Over the last couple of months, I had the opportunity to speak with Foundry IV Founder & CEO Tobias Sherman of his companies first initial steps as a game publisher as the company releases their first mobile game to expedition into the gaming market within the mobile segment that is dedicated to global artists called Color Collab. As the popularity is already spilling over into some competitive spaces, Tobias is disrupting the digital art experience before any other company with the help of his renowned partner, Chris Nunez of 'Ink Master' and 'Miami Ink.' Chris Nunez leads the Color Collab art team by assembling world-class artists to release consistently updated exclusive art for the application. It offers to expand features including brushes, tools, and competitions for the user to be more than a coloring book, but rather a digital experience, reducing entry barriers and allowing more gamers and artists to pour in due time.
"I think publishers, some, not all, are reluctant to feature their artist because the cost of an artist will go up because they will demand a higher price, so what?" said Tobias Sherman, CEO at Foundry IV. "I believe we are the first marrying artist of this caliber through Chris with the community one hundred percent. I think we are the first to take that initial drive to put that into the game from the front end, not as an afterthought to empowering the community as the driving force behind it."
"There are a lot of meaningful things that are happening right now in the art world. I will be pushing the artist curation and getting to break a new artist. At Color Collab, we want to break new artists – we want to find new artists," said Partner and Artist Director Chris Nunez. "I think quarantine kind of set everybody back for a while, and now it's moving everybody forward, so artists like myself, we all branched out to do things on our own. There is empowerment we are seeing right here, right now, and the ability for these artists to stand up and create for themselves. This will drive us as a company, what we are after, and what we are doing. At the same time, we can create more meaningful content to spawn more artists to take up our passions and theirs. One of my passions is that I bring designs from each Amazon tribe we work with as well as Native American tribes and those proceeds go 100 percent back to them."
Let's dive in.
Who is Foundry IV and Chris Nunez?
As pop culture continues to integrate competitive video games, media outlets, global investors, and consumers, we are all paying attention. The pop culture of the esports industry has helped power the explosion in esports investment and revenue. Esports have hit this stratosphere primarily because of the social component of live streaming and gaming, mainly due to the pandemic. Streaming platforms like Twitch, Facebook Gaming, and Youtube Gaming give fans a direct connection to their favorite E-sport star players and teams, while more mainstream socials have allowed those connections to flourish. Specific esports organizations, such as Foundry IV, are moving aggressively into areas like mobile development and disrupting the industry while empowering the community and artists.
Foundry IVs has been grinding away for ten years within the esports industry. CEO Tobias Sherman has been helping to consult global brands, such as Unity, Alienware, T-Mobile, and more. Buying and selling sponsorships and media buy or the fact they created the first esports agency to build a global broadcast of tournaments such as E-LEAGUE. They have experienced the industry from every side of the table. Their experience uniquely qualifies Foundry IV to assist partners and massive brands in growing a new landscape within esports and sponsorships to reach a desirable audience.
Tobias was reached out by Jim Huether of Hyperice regarding the E-sports space when Foundry IV first launched. Huether knew that E-sport players were just as valuable as professional athletes. They have millions of dollars on the line; they have their own contracts. They get wrist and back injuries, so they require recovery technology just as much as any other regular athlete, and creating a partnership with the first esports consulting firm that is Foundry IV, would be a win-win.
“I gave Jim the idea for in-game advertising like the AI players using Hyperice products on the sidelines or just somewhere within the game.” Said Zane. “Stop! No way. I have a great story about how I met him. He flew all the way here during Sneaker-con. He knew how many people we had working on this; he had three press releases he wanted to put out on Hyperice and E-sports and was prepared. So, you put him on to the whole e-sports, that’s wonderful, that is crazy.”
Years later, since meeting Huether, most recently, Tobias Sherman has been busy with many new projects, but the recent coloring book application Color Collab has been working on one of his most important projects with his partner Chris Nunez. Chris launched his career starting at 18 years old as a graffiti artist then transitioned into ink. Years later, Chris Nunez has become a world-renowned name. He has been featured in various appearances as a tattoo artist and judge on well-known shows like ‘Ink Master’ and “Miami Ink” and is now working in the background for the first time as executive producer for the Netflix show ‘Tattoo Redo.’
“In our consulting, Chris and I have known each other for a while. We have been looking for something to do together within the digital space for six years now but now that we are doing this. I think it would be smart for game publishers to feature, one, their artist because they deserve the shine and people want to know.” Said Sherman. “With Color Collab, we can do our own styles and sponsorships helping other people’s passions like Chris’s passion within the Amazon which is close to his heart- it’s very important for the planet.”.
