Coming to Superchief Gallery NFT

New York City (June 24-July 3)

 

SuperChief NFT Gallery, the world’s first physical exhibition space dedicated solely to NFT artwork, is collaborating with the EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL, the wildly popular and world’s largest all woman and non-binary art biennial of its kind, to exhibit the NFTs of hundreds of female artists through a digital platform, and on screens within a physical presence at the Superchief Gallery NFT in New York, exhibiting from June 24 – July 3, 2021. 

Originally known as ‘The Whitney Houston Biennial’, founded by C. Finley to empower and celebrate women, femme, and nonbinary artists with biennial shows themed on Whitney Houston song titles, The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL is known to be a celebration of the ‘Divine Feminine’ and as one of the leading shows in the art world, it often sets new trends while creating equity in the arts. The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL is always dazzling, inclusive, and trendsetting, and this year, founder and curator C. Finley shows us all just how forward-thinking and progressive the Every Woman Biennial is with its stunning debut into the NFT space to tackle the male-dominated “tech bro” scene with a legion of women artists each exploring the curatorial theme ‘My Love is Your Love.’

“The goal is to develop a heightened consciousness in the art world favoring encouragement, connection, inspiration and love. The Every Woman Biennial is our rallying cry which aims to bring together many creative voices to sing a collective song that celebrates the contribution of female artists and marks a moment in our communal trajectory.” -founder/curator C. Finley

The EVERY WOMAN BIENNIAL 2021 brings female and non-binary artists together from across the globe in the spirit of community and collaboration, to investigate themes of inspiration, connection, and love while celebrating the abundance and beauty of Mother Nature and the Divine Feminine within us all. My Love Is Your Love is a startling and refreshing shift in NFT curatorial themes of the past (which, admittedly is quite a short history), and is providing much-needed feminine energy in a space where women and nonbinary artists are still largely underrepresented.

 The Every Woman Biennial is constantly evolving to provide inclusive opportunities to support women and non-binary artists, and the aim or this particular show is to give hundreds of artists who are interested in exploring the new technology and mint NFTs, the opportunity to reach new audiences and sell their art on the Superchief platform –  which is especially important now, in the wake of 2020 – an unprecedented year of isolation, and in this ongoing socially-distanced time, it is refreshing to see the traditional art world embrace NFTs to reimagine what the art world can be and who can be included and celebrated. 

As C. Finley states: ‘Not knowing if we’d be able to get together during the pandemic, we embraced the new NFT platform for our 4th edition in NYC. 600+ emerging female and non-binary artists are coming together across the biennials to exhibit, perform and lift each other up.’

Every Woman Biennial, in collaboration with Superchief Gallery NFT will hold a workshop to walk selected artists through minting their first NFTs. This is a carbon-negative exhibition, in partnership with Pachama.

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SUMMARY

A momentous announcement has just been made by the US Congress that Juneteenth will be a national holiday, commemorating the abolition of slavery.

To mark Juneteenth weekend (the 18-20th of June), Towards Utopia organized a special exhibition for Superchief Gallery, “The Digital Diaspora: Liberating Black Creativity,’ curated by Diana Sinclair, a queer 17-year-old artist and activist. Black digital artists from around the world will be featured in an exhibition organized by Towards Utopia & Foundation. Sales will be made using NFT technology, and proceeds will benefit GLITS, which provides free housing assistance for Black Trans people and HerStoryDao, as well as arts funding for Black Women and non-binary Femmes. A selection of pieces will be shown on LinkNYC digital displays throughout the five boroughs in addition to the gallery show.

Artist: Sewah Attafuah – #TheDigitalDiaspora Exhibition

The US Congress declares Juneteenth a National Holiday 

The United States House of Representatives passed and forwarded a bill to President Joe Biden on Wednesday designating June 19, or “Juneteenth,” as a federal holiday – marking the end of legal enslavement of African Americans.

The holiday commemorates the day in 1865 when a Union general notified a group of enslaved individuals in Texas that they had been freed two years before by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

In a 415-14 vote, the House approved the bill. Its success comes one year after the brutal murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer ignited nationwide protests against racism and policing.

In a signing ceremony at the White House on Thursday afternoon, President Biden will sign the bill into law.

 

Special EXHIBITION

On the weekend of Juneteenth (6/19/21) in New York City, the Digital Diaspora art exhibition, public installation, and fundraising auction will take place. The Digital Diaspora (TDD) celebrates Black artists from around the globe while aiming to explore new frontiers in the avant garde world of new media. TDD, led by award-winning artist Diana Sinclair, builds on the groundbreaking achievements of Alondra Nelson expanding the scope of Afrofuturism.   

Towards Utopia, in partnership with Sinclair, has created a robust program, which will be launched on June 19th with an opening event at Superchief Gallery

At 10am PST / 1pm EST the same day, Foundation will host a 17 lot auction of which a portion will be donated to GLITS (Gays and Lesbians living In a Transgnder Society) – which provides free housing to Black trans people – and the HerStoryDao collective to preserve creative projects by Black women and non-binary artists. A selection of works from this exhibition will also be exhibited on LinkNYC screens across New York City, made possible by NYC & Co.

 

Artists: Tyler Givens & Lauren M. Wash – #TheDigitalDiaspora Exhibition

“It’s especially appropriate for an art show promoting Black artists to be held on the day that celebrates Black freedom,” Sinclair explains. “Black freedom allowed for the growth of Black art in America, yet there’s still work to be done to give more Black artists even greater exposure to a wider audience. Now we can add digital platforms and technology to our efforts to not only widen the space for Black artists, but to address the intersectional marginalization of Black people.”

“Following Itzel Yard’s groundbreaking sale on Foundation last month,” says Foundation’s Community Director, Lindsay Howard, “we’re excited to support Towards Utopia in their effort to uplift and center Black artists.” The auction will partially benefit HerStoryDAO, an organization committed to furthering the careers of Black femme artists, which will have lasting impacts on the NFT community at large.”

