ABOUT THE ARTIST
"The money we use is such a huge deal. Every human on the planet uses money & if it’s broken, it affects us all in negative ways. If it’s sound money, there’s so much to gain."
We’re all hooked on @BTCSTREETART’s fresh, daily Global Bitcoin Propaganda porn. It’s taken on a life of its own to become a worldwide, decentralised, open source, guerilla marketing campaign. Every day there’s more high signal Bitcoin sticker shots posted from locations far and wide. It’s an uplifting, vivid meatspace manifestation of the passionate activism and ingenuity of our community.
"I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. I don’t consider myself an artist. I’m just a Bitcoiner."
BTCSTREETART is led by @prettyflaco (PF) who also goes under the moniker @ideasarelikeflames. He’s had help from his wife, the Bitcoin Munich crew and a young Bitcoiner called Luca. Increasingly its becoming a wider decentralised cooperative, much like Bitcoin itself. He also released a phenomenal Bitcoin History Calendar for 2021. The work and thought that’s gone into it just shines through. When I turn the pages on mine, each quote and image provides a reliable dopamine rush – go buy.
PF came to Bitcoin through ‘medium of exchange’ (MoE) and that continues to be a common thread for him. He has a clear obsession to take Bitcoin off the internet and into meatspace, though grassroots manifestations of his epiphanies and Lightning’s joyful utility. This approach has so much power to make people realise Bitcoin’s simply a better alternative to ‘cuckbucks’ in all ways. The big question for him has always been ‘Can Bitcoin become global money?’ His conviction on the answer stems from using the tech, transacting and putting Bitcoin into action himself.
"I firmly believe that there’s nothing more important in the world than Bitcoin. If you want this world to be a better place – decentralise the money, so that no single party controls it, so that it’s uncensorable, people can transact freely & save their earnings in something that cannot be diluted."
BAVARIAN MATRIX BAPTISM
PF’s work background and day job is in marketing. He took the dive down the Bitcoin Rabbit Hole in 2017 to reach a point where he could begin to explain things to others. He’d been using Bitcoin as a ‘medium of exchange’ for quite a bit longer though. An early interest in psychedelics and some experimentation on Dark Markets was his initial hook. Despite using Bitcoin early on, it took some time to appreciate the implications of it’s technology and incentive structure.
"Bitcoin just worked and that was enough."
In 2017, he was hiking in the Alps, south of Munich with a friend who knew he’d dabbled with Bitcoin. PF didn’t know there was any kind of community around Bitcoin and was intrigued to hear about it and the gains in Altcoins at the time. His friend was constantly checking Blockfolio on his phone and telling him, “Man. It just went up another 50%!” Understandably, this sparked his interest and PF started dabbling in shitcoins, losing Bitcoin en route.
LIGHTNING IN MUNICH
Step by step, he progressed and learned, thought more deeply about the implications, game theory and effects Bitcoin could to have on social and individual behaviours. This was 2017 during Bitcoin’s Scaling Wars, shortly before the Bcash Fork, and it led him to look into the Lightning Network as a potential scaling solution. He built his first Lightning Node, a Raspibolt by Stadicus. His primary goal was to assess Lightning’s utility as a potential key for Bitcoin’s scaling dilemma. It took three months or so to complete the node’s setup and receive transactions. Things were way more difficult back then, but at the same time clearly improving rapidly. He started playing around with BTCPayserver too.
Later that year he heard about a Bitcoin Tech Day Conference coming to Munich with Adam Ficsor (Wasabiwallet) talking about Bitcoin Privacy, plus other prominent Devs like Renee Picard & Justin Moon attending. This sparked entreprenial musings that with so many Bitcoiners in town, his LN equipped BTCPayserver working and a friend with a Bar nearby – it could be a great opportunity to make a ‘Social Hub’ around the Conference.
