The beauty of the NFT space is that age is not a barrier. Today’s guest is proof of that. Meet Teresa Melvin, a 13-year-old NFT artist and creator of an NFT series called AvaRamona™, who’s already making strides in her young career. She was first introduced to the space by her father, who thought it would be a great avenue for her growth as an artist. Now, she serves as an inspiration for her peers to pursue the same. Teresa has also taken to offering classes and teaching other kids about art and the different tools she uses through various mediums such as Twitter spaces, Youtube, etc. She also uses her platform to shine a light on other kid creators, valuing collaboration over competition. Despite her young age, Teresa’s wisdom and intention in her pursuits are admirable. Learn more about Teresa and her exciting projects and collaborations by tuning in to her chat with host Halle Eavelyn.
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Guest Teresa Melvin
I have with me one of my most interesting guests to date. This is Teresa Melvin. She is the Creator of an NFT series called AvaRamona. I am gobsmacked by the fact that she is a tween.
Teresa, are you twelve? Is that right?
I turned thirteen.
You are not a tween. You are a teen. This is exciting. When I was thirteen, I was in eighth grade. I had moved to Hawaii for the first time. I was trying to get my sea legs around being a teenager. In my life, I never would’ve created something, and you have done this incredible thing. Explain how you got started and what you wanted to do. Tell us a little bit about AvaRamona.
I started in the NFT space in August 2021. I created artwork, made videos, and posted them on Instagram. My dad, who has been in the NFT space longer than me, introduced it to me. He told me all the basics. He said it was going to be a great space for me to grow as an artist. I tried making my first NFT about my character, Ava. Since then, being in the NFT space has changed my life.
I have these two characters as well that I love creating into NFTs. These two characters are called Ava and Ramona. These two are my original characters. I made them up a few years ago. Ava loves donuts. She’s a bubbly, cute character. Her best friend is Ramona. She’s bold and loves skateboarding. These two are BFFs. I’m in the making of a project about these two characters, Ava and Ramona. It’s going pretty well.
Let’s back up. I’ve talked on the show a lot about NFTs. My belief is that they are a lot more than art. Art is the first vector for a lot of people but I see NFTs in every business aspect that we are going to have. Anybody who hasn’t checked out those old episodes don’t even know what an NFT is. Describe Ava and Ramona as NFTs as opposed to art.
NFTs are non-fungible tokens. Fungible means replaceable, so it’s non-replaceable tokens.
It makes them unique. Each token is unique.There is a lot more to NFTs than just art. Click To Tweet
Those are the online marketplaces. OpenSea, I know, is the largest online NFT marketplace. You put your stuff on there, and then people do what’s called minting. They create the NFT itself, which is unique to them and different each time.
What I’m doing is I create digital art on an app called Procreate. With these digital illustrations I do of my two characters, I made them as NFTs so people can collect them. That’s how the NFTs work and how I make it. You have said there is a lot more to NFTs than just art. That’s what I believe as well. In making these NFTs for my new project, which is going to be a collection, I want to give a lot of utilities. That means when somebody collects my artwork, they will get a lot more than just NFT. I’m still planning and working on that. It’s pretty exciting.
When people say to add utility in any other business market, we would say that we would want it to add value. The word is utility in the crypto and the NFT space. Do you sell these or do you give them away? How do people get your NFTs?
It’s both. I will explain. I used to create NFTs where people can collect them, so I sell them. I had this collection called Genesis Sketches by Teresa Melvin on OpenSea. That is, when somebody collects one of my NFT sets like a final piece, they get the sketch version, which is also an NFT, for free. That’s what I’m doing. For my new collection, anybody who holds any of my NFTs, if it’s 1, 2, 3 or 5, any number of the amount that they collect of my NFTs in my new collection, they will get that amount for free.
That’s added value or added utility. I read that Bored Ape Yacht Club became this juggernaut. They are in the billions of dollars that they’ve taken in. They said that even though the markets were in the tank, Bored Ape Yacht Club has been doing well. What do you think about that NFT where it’s aimed at grown men and fairly unattractive physically?
These apes are either scary looking or super ugly. They have this incredible appeal. I look at something like AvaRamona and like, “I would much rather have an Ava or Ramona because they are super cute.” What do you think the appeal is for something like Bored Ape Yacht Club? Have you ever thought about making something scary or ugly to see if the bros like it?
