Though his career is still young, his early life tested his faith in the world around him and in himself. This period would one day shape the subject matter and vibe of his work.
This is probably a common theme in young people who take part in the crypto space: A chance to be part of a sovereign system and an opportunity to take control of their life; a chance at redemption.
The act of climbing incredibly tall buildings and bridges is a relatively new habit in Isaac’s life. Judging by the subject matter of his art, most people would place Isaac Wright in his 30s. After all, who would do any of this if they didn’t spend their 20’s doing this privately? He’s 25 and started in 2018.
After High School, Isaac joined the US Army in 2014 and deployed in 2016. He spent four years as a paratrooper jumping out of planes and two years in the elite 10th Mountain Division.
He was stationed in Fort Polk, a military base in Louisiana known for suicides and isolation, something young men should not be familiar with. Despite his demons, he spent his time helping his fellow returning soldiers through their darkness.
But who consoles the consoler? His losses took their toll.
In May of 2018, when he could no longer take the Polk environment, he went to Houston. He saw a fifty-story building under construction and ascended. There is a cliche about urban explorers as adrenaline junkies, but that night atop those fifty stories Isaac does not remember the adrenaline, only “catharsis”.
Later that year in August, Isaac went to visit a friend in New York City. As fate would have it, he took that time to explore New York. His explorations led him to the top of 220 Central Park South, a multi-million dollar luxury condominium overlooking Central Park. As he took in the sunrise that morning atop New York, it was those few hours where he resigned himself to do this forever. The only problem was his photos weren’t very good.
During this time his leg was giving him serious problems from an old injury and he retired from military service around the summer of 2020.
He wasn’t bitter about ending his military career. In fact, it seemed to be a relief. Like most men in their early twenties, he began to learn about and know himself better. He was no longer an order taker but an independent thinker. He knew he wanted to be an artist. Serving in the armed forces would not facilitate that.
Isaac began to practice photography as a serious vocation and started shooting on weekends as much as he could. He would travel to as many places as he could. He was learning his craft and was able to learn how to sell his art.
While ascending the tallest building in his hometown of Cincinnati, Isaac was noticed by a security camera. Police were called. At this time, Isaac’s passion seemed like a comedy of errors. He could climb a building, take photos and stroll out, unaware of the police hunting him in adjacent rooms. Eventually, however, these events would turn tragic.
On a trip to Las Vegas three weeks later, Isaac would be introduced to the United States Justice system.
During those three weeks, he had been investigated and identified; he was a retired special operations soldier taking photos from off-limits areas. The alphabet agencies were called and a nationwide warrant for his arrest was initialized.
On December 17, police set up checkpoints to search vehicles for their fugitive. Police surrounded his car at gunpoint and threatened the use of force if he did not comply. He complied and was arrested soon after, sent to jail without being told the charge.
And so began Isaac’s journey through the court system, despite the fact that he had no criminal record.
Now I understand that I write for a crypto exchange and this is to be a profile about an NFT artist but we’re almost there and this history is important.
Isaac sat in jail for two month. Meanwhile, the detective in charge spread a photo from Isaac’s military service of him wielding a pistol in plain clothes. This detective tried to paint Isaac as a domestic terrorist, trying to bury him. Trespassing charges just wouldn’t do.
Over the months that followed, Isaac struggled to pay for his bonds as courts from different states attempted to smother him in prosecution. The courts used his military training against him, forcing him to wear an ankle bracelet.
Though he was able to raise money, he was almost broke. While inside the joint, some friends told him about NFTs. NFTs at the time were still a new paradigm. He had no real frame of reference as to their practical uses. He lost interest quickly.
He ended up winning his cases, but the damage had already been done. Unbeknownst to him, a seed was planted.
Once he was released from jail he had to live like a machine and find out how to make money every day. The interesting thing about crypto and NFTs is that the ideas can stick with you, even if you are against them.
Drift’s photography is a true proof-of-work collection. Not the consensus mechanism in distributed networks, but a way to stand out in a sea of generative nonsense that the NFT market has become. One can’t make an algorithm to create what Drift has created. You have to be there to create what he has.
His collection ‘Where My Vans Go’ showcases vantage points from places that require bravery and commitment to get to. They are wide shots of large cities atop tall structures featuring his Vans sneakers as the subject; You can climb a mile in his shoes, so to speak.
They evoke a sense of acrophobia and a tingling in the feet one gets from being close to the edge of a great height. They also evoke a sense of awe as he shares his sense of peace, serenity, and accomplishment with the viewer.
The current floor price of this collection is 50 ETH.
The crypto industry is plagued with middlemen. It is new technology and people don’t have time to research the nuances of sovereign money. Drift was excited to get on to Super Rare and OpenSea to sell his art but he’s moving in the direction of self-sufficiency in the NFT world.
A year after he was released from jail he minted an NFT called “First Day Out.” An NFT that transitions from a video of the redeemed Drift dancing; he was a free man and it showed. It then transitions to a large nighttime shot of himself on a suspended bridge.
A big difference between this and his earlier works is that it was governed by his ERC-721 smart contract. He sold 10,351 mints for $6.8 Million, where a sixth of that was donated to The Bail Project, a non-profit helping people without the means to pay for bail in the US.