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The Untold Story of the NFT Boom

By the middle of 2020, prices were soaring. Another record-setter was Matt Kane, a former painter who had become disillusioned with traditional galleries and spent the late 2000s and early 2010s teaching himself coding and web development. He wrote custom software to help him make intricate digital paintings. In May 2019, he released his first works on SuperRare, a series based on the grief he felt after a friend’s suicide. His early NFT sales were meager; one collector bought an artwork for $85 and sold it the next week for a profit of $59. “He flipped it for 60 bucks!” Kane told me, incredulously.

a16z

April 23, 2021

After Years of Groundwork, NFTs Shine Bright

Matt Kane’s career as an artist started in Chicago around 2004 when a local gallery began selling his oil paintings. After moving to Seattle three years later, art took a backseat as he taught himself to code and became a web engineer to make ends meet. A few years after that, he finally had enough time on his hands to pursue an idea he’d had for a while: combining his creative and tech chops by making digital art.

Much in the way he’d stretched his own canvases and mixed pigments as an oil painter, Kane committed to building his own software so he could control how his digital images came to life. This past September, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, his digital art piece “Right Place, Right Time” sold on the blockchain for 262 ethereum, at the time equivalent to more than $100,000.

The sale was significant, not just for Kane, but also for digital art. While artists have been creating digital works for years, blockchain technology, which can help distinguish an original from a copy, has helped to create a market for them. As a result, digital art has begun to fetch increasingly handsome sales prices and the attention of more and more art collectors.

“People have been experimenting in this space for years, but it was Matt Kane’s sale last year that created a big shift,” says Lindsay Howard, digital art curator and head of community at cryptoart platform Foundation.

How Non-Fungible Tokens Are Digitally Disrupting The Future Of Art

On what the sale of NFTs means to artists

Matt Kane: “What’s not crazy is supporting a living artist. And for many years, digital artists have been making this content and they’ve been participating in something of like a social capital where they’ve been getting followers and attention. And it’s just kind of a wish and a prayer that they’re going to translate that kind of like follower count on Instagram into money. So what we’re seeing right now is these NFTs are helping support living artists. You know, who would’ve otherwise not been able to sell their art or who had been struggling.

“I would say that I’m very concerned for a healthy market for each individual artist to slowly build their prices. And that these prices should really scale for everyone. I’m not interested in the huge sales. … You know, in 2019, we started to see NFTs sell for over $100,000 for the first time.

“And one of those was one of my NFTs. And it was this great feeling because I had dwindled down my savings account for seven years and I was down to borrowing money and suddenly I was able to sell an NFT $1,750. This is life changing for me. I was able to make different plans for my future just on that. And that’s a very modest price. And you have to realize that behind the $69 million and the $600,000 sales, there’s very modest prices that are supporting a lot of legitimate artists.”

CNBC

May 12, 2021

‘It changed the trajectory of my career and my life’

Within a year, sales of his digital art began to steadily match his typical rates. In September 2020, Kane was able to reach a major milestone in selling an NFT of his piece, “Right Place & Right Time,” for over $100,000, which was record-setting then. (It’s complex, but due to the NFT’s algorithm and the way Kane programmed it, “Right Place” was in high demand.)

“For the last seven years, I had basically gone through my life savings, building my custom software, embarking on this dream of becoming a digital artist,” Kane says. “To make such a historic sale, there was confirmation that I wasn’t crazy. It felt good.”

NFT RADIO

April 9, 2021

How NFTs Gained 10% Minimum Secondary Sale Royalties as Industry Standard For Artists


Story begins at 20:00

The letter artists collaborated on creating and sending to platforms can be found here.

“By September 2019, SuperRare launched their second contract which reduced royalties to 3%. I spoke up on Twitter at the time but didn’t get much traction. Artists didn’t seem to care– and this really pained me. But I thought someone would speak up. I waited for one of the leaders to be a leader…

The leader I was waiting for was me. I really liked the conversations and interactions that happened on Discord during the creation of First Supper on Async. So I spun up my own Discord channel. And I sent private invitations to about 20 artists– ones the community respected and that I knew I could trust…

So in this Discord channel, we made some impassioned speeches. Bard Ionson did quite a bit of research on the history of royalties to help us shape our arguments. Many artists took their work off of sale from platforms that did not have royalties. They boycotted– I especially remember OficianasTK and Skeenee taking these measures. But we wanted to discover through each other what did we all want? What was right for us? What did we want to accomplish for future artists?

To make a long story short, what began at the beginning of March— we had reached consensus among most all of the major platforms to have an industry wide standard of minimum 10% secondary sale royalties for artist minted NFTs. On the last day of March, at the beginning of a pandemic, while markets were bearish as all heck, SuperRare confirmed they would join us. We asked the platforms and collectors to join the artists as ALLIES in making NFTs stronger so that mass adoption could succeed one day. So that the benefits of NFTs actually spoke to more than just people’s pocketbooks. This is what we accomplished together.”