A lot of people in the NFT space would buy the Bored Apes because of how much value it has. I like to focus a lot on the kid projects as well. I want to give some light to the kid creators because there is a lot of great NFT kid artist as well. That’s what I want to do. I want it to be more of a collaboration and not a competition. I want to bring light to a lot of the kids who are amazing at art. With my new collection, I’m in the process of making all the trades. It depends on my art style if my art style will change over the years, but now, this is how it is. I want to keep improving my art and learning different things. That’s how it’s going when I’m creating my NFTs and what I want to do in the NFT space.
Would you own a Bored Ape or not?
I would say I don’t want to because I’m collecting a lot of kid NFTs. In my collection, AvaRamona, what I’m going to do is the part of the fund that I get when people collect my artwork, I’m going to use that to collect a lot of kid artists to bring light to the things that people don’t usually notice, not many people know about or agree with.
This goes back to what you were saying earlier, which I love, and that is the idea of collaboration and not competition. I feel like that’s a very feminine approach. The masculine approach is the dog eat dog. The female approach is more allowing for that collaboration. It’s allowing to promote other artists that maybe wouldn’t have as much of a voice if you or other people didn’t notice them. Do you see that a lot with other kids in this space as well or is that something that you think is more unique to you?
I see it in a lot of areas when I’m going to kid spaces and Twitter Spaces or going to other kid creators in the space. I would also say there are not a lot of Twitter Spaces where it’s safe for the younger people to join in and learn from all these people. I’m making Twitter Spaces every Sunday with another kid artist. We are collaborating to spotlight other kid artists in this space. I have a space for that on my Twitter. I see a lot of collaboration when it comes to kid communities and projects. I’m part of a community called NFT Kids Magazine. It has a lot of kids who are in the NFT space, where they give a lot of opportunities for them. We are all in this together.
I met you at Crypto Connect Expo. I was so pleased because you were so articulate about your work. You were so shiny. You were beaming. You were so excited about what you were doing. You were sitting at the NFT Kids booth that they were showcasing you. There weren’t even any adults around while I was there. It was you and some other kids showing off your art.
Your mom was two booths down. I remember I went and asked her permission if I could interview you. That’s beautiful. Your dad was the one that introduced you to NFTs, and your mom is the one that’s accompanying you from Texas. You can come to Florida and be a participant in this show. That’s so incredible.
It’s lovely that your parents are supporting you. They are supporting your art and your creativity. They are also supporting you until a couple of years ago, what we have called a programmer. You would have been a digital programmer because we didn’t have the word NFT. When we created digital art, you were using your computer. The idea that you also could get that out there and sell it electronically is brand new. Are you Gen Z or are you younger than that? I don’t even know. Is there a gen for you yet?
It’s Gen Z.
I don’t know what’s going to come after that because they have started with X. I was Gen X. Now they’ve only gotten to Gen Z. It’s like, “Is the next group going to be Gen A?” The Gen Z generation came out holding digital pencils for your digital tablets and operating inside that space. You were babies with smartphones. That was something that, even a few years back, you couldn’t have.
People would be like, “Don’t touch my very expensive smartphone, small child.” You guys have gotten to grow up with that technology. It wasn’t anything you had to learn as much as it is your native language. That’s important because it means that you think in a bigger picture sense more holistically. You can see 360 degrees like being bilingual. Do you speak more than one language or do you just speak English?
I do. I’m born in India. I know Malayalam.There's not a lot of Twitter spaces where it's safe for the younger people to join in and learn from all these people. Click To Tweet
Do you speak two languages?
You speak three because you speak digital. You speak fluent digital. Do you speak Hindi or a different dialect? What do you speak?
I speak Malayalam.
To me, you spoke that language at birth. Did you speak English from birth also?
I spoke English a little later. It was Malayalam from birth.
I would’ve had no idea because to me, you sound American and assimilated. You have exactly that same training with your digital language that you started as a very young child as well. I’m excited to see what you end up doing with it. It’s going to be incredible. What do you want to do? You are going to be keeping an artist. At thirteen, you are probably already having those questions about, “What am I going to be when I grow up?” What do you think you want to do in the online space?
I want to grow my AvaRamona. That’s a big thing that I want to happen in the future. Even when I grow up, I want to make it open to a lot of people, a lot of kids and parents. In the online world, I want to teach other kids about digital art and the different tools that I use, for example, Figma or Trello.
