While the NFT marketplace has seen a major spike in interest over the last year and a half, 19-year-old Victor Langlois has known since long before then about the power of creating digital art.
“I feel like people who aren’t in the space usually think that everyone is drinking the same Kool-Aid — and I get it, because there is that aspect of it where these finance bros who are only interested in turning a profit show up,” he tells Billboard. “But when I found the NFT community, it was just this crazy art … because it’s a digital medium, you can do anything.”
It’s that blue-sky approach that has made Fewocious, Langlois’ artistic pseudonym, one of the hottest names in NFTs today. After making tens of millions in sales for their bright, colorful, inventive installations over the past two years, Fewocious is now bringing his signature style to the cover of Billboard, by redesigning the cover and logo for our annual Pride issue.
The young transgender star says that when he was tasked with reimagining the cover featuring folk icon Brandi Carlile, he was immediately interested in looking at the assignment from the perspective of a child. “When I was a little kid, I would look at Billboard stuff all of the time,” he explains. “So I was thinking, ‘If I saw this, how would it impact me?” Especially with this Pride cover, it’s a really big deal to me.”
The result is a eye-popping phantasmagoria, with wild shapes shaded in rainbow filling the background, flowers adorning the bottom of the page, and small, intricate doodles covering Carlile’s body, bringing the whimsical style of Fewocious’ work to the pages of Billboard.
One aspect of his concept, Langlois says, came from the lettering of Billboard’s logo. “In my brain, when you look at the ‘B’ and the ‘D,’ it almost looks like two different people looking at each other,” he says. “As you get to the center of the logo, it looks like they’re almost getting closer to each other, until eventually they’re holding hands. It’s a love story!”
Fewocious’ bright, colorful style of creation started when he was 13-years-old, making art from his childhood bedroom in Las Vegas, NV. Concerned that his “very conservative” parents and grandparents could find physical drawings he made with queer and trans themes as he began to question his own gender identity, Langlois started creating digital pieces that he could covertly stash away without his parents finding it.
“I was exploring who I was and who I liked, and I knew that through paper, I would have to find a folder and hide it really quick if my mom came into my room,” he explains. “But if I did it digitally, I could just close the tab and hide it in a digital folder that she would never be able to find.”
It wasn’t until Langlois was 17 and sold his first piece online that he realized he could have a future in this burgeoning market. Learning as much as he could, Langlois sold enough within a year to move out of his parents’ home, move to Seattle and begin creating a new narrative for himself. “I was really just sitting there like, ‘What do you mean, these people on the internet like me and don’t care about my orientation?'” he recalls. “‘They just accept me and my art? I have enough money to move out? I have enough money to get testosterone or top surgery? I have enough money to exist on my own?’ It was all very overwhelming.”
In the years since, Fewocious has grown more ambitious with the work he creates —for example, FewoWorld, his new Web3 community collaboration, sees Langlois entering the world of “generative art,” in which he and his collaborators use coding to “teach” a program to create art. For his very first release of FewoWorld’s “paint drops” — a series of exclusive, moving pieces of generative art that serve as the “building blocks” of the online community — Fewocious worked with collaborator Logan Gardner to use geometry nodes to help create “a little brain” that could generate its own music.
“I would play little synth noises that I thought could be replicated, and were malleable, and wouldn’t sound too terrible, and I gave them to him, saying, ‘This can be randomized up to three octaves,'” he explains with a laugh. “It was building out a brain that can say how much it can and cannot change the music and the visual, and it resulted in this really cool piece.”
It was a special collaboration since music has always been special for Langlois — drawing inspiration from a wide array of artists like Prince, David Bowie, Cage the Elephant, Missy Elliott and more, the artist says that he always looks for passion when it comes to what he listens to. “I feel like you can feel when they love it,” he says. “If a song comes on, and my heart gets that little jittery feeling when listening, then it will immediately be a new favorite of mine.”
With Pride Month 2022 officially upon us, Langlois hopes that queer and trans kids — who have been bearing the brunt of a series of anti-LGBTQ bills passing through state legislatures around the U.S. — can find the means to empower themselves through whatever they’re passionate about. When more people do that, he argues, it becomes easier for the next generation to step up.
“Growing up, there was almost no trans visibility for me to see, and I would get so frustrated, because I wanted to work so hard to do cool s–t so I could let someone else see what I was doing and feel that validation,” he says. “Maybe it’s not art — maybe you do fashion, maybe you do makeup, maybe its something else entirely — but be the person that you aren’t seeing enough of in the world. “