NFTs: From Speculative Hype to Real World Value

How individuals & organizations can creatively leverage Non-Fungible Tokens

At Loominate, we’ve been quite busy lately, from curating exhibitions that bridge the gap between digital and physical art, to delivering ideation and User Experience (UX) workshops in order to better understand the value provided by Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). 

Given the recent rise in interest from both the creative sector as well as the broader DeFi community, we’d like to offer our perspective on the emerging NFT market, and highlight some of our experiences and contributions in the space.

NFT’s: State of the art

Indeed, NFT’s are currently turning the creative world upside down and many organizations, artists, game developers, musicians (you name it...), want in on the action.

The adoption of cryptocurrencies has been increasing at an incredible rate, and for a market that was recently valued at $2 trillion, it’s safe to say that a plethora of new initiatives and projects have emerged across a range of industries thanks to this growing trend. The art market is no exception, and ‘Crypto Art’, has recently experienced a boom in popularity. 

Surges in the overall price of leading cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum would suggest an emerging class of newly ‘wealthy’ individuals, have begun valuing NFTs as a new asset class, and with some recent high profile art sales of late, the technology has begun to peak the interest of the traditional art and finance worlds. 

Combine the new found wealth of crypto communities with the particular relevance that NFT’s have in the art space and you have a recipe for a rapidly emerging creator economy primed for artists who are willing to jump on the Web3 train in order to access global audiences and ultimately generate new revenue streams.

But what are NFTs anyway?

To provide context, one of the most important attributes of NFTs is that they represent a unique asset, which is not mutually interchangeable. This allows NFTs to act as certificates of provenance (or ownership) to a range of assets that have an intrinsic subjective value such as 2D or 3D digital art, music files, videos, design elements, event tickets, limited edition items and even service workflows. 

The technology that enables this ‘digital uniqueness’ stems from a certain type of Ethereum smart contract known as ERC-721. Originally proposed by Dieter Shirley as an EIP (Ethereum Improvement proposal) back in 2017, the technology has garnered mass adoption through game applications such as Crypto Kitties and Decentraland which recently is proving to be a hotbed for digital art, allowing individuals to buy, sell and trade their works.

As a result of NFT's driving interest in creative works, digital art and even services, Loominate in collaboration with - A web 3 dev-ops boutique, have been busy supporting organisations wanting to integrate NFT’s into their existing offering. Below, we unpack some interesting NFT use cases, and take a look at how some pioneering individuals and organizations in the cultural space are looking towards decentralized technologies to generate value for their stakeholders.

Art Progression Now

Since November of 2020, Loominate has been involved in setting up Art Progression Now, a “borderless collective working towards open, fair and distributed support systems for artists”. Indeed, since the beginning of the ongoing pandemic, the plight of artists and musicians has become ever more uncertain as support systems begin to crumble and the connection to audiences becomes ever more dependent on mastery of digital tools. 

Founded on the premise that creativity is a basic human right that needs to be nurtured and protected, the collective found its roots in Lisbon, following a series of workshops and events at Arroz Estudios, an art residency and venue which is currently facing the threat of gentrification. It is in this context that a group of individuals with tech, art and design backgrounds joined forces to provide education around Web 3 technologies and Decentralized Finance. 

In October 2020, they began ideating around how to generate value for artists and musicians, whose livelihoods have been impacted by the proliferation of digital piracy, unfair attribution models and the economic pressures of the pandemic.

The collective united around a common vision, to bridge the gap between physical and digital arts, and to support pioneering creatives and organizations in the emerging ‘crypto art’ space. As the community surrounding the work of this collective began to grow and flourish, the decision was made to host an exhibition, and to push the boundaries of what it means to experience Art. 

Thus, the Rare Effect was born.

The Rare Effect International NFT Festival

Rare Effect, Europe’s first NFT festival, combines a digital art exhibition and an extensive electronic music lineup. The event invites visitors to explore the link between art through the lens of crypto-economics, by physically and virtually exhibiting NFTs. 

Curated by Art Progression Now, the event’s first edition took place in the Cryptovoxels metaverse and reached over 50,000 people worldwide in February despite the lockdown. The second edition was hosted from May the 12th to the 22nd 2021 at Arroz Estudios in Lisbon.

Rare Effect NFT Festival Vol 2, at Arroz Estudios inPhoto by Gabriele Modica

Loominate supported the Rare Effect events on several fronts, including lending a hand with art curation, being actively engaged in community management and developing a communication strategy with the project partners, not to mention the UX and UI design support for the Rare Effect exhibition d’App, which was built in collaboration with the Metaxu Labs, and included a digital wallet which made the festival artwork crypto-interactive.

Designing NFT Experiences

During the event, Loominate Co-Founder Jesse Steele gave a presentation entitled "NFTs: From Speculative Hype to Real World Value", which shed light on various interesting use cases involving NFTs. The presentation provides an overview of the Rare Effect project from an experience design perspective and explores how creatives & organizations can creatively leverage NFTs to generate value.

You can watch the video below or access the slides here.

Loominate has developed in house UX/UI capabilities to tackle a variety of Web 3 product design related challenges. Since the beginning of the year, we have been facilitating discovery, ideation, validation and design thinking workshops for NFT related products and services specifically.

Many of these use cases we have had the opportunity to work on have arisen from our longstanding business relationship with the Web3 development experts at Keyko, who bring critical technological know-how and experience to the table. Every use case that has emerged has presented its own set of learnings, which has provided us with a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities of working with this technology.

Below are few examples of the topics we've explored

Frankfurt School - NFTs, Virtual Reality & The Arts - A talk with the EMBA students on the future of digital art consumption.

Wilde Möhre - Experience design workshops with Near Protocol and Mintbase for integrating NFTs into a festival concept and creating a portal to merge the physical and digital festival experiences.

A major Berlin-based gallery: a workshop - ideating a marketplace concept for an art gallery wanting curate & auction NFT collections

Autonomies - building a NFT music platform for high fidelity audio exchange with partners such as Keyko, Ransom Note and the Black Artist Database. 

Fjaak & Boiler Room - Ideating NFT drops & social impact projects (e.g. UBI for artists) with major labels - Understanding user needs and empathizing with artist and labels. 

A Web3 Protocol for Commerce - workshops to ideate on hybrid (digital / physical) retail experiences and explore how NFTs can be leveraged in DeFi loyalty programs.

Kollektives Bewusstsein workshop - a workshop with an artist collective in Berlin.

The Metaverse experience at the Wilde Möhre Festival on Cryptovoxels

Through the uptake of NFT’s the creative industry has an immediate opportunity to access emerging global audiences that will generate new revenue streams. As the digital art space continues to grow we are sure to see many groundbreaking projects emerge and as enablers in the space we are excited to collaborate with ambitious creators eager to make a splash.

So whether you’re setting up a new NFT marketplace, developing a d’App, or planning your next drop, Loominate’s structured ideation process will allow organizations and individuals to better understand the complexities integrating NFTs into their existing portfolio.

Loominate is a Berlin-based creative agency providing marketing & design services to flourishing organizations.
We thrive on projects situated at the intersection of arts, culture & emerging technologies, such as blockchain &  AI. 

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May 10, 2021
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