I heard of Figma for the first time from a crypto friend. That’s interesting. I’ve used Trello before. It was for project management. What’s Figma for?
In Figma, you can design anything. We are designing my website with these two web flow developers with the help of my dad as well. That’s how I’m designing my website there. It’s a cool tool to collaborate on designing different things. It’s a great tool. I’m learning all these tools online and in the NFT space. In the process of making my project, I’m learning all these different tools and all these different techniques.
That’s how I keep on improving and learning from others as well. In the future, I want to create Art classes as well because my passion is not only art but I like to teach other people about art. I want to maybe have online art classes in the metaverse. That could happen in the future. There are many hopes for that. For my project, I went way up from just Figma.
Thank you for explaining all of that. Let’s talk about the metaverse for a minute. There are already 75 competing metaverses. What do you think about all of that? What have you played inside of them? What do you like? What do you not like about different metaverses?
When I was in Crypto Connect, I got to play with virtual reality with the headset. It got some getting used to but it was fun. I don’t know about all these competing metaverses. I don’t know much about that. I don’t know a lot about the metaverse where I can talk about it a lot but learning about it is fun and exciting. I have the Oculus at home, which is a headset. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m going to.
I love playing with the Oculus. I promised myself I was going to get one for Christmas because I played with it at my cousin’s house and I was in love with it. These were some cool things that I did with it. I went and stood at my mother’s flat in London. I was on the street in front of her building. We were not exactly in lockdown because I was in San Diego while this was happening, and I live in Miami. I was not at my house.
I wasn’t able to go to England. There was still a quarantine. I hadn’t been able to see my mother in person for over two years. I got to see her about six months after that for the first time in about two and a half years. You have never been away from your mother for two and a half years but it was hard. I got to go and stand in front of the door of her building on her street. I looked left, looked right, turned around, and saw the hotel that was behind her. It felt like I was standing there. It was deeply peaceful for me to be able to be there in that moment when I couldn’t be there with her in person.
After that, I went to what turned out to be my cousin’s hangout that he had put together. It was this gorgeous apartment where you could hang out on the sofa or you could look out over the Grand Canyon. There were hot air balloons in the distance. It was this beautiful, what they called in the ‘60s, pad. It was a cool apartment to hang out in.
I then went to try yoga. I was able to do yoga. It was just me and the yoga instructor. We were in a rainforest. I could look all around the rainforest but also physically, using the Oculus, doing up dog and down dog in the room. The Oculus uses a grid, so I was in a little box that was big enough for my body to be able to stretch out and do plank positions. When I was looking around, it was this beautiful rainforest. The Oculus is full headgear. You look up and see the sky, and you look down and see the ground. You look all around and see that atmosphere. It’s incredibly photorealistic. I thought those were beautiful things.
I admit I went and killed some zombies for a while. There might have been zombies in that session, also. That was scary because it felt like I was there, and they were coming at me fast and furious. My heart rate was going crazy. The whole experience is real when you do it. I want to encourage you to get into Oculus. I thought it was fantastic. It has been a few years, and I still remember every piece of it because it was like being there. I thought that was cool.Do what you love and don't let anybody stop you from doing that. Be your own boss and don't let others' opinions take you down. Click To Tweet
I can’t wait to try it out. It sounds so fun seeing other people talk about it and experience it. I’m going to try it out.
Can you imagine a few years from now that you, Ava, and Ramona are all hanging out inside the metaverse together?
That would be cool. Is there any social purpose behind what you are doing? Is there any teaching element I want to ask about Ava and Ramona or are they just for fun?
In my project, it is for fun but not just for fun. I want to teach other kids about it as well. I want to teach kids about art and the different tools I use. On my YouTube channel, I’m doing a few lives. I’ve already done my first live with a young creator in this space as well. It’s so cool. I’m going to do a lot more of lives going on, tutorials, and videos on my YouTube. In my project, I want to connect with a lot of other kids. I’m not going to use Discord because with school and everything. It’s hard to manage Discord. We will see in the future, but for now, I’m not going to do Discord. It’s a lot.
