“we see it as a massive digitization of the art collection” – interview with NFT platform SuperRare
pioneering NFT platform dedicated to original cryptoart
Since its launch in 2018, digital art The SuperRare platform has been at the forefront of the CryptoArt market. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the curated marketplace was created with the goal of empowering the next generation of artists through technology, and has helped artists and collectors around the world sell for over US$280 million single edition. nft-art so far. The platform, founded by John Crain, Charles Crain and Jonathan Perkins, has launched several high-profile NFT drops over the years, including Krista Kim’s Martian Housewhich marked the platform’s first primary sale over $500,000 last March, and Dutch DJ Don Diablo’s DΞSTINATION HΞXAGONIA, which was the first primary sale over $1 million when it sold out. for $1,259,280 last year.
In 2021, SuperRare transitioned to a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) by introducing $RARE, a curation token that allows its community to have a say and ultimately control the platform. “The idea is that the art market belongs to the people, the artists and the collectors who use it”, co-founder and CPO of SuperRare Labs, Jonathan Perkins, tells designboom. On November 3, 2022, the platform also announced the launch of RarePass, an innovative new collecting pass that offers holders a year-long CryptoArt collecting experience with monthly drops from top SuperRare artists. The first pass will be auctioned via SuperRare on November 15, setting the price for a Dutch auction of the remaining RarePasses to follow at a dedicated venue Rare Pass website.
“Our vision is the convergence of the creative economy online with the art market”, explains Perkins. “We see a future in which there are millions of artists and billions of art collectors, and where literally anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone can become a collector.” For more on SuperRare and the future of art collecting, read our full interview below.
Matt Kane, CRYPTOART MONETIZATION GENERATION, 2022 | all images courtesy of SuperRare
INTERVIEW WITH SUPERRARE CO-FOUNDER Jonathan Perkins
designboom (DB): What is SuperRare?
Jonathan Perkins (JP): SuperRare is an Ethereum-based digital art platform. When we launched in 2018, we were the first place artists could mint their works as NFTs. There were a few other things going on with NFTs early on, but we were the first platform focused on the art market. For the past five years or so, we have maintained a laser focus on art and culture, and see the key innovation of NFTs as enabling collecting to go digital. From the beginning, we have built a very vibrant community of digital artists around the world and enabled collectors to collect digitally for the first time. We were very early in the market, and for the first few years we were really focused on developing the collector market, since not many people were collecting digital art, it was kind of a new concept in 2018. During of the last couple of years there’s been this big explosion and awareness of NFTs and it’s allowed us to really grow and continue to reinvest in the community.
Last summer, in 2021, we announced that SupeRare was becoming a DAO, which is a Web3 native way to become a user-controlled, user-owned platform. We launched $RARE, the curation token of SuperRare, which gives our community of artists and collectors a voice and ultimately control of the platform. They have a say in things like retention on the platform, fees, royalty structures, and more. It’s a bit like a distributed cooperative or a board of directors. The idea is that the art market is owned by the people, artists and collectors who use it.
‘AI Generated Nude Portrait #1’ by Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) sold for $12,000 to collector CuriousNFTs on secondary market
DB: Can anyone participate in the platform, or does it have to be a group of verified people, like specific artists or a collector who has collected a certain number of works?
JP: Anyone can hold $RARE tokens and there are several ways to participate. A really major way to participate is to elect spaces, which are sub-galleries on SupeRare that are elected by the community, so by $RARE holders, essentially. We tried to make it fun, a lot of crypto governance is very dry, boring and very financial, we try to be very social and artistic. We created a sort of social game called Space Race, where galleries submit their proposal and pitch what kind of community they would build on SuperRare, what kind of art they would curate, and the relationships they have. The community then votes on the top favorites from that cohort.
XCOPY’s “right-click and save as” marked the platform’s highest sale for an artwork: $7,088,230 in December 2021
DB: It also works a bit like a social network, doesn’t it?
