The Rise of Ghxsts: How NFT Artist GxngYxng Built a 1-of-1 Community

The Rise of Ghxsts: How NFT Artist GxngYxng Built a 1-of-1 Community

by Corporate Trash


Drops of 10,000 generative NFT avatars multiple times a day can be overwhelming to NFT collectors these days. But in early May, the Ghxsts collection drew attention from the community for being different. Now, it’s done over 2,200 Ethereum in sales on OpenSea, and it continues to spark interest in 1-of-1 NFT projects in a sea of similar-looking avatar projects. 

The success of Ghxsts is a testament to the community built by GxngYxng, and the immense potential for 1-of-1 artists in the NFT space.

What is Ghxsts?

Ghxsts is a collection of hand-drawn art by Gong Yang (who goes by GxngYxng) who turned them into 102 NFTs sold on OpenSea. Since the original Ghxsts, the collection has expanded to nearly 1,000 pieces, each one hand-drawn. The original Ghxsts cost .001 Ethereum each, and they now sell for 30 Ethereum or more — all within two months of when they launched. 

Ghxsts NFT Art by GxngYxng

There are many types of NFTs, with some of the most popular being avatars, generative art, and non-generative art. For many collectors, Ghxsts was their first foray into non-generative art. The collection’s success at building and engaging their community, as well as adding utility to ownership, set the roadmap bar for many other non-generative projects that came after. 

Other Ghxst collections include PXIN GXNG, Ghxsts Cxlture, Cxllabs (a collab with the Cool Cats NFT project), and Originxls. PXIN GXNG is an ode to early “gas wars,” when collectors wasted Ethereum trying to snipe a Ghxst with no luck, posting “pain” in the Discord. Ghxsts Cxlture are various rewards for holders of items from his collections. Cxllabs are collaborations, and Originxls currently has one non-Ghxst related piece in it listed for 88.88 Ethereum. 

Origin of Ghxsts NFTs

GxngYxng had been drawing since he was a child, and was always getting trouble in school for drawing too much. “I was painting the pain I felt myself and trying to capture the feelings I’ve seen in others around me, lonely people who just need some warmth,” he said in a Twitter thread. 

He said he had been drawing portraits for months in his journal, and liked the idea of “helping lost souls find a home.” Before he even launched Ghxsts, GxngYxng decided to take a leap of faith and quit his job in the animation industry to go into NFTs full time. 

GxngYxng has done a self-portrait in the Frxxt Lxxps Mxse (Fruit Loops Muse), which is an ode to how he used to love Fruit Loops as a kid. He also recently auctioned off the Genesis Ghxst, a digital image of the drawing from when he was only four years old, with a winning bid of 30.87 Ethereum on July 19. 

Genesis Ghxst NFT Art by GxngYxng

The Early Supporters: Discovering Ghxsts

NFT collector Dan Verno was one of the first and biggest proponents of the Ghxsts collection early on. 

“I didn’t know it at the time, but one look at one of the original Ghxsts was all it took for me to understand the importance of the art,” said Verno, who goes by DannyUkes on Twitter. “I could never expect it to become as big as it inevitably did, but I did realize I’d stumbled upon something incredibly special.”

Genesis Ghxsts NFT | Ghxst 015 on OpenSea

“Non-generative art is all about the artist. I think of it kind of like music, like ya know how you hear three seconds of a Green Day song and you know it’s Green Day? Or Michael Jackson? That’s how a good artist should be,” he said. “When I look at Ghxsts, I know it’s GxngYxng’s work because he’s perfected his style.”

NFT collector Preeti also was an early supporter of Ghxsts. “I discovered Ghxsts the first week of May as I was constantly seeing it posted about on Twitter. It seemed to have gained attention pretty quickly despite having come out of nowhere,” she said.

“I didn’t start trying to win any gas wars myself until after 70 or so Ghxsts had been minted. I was unsuccessful in the gas wars, but later won a raffle when they switched to that drop method via Discord.”

Ghxsts Community

On a personal note, Dan saw me struggling in Discord trying to snipe a Ghxst off of OpenSea as they dropped in early May, and said the next one he got he would send to me at cost ~$150 USD at the time. A Ghxst floor is now much more than that, although I was impatient and sold him off — a decision I try not to think about today (oops).

“To quote Tim Robinson, ‘ya gotta give.’ Really, it’s that simple,” Dan said of the act. “When we become excessively possessive over material (or in this case, digital) objects, we’re only putting ourselves at a disadvantage in the grand scheme of things, which is to ultimately reach financial stability.”

Preeti is active in the Discord community, affectionately known as the “Pxin Gxng” (Pain Gang). “My favorite thing about the Pxin Gxng community would be all the memes and inside jokes that have developed over the months,” she said. “Like coby, for example… if you know, you know.”

Ghxst to Punk

At one point, Dan owned as many as seven original Ghxsts. He made a decision to sell most of them in order to get a CryptoPunk, an NFT that many collectors consider the “holy grail” of NFTs. But the decision didn’t come easy. 