I know a lot of people who could be using Discord and don’t like it. I’m one of those people. As a user, I’m always like, “Don’t make me join the Discord channel.” I get it. Although, a lot of people in the crypto space are on Telegram. There are also a lot of people doing stuff on Twitter Spaces and YouTube. It sounds like you are using Ava and Ramona to build community. That’s powerful. Good for you.
I have another collection that I’m doing while I’m creating this collection. There’s this collection on OpenSea called Teresa’s Frens. It’s not for sale. It’s just there as an NFT. In Teresa’s Frens, I’m drawing all my friends who are in the NFT space. I’m drawing their portraits. It’s a way to keep these memories forever. Through Teresa’s Frens, I can also spotlight a lot of kid artists. I can put their bio and talk about them when I’m creating the work. That’s another way that, using my art, I can help other people. That’s an amazing thing for me. That’s what I’m doing. That’s how I want it to be an AvaRamona. It’s not just art but art is my passion.
When I was your age, you either went to college or didn’t go to college. My observation is that you are going to have a college education by the time you graduate from high school because you are teaching yourself things like Figma and Trello. That’s not teaching yourself Figma and Trello. It’s teaching yourself project management, interface design, and computer programming flow. All of those things are so important but you are coming to it very organically.
I have been in business for a very long time. Two and half of your lifetimes are how long I have been in business. When I look at the conversation about school, education, or pain for that education, especially with student loans being forgiven a little bit of them, I realize that the world has changed so much. Your parents are going to be mad at me for saying this but you may not need to go to college. You have been getting so much education along the way. Again, by the time you graduate from high school, you would have an undergrad degree. If you said to me, “I want to be a doctor of some kind,” I would be like, “You got to go to school.”
The ability for you to earn a great living and love what you do is right there for you. You are already doing that. You are not saying, “I’m in school. I have to wait until I graduate.” When I was your age, and you wanted to do something, we would have a bake sale or a lemonade stand kid. Here, you are creating a career for yourself automatically by doing what you love. That’s so important. You are completely an inspiration to women of all ages because of the fact that you are making a living already, and almost accidentally, by doing what you love. That’s so amazing. Good for you.
Thank you so much. Going into this space, I didn’t know what to expect from it. I was curious and still learning about it at first. It was all confusing to me but it’s a way that I can build my future on what I love. That’s amazing. In school, they don’t teach all this stuff as well. That’s something they should do.
I agree with you. That would be great. My observation from when I went to school was that about 2/3 of what they taught you was not that useful. Do they have Basic Financial classes yet in school? Do they teach you the basics of finances about keeping budgets and saving money? Do they teach you that stuff yet or not?
They do teach that but all this tech stuff and about the Web3 space, I don’t see that in school.
It’s too new to create a curriculum, have that curriculum approved by each state, and then have that implemented in schools at 2 to 3 years or maybe more, especially if there’s a bunch of people saying, “We shouldn’t bother teaching that. Who cares? It’s a fad.” We are still in that stage. You are light years ahead of most of the people on school boards because they didn’t grow up with it, so they don’t understand it. You are saying to them, “This brand new thing came along,” and they are like, “It could go away next year.” They’ve seen that too. A lot of people don’t yet understand the direction that we are going in. What’s the next thing that you want to conquer?
I don’t exactly know what I want to conquer or what my biggest goal is, where I can reach it and say, “That’s a goal.” I’m growing with what I know and what I want to do. I don’t exactly know what my goal is other than to share the knowledge that I get from learning all this stuff with other kids around the world. I want to inspire other kids. That is my goal. That goal is going to keep on growing. It’s not like, “That goal is finished now. It’s awesome.” It’s growing with it. It’s never going to end.
It’s ongoing. I love that. What is one more thing that you want all the women in this audience to know?
To all the women in the audience who are reading this, do what you love, and don’t let anybody stop you from doing that. Be your own boss. Don’t let others’ opinions take you down. Keep going from that. I know you might hear this a lot but it’s important to apply that in your life. That will get you to achieve your dreams and even more.
That is good advice at any age. Teresa Melvin, you are a woman beyond your years. That is all I have to say. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show.
Thank you. It was fun talking to you. You are an awesome person too.
Thank you so much. If you have enjoyed this episode of the Goddess of Crypto, please comment, like, and subscribe. Most importantly, share this with all the women in your world, your sisters, friends, girlfriends, moms, grandmas, and kids. When we share this information with women, we are making the world a better place. I will see you next time.