 

A Brief History of Foundation 

The NFT platform Foundation uses blockchain technology to build a new creative economy, allowing creators to monetize their online expressions in a whole new way, and connect more deeply with their fans. It is a bridge between crypto and culture that fosters a network of mutual support between artists, creators, and collectors. 

Foundation has earned more than $75M in direct benefits since its launch in February 2021, and almost 500 artists have made over $20K individually through the platform. Not to mention over 5,000 unique bidders are registered on the site. The Foundation terminal shows live market updates as they come in. 

 

Towards Utopia: An Introduction

An organization focused on education, resources, and art; Towards Utopia is a trans-feminist and anti-racist organization. The group raises funds on behalf of boots-on-the-ground organizations to support the needs of the Black trans community. Moreover, they bring food and clothing directly to people through mutual aid events. 

Using social media, they educate the public about racism and identify resources available to POC and gender-non-conforming individuals, such as grants and employment opportunities. In their 2020 print sale – which featured artists such as Nan Goldin, Richie Shazam, Ryan McGinley, Charles Caesar, and Lia Clay – they raised almost $100,000 for GLITS, FOR THE GWORLS, and SWOP. 

 

Featured Artists

The upcoming auction and exhibition will highlight the work of Black artists who are highly visible in the NFT world, many of whom have prominent sales on Foundation.

Google Slides Presentation of Artists

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Along with the rise in the popularity of NFTs, it should come as no surprise that artists are seeking out new and exciting ways to exhibit their digital art.  While the concept of a “metaverse” first found its footing in the world of video games, catering to the millions of MMORPG gamers worldwide.  But in the past three or so years, a number of non-gaming exclusive metaverses have begun popping up.  

 

Decentraland, one of the leading examples, was founded back in 2017 – created with the intention of developing a replacement for websites for within VR experiences.  Due to the slow adoption of VR headsets and experiences, they decided to pivot their offering to an XR experience available via almost any browser.  While the experience is quite “gamified,” purposes for spending time in the Decentraland metaverse primarily include viewing or displaying NFT artwork, shopping for or creating Virtual Fashion / Wearables, and interacting with Decentralized Apps (dapps) and companies in real-time within an immersive 3D world. 

 

Well-known companies in the DeFi space have already invested significant amounts of money into developing virtual spaces within this metaverse.  If you tour around their welcome plaza or Museum District, you’ll recognize many familiar names ranging from Binance, SuperRare, and Makersplace.  Each of these organizations has fully fleshed out immersive experiences within the space, complete with links to exterior websites and robot characters with whom you can “speak” in order to explain various offerings.  Despite Decentraland being quite private about the number of users currently on the platform, according to the LinkedIn Profile of their ‘Head of Marketing and Growth’ Fede Molina, he has grown “the community from a few hundred to 1M+ members” within his three years at the organization. It should also be noted, then when I consulted this figure only a month-and-a-half ago in March, it was listed as 500k+. I’m not going to try to jump to any conclusions, but it’s fairly clear that this platform is growing exponentially. 

 

Digital Sculptures

 

So why is that? Decentraland is far from the only Metaverse option on the market, with competitors such as Crypto Voxels, Mozilla Hubs, Arium, and many others releasing new features daily.  However, one element, specifically for artists, that functions exceptionally well on Decentraland in particular, is the implementation of interactive or moving 3D sculptures.  While this feature is available in a number of other metaverses or virtual art exhibition spaces, in my humble opinion, Decentraland’s objectively look the best. 

 

Viewers can move around massive 3D sculptures in real-time. These sculptures can be as large as a house or small enough to fit on a table and have the options to levitate, rotate, move through the air, and be interactive. The scale of these virtual sculptures alone is worth ruminating upon. In reality, artisans working in the world of large-scale sculptures often pay tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain the materials for their pieces alone. Then when one factors in the costs associated with moving, shipping, and/or installing a large stone or marble pieces – it begins to make the artform prohibitively expensive to newcomers. What emerging artist has a quarter of a  million dollars to spend on erecting and shipping out a 10-ton marble sculpture? And if you begin to consider the technical and mechanical requirements necessary to have a piece of this kind of scale levitate or rotate – it begins to become impossibly expensive and nearly logistically impossible. 

 

This is where exhibiting within a metaverse comes in. Within Decentraland, and many other similar metaverse spaces, users can create sculptures at a massive scale without having to consider their structural feasibility or physical cost. Even artists already creating sculptures out of Bronze, Marble, or through other means should be excited about the prospect of modelling their work virtually, exhibiting said work virtually, and the IF the piece is sold, they can create (sculpt) or 3D print their piece made specifically to order. This metaverse-centric system is not only far more cost-effective for artists, but also far more sustainable! Shipping massive sculptures around the world requires a massive amount of resources. Trucks, ships, planes, massive crews of movers, packaging, and so much more goes into the process. 

 

Digital Sculptures in the Metaverse

 

Shifting the display process of large-scale sculptures into the digital realm makes all of these wasteful processes redundant. Simply allowing onlookers, and interested buyers, to interact with large-scale pieces exclusively within the digital realm. While users can’t yet physically touch pieces within this context, one can come quite close. In most XR experiences, such as Decentraland, users can experience sculptures from extremely up close to far away in context. Furthermore, users have the option to interact with certain objects, jumping on top to follow along with the motion of an object, or completing an animation or task. Also, if users experience metaverses through a VR headset, the experience can be even more fully immersive. 

 

While viewing moving large-scale sculptures may not yet be seamless across all metaverses, one must remember how early we are in the grand scheme of this industry. Most companies are only in their first year of business and about 99% of the world’s population is still not yet invested in crypto. However, what does seem certain is that the concept of exhibiting digital artworks within a metaverse is still in its absolute infancy. And the fact that this space has already come so far and allows artists across mediums to achieve so much is beyond encouraging. I very much hope to see more growth within this space in the coming months and look forward to more traditional artists, especially sculptors, taking advantage of this fantastic new technological framework.