It took a week to set up the Bar’s BTCPayserver and POS. He flyered the Conference and put his marketing skills to work, people came, great music, great vibes, beer!! The Lightning Node and POS stack worked great and Munich had its first Lightning Bar ‘Bikini Mitte’ – a tangible example of Bitcoin’s utility. This initial success was ‘proof of concept’ for him and grew his confidence that Bitcoin could scale on Layer 2, that Lightning genuinely was the ‘Shitcoin Killer’. As he saw it, the only obstacle to a world where Bitcoin wins and shitcoins die, is information asymmetry about this.
"Bitcoin scales on Layer 2 & Lightning is the shitcoin killer. The future’s already here. Its just not evenly distributed."
STREET ART INSPIRATION
Munich has long had a rich Street Art scene, especially Sticker Art. An unknown guy from his neighbourhood ran a local stickerbomb campaign criticising Amazon and its impact on local retailers. He also had a friend who used stickers to promote a clothing brand called ‘Fuck You All’. People loved the brand’s provacative sweaters and hoodies. The friend printed 1000s of stickers and did night time campaigns, across the city and subway. PF was involved with some of these and together they even went to stickerbombed parts of Berlin. When they heard people talking about the brand in a random Berlin bar, he recognised the profound effectiveness of this kind of campaign.
"If you place a sticker in a nice spot where everyone sees it, but it’s hard to reach. It has a huge reach. You can’t defend yourself against this kind of ad. Once seen, you can’t un-see it."
MEME WARFARE MASTERPLAN
When Corona hit Germany in early 2020, PF’s working hours dropped to 50%. With more free time on his hands and some experience with Lightning already, he started playing with more open source software, including some creative software. He had the epiphany to fuse his experience with Street Art and Bitcoin whilst sitting on the couch, waxing lyrical to his wife about Lightning’s world changing potential. Seeing a Bitcoin sticker in Meatspace might just spark that final curiosity for people to dig deeper. Its not dissimilar to Shepard Fairey’s Obey & Obama Hope campaign which cryptically started with Andre the Giant – viral, guerilla marketing.
"I think Street Art is a great censorship resistant means of peer to peer communication. It’s not media controlled but instead more like neighbours speaking to each other."
The next step was brainstorming sticker slogans, to create awareness and trigger curiosity. He made a shortlist, including, ‘Fix the money. Fix the world.’ It’s an entrance to a rabbit hole with a logic that most Bitcoiners can get behind. The aim was to describe Bitcoin in accurate, non-contentious ways. He also thought about how to widen the reach of the campaign outside Munich and hit on decentralisation, with PDFs on a webpage and downloadable sticker templates.
He went for clean designs, just a bold font and Bitcoin logo. The slogan being the conclusion of a long journey of trying to understand Bitcoin and what it means for mankind. For example, ‘Make War Unaffordable’, which is basically the conclusion of Saifedean’s Bitcoin Standard. It’s a compelling argument that if you don’t have a central party with infinite money to pay mercenaries, then people prefer to live in peace, have children, marry and eat great food. People only go to war because they’re paid to and have no better alternative. They’re also agitated by BS media propaganda which they’re pushed to morally rationalise – good guys, bad guys & patriotism.
"Whose idea is War? Instead let’s make babies, enrich the minds of future generations. It’s about a sustainable future, not screwing up the planet & everybody on it."
STREET ART GAMIFICATION
Munich has an active Bitcoin scene and one of the oldest Meetups in the world. In 2019 they were meeting up once a month in beer gardens, talking about Bitcoin and this project. On July 1st 2020, everything was set up for lauch. The stickers were ready, the PDFs went live. PF helped kickstart the project with ‘The Bitcoin Awareness Game”, an incentivised reward system. People would receive 615 sats via LN to photograph and tag a Bitcoin sticker in the wild, for reposting by @BTCSTREETART. The project crowdsourced a bounty pool through a BTCPayserver after PF pitched it at a Bitcoin Munich Meetup.
