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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To paraphrase William Gibson, the Metaverse is here – but it’s not yet evenly distributed. While we all dream of being able to step into a fully-featured, immersive virtual world where we are bound only by the limits of our imagination, we are not quite there yet. 

VR headsets are gradually accustoming us to an immersive audiovisual experience, where we genuinely feel that we are somewhere else. However, the current limits of this technology mean that the rest of our senses are still not yet fully engaged. Research shows that our sense of smell is one of the most important ways with which we build memories: wood smoke on a cold winter night, the salty tang of sea air, or the comforting aroma of a home-cooked dinner.

As we immerse ourselves in digital worlds that are becoming progressively more realistic, which form an increasingly significant portion of our social lives as people opt to hang out with their friends in game worlds. We need to engage another sense in order to bridge the divide between our virtual and physical selves – or so the creators of an exciting new venture argue. For example, if there was a ‘Scent of the Metaverse’, what would it smell like? This might seem like a strange question – but it is one that Rook Perfumes have set out to answer, in collaboration with Nifty Orchard, with a release of an exclusive perfume NFT creation.

Perfume NFT Rook Perfumes


Described as “the first experiment towards a fully-fledged perfume DAO”, this experience offers participants co-creator rights in a limited-edition run of just 100 bottles of perfume, plus an NFT of the label artwork. But just as integral as the finished product, is the four-month experience of actually creating the fragrance. Buying a ticket – in the form of an NFT on Known Origin entitles holders to participate in the creation process, led by master perfumer Nadeem Crowe. This experience will involve various virtual social activities across the Metaverse, culminating in a launch party, before the physical perfume bottles are finally sent out. 

I spoke to NFT collector and Head of Metaverse Technology at Boson Protocol, Holly Atkinson, one of the participants in the Scent of the Metaverse DAO and asked her why she had decided to purchase. According to Atkinson: “I decided to buy one of the limited edition ‘The Scent of the Metaverse’ NFTs on KnownOrigin not only because it’s a beautiful artwork, but because it’s the first NFT to ever provide its owners with full rights to collaborate with the project team in a novel experimental process to co-create a perfume from scratch!” 

Furthermore, according to Atkinson, “It’s unlocking this concept of NFTs as an experience and bridging members of the virtual crypto community with the physical world in an exciting new way that’s directly tied to art but which also moves beyond it.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Anson of Nifty Orchard explains that he sees it as just the start of what he hopes will be just the beginning of a new trend of co-creator experiences presented as NFTs. “I was interested in working out how we can create experiences and eventually DAOs with NFTs,” he said. 


Perfume NFT by Rook a Smoke Outline


Furthermore, according to Anson: “Rook had done these collaborative perfume production experiments before and was looking for a way to integrate with NFTs. Using NFTs as a membership token and for co-creator rights seemed a great fit.” Anson hopes that this partnership “can continue making a few more perfumes so we can get a proper DAO together in the future.”

So what will this experiential “scent of the Metaverse” smell like? I guess waiting is the only way to find that out, since  Rook is not giving much detail away. However, while this might be the first ever perfume NFT, it’s highly likely that in years to come, this will be just one of many such fragrance experiences. 

Discover more: Here


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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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The online auction behemoth eBay is getting into the NFT game. The company confirmed via Reuters that they will be allowing the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) beginning Tuesday, May 11th sellers who meet eBays standards will be allowed an “NFT inventory.” eBay has also expressed that they will be allowing NFT sales with traditional payment methods like credit cards and Paypal.

This big news will surely have some ripple effects throughout the NFT space, but what those effects might be is yet to be seen for existing creators, collectors and blockchain entrepreneurs.

I recently asked David Sneider, founder of Lit Protocol, and a forward thinking NFT marketplace called HelloApricot.com, what his thoughts were on eBay entering this space and his response echoed some of my own sentiments around this development. According to Sneider:  “With deeper utility for NFTs coming soon, eBay is setting themselves up to become the crypto entry point for millions of new users and extend their offering into the metaverse.”

With the ability to use eBay as a secondary marketplace for certain NFTs, I believe this could be a massive opportunity for the entire NFT community and ecosystem.

Removing the crypto complexity for new users is one major weakness of nearly all NFT marketplaces out there. While I have been a true believer in blockchain and crypto since 2014, I do feel that the “meta maskery” needs to be simplified industry-wide for non-technical users.  eBay will be one of those entry points that anyone can interact with  seamlessly and that will most certainly drive other marketplaces to also innovate within the user experience arena.

Another major challenge facing a majority of NFT marketplaces is the discoverability of artists. eBay entering this space with over 180 million active buyers can potentially drive other NFT platforms to innovate and improve on the gaps in the current state of NFT marketplaces, to retain and attract more users.

Big companies like eBay were always bound to get involved in this space. As the masses are starting to become more aware of NFTs, a large driver of this hype stems from the celebrities and influencers looking to cash in on this crypto craze, while missing the real point and possibilities of non-fungible token technology.


