Adventures in Art

Andrew B Coathup
Coinmonks

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Displaying NFT collectibles

Background

Alexander Ramsey of Flex Dapps was discussing how to display a gallery of NFT collectibles (including art labels) at the Web3 Melbourne weekly hack. Alex talked about an exhibition at DevCon he had seen using iPads. Full credit goes to Alex for the ideas that led to the adventures below.

I have a small number of NFT collectibles including some digital art and my usual way of showing people is to show them off in Trust Wallet.

Collectibles in Trust Wallet

I had been thinking how I could display them better, including how to display my favourite pieces.

Rights

NFT collectibles generally give ownership of a token identifier and may give limited rights to the associated artwork and metadata whilst the token is owned. My assumption was that this doesn’t include physical versions and is limited to digital display.

Digital Display

Displaying digital art where you only have rights whilst the token is owned means it is best to have a connected display to ensure you still own the item.

At home I can connect a computer to my TV, or show on an iPad. To display multiple pieces in a gallery is a bit more of an undertaking.

iPads and tablets need power and WiFi, having a power point per artwork is not very feasible. Also for low cost collectibles, the cost of the display is worth more than the art.

What I needed was a display that doesn’t need power or could run on battery, that led me to electronic ink (think Kindle). The display could be updated periodically (e.g. weekly) and if the token ownership changed, then the art could be replaced with a message stating it was no longer owned.

The dream would be a high quality, full color E ink - Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP™) display. The greyscale museum exhibits look pretty amazing too. This could be an option for high value digital art, but out of scope of this adventure for now.

The next level down would be a small greyscale display. I looked in vain for an off the shelf option. The next idea was an old eReader. (I’m sure I had a broken Kindle somewhere but couldn’t find it and I wasn’t successful on the eBay auctions for the price I wanted to pay). Further along was to build one.

As well as a display, I also wanted an artwork label (I don’t know if there is a specific term for this.). Ideally the artwork label would be connected too. I started looking at hats as an option.

Rights to Physical Copy

I didn’t really consider that rights for a physical copy would be possible until I saw Abbey Titcomb’s tweet of her Christmas present of a CryptoPunk to her aunt. This was a game changer.

John Watkinson of Larva Labs confirmed that you have the right to make physical copies whilst you own the CryptoPunk.

I reached out to projects where I owned collectibles to see what rights I had as the token owner.

Dapper Labs (CryptoKitties) NFT Licence allows personal, non-commercial use and commercialise merchandise up to $100,000.

Gitcoin confirmed that I had rights to a physical print whilst I owned the Kudos.

Physical print artwork label

Now that physical print was an option. I wanted the ability for viewers to confirm that the token was still owned. The idea was that the artwork label could be connected to the blockchain and display the ownership status (and a warning when no longer owned).

Whilst I like the idea of a connected artwork label, a simpler solution is to provide a website for users to check the owner of the artwork and ideally its current location, with the ability to report any suspicious or fraudulent copies.

An artwork label with a QR code to the website including the token identifier and contract would suffice.

Proof of Concept

The majority of my collectibles are square, so I wanted a square frame (and I really liked Abbey’s CryptoPunk print) . I also wanted some depth so that I could stand them on a shelf without hanging on the wall.

I went to IKEA with my black and white printouts of one of my CryptoKitties and ended up selecting a small black RIBBA Frame (AUD$7.99).

I looked at how to produce quality prints in Melbourne though for the proof of concept I pasted SVG artwork into Word (two per A4 page), converted to PDF and printed on the colour printer at Office Works for AUD$0.65 and cut out using scissors. They won’t last very long but should suffice for the proof of concept.

For a website to check ownership I went with OpenSea as it displayed the owner, the artwork and history. Though further down the track I would like a custom website specifically for artwork display (including allowing viewers to purchase or make offers).

I mocked up the artwork labels (it would have helped to read how they should be done prior to this). Ideally they would be printed on canvas or mounted on a block. To save time I saved the Word document as PDF, then saved the PDF as images, printed as 4x6 photos at Kmart (AUD$0.20 for instant) where they came out blue (oops, should have printed on paper), tried again without using the kiosk software to change to black and white and stuck inside acrylic photo frames (AUD$6.00). The placement of the QR code makes it difficult to scan on a phone, again another lesson learnt.

Finished product

I am pretty happy with the finished product. Improving the quality of the artwork print, and having a better artwork label would improve the overall impression.

Conclusion

Any NFT collectibles that have rights to owners for physical prints should be able to use this method. (Make sure you check with the creators of the NFT)

I plan to get some high quality prints and create a custom website and also look at options for gifting/ownership transfer.

There will still be digital art which doesn’t have this right, but a purely digital solution using electronic ink is a possibility.

Also on my todo list is to create my own NFT collectible. (I am already a moken).

About me

I am passionate about the benefits of decentralisation and use on mobile.

You can find me online at Peepeth or in person at the Web3 Melbourne weekly hack.

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