WHITEHOT MAGAZINE

June 7, 2021

Sotheby's Stakes Sincerity in “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale”

“Matt Kane’s Meules After Claude Monet, created using self-designed software, pays heartfelt homage to Monet and contains a universe of contemporary compositions within the 128 layers, over one billion pixels, of digital mass.”

Rarest Pepe — ‘most important NFT in art history’ — sells for 205 ETH

Well-known artist Matt Kane, honored in Cointelegraph’s Top 100 this year, had earlier created a tribute artwork to Homer Pepe and his tweet about it drew attention to the fact that Kell was looking to sell the original.

Kane said: “I see HOMERPEPE as the most important NFT in art history because its headline-making sale in 2018 influenced so many of the original crypto artists to believe we could put our art to work building both a market and belief around this new technology.”

COINTELEGRAPH

February 2, 2021

Top 100 Notable People in Blockchain in 2021

Matt Kane is a leader in a new wave of art: masterpieces that involve technical programming on the back end and can be built as nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. This type of art can transform based on an array of factors, such as time or asset prices. “Right Place & Right Time,” one of Kane’s pieces, looks different at any given moment based on the value of Bitcoin.

NBC News

October 27, 2020

How blockchain technology reached Christie's and changed the art world along the way

Matt Kane sold oil paintings in the early 2000s before becoming a web developer. He taught himself how to code and eventually created his own art software to make crypto art. To date, his tokenized work “Right Place & Right Time” is the second-most expensive piece of digital art sold, behind Gentilli’s. It sold for $101,593 in September.

Kane said many people in the crypto art space are trying to create a more equitable model for the future, one that cares about the artist as they age and allows them to participate in their own success.

“This is the spirit that is born out of the crypto space. We’re interested in the welfare of the many over the profit of the few,” Kane said. “I think that’s sort of an ethic that we all find very easy to believe in.”

Digital Art Collector

March 14, 2021

Digital Art Collector: Matt Kane

Unfortunately, if you’re looking for art featuring spacemen flying through a flock of flaming bitcoins on the way to the moon, you will need to look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, flying spacemen are awesome, but Matt Kane’s art, uninfluenced by market demands, starts deep in his own creative inferno and manifests itself through code.

Every artist has their own process, and there is no right or wrong way to create art, but Matt Kane being in the space for so long, and having such few artworks in circulation, minted some of the rarest and most desirable tokens.

The Cryptonomist

September 21, 2020

The $100,000 NFT exhibited in Rome

In the next 10 years, this work could become the most important piece of the crypto art movement, combining art, which has always had its own materiality with physical and tangible works, with the ephemeral side of digitization.

SuperRare Editorial

December 10, 2020

Visionary Founder: Jesse Powell

The past year, I’ve been exploring historical aesthetics of fiat currency, joining back up with a series I originally created in 2006. A question my work has asked is what it could mean to shape society’s values if the paper money we transact with carried messages from leaders who are concerned with reshaping present systems in order to construct a better future for the many. In creating these portraits, I sought to discover how I could treat this as a legitimate part of my larger series and not just an outlier piece done for CoinDesk Most Influential 2020.

Bitcoin.com

September 19, 2020

NFT Digital Art That Changes With Bitcoin Price Volatility Sold for Record $101,000

NFT Digital Art That Changes With Bitcoin Price Volatility Sold for Record $101,000 Matt Kane’s “Right Place & Right Time,” a non-fungible token (NFT) digital artwork that changes every day with the bitcoin price volatility, claims the artist, has been sold for a record 262 ether or $101,100 on blockchain platform Async Art.

NIFTIES

June 21, 2020

ART MEETS CODING: MATT KANE TALKS WITH NIFTIES

“This community is a grand experiment with limitless potential to inspire and influence the outside world. The reality is that much of the world is sick right now and has been for some time; long before this virus. If we can show the world what a healthy and sustainable community looks like, it will go a long way toward mainstream adoption. People prefer to be healthy, want to be loved, want to be connected to inspiring people. We can be those people. We can become the model that makes the old model obsolete.”

painting of yellow teeth and hot pink lips being kissed

NIFTIES

July 21, 2020

KITTY BUNGALOW'S VIRTUAL EDITION

“One of my favorite pieces was Matt Kane’s Excessive Force – Cat Devouring Bird after Picasso. This piece is not the usual for Matt in terms of subject matter, and seeing a different side to his art was really thrilling. Others agreed and there was a pretty good bid war going and it ended up selling for for 8.5 ETH (over $2,000) to Tennessee Jed. Take a look and get lost in the animation layers. Subtle, but SO TASTY!”

Leaning into the Light

I’d argue that true genius is light. Artists aspire to be the light which others lean into, not the other way around. In my own humble collecting of art, I’m specifically looking for artists who are guided primarily by an inner light, working outside the trend.

LIVID MAGAZINE

June 30, 2020

BLACK LIVES MATTER: ACTIVISM IN CRYPTO ART

For the past month, as witnesses to the brutal events and the resulting protests unfolding across the United States – and then across the world, many crypto artists on SuperRare aligned themselves on the side of social justice, using art as an act of protest against racial inequality. Calling for change, they produced compelling artworks addressing the struggle against racism, police violence, and inequality.