Big names entering the NFT game

In a refreshing twist, influencer Gary Vee  and his NFT project Veefriends has, in my opinion, really entered this space thoughtfully and is setting a new standard for what an influencer / celebrity NFT project could look like, by creating additional utility and experiences for his collectors. Ranging from 3 year of access to his annual conference to being able to have dinner or even play a game of basketball with the famous CEO. These types of influencers with millions of followers bring new non-crypto-native users into this space and that, fundamentally, is a good thing.

Founded in 1995, eBay has a long-standing reputation as one of the first online marketplaces for all types of goods and products. The eBay brand lends an enormous amount of additional credibility to this emerging paradigm-shifting technology that is NFTs.  While many in the mainstream are maybe still having trouble wrapping their heads around what a non-fungible token is and why they can be so valuable, it’s seeing big brands like eBay jumping into this space, that will give millions of users the curiosity and confidence that may nudge them into the market for buying NFTs.

The massive amount of traffic and eyeballs on eBay is astounding and this most certainly could be a great source of traffic for creators and collectors alike who are willing and able to become savvier in learning how to market and promote their creations.


What could go wrong?

However, there are some potential pitfalls here to take into account with eBay joining the NFT space. The most pressing one is the lack of a recognized NFT royalty standard, that is acknowledged and adopted across all NFT marketplaces.

As it stands now, when a creator’s NFT is removed from most NFT marketplaces to be listed on another, any royalties set for secondary sales are lost, and this negates one of the primary benefits for creators (the ability to be compensated for secondary sales).  This will almost certainly be true for NFTs listed on eBay. Specific details around how eBay will implement NFTs on their platform are still scarce.

eBay Getting into the NFT game, what does it mean for creator royalties?
What effect will eBay getting into the NFT game have for creators?


There has been an Ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) for creating such a royalty standard, proposed by Zach Burks, James Morgan , Blaine Malone, and James Seibel that has yet to be adopted on a massive scale but should be made known to all creators and collectors called the EIP 2981: ERC-721 Royalty Standard. The community should be making it known to all marketplaces that they want a standard adopted for the benefit of the entire NFT economy.

This loss of secondary royalties could create a negative impact on the NFT community and ecosystem. However, this gap is also an opportunity for other marketplaces to step up and adopt a royalty standard in order to retain the best artists, creators and collectors.

Overall, I believe that eBay being in this space will have a net positive effect, and be a major driver of mass adoption that will bring an additional flood of interest and users. Though eventually, these users will want more than what eBay will allow to happen on their platform. These new users will trickle into other parts of this incredible NFT ecosystem. eBay’s move may also spur some additional big brands to pay attention and enter this space, hopefully in a way that also benefits the overall industry and community.

As with anything that involves a big brand like eBay, there will be positive and negative aspects involved. It truly depends on where you find yourself and from what perspective you are viewing this news; as an artist, content creator, collector, curator or just now learning about NFTs.


NFT & Crypto Community Concerns

There are many crucial concepts that I know are important to the blockchain community, such as decentralization and moving away from centralized platforms, middlemen and gatekeepers, and to some, the name “eBay” may sound like the antithesis of the blockchain ethos.

I would like to invite you to consider a different perspective, for those who truly believe in the possibilities and benefits of blockchain and non-fungible tokens. We cannot be maximalists at the expense of mass adoption. In order to alchemize the incredible changes this technology enables, we must align ourselves with how nature operates, which is via the path of least resistance, especially for new users. In all honesty, most people will not care about the technology, but only that it works seamlessly.

There will always be some form of centralized systems because there is a general benefit to having them set up that way. As this technology matures, centralized systems that do not serve us as a society, a human culture, and as a planet will eventually be replaced with more decentralized systems. This will take mass adoption events like the eBays of the world getting involved, paired with a bit of time, development, and patience.

eBay will undoubtedly bring new energy, attention and opportunities to this space and it will be up to each artist, content creator, collector and blockchain entrepreneur to decide how they react to more mass adoption as big brands take note and enter this space with considerable resources, users and capital.

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Just when people were saying that the NFT collectibles market was grinding to a hault, along came the Bored Apes. Over the course of several days, Bored Apes Yacht Club has sold 10,000 NFTs and has grossed over 3,000 ETH and marks the second most liquid generative art collectible on Open Sea to date.  On April 18th, 2021, the Twitter account @Boredapeyachtclub began promoting a new collection of Cartoon Ape NFTs.  Similar to Cryptopunks, the company promoted the fact that each Ape was “unique and programmatically generated from 172 possible traits, stored as ERC721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain” opening up for presales a few days later on April 23rd.

