obsession with dark and scary things, but also love cute and funny shit too which is the perfect recipe for a series like the Dead Freaks because while you have some creepy looking characters, a lot of times they are funny as hell too. I enjoy having both those elements in my art and so coming up with this collection came natural for me.
Val: Cozy definitely started the Dead Freaks concept. I will say though, I’m very excited about The Coven because I’m obsessed with witches. I’m pretty sure I am one ?.
I told Cozy early on what my vision was for the witches from their looks, vibe, stories, spells. And we probably argued about this series the most trying to find the right balance between what we both wanted. Honestly we’re still fighting! For me, I noticeably felt a lack of femme art in the NFT space at that time and it was important to me to let these witches take their place in that realm. By the way, this was right before the whole female NFT boom and 10k generative surge that is today. So, I think our little project got pushed out more than I would have liked. But I really hope a lot of people eventually come to find, appreciate, and love these unique, hand-drawn, badass, female NFT’s on our block.
NFTE: Are there any artists or projects you follow regularly or that inspire your work or Dead Freaks in general?
Cozy: Some artists I love are Shintaro Kago, Alex Pardee, Fewocious, Jake the Degen, and the artists behind Garbage Pail Kids and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series lol. Also shoutouts to emerging artists in the scene like PIGsDestrxyer, OrdinaryGang, UnstableKido, and PopWonder.
Val: Again, I’m always attracted to dope femme NFTs. If they’re female artists even better. My favorites right now in no particular order are On Kanati’s head, OrdinaryGang, WorldofWomen, PigsDestroyxr, Crybaby Oni, and MINDDS.
NFTE: Is there a Dead Freak or other NFT from the project that’s a personal favorite for you guys?
Cozy: This is impossible to answer because I have so many but my top 2 would be Dead Freak #7 and #68. If you ask our community members, you just grow attached to certain freaks and you won’t always know the reason lol.
Val: Dead Freak #008 and Dead Freak #018
NFTE: Tell us about the project structure. You have the Dead Freaks but then you also airdropped Lycans and now you’re getting into Witches. Not to mention you have the Dead Magic items to help with raffles and stuff. Tell us more about it.
Cozy: Dead Freaks is a collection of vampires, lycans, witches, and more. The structure is mainly geared towards adding value to our collectors. Like you mentioned, we first rewarded anyone with 2 or more OG freaks with a 1/1 Lycan. Next, we introduced Glow Freaks and Glow Lycans with their own set of rewards when collecting the sets (rewards are ongoing).
We also introduced a membership system where you have access to certain perks depending on how many freaks you own. With membership, not only did we want to introduce more unique rewards like physical prints, merch, and custom artwork, but also help filter out collectors who don’t really care for the project and were here for a quick flip. Obviously there’s no way to completely avoid this from happening as we continue to include non-holder raffles from time to time. But overall it seems to be working pretty well.
Dead Magic is a side collection of unique items that possess different utilities. This was active during the first OG freak series, but some of the items will be reactivated for The Coven and future collections.
We are currently in the The Coven series that features 33 Witches. This series will reveal the backstory and lore of Dead Freaks and there’s more to that which will be revealed.
Val: We had just planned on Dead Freaks and that was it lol. We did not anticipate such an amazing, thoughtful, smart, and genuinely funny community of friends that followed. So here we are and our plan now is to bring as much value to our members as possible, and have a shit ton of fun while we’re at it!
NFTE: A big part of the appeal of Dead Freaks is the community which is active and vibrant. Did the idea of a strong community with a lot of interactivity, like the games and raffles, come about organically? Or was that always the plan?
Cozy: This definitely came organically. Since Dead Freaks is our first NFT project, we are constantly learning and growing. I truly am thankful for this community that has grown around Dead Freaks. They are literally the kindest, hilarious, genuine, amazing bunch of people you’ll ever find in this space. Weekly games, raffles, random events like playing chess with members, streaming live drawing, and the many prizes and rewards we continue to push are all a big attempt to thank our supporters. Without them, there is no Dead Freaks!
Val: Cozy and I value humor and fun A LOT and I think that definitely sets the tone. I feel fortunate to have attracted kindred spirits in our community – they just get it.
NFTE: You’ve airdropped merchandise like prints and even clothing to Dead Freaks holders. Did it feel like you were taking a risk doing that as early in your project as you did? And do you have plans for more killer merchandise either exclusive to your NFT holders or even for retail sale?
Cozy: I designed the Dead Freaks fang logo really early on in the project with future merch in mind. I was prepared to create merch as rewards from the jump. I’m a firm believer in strong branding. Having a killer logo/design can really help make you stand out from the rest. I think it’s just cool to implement a physical item with your NFT collection so that your collectors can have something tangible as well. Also, a good shirt or hoodie is a walking billboard for your project! For now, our merch is available to all and we’ll be introducing new designs and items like sweatshirts, long sleeve shirts, sweatpants, and more. We just released our DF bucket hats which you can cop at deadfreaks.com!
Val: We both have a good eye for design and I really think that our merch is one of the best out there. We always discussed being very intentional about setting aside a percentage of our profits and putting it back into our community. What we have done so far speaks for itself and we will continue to think of creative ways to reward our members.
NFTE: Looking to the future of the Dead Freaks project, what does the road map have in store for the Fang Gang? Also, what’s the entry point for new buyers to get in?
Cozy: After The Coven, those who are holding 1 OG Dead Freak + 1 Lycan + 1 Witch will be airdropped a 1/1 Dead Freak GEN 2 piece. This will be the next series. I haven’t revealed this yet. But after GEN 2 there will be a collection called Dead Pets which will be companion creatures for the Freaks!
The big picture is we’re in talks with a physical gallery that has celebrity clientele. They’d feature us in an event although that’s very premature. Hopefully we’ll have an announcement down the road! I am also interested in pursuing talks with TV networks to pitch Dead Freaks as an animated series.
The best entry point for new buyers is buying a Glow Freak or Glow Lycan. Those are typically the cheapest floor you’ll find, and with them you’ll have access to participate in drops and raffles. If you have the ETH, I’d say try to snag an OG Dead Freak, Lycan, and Witch. That way, you can secure your Gen 2 freak. Maybe even gain Elite or MVP status and collect some sick rewards!
Val: What he said! ?
I want to thank Cozy and Val for taking the time away to chat with us! You can find their work on on their website, twitter, and discord. Most importantly, check out the Dead Freaks collection on OpenSea.