 

Sculpture in the Metaverse

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From today, June 14th, to the18th, 2021 there will be a celebration of the very building blocks of all digital art, the pixel. Specifically, an exhibition featuring eighteen of the foremost pixel artists in the NFT space, “specially chosen to demonstrate the variety, beauty, and mastery of the medium” as stated by the organizer and mastermind Genuine Human who is himself an Award-winning pixel artist, director and animator. Genuine Human has created music videos for GUNSHIP as well as art for acts such as The Midnight, Waveshaper, and many more.

I recently had the amazing experience of speaking with Genuine Human about his passion for pixel art and his motivations behind creating this event. Aside from being a super cool “Genuine Human,” all puns intended, I really enjoyed talking with him about his work, the NFT space, the community, and his reasons for creating Pixel Art Week. I also really enjoyed checking out his incredible pixel art which, I can now honestly say, makes him one of my personal favorite Pixel artists that I have come across. His fusion of pixel art mixed with his signature cyberpunk style just speaks to me.

Pixel Art Week

 

Pixel Art Week is set to bring artist showcases to Twitter, live chats and Q&As on Clubhouse, as well as Twitter Spaces and is bringing together the absolute best of pixel art to the SQUARED metaverse exhibition. The main pixel art week events will run from today, June 14th – up to the 18th, and more information can be found at www.pixelartnftweek.com as well as on Twitter at @pixelartnftweek.

During my conversation with Genuine human, we discussed his origin in the pixel art world. Starting off over 10 years ago, and being one of the least efficient ways to make art, one pixel at a time, he fell in love with this form and the variety contained within it. Pixel art has “a certain number of squares, [and] essentially, you fill in the squares.”  He poses the following question in his exploration of pixel art:

“How can you take such a controlled medium, and do such vastly different things with it? with so many different styles within that medium”  He went on to talk about his experience coming into the NFT space, and how it has been interesting for him: “with CryptoPunks at the heart of all this, where do pixel artists fit” in the world of NFTs? 

Noting that many of the artists do have specific project-based works, but that a large portion of pixel artists are just creating for the sake of exploration and creation.

eBoy Osaka
eBoy Osaka

 

In his years in pixel art he has found that “Not everyone gets it, and not everyone likes it, and that’s fine, but there are some people, when they connect with it, they LOVE IT and they get so passionate about it.”His face lit up as he made this statement.

After experiencing his work specifically, because of my fascination and obsession with cyberpunk and science fiction, I have seen a window into pixel art that makes me want to explore more.  I am excited to hear more about the artists that Genuine Human looks up to and is showcasing during this week-long celebration.

At the heart of what inspired  Pixel Art Week was this desire, that I unearthed in our conversation “I wonder if there is a way that I can show other people what I see in their pixel art?” which planted the idea behind this entire series of events. He goes on describing, “what if we did a week, to celebrate pixel art in the NFT space?” 

With so many incredible artists, being able to share and explore their work and the genre as a whole for an entire week sounds like a great way to introduce others to pixel art.

 

Instant Onion After the Rain
Instant Onion After the Rain

 

The featured pixel art week artists include: BAN-8KU, eBoy, Paul Robertson, Genuine Human, mae, KLDPXL, Kristy Glas, Crypto Princess, Dmitry Petyakin, Genghis Kwan, Gordon Zuchhold, Gutty Kreum, Instant Onion, Jamfactory aka Gavin Strange, Maxwell Step, Moertel / Stefanie Grunwald, numo and steamboy33 // Arnold Tsang   

This whole week will allow people a peek into the pixel art process, the humans behind the work, and why they create pixel art. Many times people may recognize the art but know very little about the person who created it. I am personally looking forward to learning about these incredible people that Genuine Human has brought together because of the energy and passion I sense behind this week-long celebration, and because taking a peak at some of this incredible work, you can’t help but want to learn more. 

There will be many ways to engage during Pixel art week but below you will find the dates and times for the main chats:

 

14th MONDAY Space Chat – 7PM UK. 2PM EST. 9AM PT – moderated by Signalnoise

Genuine Human Art

eBoy

Khaled

Instant Onion

 

15th TUESDAY GALLERY OPENING – 8PM, 3PM EST, 10AM PT

Genuine Human Art plus artists in attendance.

 

16th WEDNESDAY 7PM UK, 2PM EST, 11AM PT – Whale Community – Moderator: DeCryptolorean

eBoy

Khaled

Maxwell Step

Genuine Human Art  

 

17th THURSDAY TEXT CHAT –  7PM UK, 2PM EST, 11AM PT (WHALE Discord)

Dmitry Petyakin

Kristy Glas

Mae

Steamboy

BAN-8KU

 

18th FRIDAY Spaces Chat 9PM UK time 4PM EST 1PM PT – Moderator: G

Jamfactory

Numo

Gordon Zuchhold

Maxwell Step

Genuine Human Art

 

Be sure to follow Pixel Art Week on Twitter to stay up to date with everything going on as well as visit the official website for more details. 

I look forward to seeing this incredible celebration take place across the entire week and bring more attention to the people behind all of this work. I want to thank Genuine Human for creating this series of events and for the time he spent with me connecting about this incredible genre, that is at the very root of all digital visual art.

It all starts with a single pixel.

 

BAN8KU Player in Tokyo
BAN8KU Player in Tokyo

 

Maxwell Step What You Looking At
Maxwell Step What You Looking At

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Igor Kourany – Genesis Drop on Makersplace, June 11, 2021, at 5pm PT

Igor Kourany is an extremely interesting and talented guy – super nice too! Born and raised in Panama, when he first got a glimpse of MTV, he “fell in love with the visual effects.” Early in his career, he got a primitive version of photoshop and started making images. Eventually becoming a professional architect, his artwork developed as the software did. After 10 years he began full-time art creation after putting a few of his pieces in his brother’s furniture store. Clients loved the work and it started selling.