“Very early on I joked with someone on Twitter that I’d trade him a Ghxst for a punk, but he explained the Ghxsts weren’t as prominent,” Verno said. “Now I think it’s fair to say anyone with a few extra floor punks would be down to trade up for a Ghxst given the chance.”

“I owe the world to Gxng Yxng,” Verno said. “It was him that helped me realize I have a passion for building out communities and bringing people together, and now I’m very actively doing just that as what will soon be a full-time career.”

The Evolution of Ghxsts

The Ghxsts roadmap doesn’t just include the 102 original Ghxsts. Collectors can combine various pieces from GxngYxng’s collections to create new unique pieces. Immxrtals, Demxns, Zxdiacs, Alixns, Sirxns, Mythxcals, Gxds, and Creatxrs are all hand-drawn rewards for holding specific combinations of pieces created by GxngYxng. 

This additional value rewards those who are patient enough to hold onto the NFTs through times of immense growth. When GxngYxng recently announced that those who hold Lunar or Astrology Zxdiacs would get 12 months (12 pieces) of airdropped NFTs, the floor for those skyrocketed as well. 

Ghxsts NFT

Ghxsts Collaborations

A “Cxllabs” collection was born in June when GxngYxng mashed up his style with one he had idolized as a child. But it was only recently that the Cxllabs really picked up speed, as Cool Cats NFT announced a partnership with Ghxsts

Airdrops — NFTs sent virtually free to people who hold a certain NFT in their wallet — have proven to be extremely popular lately, as NFT holders look to increase the utility of what they own. For all Cool Cats NFT or Ghxst collection holders, an airdrop was sent. There were three other additional Cool Cats x Ghxsts pieces, sold by auction on OpenSea. 

Collaborations like this benefit holders of both collections. Similar ideas have been implemented in other NFT projects, and in many more to come, as it can benefit both projects.

Ghxsts and Cool Cats NFT Collab
As of writing, the floor price for the Ghxsts x Cool Cats Collab is .58 Ethereum.

An Interview with GxngYxng, the Creator of Ghxsts

We got to catch up with GxngYxng and hear more about the evolution of his project and plans for the future of Ghxsts and his art. 

Corporate Trash: Tell me about the very first time you realized that the Ghxsts project was becoming extremely popular. 

GxngYxng: I feel like I’ve had 100 of those moments. The first time I had an auction that went for 4 ETH was mind-blowing to me. And when my Zxdiac collection sold out in seconds, I was really excited. But then new things keep happening all the time as the project grows that continue to make me feel so happy that I get to share my art with the world.

CT: What is the most challenging part about growing and keeping an engaged community like you have with PXIN GXNG Discord? 

GxngYxng: As it says in the name, there is unfortunately a lot of pain associated with being one of my hopeful collectors. I hand draw all my stuff so I simply can’t produce the amount of work that generative collections can. That sometimes means that people miss out and can’t get my art, and that makes me sad. I want everyone to be able to participate. That’s why I try my best to keep making entry-point prices for new pieces and do things like editions to give people their best chance.

CT: What is the one piece of advice you would give an artist looking to break into NFTs? 

GxngYxng: Don’t do what you think will be popular. Make something that you’re passionate about and you would be making even if no one was watching. That way you’ll be able to find your own unique voice in this blooming community.

CT: Many other artists are implementing a similar roadmap for their 1-of-1 artwork, so it seems you have invented a successful way to launch and sustain a project like this. How does it feel to know that you’ve paved the way for many other artists to succeed? 

GxngYxng: Ghxsts created a subgenre of NFTs which new artists are now filling with their own work. It took a lot of time and effort to come up with my utility ideas, and I love exploring new ways to keep things exciting for my collectors.

CT: About how long does it take you to draw and complete a Ghxst? Does an Immxrtal take you longer, since you’re combining two? 

GxngYxng: Ghxsts were rougher sketches, sort of self portraits of challenging times in my life. They poured out of my heart. Immxrtals definitely took much longer, because I really had to think about what traits should show through in the final piece and how to accurately represent them both.

CT: Many people are excited about the Cool Cats NFT collab news. How do you decide which NFT partner would be best for a Cxllab? 

GxngYxng: I like the cats. I try to collab with people who have good vibes, and I thought that the overlap in our communities was a great thing to explore.

CT: Where is the right place to put the X in a word to “Ghxst-ify” it? Is there a correct place? 

GxngYxng: An O is the best letter to replace, since that’s how it is in Ghxsts, but in general just pick a vowel where even with an X there, the word can still be read. 

CT: What does the future of Ghxsts look like? Will you continue to expand on your existing collections? More Originxls?

GxngYxng: Ghxsts will come to an end when the road map is complete and all of the pairings have been drawn. But there’s a mythology behind the characters that I plan to explore in comic form or other mediums. And I have lots of plans for future NFT projects as well.


Follow Corporate Trash on Twitter @corporatetrash1

Disclaimer: As of the time of this post, Corporate Trash owns one item from the Ghxst collection, two items from the PXIN GXNG collection, and one from the Ghxsts Cxlture collection. Dan Verno and Preeti (quoted in the article) also own items from GxngYxng’s collections.