In the not-so-great times of January 2021, few people gave much thought to NFTs and the possibilities when combined with digital art.
A year later, the Seattle NFT Museum is set to open its doors to showcase the work of those who rode the billion-dollar boom and changed the lives of people like Bellevue concept artist and illustrator Robbie Trevino.
“It’s great for people like me, right?” said Trevino, who has two pieces in the Seattle NFT Museum’s first installation. “Because we can finally make a very good living from what we do and we have a lot of respect. I mean, Christie’s and Sotheby’s weren’t even looking our way a year ago, you know?
If you’re a little confused by the whole NFT thing, join the crowd. It’s a little dizzying to think that digital assets that were once free and widely available now sometimes have immense value when combined with non-fungible tokens that provide instant proof of authenticity and verifiable provenance.
While NFTs aren’t new, the bold headlines around NFT-marked digital art began early last year when a pseudonymous buyer purchased a collection of artist Beeple’s digital pieces in March for $69.3 million, a staggering sum called a “milestone.” for digital art by Christie’s auction house.
Seattle NFT Museum founders Jennifer Wong and Peter Hamilton hope to create an appreciation for the limitless potential of digital art with their Belltown space that will showcase the work of artists and collectors for those who want a more tactile interaction with what is largely an ephemeral art form.
“We started visiting our first NFT galleries a few months ago and started to see the dramatic effect it can have to see digital art in person on a large scale in a physical space and how it makes you think of art and experimenting with it in different ways,” Hamilton said. “And we think there was an opportunity to create a physical space that could show the extent of art and technology being developed and that could explore new areas and categories and show the general public how this media can be expansive.”
The museum, located at 2125 First Ave., will differ from the growing NFT Gallery experience in several ways. First, while art may be for sale by the artist or collector, it is not a sales space. And there will also be educational and social components, including a series of events around its opening on January 14.
“We felt like the aspect that was missing was just the education, the learning, and the context of what we were looking at,” Wong said. “I think we love the experience of being able to see physical art with friends and being able to talk about it like you would with any shared experience. But without being a deep NFT expert, we didn’t really understand the true value of what we were looking at. And that’s why for us, we really wanted to focus more on the museum aspect rather than just a gallery, so we could focus on putting the works of art into context. art rather than someone entering with the expected knowledge of already understanding what they are looking to potentially buy it.
Wong and Hamilton, a pair of tech executives who recently wed after meeting during stints at marketing platform company TUNE (he’s now head of TV commerce at Roku, she’s head of sustainability at Convoy) , brought together a large group of artists for the opening . Blake Kathryn from Los Angeles is the featured artist. The Lil Nas X and Jimmy Choo collaborator will be there and participate in a Q&A about her work. The Collector’s Showcase will showcase the Bird family’s collection, and artist representation firm H+ Creative will provide an artist showcase.
The work of Seattle-area artists will also be showcased with exhibits by Trevino, famed grunge photographer Charles Peterson, and environmental designer and 3D artist Neon Saltwater.
The two contributions of Trevino, who has worked for Lucasfilm on “Star Wars” projects, for Netflix on the popular series “Love, Death & Robots”, and the musical groups Tool and deadmau5, come from his multimedia project “Numinous”. It started out as a picture book project, but as the NFT boom has shown, he now sees a lot more applications for his ideas.
“The book project could be anything,” Trevino said. “It could be a video game, it could be a board game, it could be an AR/VR type experience, it could be an anime. But NFTs seemed like the next obvious facet of exploring this “Numinous” story.
Trevino marveled at the speed of the NFT phenomenon. He remembers the idea of associating the art with the tokens that caught fire in February and March 2021, and now he has a thriving market for the work he would once have been willing to donate in some cases.
“The big concept this year was that digital art actually has value far beyond what most people perceive,” Trevino said. “It’s something we consume so regularly that people assume it’s free, right? We constantly see tons of them on social media — Instagram, Twitter, Facebook – all those sites that would just be walls of code with no art, no user interface or some kind of website design or the content that content creators like me upload for people to watch.