He’s experimented with various mediums for over 20 years; including sculpture, painting, and a lot of photography. Igor has volumes of sketchbooks and plans out his ideas to a degree while leaving space for serendipity. He started out pouring paint over live models. “I wanted to simulate the aesthetic of Terminator and conquer the look of liquid humans.” As the paint was poured, he caught the action in a series of rapid photographs, often thousands. He then separately, painted mannequins, and later, on the computer, fused the images together to construct the finals, utilizing a vast array of software. The idea was to create a liquid simulation and capture the randomness of the phenomena of liquids coming into contact with solids. Developing this technique took years of trial and error. And the final look and methodology are truly unique. 

Igor’s works have been showcased in galleries throughout the world. He now brings his exclusive work practice to the NFT world in this debut drop. Three new pieces will be released each as a 1 of 1 on Makersplace. Each NFT will be paired with a large-scale print signed by the artist. These physical pieces are printed by Igor himself in his studio in Panama, so he can control the quality of which he is very adamant about. Each work will drop in auction format beginning June 11, 2021, at 5 pm PT and will continue until a reserve price is met triggering a countdown timer.

The address of the drop is: https://makersplace.com/igorkourany/

 

Milky Angel

Milky Angel, is a combination of CGI and photography employing models and mannequins. The milky white against the black allows for the viewer to really get a sense of splashing wetness, down to each drop.

 

Mujer Tabaco

Mujer Tabaco, is full on CGI down to the eyelashes. Here Igor gets to flex his obsession with the android, futuristic girl who can live forever so she can smoke tobacco! Her body is made of the strongest earthly material and is covered in a web of flowing gold veins.

Bubble Girl

Bubble Girl, pays homage to African culture, appropriating colors from African clothing into glass balls for hair. The light reflection off the glass in this CGI rendering is astounding.

To learn more about Igor and his process, check out the Apollo NFT Gallery in the 100x Art District in Decentraland which will be hosting an event tomorrow to celebrate the drop. 

All of Igor’s works celebrate the woman as a superhuman with futuristic aspirations. This drop is not to be missed!

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The Shitcoin conference was just held in Miami on June 3rd and 4th, just down the road from this year’s largest crypto event, the Bitcoin conference. According to the Shitcoin conference website, “Shitcoin 2021 is dedicated to all the companies that got turned away from participating in one of the largest crypto events.” the event slogan is “because F*ck Maximalism,” and I agree!

 

The event was masterminded by Kenn Bosak, a Bitcoiner since 2015. Bosak has traveled around the world attending over 200 Blockchain conferences, also happens to be one of the most well known NFT creators and influencers in the Wax blockchain ecosystem.  Kenn is great at creating an engaged and loyal community. I have seen first hand his generosity and commitment to his community and in helping others get into the NFT space. He was actually one of the influencers who made me fall in love with what I saw going on in the Wax NFT community.

 

Kenn Bosak NFT

See More Kenn Bosak NFTs Here 

 

One of the key takeaways I received from Kenn was that there is a shift taking place right now. Especially within the creative spaces wherein NFT creators and companies need to transition from acquiring customers to creating communities. This is all made more possible via the use of non-fungible tokens.

The wild, free and open vibe of the Shitcoin conference was evident as soon as you walked in the door. While I did not attend the Bitcoin conference for several reasons, the main one being that I am not a maximalist and personally believe that attitude to be completely anti-innovation, I did run into some incredible characters that I connected with who did attend the Bitcoin conference. One of them goes by the name @hyperspek who had this to say about the Bitcoin conference:

“The Bitcoin maxis really seemed to have blinders to the future of blockchain innovation.  Understandable for some who still have PTSD from getting rekt last cycle.  As they try to adapt an “old” technology not really designed for these applications, they will get left for dead by what is happening on ETH and other platforms.”

Hyperspek is an investor and NFT collector who also happens to be a virtual gallery builder. He showed me his gallery in Crypto Voxels and it was amazing, he likes to make art with other art and is quite good at doing so! His attention to details and his creativity was impressive. You can check out his awesome collection and gallery here

Hyperspek.io
Hyperspek.io

 

To me personally, being a Bitcoin maximalist is like saying “I like airplanes and what they allow, but not helicopters, planes without props or jet engines.

This kind of thinking is nonsensical and will not pass muster in the grand scheme of technological innovation. There will be many protocols, many will fail, but innovation and experimentation will dictate what survives.

The stark contrast of the Shitcoin conference and crowd was much more open to new ideas, fun, and was largely centered around NFTS. The atmosphere was younger, less refined, more tolerant, and brimming with excitement for the future of NFTs and blockchain technology.  It seems quite evident that there will be another event next year because the demand from the community is definitely there. Next year’s event will almost certainly be a few blocks away from the next Bitcoin conference as a statement against the very term “Shitcoin.”  Meant to encompass everything that is not Bitcoin, to include non-fungible tokens, and create something which the community can embrace and own.

 

Photos by Dynamic Eye Studios
Photo by Dynamic Eye Studios

 

The lineup of speakers at this year’s Shitcoin conference can be seen here, and I am sure next year’s event will improve on this.  Some interesting concepts that were discussed while I attended were: the fractionalized ownership of assets by blockcities, regenerative farming, and how blockchain can play a role during the Blockchain for Impact panel. In this particular talk,  Irina Litchfield, founder of Blockchain -Cubed, a blockchain technology consulting firm and adviser for Prochain Capital, discussed some innovative solutions.  

 

From Crypto hedge fund managers to NFT artists, defi protocol developers to musicians, comedians to filmmakers. The diversity represented within this year’s Shitcoin conference is more reflective in my opinion of what the future of NFTs and blockchain looks like. In all fairness, I do believe that an overwhelming majority of the crypto community are not in the cult of Bitcoin maximalist and do support innovation and advancement within this space.