“This #cryptoart community is 🔥 & 🖤 . It’s been very meaningful to me this week to join fellow artists, collectors, and platforms in the lane of art activism. It’s the best way I’m able to contribute to the voices, minds, and bodies constructively seeking change and justice.” -Matt Kane

NIFTIES

April 23, 2020

ART MEETS CODING: MATT KANE'S CREATIVE PROCESS

“After his promising entry into the art world back in 2004, Matt Kane took a break from it to push further his creative research. He did not want to commit to one style too soon, and ended up designing himself the software that now allows his visions to come to life in the digital realm, switching from one esthetic to the other.

We asked him to show us the creative process behind one of his pieces. “

NFT London

May 27, 2020

Introducing Async Art - Panel Led By Serena Tabacchi

As part of NFT London, Serena Tabacchi, founder and director at MoCDA, led a panel discussion introducing programmable art platform, Async Art. Members of the panel included Conlan Rios, Nathan Clapp, Sparrow, Josie Bellini, Skeenee and Matt Kane.

VRAF

May 17, 2020

HODLING IDEAS - Matt Kane at Virtual Art Festival 2020

Slide presentation and discussion around the artist’s physical work created around themes of currency between 2006-2008. Kane discusses how he brought these themes back into his work recently and what that journey looked like.

hodling ideas matt kane - VRAF may 14 - 17, 2020

COINTELEGRAPH

March 25, 2020

Algorithmic Crypto Art Changes Appearance to Reflect Bitcoin Volatility

Asynchronous Art revealed Matt Kane’s “Right Place & Right Time” today, an artwork that evolves dynamically in response to BTC price action. As the value of the cryptocurrency changes, so too does the artwork, explained Kane:

“Each day, a new look for the Master is generated using a data feed of Bitcoin’s last 24 hours of price action. Each hour’s price programmatically controls rotation, scale, and position of a correlating layer.”

UPCOMING DROP: Matt Kane

“Lately, I’m reflecting on what makes our cyptoart space and NFT technology meaningful in the context of this global pandemic. I’m thinking about the way of life we’re leaving behind and our post-quarantine futures. My strategy for art making is not to dwell in destruction or despair, but busy myself in what needs building for when the world becomes ready.

I believe humanity will emerge with greater capacity for compassion and a reverence for the interconnected system we are. In my latest work, I update antiquated fiat currency aesthetics with an ethos our community has injected into our tech. The reasons we stay become the reasons others arrive.”

— Matt Kane

Programing the Future of Art with Matt Kane

“This week’s Spotlight is on the one and only @MattKane. Matt is a digital artist who uses special software *that he hand coded* to make truly unique works of art.

During the course of our conversation we discuss his incredibly unique creative process, dig into the importance of artists standing up for themselves to fight for perpetual royalties, his crypto art collecting philosophy, his unique approach to relationships with collectors and much more.”

CENT

February 25, 2020

Why Async Art? An Artist's Perspective.

But what I’m more excited about? That what the Async Art token innovates is conceptual. Layers are being utilized at launch, but the concept is much bigger. I’m excited for the choreographer, the performance artist, the musician. I’m excited for the many forms of art, which given some tech development and imagination, will be able to be tokenized in a way that honors art form and tradition.

How does one sell art on the blockchain? Start with provenance. Then move on to respecting what the artwork actually is composed of. And above all else? Keep art viewership and ownership about having an experience; one that circumvents geography, age, culture, time, and human lifespan.

I ask myself all these questions. My answer today is @AsyncArt. I’m impressed by the team’s diligence, thoughtfulness, and the robustness of the smart-contract to answer yes to so many queries and hypothetical questions I’ve posed to Conlan and the team. From here, I expect reasonably rapid growth in technical development, UI, and experience for artist, viewer and collector alike. And I expect artists will be able to innovate, using the Async Art tokens as an actual artistic medium. It’s been my honor and privilege to be part of this step forward with such a competent, motivated team.

CENT

January 17, 2020

The Marble.Cards Crypto Artist Series

Matt Kane: Combining art and deep tech with astonishing results. You will get lost in the details. Creator of one of our favorite cryptoart pieces last year.

Marbled URL: https://www.moneyfactory.gov/

Card: https://marble.cards/card/585

the all seeing eye rests inside a green pyramid. surrounded by an orange frame, the design looks like a dollar in the amount of zero

SuperRare Weekly Update

November 8, 2019

Artist Matt Kane Breaks All-Time Sale Record!

This week SR artist Matt Kane broke the all-time SuperRare sale record when he sold his piece “One of Us — Variation 1” to collector Conlan for 7.75 ETH (about $1,442 at today’s prices). It was no easy task winning this piece, as Conlan had to battle against 5 other collectors (and 39 prior bids over 6 days) to take it home.

Conlan has now placed the artwork for everyone to see in the Reflection Room at The Rubix (cryptovoxels). Take some time this weekend to check out this amazing piece in VR!

image of a layered artwork selling on the NFT platform SuperRare

Welcome to New Artist Matt Kane

“Matt’s approach to art and technology is unique and refreshing, and we’re really excited to have him on SuperRare.”