Though it took several days for the pieces to catch on, aside from the unique aesthetic collectors began to be drawn into the drop because of its unique membership ‘club benefits’:

“Your Bored Ape doubles as your Yacht Club membership card and grants access to members-only benefits, the first of which is access to THE BATHROOM, a collaborative graffiti board.” The Bathroom “contains a canvas accessible only to wallets containing at least one ape. Like any good dive bar bathroom, this is the place to draw, scrawl, or write expletives. Each ape-holder will be able to paint a pixel on the bathroom wall every fifteen minutes. Think of it as a collaborative art experiment for the crypto sphere. A members-only canvas for the discerning minds of crypto Twitter.” 

This is just one of the many examples of the unlockable content that come along with these particular NFTs.  Others include the ability to join a private “club,” access to exclusive drops, and (most significantly) the rights to use the images of the apes one buys commercially in perpetuity.  This is quite a rare offer in the NFT space and has been something that many artists have been drawn to, with NFT staples such as JR Artspace, Taylor Wtf, and many others pumping out several popular artistic remixes of their own apes over the past few days.

However the momentum really picked up between the 24th of April and culminating in May first when @Pranksy and @J1mmy.eth collectively bought over 250 apes.  From that moment alone, the Bored Ape Yacht Club went from 500 pieces minted to entirely sold out in less than 10 hours…

According to investor Mike Damazo: “It definitely went crazy when @Pranksy picked up 250 before secondary.  Then Farokh came in at the secondary market. “  From there, “someone tweeted at Gary V which led him to the discord. Then “3LAU held two giveaways in his discord group.” 3LAU doing this giveaway referenced one of his own earliest NFT related stunts.  Several years ago he famously gave away free NFTs at various music festivals by way of a QR code he would have physically with him on his personal cellphone.

But, celebrity associations aside, why did initial investors bite?  According to a conversation we had with @J1mmy.eth: “the pricing was fair and approachable and the narrative of the site and being a part of the club drew me in. The community has been great as the project has started to pick up steam!”  This low and consistent pricing was very important to the Bored Ape Yacht Club team, often cited as calling popular NFT pricing systems such as ‘bonding curves’ quite pointed names such as “Ponzi schemes.” But the incentive to buy went far beyond this. According to @J1mmy.eth: “bored apes make great personal profile pictures.” Jimmy also wished that the collection was “on-chain” but still insists that the apes that he bought “still captured my attention despite that deficiency.”

It seems as if the issue of the apes being minted on open sea, and not an “on-chain” platform, such as Rarible with integrated IPFS, or an equivalent.  Though the Bored Ape Yacht Club did include an IPFS certificate with each ape included in their unlockable content, this still wasn’t enough for many staunch collectors.  To quote an analysis on HackMD: “the company/entity minting is paying Google [for hosting] those server-less functions to service the actual JSON metadata.” Calling this a “huge single point of failure.”

Despite this, all Apes sold out in the primary market We asked @Pranksy about his monumental purchase of Apes and he also mentioned that “They were fairly priced, unlike recent projects using FOMO price curves, and the art for me passed the ‘profile picture’ test.” It is interesting how much collectors both resonated with the stable, and relatively low, initial price; as well as the ‘profile-picture-ability’ of the collection. Similar to Cruptopunks, Cryptokitties, Poklamons, or other popular collectables – most buyers, in the initial market at least, simply seemed drawn to to the Apes they liked the best aesthetically.  Wanting to use them as profile pictures, add them to virtual art galleries, and more. Because they were relatively cheap people could mint many multiples until they got the one they aesthetically liked the most or match their profile. On top of that buying into a club and the promise of all of the unlockable content, this seems to be a major driving factor in the minds of buyers.  However, it would be a shame not to analyse some of those cool features that was released throughout the sale.

Since all of the pieces are now in the secondary market, it’s also worth going through the Bored Ape team’s landmark incentives.  At 20% sold, they released “the Caged Apes tokens held back from the initial sale which [were] airdropped to random Apeholders.”  At 40% sold, BAYC launched “its own YouTube channel, BAYC LoFi Radio.”  At 60% sold, a “Member-Exclusive BAYC Merch Store got unlocked, featuring Limited Edition tees, hoodies, and other goodies.”  At 80% sold, “The clubhouse image [became] interactive and the ‘Mysterious Note’ [became] legible, beginning their treasure hunt.”  According to the Bored Ape Yacht Club team: “The first to solve the mystery will be rewarded 5 ETH and a Bored Ape.” At 90% sold, The Bored Ape team initiated their own liquidity pool.  And finally, when the collection sold out 100%, “The Mutant Ape (NFT Breeding) Arcade Machine gets fixed” thus allowing owners to “cook up new ways to ape with our friends.” At this point all of these incentives have been released, making the secondary market for these pieces quite volatile.

So what is the future of these apes? Well as of today (May 3rd, 2021), one of these Apes has been sold for an incredible 21 ETH ($69,080.76 USD).  According to Kevin Wu, This makes this ape sale on par with some low-priced Cryptopunks, a staple in the NFT collectable community.  Despite this momentous secondary sale, it seems as if things aren’t slowing down, with owners reporting bots constantly attempting to buy their apes!  It will be interesting to see how these collectables continue to grow in the coming days and weeks.

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