With Núñez and Sherman trying to work together for over six years and finally finding the perfect means to make it come to fruition through technology and art, Color Collab has now come to life after conjunction for three years in the making. Nunez has made it clear to me during our interview that he would like to give back to the art world through projects, especially those nearest to his heart while providing a source of revenue for not just his friends but for various tribes within the Amazon and Native American tribes that provide their own artwork.
Chris Núñez knew that he and co-founders Tobias Sherman and CTO and Co-Founder Simon Abitbol had brained stormed something special. "Because this whole idea was us trying to figure out what to do together, and Simon is calling Chris because they come to me and I am like, "a coloring book?" and immediately I am like, "What!?" Sherman laughed. Both partners have been blown away by how users are doing things they didn't expect with the app pre and post-launch. "I think that the e-sports space is great about telling the stories of the competitors themselves, but we have a bonus from traditional sports," said Sherman. "Which is that our games rely on art, and now we can tell the story of the artist." The good news for Color Collabers — which includes everyone from all artistic backgrounds or just first-time artists. The ability to work with professional and more well-known names for those trying to find a doorway is just beginning.
Florida native Chris Nunez told me that "this is just the beginning" where the still traditional media comes into play that allows the more prominent names "to drive in the eyeballs" to go into a more untraditional method "in the hope that we can get the unknowns and celebrate how big they are." Said Nunez.
Núñez clarifies that while his team is helping tell their stories, they're also giving back to these adept creators to break new artist – "to break new artist have been in the game for so long but haven't gotten the nod that you talk about" At the same time for Chris and Tobias, creating more meaningful content to spawn more artist to take up their passions alongside side Chris's and Tobias's passions: "my passions that I have in the Amazon and bringing designs from each tribe in the Amazon that we work with as well as Native American tribes and putting all those proceeds to create awareness, the proceeds go 100 percent back to the tribes" and ensuring "proceeds go 100 percent back to the tribes "He added, "we know they protect our earth, we know they have all of this great knowledge and they have a plant based technology that rivals your super computer so in all reality the defense we get on one side of the earth should be on the other and that is what we push for – that is what I am pushing for - and that is what I am pulling my team along for to do. With the help of Tobias and Simon, they created a platform for me to save these things, and now we are all saving them together, and it's beautiful."
What is Color Collab?
Coloring books have become a favorite among children, and now adult coloring books can be found all over craft stores and online. These coloring books help relieve stress, stay entertained, and calm anxiety, among other reasons that fit that person. It's time that a company like Foundry IV brought a more inventive approach to the digital world to indulge users in relaxing and unwinding anytime and anywhere while winning prizes and collab with the artist of the framework that decides to work. Especially during the trying times of the pandemic leaving many adults and children to become closed off from each other. The Color Collab is an "Artistry escapism." Said Nunez
Color Collab gives the consumer the ability to choose some of the worlds most renowned artists, such as Chris Nunez himself, Mary Joy Scott, Shaun Topper, and many more that allow each of them to compete in tournament-style coloring clash that put a variety of different artists in charge of the last champion through a proprietary voting system from the votes of each consumer. Winners will earn unique prizes through the various competitions offered throughout the year," like a traditional e-sports setting. "We weren't sure when things would return to normal, so we thought let's dedicate a team during the pandemic that is going stir-crazy, but it is much crazier than just a coloring app, there are all sorts of competitions around it, and it also in the future to allow artist and people to collaborate to have them create skins within our game that they get paid on." Said Sherman.
Within the application, you can see 'Featured Replays" of another at-home artist who has created their masterpiece by collaborating with various artists. Scrolling down, Color Collab holds a bi-weekly coloring competition that features an image by one of the well-known artists; this allows users to color in the featured image to win prizes, such as an entire month of Color Collab Plus. The process goes as follows; First week of the month is the submission process, 3rd week of the month is the 'Rating Phase,' then 48 hours after rating, you will see the 'Results & Prizes' for the consumer. Further down into the application, you can use their "Free Weekly Art' which is updated every Tuesday for those that would like quick escapism without the financial commitment. This ranges from set design categories, from 'Simple,' 'Intricate' and even 'Terrestrial Animals' to 'Japanese, Portraits and more' alongside with featured art from bands, such as, The Grateful Dead that provides unique brushes and art but of course all of this depends on the difficulty you would like to challenge your skills and interest.
"We were and are working with a lot of different IP (Intellectual Property) like the Grateful Dead." Said Sherman. "This gives a custom brush. Chris did such a good job getting the app right in terms of if you are an artist or a beginner, you can pick it up and use it right away with no art experience. But if you are an artist, then there are all sorts of crazy things you can do with shading, and I watched him teach another artist how to use some of the tools. Even the way to community uses the tools in ways we didn't expect them to or make embellishments in current designs, which is cool."