 

Photo by Dynamic Eye Studios
Photo by Dynamic Eye Studios

 

 

Photo by Albert Polanco
Photo by Albert Polanco

 

 

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On June 2nd, this past Tuesday, a virtual art show took place in parallel with a number of events happening in Miami this week.  What set this show apart from most of the physical events happening across Bitcoin Conference Miami, Shitcoin 2021, and a number of NTFS.tips events – this show was presented entirely virtually. Curated by Trish Reda, as per the commission of JenJoy Roybal of Ntfs.tips curation team, this show featured over two dozen diverse photographers and image-makers from around the world. Displayed in a virtual world constructed by the talented Roger Kenny, called “Road Gallery,” the space evoked a midnight drive across a desert. Except, in which, either side of the road was featuring beautiful billboard-sized renderings of photographic NFTs. The experience is truly unique, as one enters the space, you feel the need to speed up and get through the show. However, the user’s character moves slowly with intentionality, lingering on each piece in order to give it the time and appreciation that it deserves.  As the viewer moves through a star-lit desert vista, new pieces of art emerge in the distance, each one entirely unique and striking in and of itself. 

 

 

The show featured a healthy mix of established voices and exciting new talent. Including staples in the NFT photography space such as Matthew Neubauer, Sean Bonner, and John Knopf (the current highest-selling photographer in the NFT space).  At the same time, featuring a number of fresh/up-and-coming voices, handpicked by Reda herself, including Raven “50mm,” Dariush Raad, Amat Toussaint, and many others. This diverse and decentralized blend of talent from all over the world spans a vast array of practices and styles within the confines of photographic work. From analogue to digital, unprocessed to heavily manipulated, traditional images to animated ones. This virtual art show displayed the near full palette of options that have been made available to photographers active in the space today. In fact, the cavalcade of styles and processes exhibited in such a new-age format gave the show quite a futuristic feel. Though this could simply be my personal bias as I, the writer, was one of the artists featured and this was my personal first ever purely digital gallery exhibition. 

 

Screen Capture by: @shakenbakespear ft image by @nft_ish
Screen Capture by: @shakenbakespear ft image by @nft_ish

 

 

 

However, my own involvement aside, there are three key aspects I’d like to take away from this experience as a viewer.  1) The virtual space that this was held in was, and is, constructed beautifully.  If you haven’t yet – please make sure to click the first embedded tweet and follow the link directly to the show.  It’s a custom gallery created in Mozilla hubs, and while it may not be the most realistic virtual experience I have ever had, it was definitely one of the most visually appealing.  2) The diversity and range in artists from all different styles and backgrounds all within the confines of one specific medium were extremely encouraging.  In a time where companies and individuals alike find excuses for lacking diversity on a daily basis – Trish Reda came into this space as a fresh curator and, intentionally or not, truly acted as a champion of diversity and representation.  From representing artists all over the world to a healthy mix of race and gender expressions to purposefully highlighting several queer artists (such as my partner and myself) in celebration of Pride Month – Trish truly went above and beyond.  3) Finally, just because I’m so impressed, I need to mention the time frame.  Trish reached out to me only 5 days before the exhibit.  So, in a matter of about a week, Trish Reda was able to coordinate with over two dozen artists and promote an extremely well-received event and corresponding clubhouse room.  While I’m not surprised, as both Trish and the NTFS.tips team are absolute powerhouses, I am nonetheless extremely impressed.  Most established galleries would struggle to do the same and Trish, more or less independently, pulled off the impossible in just one week!

 

A wholehearted BRAVA to Trish and all of the artists involved!

 

Screen Capture by: @shakenbakespear ft image by @lindseybyrnes

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Maxwell Step is a 27 year old Canadian artist that plays with pixels to create stunning portraits. His work displays inspirational images in detailed, yet pixelated, form and is listed for sale on the blockchain via several high profile NFT art platforms. “I draw with squares that capture the essence of people.” This mantra adorns his many NFT galleries, simple, yet powerful, just like his art. The portraits definitely capture the essence of people in a fun and eye-catching way.

 

As a child he always had a love for cartoons and manga, drawing them whenever he could. He admits he wasn’t very skilled in the beginning, but a trip to Wal-Mart one December would change that forever. Maxwell’s’ father Moses passed away when he was young, and his mother Burneise Stephenson, had to overcome and find a way to take care of her boys. The budget was tight one Christmas, but she still took them to the store and told them they could pick a gift that was reasonably priced. Maxwell headed straight for the manga section and chose Tsubasa, a story that he had set his sights on long before that day. This marked the beginning of a lifelong passion for art and creation. Manga and animation were a huge source of inspiration and served as entertainment, as well as a creative outlet, for the young designer. As time went on his brother and sister would always see him drawing, and his mother was incredibly supportive of his artistic abilities.

When Maxwell was 15 his mother passed away from cancer, a devastating blow to the budding artist. As tribute to her he began going by the last name Step, an abbreviated version of her last name Stephenson. When asked why, he says, “My mother used to always say ‘Stay Thinking Eternally Positive’ so I wanted to commemorate that.”

 

Maxwell Step and his wife

Positivity is definitely the air that surrounds the beautiful family that Maxwell has created with his adoring wife Aisha. His family may be the best work of art he’s done yet! Their sweet toddler Indya is already doing art with Daddy, and their newest edition Cairo is sure to be creatively inclined given her genetics. Aisha is an exquisite photographer and fully embraces her artistic husbands’ endeavors. Together the canvas of their story paints a picture of inspiration, love, and creation.

Maxwell credits his mother as a crucial part of his early inspiration, but it wasn’t until her passing that he really became disciplined with his practice. Being 100% self-taught, Maxwell gathered photos and studied them to learn angles and perspectives, practicing over and over until he got it right. He remembers the voice of a camp counselor emphatically pleading with him, “If you have a talent do not hide it! It is your responsibility to cultivate it and share it with the world.” Cultivate he did, as he is now quickly becoming a prominent artist in the NFT space, currently displaying timeless portraits of BIPOC with fun and elegant style. With pieces already sold for almost 3 Ethereum the future is looking bright for the young artist, especially when you consider royalties! It’s clear that if there’s one consistent thing about him it’s his desire to learn and grow, and he doesn’t allow excuses to stand in the way.

