Digital art curators: what 1st Dibs sees in NFTs

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The 1st Dibs art and design e-commerce marketplace is riding the wave of digital transformation in the art world, launching a new, highly organized NFT marketplace. The company says that by jumping on this new fashion trend, it can attract a whole new subset of buyers to its market that sells “the finest things on Earth.”

Certainly, NFTs are gaining a lot of attention right now as collectors and speculators toss thousands, if not millions, of dollars into a range of digital artwork, memes, and GIFs. Nowhere was this NFT frenzy more noticeable than in March, when the artist known as “Beeple” sold a digital collage titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for $ 69 million – a sum which marked the third highest price ever paid for a work of art by a living artist.

More recently, the credit card giant Visa not only made a splash when it paid $ 150,000 for a pixel art image called “CryptoPunk 7610”, but its mere presence at an auction gave the NFT market an immediate boost in credibility – 90 CryptoPunks were sold within an hour of the Visa purchase announcement.

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While some may struggle to grasp the idea of ​​paying huge sums of money for something that is impossible to physically touch or hold, 1st Dibs believes digital is the direction in which the art space is heading. directed.

From web to crypto

“Digital art is really a natural extension of what we offer,” said Sarah Liebel, revenue director at 1st Dibs, in an interview with Karen Webster of PYMNTS. “But the way we approach it is very different from other platforms.”

Liebel explained that NFTs are so nascent that there is a “huge white space” in terms of curation, community building and storytelling for digital artists in existing markets.

“We are focused on conservation, doing it with both internal teams and others,” she said. “We hired internal teams with expertise in digital art and crypto communities, and we also held group exhibitions curated by the artists themselves and put them on a pedestal to tell the stories of others. artists. . “

1st Dibs got the idea to grow into NFTs from its own VP of Engineering, Tim Whidden, who is a digital artist himself.

“There are a lot of great works of art and even collectibles, although at first glance some might seem a bit strange. But there’s also a lot of bad art out there, ”Whidden said. “So we wanted to bring the brand and the curation to the market, hoping that people would come to our market because we apply our professional edition there. In other words, it’s about selling high-quality NFT art that has mass appeal.

Read more: The “next chapter” in the history of art? A digital-only work sells for nearly $ 70 million

Multimedia moment

One of the ways that 1st Dibs makes sure of this is through the diversity of the exhibitions it hosts. He seeks to work specifically with digital artists who have a strong track record of commercial viability, and it takes time to create exhibitions that offer a range of different techniques and styles.

“We have an exhibit called Escapism that re-imagines the world we live in through the use of AI and other digital machinations,” Liebel said. “We will have five different designers. We try to have geographic and gender diversity and kind of style diversity, we try to bring video, we try to bring stills to provide a wide range of options for our consumer base.

The 1st Dibs NFT Marketplace also places great importance on transparency, with reserve prices, or minimum bids, being primarily displayed, and each of the artwork sold is listed with the final sale price. The system also works for artists, as they can set a minimum auction price. Bidders, in turn, must have the amount in their Ethereum wallet in order to be able to place a bid. As soon as the offer is placed, the funds are sequestered. Smart contracts do the rest.

“It’s a completely different system from our traditional e-commerce checkout system,” said Whidden. “We create the tokens ourselves using our own smart contracts on the Ethereum mainnet.”

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Whidden said that in general, most NFT buyers today are young “digital natives” participating in the metaverse. They are primarily looking to develop their digital identity and the art supported by NFT is a great way for them to do that, he said. People will buy NFTs and post them on the usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter and others, as well as in more targeted communities like OpenSea and Showtime.

“There are a lot of image profile projects in the NFT world. There are these avatar projects where people buy their crypto punks and use them as profile pictures on Twitter, ”he explained. “And that’s how they’re known, and later they really get attached to these things. Their digital identities are just as important as their physical identities in the real world. “

Liebel said the first Dibs NFT marketplace is off to a good start and most of its buyers are new to the site, mostly crypto enthusiasts. It is hoped by 1st Dibs that NFTs will help entice this clientele, many of whom have a lot of money to spend, to explore the rest of their offerings and maybe end up spending more on a designer watch or costume jewelry for a while. that they are there.

In addition to attracting more clients to 1st Dibs, Liebel believes that the concept of NFTs as a whole will also be adopted by more traditional art lovers. She told Webster that 1st Dibs has seen a growing volume of digital art and that it does a lot of promotion and education through its social media channels, which has led new buyers to enter the space for the first time.

“Over time, we see it become an extension of art, whether it’s on your laptop, phone, or on a digital wall that you can take turns transitioning,” she said. . “We want to be there to help artists make the transition to this market as it moves towards mass adoption.”

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