5 Routes to Mainstreaming CryptoArt

dr seuss digital collectibles website screengrab with cat in the hat

Cryptoart going mainstream may not be as enjoyable as some hope. But it’s going to happen one way or another. So let’s say we want to encourage the process. Here are 5 intersecting routes to do so, all of which are already in motion.

The most active route currently seems to be the moves by big brands to create cryptocollectibles using their intellectual property and big names adding their own work to the mix.

1) Big Brands and Big Names

Big brands are coming to NFT Land and that will eventually crossover to the world of CryptoArt. While I’ve made the argument that NFT Land is actually part of Crypto Art and Design World, we can all see there’s a distinction between game NFTs, in particular, and art on cryptoart platforms.

But the big brands aren’t always coming into gaming. They’re also tokenizing pieces of popular art as NFT collectibles.

For example, Dr. Seuss:
Dr. Seuss Digital Collectibles
Can these Dr. Seuss decals help digital collectibles catch on?

And Doctor Who:
Doctor Who Digital Trading Cards
Doctor Who to Enter the Cryptoverse as BBC Plans Trading Card Game on Ethereum Blockchain

Plus William Shatner memorabilia:
William Shatner on the WAX Blockchain
William Shatner Makes History on the WAX Blockchain!

More directly relevant to cryptoart is the appearance of José Delbo on MakersPlace. José Delbo is a renowned comics artist and MakersPlace is a leading cryptoart platform.

Given the crossover between fine art and popular culture in the 60s and 70s, as well as the blurred boundaries within the cryptoart scene, this is a big step in the mainstreaming of cryptoart.

Baseball star Tommy Wilson’s appearance on SuperRare may not be in the same league as Delbo but is certainly another move in the big game.

Also of note is the Cryptograph project “one-of-a-kind digital collectibles from your favourite icons and artists that raise money for charity forever, all secured by blockchain technology.” The fact that they began with Vitalik Buterin and are raising money for good causes has probably spared them some ridicule now that both Ashton Kutcher and Paris Hilton have joined in.

On a side note, the nicest art I’ve seen related to this project to date was the response by luluxXX to Paris Hilton’s cat painting:
Crypto Kitty. luluxXX

2) High Prices

Staggeringly high prices for cryptoart, like the $55,555.55 for Picasso’s Bull by Trevor Jones make the news and excite speculators about a new asset class. In the traditional art world, that’s what gets the most attention and the same is happening for cryptoart at a smaller scale.

If some of these sales are being manipulated by speculators, that also happens offline. In any case, high prices will contribute in their own way to mainstreaming cryptoart.

But “who’s gonna tell the yield farming bros?”

3) Media Outreach

Cryptoart needs to be more visible beyond crypto media. While big brands and high prices do get us some attention outside of our scene, focused media outreach is required for cryptoart to become a more normal part of the art world.

Platforms and people getting attention in the above two categories are best positioned to break through beyond crypto media. In particular, cryptoart platforms could be doing more targeted outreach to business media, regarding new forms of assets, and art media, regarding new opportunities for artists.

If, for example, MakersPlace, SuperRare and Nifty Gateway built on their numerous wins with professional publicists, they could do a lot to introduce cryptoart to the mainstream.

Investments and acquisitions also provide publicity opportunities as we’ve seen with the acquisition of Nifty Gateway and, over in NFT Land, the recent raise by Dapper Labs. Further publicity would not only help these platforms and related companies but help bring NFTs and cryptoart to the mainstream.

4) Virtual Worlds

Cryptoart has been a big part of the growth of Decentraland and Cryptovoxels. Obvously, the biggest driver is the ability to buy parcels of virtual land as NFTs. But the life of these spaces is greatly enriched by the involvement of cryptoartists.

Decentraland is a strong example of a virtual world connecting with the mainstream. Developments include José Delbo’s exhibition and Samsung’s support via its Blockchain Wallet App.

Tokens launched by virtual worlds also bring cryptocurrency traders into the space, even if at a distance. Decentraland’s $MANA is one such token and now $SAND from The Sandbox has joined the fray.

As virtual spaces grow in popularity, cryptoart will benefit by being part of the scene.

5) CryptoArt Displays

Events have been a big part of the cryptoart scene in virtual worlds but displays of cryptoart in various forms are probably the most accessible aspect for outsiders. The issue of displaying cryptoart may not readily come to mind when considering mainstreaming but it’s very important especially when one considers display in the home or office.

While some will remain baffled by high prices for NFTs and others just can’t afford to play at that level, being able to enjoy and share one’s art purchases in a form that’s easily accessible by others should not be underrated.

The partnership of pixEOS, an EOS-based cryptoart platform, and Canvia, a creator of digital art frames, is a promising sign. Canvia seems particularly well-designed for those who want a display form that looks most like traditional art.

Mark Date of Rendar, a site that is onboarding street artists, recently wrote about TokenCast, an “open source application enabling users to directly display their tokenized NFT artworks on an independent television or monitor.”

As Mark points out, TokenCast “may help attract mainstream artists and collectors into this space.”

However, at the moment, this DIY display by @secondrealm is my favorite.

Other Possible Routes to the Mainstream

These are the possibilities that strike me most strongly but I’ve seen other ideas floated. Some people feel we shouldn’t call it cryptoart, an idea with which I strongly disagree.

If you have some opinions on the topic, please share them on Twitter in response to this post and I’ll do a follow-up at a later date. I’ll also include relevant comments from this Twitter thread in response to @aishacarif’s tweet on “barriers to entry in the #cryptoart world.”