An Interview with the Real-Life Goldsmith for Video Gamers
Goldsmith Febo handcrafts a niche luxury product with a 21st century business plan
The sword really is something else: Crafted from gold, silver, wood and resin, the double-edged blade is edged with razor-sharp thorns and inlaid with dark runes that glow in blacklight. The horns of two ram skulls snake around the cross-guard. All this detail is packed into an object just 11.5 centimeters long.
Febo (just Febo) is master goldsmith and sole proprietor of the Vienna-based jeweler Goldschmiede Manufaktur Avalone and, in addition to classic items like engagement rings and pendants, makes arguably some of the nerdiest luxury jewelry products out there: pocket-sized, video game-based weapons.
“I’m a freak,” explains Febo, as we sit in his workshop at a sun-flooded table he designed himself. “I like to sit for hundreds of hours at a time and build very, very complex things.”
Freaks and geeks
The tiny sword is Frostmourne, from the wildly successful video game World of Warcraft. Febo is one of 3.2 billion gaming fans around the world, powering a market projected to be worth over 256 billion US dollars by 2025, with its own class of neo-millionaires.
“Every group that has lots of money wants customized products,” says Febo. “There are people whose whole lives are inside this or that game. They sit for 16 hours a day at their computers – and could have these miniatures on display beside them, right next to their keyboards.”
Millions of people stream competitive video games – also known as e-sports – on platforms like YouTube and Twitch, and elite players can win seven-figure sums, as well as earn salaries, sponsorships and paid subscriptions.
Riding the rise of online gaming
Febo’s artworks require expensive materials and countless man-hours. “I love my craft. I love my passion. But it’s hard to find buyers. I thought: how can I make this work?” Enter Febo’s plan: making-of videos that generate YouTube views – and eventually, ad revenue. (Watch the making of Frostmourne on YouTube - link below).
After playing video games, research shows, Gen Z’s second favorite entertainment activity is watching videos. Around 95% of 18-to-29 year-olds stream YouTube, according to a 2021 study of US Americans, and 61% of Gen Z describe themselves as “super fans” of someone or something – making fan communities “central to the entertainment experience”.
Within its first month, Febo’s recently launched YouTube channel got 32,000 clicks with a single vid, boosted by mentions in online gaming media and forums. It was even shown at a major Chinese gaming event. Result: Febo makes his favorite things, YouTube viewers watch, his work gets famous.
Hustle and grind
“You can’t just dream, that doesn’t work,” says Febo. “I come from a family with a very poor background. Yes, I had a dream and I was a gaming fan – but I also had to live.”
As Febo builds his core business, he also rents out his Avalone workshop as a coworking space for up-and-coming goldsmiths. The son of artists, Febo went to an arts-focused high school – but disliked its focus on concept and expression. Craftsmanship was his interests, so he sought an apprenticeship with a goldsmith after finishing school.
But these are few, far between and poorly paid. Febo sought funding from the Austrian Labor Market Service but was repeatedly rejected. Never a quitter, he sent a letter by registered post to the organization’s CEO – and began a campaign of daily telephone calls. Six months later, he got the money and his goldsmithing career began. He was twenty years old.
Now, at thirty, he’s the boss. “I work 80 hours a week, easy. I sit here until 3 AM sometimes.” He gestures at display cases holding his tiny masterpieces: “I know this is going to take off, and it’s going to make good money. I give it three to five years.” He is shaping his future as he would a wee battleax – tirelessly, with passion and a plan. May his dreams come true.
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Goldschmied Manufaktur Avalone
- Oelweingasse 1
- 1150 Wien
- +43 660 342 44433