This is a response to the opinion piece by Ben Davis on ArtNet called “The Romance Between the Art Market and Cryptocurrencies Is Getting Weirder Every Day. It Won’t End Well.”
I was first introduced to the concept of crypto art during a blockchain event last summer. The founders of SuperRare.co had recently launched their beta and were there talking about this exciting new platform they created that was apparently helping digital artists make money selling their works on the blockchain. I was immediately intrigued because I’ve been an artist myself my entire life. Music, painting, video are all a huge part of who I am. I have many friends who’ve taken the plunge into the unknown world of being a full-time artist. They are daringly doing what they love, even if it means some of them have to bartend or work odd jobs just to cover rent. I respect them immensely for it.
You can’t pay your rent with followers and “likes”.
For digital artists in particular, the internet has been a mixed blessing. The current model is beyond broken, leaving little opportunity for digital artists to make a living from their creations. Many spend hours/days/months and sometimes years creating amazing works of digital art, only to have the tech giants like Facebook and Instagram reap the profits from these creations after being posted. There’s no denying these platforms are wonderful tools for artists to grow awareness and gain followings, but then what? Even if they’re able to amass an impressive following, even if every post gets thousands of “likes”, the advertising profits from this success goes straight back into the pockets of the giants. It’s backwards to say the least.
I’ve been obsessed since the moment I gained a real understanding of blockchain technology and its unparalleled potential to change industries. As I sat there learning about how these guys had created a completely new online economy, one that that was giving digital artists the ability (for the first time ever) to truly own their creations and earn an income that would otherwise not exist, something in my gut told me I needed to learn more.
I was so impressed that I went home and spent the next few weeks immersed in the world of crypto art and non-fungible tokens, reading and watching everything I could get my hands on. Coming out of this, I knew one thing with complete certainty:
Crypto art is a GOOD thing for digital artists and creators.
Within a day or two of this realization I happened to be walking down the street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn heading to my office when I saw the SuperRare guys standing outside of a coffee shop. I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, and this definitely didn’t feel like an ordinary coincidence. They were placed in my path…literally. I introduced myself, told them how much I enjoyed hearing them speak and declared my love for what they were doing. The rest is history.
I’m now heading up marketing and content initiatives for SuperRare / Pixura, and I’ve never been so excited to be a part of something. We work hard every day to help give digital artists a new way to find success in their craft, and the community is growing like wildfire before our eyes. In six short months since launching, more than 2000 transactions have gone through our smart contract, over 750 digital artworks have been created and more than 60ETH has been added to the pockets (and wallets) of hard working digital artists around the world.
Keep in mind, this has all happened despite the fact that the underlying technology is still in its infancy and the large majority of the population has no clue what the terms blockchain or cryptography even mean. As more and more of the smartest minds and developers in the world continue to shift their focus to blockchain, the current setbacks will undoubtedly find solutions. Scalability and security issues will be solved and the UX will surely catch up with the technology. Before we know it, using platforms like SuperRare will be just as easy and intuitive as using Facebook and Google and as this all unfolds we are confident that our platform’s numbers and the income earned by our artists will continue to grow exponentially. In the future we plan to add all kinds of media to the platform, like video and audio, opening up the same new opportunities to videographers, musicians and artists of all kinds. The possibilities are exciting and endless.
Blockchain platforms like SuperRare present a new way. A better way. And while it will take time and a ton of effort to get there, we are working hard to give artists access to a much brighter future. A future where creators actually own their creations.
The power and profits of the internet belong with the creators who are making the internet so successful.
In his piece, Ben Davis argues that..
“The Art industry, faced with a shaky or crumbling infrastructure, is looking to tap the latest speculative bubble as a Hail Mary to save itself”.
Save itself? Huh?
According to the Artprice100 index, since 2000 the performance of high-end art has blown away that of the US Stock market. (source: Masterworks.io)
In addition, 88% of wealth managers surveyed in 2017 say art and collectibles should be included as part of the wealth management offering, up from 44% in 2015. (Source: Deloitte Luxemburg Art & Finance Report)
The art industry is neither “shaky” nor “crumbling”, and has absolutely no need to be “throwing a Hail Mary to save itself”. But I digress.
Davis also claims that when it comes to crypto art, “there are too many outlandish stories out there to count,” yet he goes on to use arguably the most basic and widely googled examples available to support his apocalyptic thesis (CryptoKitties, the interest of John McAfee, etc.). If in fact there are too many outlandish stories to count, I for one would have loved to see a little more depth and creativity from a research / evidential standpoint.
Most disturbingly of all in my opinion, Davis’ piece attempts to discredit the Ethereum network as nothing more than a failing platform that couldn’t handle the CryptoKitties phenomenon, and that is being used as a way to lure innocent students into a “get rich quick scheme”. He touts the fact that ETH is “down 90-plus percent from its December high”, claiming that this is “much to the woe of anyone who took them too seriously”. Low hanging fruit much?
A quick look at today’s top 20 cryptocurrencies shows the same story for nearly all of their prices since December. ETH’s price fall is not an isolated event, and it definitely wasn’t caused by CryptoKitties as Davis’ piece alludes.
Take a less surface-level dive into Ethereum and you’ll quickly see that it has BY FAR the largest existing community of developers (more than 30 times the next largest to be exact). Of the top 100 blockchain projects in existence, more than 90% of them live on Ethereum. If that doesn’t convince Davis to reassess, I don’t know what will.
Developers aren’t flocking in mass droves to a bunch of hot air.
Don’t fret, Ben Davis, that ETH you bought on January 13th will be just fine. As long as you didn’t panic sell you’ll be back in the green before you know it. If you’re really that worried, you could also swing by SuperRare.co and scoop up one of the latest pieces by artist collective @Hack6c (Hackatao & HEX0x6c) just in case.
I look forward to revisiting this conversation in a couple years, hopefully with Ben, over some beers. Until then, we at SuperRare will be working hard to help artists achieve the brighter future that they deserve.