Jesús Martinez grew up selling flowers and oranges on the streets of Los Angeles with his family. Rain or shine, they sold all over the area — from the streets to the local McDonald’s and even graduation ceremonies.

Martinez’s family immigrated from Mexico back in 1992 and began selling flowers up until he was in middle school in 2010. He recalls worrying about seeing his parents struggle to make ends meet financially. He used their story as a driving force for his education and professional goals.

This motivation has kept him hard at work and today he is one of the top Latino creators in the non-fungible token (NFT) space with his artwork being valued at $80,000.

Jesús Martinez with his parents. Photo courtesy of Jesús Martinez.

Martinez delved into the cryptocurrency space back in 2015, learning about it on the internet. NFTs are digital assets that hold value in the cryptocurrency space and are paid using digital currency, such as bitcoin. They can be anything from a piece of artwork to music, videos, and even memes.

“I stumbled upon bitcoin being used as a unique type of currency where you would transact money from anywhere around the world without a bank,” Martinez told mitú

Martinez says he was fascinated by the concept of bitcoin and believed it could change the world. He explains the concept of cryptocurrency by analyzing how humans have evolved over the years.

“Throughout our times our currencies have changed,” Martinez said. “We used to be hunters and gatherers and the currency used to be goods, then gold silver, then paper currency and now digital.”

Martinez took it upon himself to begin making NFTs in the form of artwork during an art class he took in High School. The more art he made, the more people he was connected with within the crypto space that encouraged him to keep building his craft.

“Artwork is all about storytelling,” Martinez said. “People don’t just buy the art. They want to be a part of the story.”

After educating himself for three years, he began selling his art in 2021. His artwork ranges from landscapes, animations and abstract art, and he’s adamant about his own story along with his works.

Martinez’s artwork “Meta Paradise.” Photo Courtesy of Jesús Martinez.

“I don’t come from wealth or connections,” Martinez said. “All I want to exemplify is that whether you have money or you don’t, at the end of the day we’re all human beings.”

His family’s financial struggles have kept him motivated to continue creating art and use it to give back to his family. His father is now a janitor and his mother is a seamstress.

“My artwork goes from being in a dark place and lighting it up and just feeling good about yourself and the situation that life has you in,” Martinez said.

His most famous artwork, Genesis, sold for $80,000. This was the first piece he sold in his collection. Whenever his pieces sell, he adds a royalty fee of about 10%.

Though he considers being a minority in the NFT space one of his biggest challenges, he also sees it as a blessing. “It’s up to me to inspire other people of color that they can also do it and get their story out there,” Martinez said.

Since his success with NFTs has happened so fast and the space continues to evolve quickly, Martinez sometimes cannot believe he has found success. “It’s an unreal feeling for my parents,” Martinez said. “I gotta keep myself grounded and never lose touch to what got me here like my values and my family.”

With what he has earned and the recognition he is receiving, Martinez aspires to become a philanthropist and give back to his community. “All the money I get is to make my own endowment or foundation,” Martinez said. “I know how hard it is as someone that came from nothing.”

He hopes to inspire other people of color to do the same and one day hopes to make a foundation that focuses on education and financial literacy.

His advice for young artists who want to get into space or learn about cryptocurrency is to keep in mind the story behind their piece of art. “Take the time to tell your story about why you’re doing this and you can find success in the NFT space,” Martinez said.

Find more of Martinez’s art here.