How This NFT Collection of Anthropomorphic Deer Made Its Welsh Creator $600,000 in Mere Hours

Ashley Crossland picked the wild animal to reflect the 'unpredictable nature of the NFT space.'

Sierren Soulgazer was digitally hand drawn with fine line details. Photo courtesy Ashley Crossland.

A collection of NFTs featuring anthropomorphic deer has netted its creator nearly $600,000 within hours of it being minted.

In March, Welsh artist Ashley Crossland dropped 7,200 of his Stag Alliance NFTs, a series he’d spent thousands of hours creating outside of his design agency day job. Each deer has a name and is built out of more than 400 traits from epic fantasy to steampunk to, well, outright silly—Bluedew of Domence appears dressed as a Victorian gentleman with horns aglow and Lilac Larry like some surfer dude on a woodland retreat.

“I chose the stag because of its strong, positive connotations in many cultures around the world,” Crossland told Artnet News. “The traits reflect on cultures from many parts of history and culture. The juxtapositions represent the wild and unpredictable nature of the NFT space.”

In a few hours, the NFTs, which are Cardano-based and each cost about $85 to mint, had sold out, with secondary sales now pushing the floor price to around $140.

Stag Alliance King

King Cunning is one of more than 7,000 humanoid deer. Photo courtesy Ashley Crossland.

Crossland became enamored with the NFT space during the pandemic and began collecting in 2020. His deer sketches were received positively online, but he wanted to world-build rather than just mint and so partnered with Jimmi Sandham, a friend from university, who has created a whole mythical universe, Elderworld. “The lore gives all the characters meaning and this improves their collectability,” Crossland said.

In short, Elderworld imagines a herd of deer placed on earth in 2519 B.C.E. by a mad sorceress. In her bid to take earth from humans, the deer are blessed with supreme magic, wisdom, and artifacts from across the ages. War duly ensues between the Stag Alliance and humans who see the devil at work in their horned adversaries.

Stag Alliance

Crossland and his team are developing a full gamified experience for collectors, including on mobile. Photo courtesy Ashley Crossland.

It is the thoroughness of the project’s story building that seems to have piqued the interest of collectors. The hope is to reach beyond the silo of NFT collectors and connect with fans of fantasy, in part through publishing stories on Amazon and Apple, including audio versions for the reading averse. All the funds generated so far, Crossland says, will be reinvested in this world building.

“We’re creating a fantasy world with literature, art and gamified web experiences,” Crossland said. “Our goal is to become as well-known as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, the Witcher, Marvel and all the other greats.”

Despite the project’s early success, Stag Alliance is wary of some of the trappings of other large-scale collectible projects, such as creating connected tokens, offering incentives for collectors to hold NFTs, and artificially inflating the value of an NFT collection, a tactic called floor sweeping.

“We want people to hold and use our NFTs,” Stag Alliance wrote on a webpage explaining its market ethos. “We’re focusing on true demand, not superficial and unsustainable or illogical value.”


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