 

From drawing mangas, to tirelessly researching ways of monetizing his art, he has taught himself everything on his own. You can even find his extensive portfolio of merchandise, web content, and album art online, culminated by a life full of creativity. Maxwell proudly displays the rewards of realizing that no matter where you start, hard work and persistence pays off, and if no one else will teach you, teach yourself. “If my mother were here today I think she would be proud of my art and my family, and the man I’ve become,” he assumes with sentiment. Undoubtedly her reasons to be proud are just getting started, as Maxwell plans to keep learning and sharing his creations with us all.

 

Maxwell Step

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On Saturday, May 22, 2021, PizzaDAO will be giving away over $200,000 worth of free pizza in over 100 communities around the world. Why May 22nd? In 2010 Laszlo Hanyecz made the first bitcoin transaction and paid 10,000 Bitcoins for 2 slices of pizza, now legendary, it’s been deemed Bitcoin Pizza Day ever since. Fast forward, this story inspired a conversation in a Clubhouse room ironically called The Room About Nothing, and sparked a simple idea to make and sell NFT art that can pay for actual pizza. On February 18, 2021, Rare Pizzas was born. The goals became about supporting small businesses affected by the pandemic and providing free pizza to the masses to address hunger. As more people got on-boarded the project exploded.

 

 

The group started off with reservations for a Rare Pizza Box (1 of 100 designs) with a “fully cooked” digital Rare Pizza NFT and raised approximately $1.25 million. The pizzas, once released, will be randomly generated and programmed to give the appearance of having been “cooked”. For instance, attention was given to the curl of basel in the oven over time. The group also created 30 flavors of Pizza Pop and a wide range of pizza sticks with special sauces, which continue to sell. 

 

Over 300 artists from around the world have collaborated on the project to create hundreds of unique pizza toppings. A team of more than 100 developers, managers and marketing people have contributed to creating the website, programing the NFTS, and creating content on social media. It’s been a busy couple of months and interest continues to grow. There are more than 2,200 people on their discord.

Want Free Pizza?
Want free Pizza?

 

For the big day PizzaDAO partnered with Slice to distribute over $55,000 worth of pizza to customers across the country. Another partnership is with World Pizza Champions, supporting 80 different pizza shops. Mostly, the group reached out to local places through their global artists network. In one instance an artist in India took the time to scout street pizza vendors and taste tested them to ensure the best ones were considered. The group spent the last month calling to order $500 worth of pizza with a $125 tip for staff. Many of the calls took place live on Clubhouse. Half the time they were met with disbelief, until they honed their pitch and then the list grew rapidly.

 

The biggest challenge was actually trying to give the money away. PizzaDAO had to form an LLC in Wyoming, get a bank account, a paypal account and an American Express card in order to pay some of the vendors, since most of them aren’t accepting crypto currency yet. Fortunately, the financial  gymnastics was figured out and the party is on! Check out their website and discord and consider jumping in to buy some NFTs at their store. You can also find a Rare Pizza Box NFT, soon to be populated with Rare Pizza, on the secondary market on OpenSea.

 

Rare Pizzas Pizza Party

You can redeem a free pizza from your local pizzeria by downloading the Slice app and using the code FREEPIZZADAY on May 22nd. 

Follow #RarePizzas and  #FreePizzaDay on social media

Website: RarePizzas.com

Twitter: @Pizza_DAO and @RarePizzas

Instagram: @RarePizzasNFT

Discord: Join

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Sotheby’s, is one of the world’s oldest and most trusted auction houses for art. Established in 1744, the Sotheby brand has a long standing reputation within the physical art world, and are now turning their attention to the rapidly growing digital art scene. For many in the crypto art world of non-fungible tokens, there is a mixed sense that these large legacy art establishments are at odds with the new NFT renaissance.  The technology that underpins non-fungible tokens, removes the need for trusted third parties, like auction houses to facilitate the sale of digital art.

With Christie’s recent Cryptopunk NFT auction going for over $16.9 million dollars and Beeple’s $69 million auction Sotheby’s is throwing their hat into the digital NFT ring, despite the criticisms that crypto twitter has lobbied at Christies and how they handled the latest NFT auction.

Sotheby’s is attempting to bridge the gap between the old world and the new one, in a way that is inclusive of the NFT community.

 

How NFT artists can participate

From now until May 20th 2021 at 12:00 pm ET they are accepting nominations from the community for inclusion into the Natively Digital Online Auction.  This curated NFT sale will take place from June 3-10 2021 as an online auction.

 

The official twitter post and rules can be seen here below.

The collection of artists already being showcased includes some of the earliest NFTs that predate even the Ethereum blockchain, alongside newer works that demonstrate the more advanced technical innovations enabled by NFTs.

Robert Alice, a London based artist and trailblazer in the crypto art and NFT space is co-curating this collection along with other partners spanning the art and technology ecosystem.

Sotheby's Natively Digital: To the Young Artists of Cyberspace by Robert Alice x Alethea AI
To the Young Artists of Cyberspace by Robert Alice x Alethea AI

 

Some notable partners in this collection include the non profit Sevens Foundation, which is dedicated to elevating artists. 

The Mint Foundation, which helps international creators mint their first digital art NFTs and has already had over 33 Ether donated to provide gas fees for artists. 

The Regen Network that is working to align economics with ecology, to reverse climate change.

 

Who are the artist? 

The lots will include Larva Labs Cryptopunk 7523, works from Kevin Mccoy, Rhea Myers, Art blocks, Pak, Robert Alice, Ryoji Ikeda, Simon Denny, Anna Ridler, Mario Kingemann, LaJune McMillan, Sarah Zucker, Lethabo Huma, Serwah Attafuah, FVCKRENDER, Oseanworld, Xcopy, Mad Dog Jones, Ikaro Cavalcante, Brendan Dawes, Casey Reas, Sara Ludy, Addie Wagenknecht, Terrao, Matt Kane, Don Diablo and several others to be announced soon. 

