Can NFT art go mainstream … and is Web3 ready to welcome mainstream art?
Part 1 in a series about the “Origins & Ancestries” art drop and what it means for the Web3 art ecosystem.
Lately I’ve come across a number of Web3 veterans bemoaning the fact that there has been little done in the NFT space over the past few years to move the ball forward. Take this thread the other day started by Artnome:
I think part of why NFTs lost steam is that infrastructure never improved. The future where gas fees were cheap, onboarding was easy, collectors couldn’t get scammed, and platforms followed best practices for NFT construction, never happened. We need less selling, more building.
Dozens of people chimed in to agree — and they’re right. Whenever a new NFT project drops, I keep hoping that we’ll see something qualitatively different. Something better. A project launched on a safe, secure platform with higher quality works and an intuitive UI designed to bring the next million users into Web3.
It’s not here yet. But there are some exciting developments to report. For the past year a group of us has been working on The Creators Project, a grassroots effort to get us a little bit closer to the promised land.
It all starts some time in June. That’s when we’re due to see the debut of a different kind of art drop.
It has always struck us as odd that so much attention in the Web3 space has focused on crypto art and the wave after wave of lookalike generative art projects, with so little attention paid to the burgeoning waves of cultural artforms waiting on the Web3 sidelines.
Everyone pays lip service to the idea that art is art, that distinctions between blockchain art and regular art will fall away as contemporary artists discover the benefits of the blockchain, drawn by the powerful lure of indisputable provenance and the ability to find legions of new fans through global platforms.
But that hasn’t happened so far. Few projects have made cultural diversity in Web3 a priority. And few have tried to target and onboard the more than 99% of the world’s artists who remain on the Web3 sidelines.
“Origins & Ancestries” seeks to remedy that.
The timing has not been locked down, but we’re on track to see an experiment play out this month. It will tell us a lot about whether Web3 is ready for those next million users who might be open to owning digital art on the blockchain.
“Origins & Ancestries: Genesis,” launching soon at expressions.com, will showcase more than 800 high-quality 1 of 1s from 11 of the top artists in the Caribbean — hailing from Cuba, Trinidad, Jamaica, Curacao, Aruba, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Puerto Rico.
A handful of them are digital-first artists: Karly may well be the top pixel artist in Jamaica. Sofia Maldonado Suarez, who was the official artist for the 21st annual Latin Grammy Awards, heads up a cohort of artists from her studio in San Juan to create works that upend our expectations about gender and cultural norms. Justin Croes draws from his ancestral roots in Aruba and queer sensibility to create stunning ancient and contemporary iconography.
But there are amazing traditional artists in the drop, too, including emerging creatives in Curacao and Guadeloupe and two of the top painters in Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago. They create big, jaw-dropping paintings on canvas using traditional painting techniques — and then digitize their works.
This is art that appeals to the heart, not just the head or the wallet. Art that’s every bit as Web3 as the next look-alike art drop — maybe more so. Because all of the 800+ works will be stored on chain on IPFS, and nearly all contain utility from both the artist and the collection itself.
The project plans to produce similar drops drawing on talented artists in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia and other regions voted upon by our Discord community.
We are looking to partner with collector communities and art organizations to help broaden this project’s appeal to a broader cohort of art lovers.
Will our experiment work? Will it prove to artists the world over that there is a place for them in Web3?
Image at top: “Caribbean Lovers Nostalgie” by Black Bird (Ronald Cyrille) of Guadeloupe