JP: Yeah, absolutely.
DB: How did you decide to create a social network dedicated to crypto art instead of just using the existing ones?
JP: We believe that the arts, creativity and in particular art collecting are inherently social. If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that people love to share what interests them, interact and comment on things on the internet. From the early days of SuperRare, one of the first features we created was a user profile that you could follow. We used social media site templates because, like I said, we believe art collecting should be social. One thing that’s really cool about collecting NFT art, unlike physical art, is that anyone can see your collection at any time. There’s this early misconception that NFTs were meant to ensure that only the owner could see the art. We had to explain this a million times in the beginning, when people were like, oh, it’s crypto, you lock it down, you hide the art in your basement. It’s the complete opposite, if you own an NFT everyone can see the art and everyone can see that you own it – it’s very powerful.
Think of media on the Internet, for example, what is the most watched video on YouTube? It’s probably Baby Shark Dance, with over 11 billion views, which is extremely rare. To have something that everyone in the world has seen is a very rare event and it has value. We apply the physics of the internet, where everything is open and visible, to art collecting, making it inherently social.
‘Red’ by Pak, a single pixel artwork sold for $7,154 sparking controversial discussions
DB: How do you select featured artists? Can anyone sell their work on SuperRare or do you have a selection process? What do you look for in the artists you present?
JP: The question of who becomes an artist on the platform immediately arose at the start. We were just three people writing code in a cafe in New York at the time and we thought, well, the least bad solution is just to have a way for people to contact us, we’ll have a phone call with them and if they look like real artists, we let them. It is a challenge to be taken up and developed. Over the past few years, we’ve maintained that through a curation team that reviews artist applications, and we try to be pretty exclusive about that because there’s more demand from artists than from collectors, and there’s always had it. We didn’t want to have a platform with 100,000 artists and 1,000 collectors because the market probably wouldn’t have taken off.
But all of that is evolving, and as I mentioned, the idea with the DAO is that control of SuperRare is ultimately released by us, the founding team. Unlike, say, the Apple App Store, which is very tightly controlled by one corporation, we are creating a system where there are many curators, each with independent control to list artists and get them on SupeRare. We’re basically reinventing ourselves in this more decentralized way, where there will be dozens of different curators. Rather than asking who the Super Labs team is, it can be like who is the curator of this museum or who is the curator of this journalist. Through the Space Race selection process I mentioned earlier, we already have around 18 curators working on SupeRare, including well-known traditional art institutions, new crypto-native art institutions, some are collectors, some are artists, collectives, and there is growing interest from more well-known brands. The idea is that these curators join the network and are incentivized to help artists join and sell their works.
Krista Kim, House Mars, 2021 | learn more about designboom here
DB: What’s changing with Ethereum’s move to proof-of-stake? How do you think this affects the artistic community and how do you think this affects platforms like yours?
JP: The Ethereum community is quite unique. Since their launch in 2015, there has been a very strong desire to evolve the platform towards a more sustainable technology. The first seven years were really that time when everyone knew it was very unideal. It used the same consensus mechanism as Bitcoin, which consumes a huge amount of electricity, and depending on where the electricity is consumed in the world, it emitted varying degrees of carbon emissions. It’s a situation we all long to get away from.
Long story short, for those of us who are building a platform that is very public, very social, and where there isn’t a native degree of technical understanding, this has definitely been a problem. Many artists have been criticized by other people who hear, perhaps correctly or not, facts about what is happening. During this time, we always kept the mindset of knowing that this evolution was happening and that it was a temporary situation. So all of that to say, I’m very, very excited that this change has happened, and the plan has been going very well so far. The case is that Etherium is using nearly 99.5%+ less electricity than before, and we’re now speaking with artists who have been waiting on the sidelines to get started, whether for their own beliefs or their fans’ perception . Firstly, I’m glad the technology worked and we got there without a hitch, and secondly, it’s really exciting to see the evolution of this community into a cleaner future.