If you are reading this before May 20th 2021, then you too, could possibly be included.

Be sure to check out the official rules posted on Twitter that are embedded at the top of this article.

Looking to the Future

Needless to say there are some very well known names and prolific creators taking part in this Digital Native NFT Sotheby’s collection. It will be exciting to see who else from the community gets nominated to join, as there is already a flurry of  interesting names being mentioned all over Twitter.

Taking into account the current volatility of the crypto markets, time will tell how well Sotheby’s will execute this online auction in terms of total sales. The real aspect to watch is, how well the old art establishment can build this new digital bridge into the NFT and crypto art world. Soethebys will be sure to draw mainstream media attention and lend additional credibility to digital art and NFTs in general, for the physical art collector community. 

Sotheby’s CEO, Charles Stewart was asked about the future of the art market and non-fungible token technology stating “This potentially has implications for physical art as well as digital art.”  Many in the NFT and blockchain community have been saying this for years now, and it must feel like validation for the pioneers who have been blazing the non-fungible trail. 

Sotheby’s NFT auction, will inevitably lead to further mainstream adoption and growth for this rapidly evolving and promising technology. 

Sotheby's Natively Digital : Shift by Fvckrender
Shift by Fvckrender

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We often hear the refrain, on Twitter and elsewhere, “We need more women in cryptoart!” or “Why aren’t there more women in NFTs?” and while well meaning statements and questions, the answer underlies an issue with farther reaching consequences.

The response, of course, is:  “We are here.”

That same answer is also true for other ‘under-represented’ groups that people deserve to hear more about.   More diversity would be good, and anything that we can do to encourage more diversity in the people joining the NFT community the stronger that community will be  – and the more resilient it will become as a result.

One possible view is that these groups are just not being seen and we can begin to ask ourselves why that is.  So let’s pick apart both the question and the answer.  Let’s go deeper and look at both what the question assumes, (there aren’t any, or not enough, already) and what the answer presents as a challenge.

So, the first question to ask is: is it genuine?  I believe in most cases it is.  Most of the people I see asking this question genuinely believe that there aren’t many women in cryptoart already.  So kudos to them for speaking up and wanting to try to address the issue as they see it.

There are lots of things that can be done to raise visibility of a diverse range of artists and artworks.  But there are other things we can also do that allows this diversity to be seen.  We can make the community feel less overwhelming and less intimidating to newcomers.  That in itself is a monumental feat that goes well beyond just the NFT community to the crypto community as a whole.  Signposting relevant and useful information is another easy to do step which can assist people in finding each other.

Being welcoming and helping people to navigate the volume of information is also key.  Helping people find their community within the community is a key part of helping people navigate.  NFTs.WTF can help in this regard by being that signpost to information that will help people find what they need and find the community they are looking for.

That, then, brings us to the larger question of “Why do people believe the NFT space is *not* diverse?”

One answer is that social media is structured in such a way that it creates bubbles, and you just don’t easily see anything outside of your bubble, unless you actively seek it out.  An interesting tool I found that analyses your Twitter for gender diversity, for example, is Proporti.onl

Angie Taylor
Img by Angie Taylor: https://angietaylor.co.uk/portfolio/

 

Another way to look at it is through the lens of what gets promoted – not just by the artists themselves – but by the platforms, podcasts, projects, and other campaigns in and around NFTs.  Who are they searching for, finding, and promoting to their audiences?  This would be a great data analysis project if anyone was interested in digging deeper into this.  I think it would reveal some interesting discoveries.  I’d love to see the actual data.

Another issue that affects visibility is language. The entire social media ecosystem is delivered in English. This means that anyone who doesn’t use English as a native language is immediately at a disadvantage in terms of communicating their ideas and being understood. Not only this, some attitudes towards non-English speakers can be patronizing, impatient and, at times, cruel. This makes people feel insecure and frightened to speak up for fear of being bullied or ridiculed.

Online translation services and AI advancements can help in the translation of articles from one language to another. Real-time translation tools are being developed as we speak. We, as digital pioneers should be at the forefront of these advancements in communication. Lets utilize what’s available to really open up discussions and make this a truly global movement.

NFTs.WTF itself has made a decision – and has already begun to take steps towards this, as it is a core belief of the project – to ensure that all voices are presented and given equal ‘visibility’ within the publication.  I am certain that reflecting the actual diversity of NFTs – not just from a gender, sexual orientation, color, or religion aspect – but most importantly in the actual diversity of viewpoints within the community of NFT creators, collectors, and platforms will be one of the key strengths that ensures this project stands out.  The structure put in place for NFTs.WTF ensures that it is not just one person’s viewpoint, it is not just one voice, but many.

Going deeper, I think we can find evidence of structural issues that have carried over from the ‘old world’ of brick and mortar (so called “meat space”) dynamics that are built into this new system, regardless of the initial intentions of those who built the ecosystem we are now all a part of.

Angie Taylor
Img by Angie Taylor: https://angietaylor.co.uk/portfolio/

 

For me, that leads to the question of “Who has the power?”

In our society – and being on blockchain doesn’t change this – the individuals with the power are typically the individuals who have most of the money.  So, who are the collectors of NFTs?  How diverse a group are they? Who are the curators? The business owners? The individuals making the decisions on various platforms?  Who decides who is whitelisted on the curated platforms? Who decides which artists get promoted by each of the  platforms? And how diverse are the teams making decisions like these?  Who are the investors in these platforms and which demographics do they represent? All important questions for anyone starting to put together project teams as well as people embarking on using services provided by these organizations.

