Crypto Art Platforms

Notes on Collecting Crypto Art, Chapter 1

Part of my Notes on Collecting Crypto Art series.

Chapter 1 - Platforms

As many know already, I have so far focused more than 90% of my collecting efforts on a single platform - so I realize that a post on platforms is going to seem inherently biased or myopic, but at least this gives me the chance to explain my rationale a bit.

I made the decision at the very start that if I wanted to make a mark as a Collector, it was better to concentrate my efforts on a single, well-chosen platform rather than stretch myself thin across several options in a rapidly expanding option set.

You can be a pretty good Collector on a handful of platforms or you can be a very impactful Collector on the top platform.

So far I’m pleased with how this selective focus has paid off, but as I evolve as a Collector it may make sense for me to start expanding across platforms soon.


SuperRare

My primary platform (90%+) for a bunch of reasons.

SR’s focus on top Artists, 1-of-1s, community, and the fact that they are still crypto native (non-custodial + no fiat integration ) are all huge pluses for me. The fact that their team is fairly accessible on Twitter and other channels is also SuperHelpful.

I love the Artist selection on SuperRare and in many ways their various community efforts have helped me to bond with other Artists and Collectors in the SuperRare ecosystem in a really positive way. It feels like a special club, for sure.

I can imagine it’s really tough to be an Artist on the outside looking in, I am sympathetic to this, but as a Collector their selectivity is actually quite helpful. Evolution and adaptation happen under selective pressure; let the selective pressure fuel your art and elevate your game as an Artist.

SuperRare is very collaborative with their Artist and Collector stakeholders and we generally give them a very high approval rating for their efforts.

Rarible

To the extent I have a second platform I guess it’s Rarible based on use, but it’s so sprawling and massive that it is a huge hassle to interact on their platform.

Search/filtering mechanisms don’t appear to be useful. They have a very serious forgery problem (even with their verified accounts) and they don’t appear to be fixing it. They have some sort of heavy database issue where stuff doesn’t update quickly and I always get logged out. The entire platform feels cumbersome to use.

The big pluses for Rarible though are that it’s a great place for Artists to get started in the Crypto Art world before they’ve made a name for themselves and the minting tools there are way more general purpose than other platforms. It’s open to everyone and there are projects you can mint there that would not be possible on many other platforms.

If we separate out Collectibles from Art itself, Rarible really becomes the de facto platform for this category - though this series is distinctly about Crypto Art and not Crypto Collectibles.

KnownOrigin / MakersPlace / Async Art

(I’m really sorry to these platforms for bucketing you together like this, but I had to slice this post down due to Substack length requirements!)

They all seem solid, they select great Artists and have some unique features, I just didn’t want to focus on a bunch of platforms at once early on and I guess I was not fully sold.

Perhaps now I can give more serious looks to all three platforms. I definitely know that a lot of talented Crypto Artists I regularly appreciate and interact with on Twitter are very active in these venues.

I do think that the Async platform has a creative differentiator with their unique layer format (tokenizing and selling the different layers).

I’ve bought one work on MakersPlace that I really like and have seen a bunch of cool stuff on all these platforms. At least one of my favorite Artists is planning something on MakersPlace that I will most likely participate in seriously.

Mintable

I used Mintable for a Pak drop and had a very positive experience. I gave product feedback mid-auction on Twitter and their team made live changes in production in realtime during the auction (Test in Prod!), I was very impressed.

Their auction functionality was pretty useful and they have a DM feature for participants, I also got a governance NFT which I thought was cool.

Would use Mintable again if an Artist I followed closely were to do another drop there.

Nifty Gateway

Nifty is arguably at the top of the ecosystem right now, at least financially.

That said, for a handful of reasons, I just haven’t been able to get excited about Nifty the same way I do the other platforms.

They have a different wallet architecture, different economic model (drops, Open Editions), and in general I really see the stuff on Nifty as a slightly different asset class within the broader Crypto Art world.

Nifty bringing high profile Artists and other Collector-Whales into the space is probably a good thing in the context of the broader “attention economy” and I am genuinely happy for the individual Artists that can use Nifty to “secure the bag.” Nifty is generating wealth for some digital Artists that probably never would have imagined that that level of cashflow would ever be accessible to them professionally - that part at least makes me really happy.

I’ve transacted on Nifty for Pak’s ‘The Title - but that probably only worked because it was a hyper self-aware piece that was actually serving as a mirror to these same observations on the Drop + Open Edition model (in my opinion, ‘The Title’ is one of the seminal works in this early history of Crypto Art, but more on this later!).

So yeah, I guess I don’t actively track developments and drops for Nifty. The Nifty team seems nice and is responsive though, it’s really just a creative difference.

My trepidation here will make a bit more sense in the next chapter: Editions.

OpenSea

I don’t really see this as a dedicated Crypto Art platform, but I would be remiss to not include them. Useful NFT venue and marketplace, but kind of a layer above the specific Crypto Art platforms discussed here. They have sufficient functionality and mindshare in the NFT space that more deliberate Crypto Art curation attempts would very likely make them an immediate major player in the market.


What’s Next?

The platforms listed above are kind of the current crop of Crypto Art platforms as I see them, but new entrants are coming into the space all the time. (I wanted to share notes on both Terra Virtua and Zora but they didn’t fit in the Substack length requirement 😓.)

I have focused almost all my Collector efforts on SuperRare and have thus far been completely satisfied by this focus on a single platform - but complacency breeds contempt.

The space is moving quickly. New Artists, new models, new platforms are coming in all the time and the space is far from “won” yet. I need to keep an eye out for how best to evolve my participation in the scene.

Crypto Art platforms have been an important part of bootstrapping this nascent Creator market, but eventually they are probably things we should not become too attached to if Web2.0 has taught us anything.

Centralization (into a platform) is helpful at this stage to onboard users and drive broader adoption, but ultimately we need the platforms to hold the original decentralized crypto ethos at their core. My hope is that these platforms continue to evolve with this spirit in mind.


-Colin Goltra, January 2021

Part of my Notes on Collecting Crypto Art series.