There’s a strong incentive to spread this world changing technology. He believes incentives are key. Mirroring this in a way, this campaign gamifies a Bitcoin experience for people. Something clicks for them, they choose to mobilise funds onto lightning, make a transaction to get some stickers, go out into their communities to beautify and embellish them.
"We’re not planting trees that we’ll never enjoy the shade of here 😉"
His favourite Street Art stickers are those that stay in location for months or years, with crowds passing by who can’t unsee them. ‘Fix the money, fix the world’, for example at a subway entrance on the ceiling coming down the stairs. If you jump high to place it, they’re very hard to remove. The ROI (return on investment) of these placements is super high. Whereas if you put one on a police car, despite being a huge kick, it’ll be gone in seconds. In Caracas, Venezuela, there was a ‘Defund The State’ sticker in front of the Central Bank of Venezuela. ‘Fuck Banks’ on an ATM always puts a smile on his face, understandably.
BTCStreetArt’s campaign has done particularly well in South America with even some journalists from there reaching out to get involved. South America has a vibrant Street Art culture already with stickers, graffiti and murals. After years of Socialist oppression in Brazil for example, they’ve developed something of an AnarchoCapitalist underbelly. ‘Anarchismo’ stickers are hugely popular in Brazil. BTCStreetArt does sticker template PDFs in English, Spanish & Portuguese through translation help in Sao Paulo, Barcelona, Argentina and Uruguay. There’s been some work on translations into Bengali as well and they’re very open to people helping with others languages including Mandarin & Hindi.
"For Bitcoin to get to take off as global money, we need a culturally diverse base of Bitcoiners. It also removes the attack vector of saying it’s an ‘American or Western Empire thing’ to exploit Africa, India etc."
BITCOIN HISTORY CALENDAR
PF recently launched a 2021 Bitcoin History Calendar with help from a young Bitcoiner called Luca. His wife contributed a lot too and a Munich Bitcoin OG. They thought it’d be great to have a calendar where you can look up, learn and celebrate Bitcoin’s rich history. They found much of this on the ‘History of Bitcoin’ page on BitcoinWiki. As DerGiGi says, Bitcoin is a religion, so we need the iconography, rituals and holidays to reinforce that. Bitcoin unites us, it’s the lowest common denominator to build a new world.
"Satoshi was such a visionary & it’s really important to know your history to know where you’re going in the future."
Bitcoin’s History is key to understanding the debates and knowledge that’s gone into this. There’s so many people coming in to Bitcoin, who have no clue about the discussions and arguments that have already taken place. It’s so important to keep this alive. It makes us all better HODLers of last resort.
PF has now decentralised the BTCSTREETART account with other contributors. Already in South America, there’s been a high level organic growth and organisation, lots of original designs and variations. For example, in Brazil, “No Shrimps for the Supreme Court” was a hugely popular sticker after a scandal in which Judge’s lavish restaurant bills were leaked listing expensive wines, seafood & caviar.
"Defund the state, no more corruption. Let’s take away their money printing and ability to socialise their consumption."
PF loves @CryptoGraffiti’s new campaign on billboards in working class US neighbourhoods and likes to think he might have been inspired by the Bitcoin Awareness Game to bring awareness to where it’s most needed. He’s also loved other meatspace installations in Slovakia and Hong Kong recently. Bitcoiners should do whatever they think might work to create awareness for Bitcoin. We should incentivize people to onboard local independent business, bodegas, cafes and stores to Lightning. Onboarding real world brick & mortar merchants can be a little complex, but Bitcoiners are ingenious people. We should incentivise running a full node & digital content creators using LN paywalls instead of ads. If we could get all this working and proliferating, it adds so much credibility to Bitcoin.
"If we just do awesome stuff, and do it with Bitcoin, without even concentrating on getting richer, we’ll get rich as a side effect."