Several of the most successful female artists have gender-ambiguous pseudonyms. There are several that are not “out” as being female. For some, this is because they don’t feel like  gender is important to them, perhaps they see themselves as non-binary and dream of a world where gender really doesn’t matter. But for many this is a conscious decision, made to perhaps avoid trolling, to make it easier to sell work or to be able to say things that women would often be criticised for talking about.

We often hear people say “stop drawing attention to gender differences, we are all the same, nobody should get special treatment?” – this would be great in an ideal world where everyone really was equal – and that’s what WOCA (Women of Crypto Art) are working towards: equal representation. But until there is equal representation between all minorities, the only way is to draw attention to the issues, open discussion about the differences we do see, and to try to affect change in any way we can. If we simply ignore it, old paradigms and prejudices will sadly remain. It shouldn’t matter what gender an artist is but in a world where we feel we can be more successful if we pretend to be male, we are not there yet. And till we are, WOCA will continue helping to promote, support, advise and educate all artists who are brave enough, and proud to, identify as women.

NFTs.WTF has the opportunity to assist in this mission and WOCA are happy to partner with them to achieve some of the ideals this community, built around NFTs, was founded on.

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In recent weeks there has been the inevitable backlash against NFTs. It was inevitable because NFTs are new for most artists and have the added component of cryptocurrency involvement. Money and art have always been a complex enough mix without further complications such as potential environmental impact.

I believe it’s important for artists to be well informed instead of relying on misinformation, whether spread by accident or willingly. What’s unfortunate is there is a significant amount of bullying on social media by other artists not prepared to gain a deeper understanding or any awareness of the affect on mental health they’re having on fellow human beings.

In order to understand the true environmental impact, let’s first say what an NFT actually is. 

NFTs are a digital representation of ownership and provenance powered by decentralised networks. 

The first of these networks to exist, Bitcoin, relies on something called proof of work (PoW) to function. PoW performed an at the time irreplaceable function integral to Bitcoin, and PoW uses energy as fuel by design

Only one of the common NFT platforms uses energy as fuel, Ethereum, none of the others do. This is because Ethereum is an older platform. No major blockchain platform released in recent years has an environmental impact but they do have other trade offs, too complex to go into this primer. As such, artists can already choose to avoid the problem altogether since it isn’t inherent to NFTs. However, Ethereum is the most significant NFT platform and for very good reasons – the largest community by far of developers, creators, and applications. Some alternatives, which may be used increasingly in coming months, are closely linked with Ethereum. We call these layer 2 solutions since they can be considered to sit above Ethereum. 

That said, Ethereum is leading the way with moving away from using energy as fuel and it’s been a long, difficult process. It’s important that this incredibly tricky engineering effort is allowed to be undertaken without undue rush, since the cost of mistakes would be enormous. Ethereum isn’t changing just for environmental reasons, there are numerous other improvements as part of the same work, including a very significant lowering of costs to use the platform. The change will be complete in under two years, if not a lot sooner, and there are numerous public discussions, source code repositories, and events covering what’s called Ethereum 2.0. This is because ethereum is an entire public project, 100% transparent and made by its community. There is no benefit to this community of using energy as fuel and users want to do away with it as soon as possible. 

Q: Since ethereum does use energy to power itself, does that mean NFTs use an enormous amount of energy too?

A: No! An NFT has negligible power use and hence no measurable environmental effect.

You will have read otherwise, but that’s down to a misunderstanding of the technology. This is where blockchains get complicated because they’re weird beasts, tricky for even hardened engineers to truly grasp. I’m not joking when I say it took me a year to fully grasp all the ramifications. I’ve been at this nearly 9 years and I’m still learning. 

Ethereum is going to use the energy regardless of however many NFTs are being used. If all NFTs moved to another platform today, the effect on Ethereum’s power probably would not even be measurable. Although I see it being poorly expressed or poorly understood, the train analogy is still one worth providing.

Ethereum is like a train that runs regardless of its content. However, in ethereum’s case the carriages are all full and the stations have massive queues of passengers. Removing a few passengers, our NFTs makes no difference. Ethereum is full and has been for a long time now. The only reason we can use it at all is because the passengers boarding the train are picked because they are paying the most. Other passengers either have lengthy waits or don’t even bother to turn up. If NFTs weren’t minted on Ethereum, some other passengers would take their place, and more passengers would turn up as well.

Here’s a fantastic visualisation which may help artists to understand this: https://txstreet.com/

When people say that NFTs use a lot of energy, they’re measuring one thing and declaring it a measure of something else. It’s not that NFTs use energy, it’s that Ethereum uses a lot of energy compared with the amount of work it can do, i.e. it’s a measure of efficiency not of energy use per NFT. Ethereum is extremely inefficient.

This may seem like a fine line, and it is peculiar for sure, but it’s a critical one because adding or removing NFTs does not affect the environment. It is not burning trees, and it is not using up decades’ worth of electricity. When I see such comments aimed at artists, it’s disappointing because I’m actually an environmentalist as well as a blockchain expert. I even have a small qualification in it, which I suspect is more than most of those commenting negatively on the topic. This kind of dialogue, not to mention abuse of data, is deeply unhelpful to the environmental movement and we know that scare tactics don’t work, anyway.

I find it even more peculiar given that the existing art world uses plenty of resources, whether making t-shirts, mining for gems to use in jewellery, shipping artwork around the world, paint manufacture, and so on.

The upshot is we don’t change the environment by blaming artists and consumers; we change it by forcing large corporations to change their behaviour, by providing new technology for recording environmental impact, and by supporting sustainable, environmentally beneficial projects and communities.

That said, Ethereum itself is bad for the environment and use of renewables cannot fix that, only make it less bad. However, we need the work being done on Ethereum to show Bitcoin and other older projects how they can change because they use far more energy than Ethereum and have no plan to change

We need to stop attacking both artists and Ethereum, instead being proactive and supportive, as well as making efforts to do any carbon offsetting that we can in the mean time. However, if you still feel particularly strongly, more and more alternatives are coming.

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