The all-star lineup of artists brought in from Chris Nunez with the ability of free-to-play options that allow the user to create their work of art truly. Like in the introduction video, the process is like working together on a comic book. One person is the outliner; then another begins the ink then moves to the coloring process. In this case, it is a very similar concept to see the outline of a well-known artist to see how someone interprets their artwork. Maybe some of the average joes or unknown artists might surprise the artist by their work and continue to collab together. Having a foundation of different artwork from a broad range of artists allows the user to play around with a diverse range of artwork and possibly learn a less costly approach to learning artistry to create their designs. What is impressive is that you can see how each user sees a design of your choosing and how they approached it compared to your style, especially compared to the actual artist and how they would go about coloring it and doing the necessary shadings, etc. The ability to express one's interest and culture in applying so much diversity is genuinely marvelous. Simple as that. People are going to love this.
Foundry IV is looking forward to the art created by their all-star lineup of artists to make products that improve people's lives and develop a sense of connection with their consumers and potentially other artists that offer various features that bring the fostered community. Color collab offers an appealing free-to-play experience for all users that give a type of experience before purchasing the app for all that it has to offer. This application utilizes essential tools that enhance skills in blending, shading, highlighting while augmenting Color Collab to users to upgrade with an artist pack or Color Collab Plus subscription that provide in-game exclusive art pieces, tools, celebrity artists, and even IP from bands such as, The Grateful Dead to give unique brushes, color palettes, bundles and more. "
Can you get involved?
The market for cash royale games and other games like it is still a new industry to break new ground, and Foundry IV, along with Chris Nunez, are getting their feet wet into the fast-paced industry that has been created behind it and making their own competitive spin into an untouched territory behind what is Color Collab. The application will help boost well-known names into helping their passions progress as the application continuously takes off. Tobias and Chris are looking for unknown faces to join on the Color Collab team, but not only within digital tech, but you could be a graffiti artist, portrait artist, or any artist.
“If you look at the color collab, we have experts for every artist, such as where they came from and their back story. May they have been an artist from EA, background from anime - you know where I am going with this.” Sherman continues, “I think that curating the video game world and the beautiful part about collab is like, you might not be into street or tattoo art, or you might not be into video games, and that’s okay. You don’t have to participate in that section of the app but what is neat is that you may come in through street art or video games. As we expand, you can go ahead and find that journey of discovery of new art.”
Within the city limits of Austin, I know quite a bit of talented artist that is always searching for ways to make their skills be known. It’s unfortunate to see many of them create passion projects, such as creating a comic book series or selling their various artistry to make ends meet while being overworked or dealing with other issues within their work community. Tobias and Chris are all about empowerment and community to interact with well-known artists alongside unknown names. The ability to collaborate LIVE, such as at South x Southwest, alongside someone more well-known, could be a doorway in its way too.
Nunez says, “Just going again with South X Southwest to create an area where places like that have these big music venues, these big festivals along with art festivals are all places where collab wants to land where people can experience what it is that we have to offer because that is typically the arenas that you will find the newest artist.” Chris continues, “The people that we are looking to connect with are there. There is no better way for us to harness that than let us show them what we have to come, touch, play, and feel and get to know them on a personal level to get to know them on the street and get to see who’s who. That is real talent curation because there is a hand on feel to that, and for us, doing a collab, we want to share people that shine on collab as well, so I want to be able to Zoom or pop onto somebody’s house and knock on the door and be like, “you want to tell me how you did this amazing thing because it’s supposedly my thing and I want to celebrate that.” Chris Laughs
Interacting and collaborating with an artist LIVE within a mobile game, unlike traditional sports, is still uncharted territory, and Foundry IV, alongside their partner Chris Nunez is trying to make that a reality. The ability to have consumers interact with the actual artist disrupts the digital space of artistry, bringing a new take on a type of bout or royale while making unknown names become seen via Color Collab and in-person competitions that are to come. The future of esports will likely be powered by mobile, which will further barriers to entry and allow even more gamers, in this case, artists, to pour in. According to PocketGamer, 45-percent of mobile gaming is set to make up the total global games market this year to create an even more thriving esports scene within America, and I am sure this is just the beginning for Foundry IV to release a collab application as Color Collab.
Tobias and Chris's future roadmap is to continue empowering and unifying people within the artist and digital community to work together as they continue to learn from one another. "In this interview, which seems to be a recurring theme is being harmonious between getting artist paid and their passions come to life. To be the conduit of art and the digital space. We spent the time here talking about one thing, and that's how we create harmony," said Sherman. To shine light onto artists to have a way to give back to not just themselves but to their passions come to fruition, like Chris giving back to the Amazonian and Native American tribes. As for me, I hope that this will allow the many artists out there to branch out, become more known, make a sufficient living, and show companies within the gaming industry how they undervalue and overwork many of their artists. I will continue to look into Foundry IV and the future of the publisher's apps like Color Collab with great interest.