LN PAYWALLS & MSM FUD
Coming from a marketing background, PF has some lucid thoughts about MSM and how advertising models pervert journalistic independence & freedom. Currently, publishers monetize content through either subscription or ad-based revenue models. Prepayment like the New York Times or through showing ads to users who are really there to read/view the news for instance. With Lightning and micro payments, we now have a third revenue stream, one potentially much more natural that works better for creator and consumer – streaming money & content. Sphinxchat is going in this direction already, early stages but great promise.
"Advertising has a significant negative cost to journalism, because journalists write stories to please advertisers. This isn’t what journalism is supposed to be."
In a democracy, you have three principle powers, the executive, judiciary and legislative. The fourth power is the Media. It has great influence as an information provider for people to inform themselves & make educated choices. If our media has broken incentives, because they need to cater to advertisers, then this is a huge problem for society in general. Because of this, journalism isn’t independent. How how can we fix the fact that advertising is detrimental to democracy? We can liberating the Media from advertisers, through streaming content and money between reader & journalist ensuring truth from both party. This could initially run in parallel with ads perhaps, so people at least have the option to pay a few satoshis not to be ad-harassed.
"The MSM won’t talk about the Bitcoin Revolution. The revolution will not be televised."
Its deeply frustrating to him the way Bitcoin is mostly reported now, like a PsyOp to keep people away from it. He feels this disinformation game is a common tactic employed by legacy interest groups to slow down Bitcoin’s progression & adoption. PF believes the media is complicit in this, partly because many of its major advertisers are banks and in bed with legacy finance.
"People everywhere are waking up to the fact. When you manipulate money, EVERYTHING else is distorted as a byproduct.— THIS DAY IN BITCOIN (@BTCSTREETART) January 29, 2021
This will accelerate - both the # of people asking questions, and also them realizing that Bitcoin might be the only answer to stop the madness."
— @JeffBooth pic.twitter.com/0XDPbUqxmm
BITCOIN IN TURKEY
"It’s pretty massive that Turkey’s prized national football team is sponsored by one of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges in the world."
BTCTurk Exchange now sponsor the Turkish national Football team. Their prominence has even led PF to speculate the government might have given up on the Lira and be secretly stacking sats! Bitcoin isn’t really regulated in Turkey but in the Grand Bazaar, many small gold shops are now Bitcoin shops with neon price tickers in their windows. It seems you’re free to do business with Bitcoin. It still has a stigma but no measures have been taken against it. One of his goals is to set up a LN kebab shop, bar or Cypherpunk Cafe laden with Bitcoin Art and Lightning of course – a physical place where people can pay with Bitcoin and see it’s not just Magic Internet Money.
"It’s real world money and I want people to understand about its underlying philosophy that sparked this revolution."
MUNICH TO ISTANBUL
Munich has a vibrant Bitcoin scene, the world’s oldest Bitcoin Meetup and kickass projects like Specter, Thunderhub, Value of Bitcoin Conference, Lightning Hack days & the Chaos Computer Club. There’s always been a strong Maker Culture in Germany too, especially in Bitcoin. Germany’s second behind the US in Lightning Nodes, not counting Tor nodes. The German Bitcoin community is pretty low profile and humble but they build prolifically, Raspibliz & Fulmo being a great example of this.
PF’s still part of the Munich scene but recently moved to Istanbul for personal and family reasons. He felt Germany was becoming a little more socialistic and was frustrated by the expense of getting a family home, the crazy prices and taxes. He was feeling a little suffocated and wanted to break out.
He’s Turkish and always dreamed of living there one day. After making the move to Istanbul recently he’s very happy with the decision. It’s orderly, a strong state but has respect for its people. Criticising the government won’t go down well but he’s appreciating the benefits of strong leadership in terms of security in a volatile region. That’s the history of Turkey. A lot of things are organised privately, very different to Germany. They live for a fraction of the cost they did back in Munich and since he’s working online, he still gets paid a decent salary – more money to stack 😉 Hanging out with @Stackmore has been cool too!