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SuperRare is a social platform and a peer-to-peer marketplace to collect and trade crypto art using Ether, the Ethereum blockchain cryptocurrency. As an artist-oriented network, it allows creative individuals to upload unique, single-edition digital artworks, tokenize them to prove their scarcity through cryptography, and own, sell and gift them through the blockchain-powered gallery.

Once accepted into the platform, artists set up their profiles for free and are ready to create and collect. For each purchase, buyers pay a 3% transaction fee. Regarding commissions, on primary sales, the gallery retains 15% of the artwork sale price while on the secondary market artists receive a 3% royalty on each re-sale of their work within the platform.

SuperRare was developed by cousins John Crain and Jonathan Perkins, respectively CEO and CPO of Pixura, after crypto-collectibles as CryptoKitties went mainstream in 2017 and years of experimentation with Processing. The gallery was officially launched in April 2018. Other members of the New York-based team are Charles Crain, CTO and John's brother, Zack Yanger, Head of growth, Marie Van Eersel, Curator & Advisor and Amira Naver, Artist Ambassador.

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NIFTIES Interviews Mattia Cuttini

Hi Mattia, it’s great to have a chat with one of the first and most active members of the crypto community. You are always ready to introduce and help out beginners in the space, would you like to start by sharing with us how you got into the crypto art scene yourself?

At the end of 2018, hex6c pushed me a lot: basically every now and then he would tell me "tokenize this, tokenize that." I had a small amount of cryptocurrencies and I've used them to tokenize my first pieces on KnownOrigin, and after some days on SuperRare. These are my main platforms right now, they both have done a lot for me so I'm faithful to them. And just because people helped me a ton, I do the same with others, that's simple. Oh, and I've done a collaborative piece on Async.art, right, that too was great.


You also witnessed the evolution of both galleries and community, with the rise of collaborations, bid wars, and VR shows, just to name a few things. How was your experience of that? What do you foresee in the future?

Yeah, you're right. It’s really good to evolve, even with ups and downs. Now I feel that we are still evolving, things are changing at the speed of light. What I can say is that experimentation and new features, like Async.art’s idea of programmable art, for example, will be the real game-changers.


Is there any figure or project in the crypto scene – or beyond – that particularly inspires you right now?

As I said, innovation is important but we also need some kind of "limits." Pixelchain.art, a pixel art tokenization platform of tiny 32x32-pixels canvases, is a good example of this "creative limitation" currently inspiring me. Limits make people do the best they can with a small set of possibilities, and with amazing results. I know that it seems impossible sometimes to have innovation with limitations, but there are a lot of good projects and examples. This reminds me of the simplicity of LEGO bricks and, considering my music background, the OP-1, an innovative synthesizer somewhat limited but also versatile, something you can use in infinite ways.
mattia-cuttini

Your artistic production is usually an interplay between the material and virtual realms, between analog and digital technology. During the lockdown you produced a beautiful paper catalog of some of your generative artwork, can you tell us more about the whole project?

As I've also written in my last digital output, Generated #30 Second Iteration - Animated on SuperRare, these works are the result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Once again, what is interesting about them is how the limitation of possibilities created such a result. I'm working on the second booklet now, that will be in full color, printed somewhere else than home - but I'll try to put some artisanal effort into it too. I think there will be a third booklet, to conclude the series with the last iterations. And maybe something to keep them all together, or some reprints.
Oh, I'm also in the process of printing some of these artworks as silkscreens - you know, this speed-of-light-change thing is true for my production too.


You proved to engage in endless experimentation while creating. Any hints on the future developments of your art practice?

Physical and digital means will clash more and more. I want to create some artworks with NFC tags - with Near Field Communication, the tech behind contactless cards. I'm also designing a physical "glitch machine" that might become an actual installation. Oh, and I've also to restart the "SpoXify Dreams" project - I've 2 pieces on KnownOrigin about this that was temporarily halted by the lockdown. So, stay tuned.
And thank you for the interview, Chiara!


Interview by art editor and curator Chiara Braidotti
Cover photo: image curtesy Irene Beltrame

Art

NIFTIES Interviews PROMETHEUS

What a pleasure to have a chat with you, Prometheus! You have been into crypto for a while now and you have recently collaborated with Ethereal Virtual Summit 2020, realizing seven portraits for a charity auction. Can you tell us more about this experience, how did this collaboration start?
 
Sure! That’s right, the world of cryptocurrencies attracted me in mid-2017, I got into cryptoart a little later.
As for my collaboration with the Ethereal Summit, it was an interesting experience no doubt. SuperRare was among the event sponsors, and the team wanted to organize a crypto auction to help Covid-19 charities by donating part of the raised sum. They were the ones who asked me if I was interested in taking part to the auction with my work and I gladly accepted.

 

What about the subjects of your portraits, how did the idea come about? Which portrait did you enjoy making the most? 

So, the aim of the event was to actually create crypto collectibles rather than works of art. We decided to create the portraits of the main speakers, to sort of commemorate their participation in this year’s Ethereal Summit. I liked the idea of the classic collectible cards, so I played around with a style remindful of American baseball cards, almost in a vintage fashion.
The portrait that I liked making the most was Hudson Jameson’s, I’d say. He’s a fun look, and taking his twitter profile as a source of images and information, I enjoyed filling the card’s background with ice-creams and cats!

 

You present yourself as a father and tattoo artist, but your love for crypto has always been alive too. Can you tell us where your passion comes from and how did you approach the crypto art movement when it developed?

As I said, I started studying cryptocurrencies back in June 2017, more or less. I’ve always been one of those people constantly interrogating themselves and questioning things, sometimes raising even too many questions! While looking for answers, I’ve always had a “troubled relationship” with financial markets, sort of a love and hate thing… Sometimes I would dream about being a ruthless manager, other times I’d loved to be a hippie.
Eventually I understood the best thing one can be is themselves, and I started thinking of myself as someone between a ruthless manager and a hippie, in a way. Why should these figures be impossible to combine, after all? Cryptocurrencies helped me find the balance between the two.

 

All your works always have a rich system of references behind them, and your style kept very recognizable despite evolving over time. Does your creative process follow any pattern? Would you share some technical insights with us?

I believe that what identifies my work the most is that each piece tries to convey a concept or to stimulate deep reflection. This turns into a limitation to some extent because I hardly ever “take it easy” when I work. But if you take a good look around you might as well notice there’s not much to be carefree about, and what I produce can’t be detached from what surrounds us, from what I perceive.
I love observing the world in all its facets and think. I’m satisfied when I am able - or I try, at least, - to render an intricate reflection into a simple image, a graphically neat work – I don’t really like “special effects.”

 

What is it that really drives your art? 

Well, that’s a good question. I think it is mainly three things: a fundamental one is that I find in art a voice to speak my mind, a way to share my opinion with very many people and possibly provide food for thought. Another, related to crypto art specifically, is the idea to be part of a captivating and innovative reality. And the last one is related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, a discourse many of my works address, which will allow me to say in a few years “I was right,” and tell my daughters’ children that while a page of history was written I was there.