John Crain the CEO and Co-founder of SuperRare was our honored guest for our AMA Episode 4, who spared some time with us to answer our communities questions. We covered just about everything from John's origins to the future of blockchain art, from Picasso to Dali. By the end of the AMA, we had even covered whether or not the Mona Lisa would ever be monetized.
Welcome, John! Before we start AMA, will you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Sure thing, I grew up surfing in San Diego and moved out to New York just over 6 years ago. Before working in the blockchain space, I worked as a developer at various ad agencies and lead product at a couple of startups. I don't have any pets, but I do have a large and growing art collection :)
1. What do you think of the future of blockchain art and secondary art market?
2. What are the barriers to entry the big art market and have more people to create and trade the art on your network?
3. Big guys like Ello or even Tumblr they have a large user base with tons of indie artists. What if one day they decide that they are going to let users tokenize their artwork, which is a good thing. But for smaller projects like you guys, what's your thoughts on that and what's your plan for SuperRare.
Hi Adrian! Thanks for joining us!
1. I think the future is exciting for blockchain art and the secondary art market. Right now the secondary market is controlled by a few players. Authenticating work in a peer-2-peer manor opens up the door to allow lots of other participants in the secondary market. Additionally, it opens up possibilities like paying artists royalties as we do on SuperRare.
2. I think the biggest barrier to entry right now is key management. It’s still very intimidating to manage keys, especially for new users. When there are good solutions for this the onboarding experience will be 100 times better.
3. It’s a valid question. Again for me, this comes back to the community. Those legacy platforms are really strong and have a broad reach, but at the same time are not nearly as connected with their communities. I think building from the ground up working with the community will win in the end. It would be exciting to see one of them enter the space.
Hey John, Good idea to put art on the blockchain, but does it mean that people can only use cryptocurrency to buy art? How about the people from outside the crypto world, like those “old fashioned” collectors? What’s your take on that?
Hi Peng, great question! Right now the only way to buy art on the platform is with Ether as payment. We did this because we wanted to get the product in the hands of artists and collectors as fast as possible! We’re working to add other payment methods, like a credit card, early next year. I think there is a huge opportunity for the crypto art world and established art world to overlap.
1- Could you tell us about you and your team? Why do you want to build SuperRare?
2- Are you an artist? If so, what are you making?
3- Which one you think it's more important for you and SuperRare: Product (art piece) or community (artist, buyer, and gallery)?
1- Sure, we’re a small team of creatives, art enthusiasts and entrepreneurs. We set out to build SuperRare to give digital artists more ownership over the work they created and to give collectors more insights into the work they’re adding to their collections.
2- I do consider myself an artist, although you’ll have to be the judge as to whether or not I’m any good. I love drawing Mandalas and creating generative work with the programming language Processing.
3- In general I think the community around art is the most important. In my mind art needs to speak to someone so it’s less about what it is on its own, but the effect it has on people.
What will be the next masterpiece on SuperRare and what will be that piece look like?
Wow, this is a tough one. I can’t really say who will create it or what it will be, but what I can tell you is that there is a ton of work being created that is using ai as a tool in the creative process. I’m very excited to see what happens there when it’s combined with immersive experiences like VR.
1. As the introduction mention it is a platform to make it easy to create rare art, does it mean the site/your team supporting artists to create art as well? Seems the function is only as a market for now?
2. How do you define rare art? Can any creative work be put on your site, or you would have any requirements to the words as a quality control?
3. As you see, is there a certain group of artists who are welcoming the crypto art? Do they have anything/interest in common?
1. Yup, we have tools for artists to use to create and issue the tokenized work. Once tokenized the works show up in artists wallets as creations and if they are gifted or purchased to a collector they show up in the collectors' wallet.
2. My definition of rare art is art that hasn’t traditionally had a place in the established art world. Yes, artists are free to create what they like.
3. Great question. I think there are a couple groups who are welcoming crypto art. There are artists who see the beauty and power in using an open ledger to register and track work. Artists who don’t often work with the established institutions are also drawn to crypto art because there is much less bureaucracy around what is and what is not “art”. I think the thing they have in common is a desire to create art without asking for permission or approval.
As collecting digital art becomes more common will it be possible for these pieces to be displayed in digital picture frames in your home or even in VR spaces?
Absolutely! We’re currently looking for good digital frame solutions. Recently we had an exhibition in Prague and used framed iPads which turned out very well. It inspired me to put an iPad frame in my apartment! With VR there’s lots we’re excited about and working on. I can’t share too many details yet but I think the future for VR art is going to be exciting. From viewing remote exhibitions to immersive experiences, there is so much to play with.
What is the art experience that crypto art may bring to the owner and the audience？
In my mind, the art experience that crypto brings to the owner and audience is a sense of trust and storytelling. You can see how old a piece of art is by the block number it was created in. You can see how many people have previously owned a piece of art and for how long. I think the ability to watch the art age in this way is super exciting.
100% out of curiosity, What would be the motivation of buying a digital art if you can simply right click and save the image on your site?
Great question! I like to think about it in reference to the Mona Lisa. You can have a super high-quality print, or even get someone to paint a passable knock off, but it’s not the real Mona Lisa. Just knowing that it’s not the real Mona Lisa changes the viewing experience. I think in the same way, downloading a file is not nearly as satisfying as buying the tokenized art. Additionally, the artist creates the token themselves and establishes that the token is also part of the part piece. Also when you buy the work is supports the artist!
A good read about art and blockchain: https://cointelegraph.com/news/art-and-blockchain-revolution-in-art-collecting
Definitely, this is a nice overview. Although I wish they touched more on digital crypto art!
If Dali meets blockchain, _______;
If Picasso meets blockchain, ______.
I'm going to let those artists speak for themselves!
Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it. - Dali
Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. - Picasso
So do you think we will be tokenizing fine art like Mona Lisa...eventually?
Yes absolutely. The current models for the provenance of fine art are very opaque. I think using tokens as certificates of authenticity to bring more transparency to the process makes lots of sense.
Hey John, not sure if I still can ask a question, was wondering if you have plans for moving/launching platform on EOS? Transaction wise (and even user experience I believe), it seems nicer than Ethereum.
Hey Sinxe93! We don't have any plans to switch, although we are investigating cross chain assets!