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Episode 19
VerticalCrypto Art

  • 1 min read

Episode Description

01:04 - Micol from VerticalCrypto Art discusses her organization’s view of the crypto art space. VerticalCrypto art provides curation, content creation, NFT consultancy, and event production. In addition, the group runs a first of its kind residency for talented artists looking to move into the crypto art space.

24:05 - The week's top art headlines


Craig: [00:00:09] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with Micol from Vertical Crypto Art about her organization's view of the crypto art space. Vertical Crypto Art provides curation, content creation, NFT consultancy and event production. In addition, the group runs a first of its kind residency for talented artists looking to move into the crypto art space. At the end of the episode, I'll be taking a look at some of the week's top art headlines. But first up, a vision for developing artists with Micol of Vertical Crypto Art.

Craig: [00:01:03] Micol from Vertical Crypto Art, thank you for joining me today on the Art Sense podcast. Micol, maybe the best place to start is to tell our listeners a little bit about what vertical crypto art is and what you do.

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Micol: [00:01:19] Sure. Yes. Thank you so much for having me. Yes. So I I'm the founder of Vertical Crypto Art, which is essentially a studio and an artist, first collective and community dedicated to NFTs. Crypto art and the web free ecosystem in general. We have a few different ways that we approach this ecosystem, primarily on the one side, we are a studio offering curatorial services. We do advisory for and consulting for a few projects and brands. And then we also have a program of artist incubator or a residency program, which is essentially an online educational program where we onboard, educate and provide some sort of guidance and support and tools and resources for emerging artists who are coming into the NFT space. And yeah, I need like a sort of path and guidance towards approaching the web free as as an ecosystem as a whole. So on the one side, we do, we focus more on studio side of things and work with external projects and brands. And on the other side, we actually offer free knowledge, tools and resources to artists around the world.

Craig: [00:02:51] How did you get into this space? Did you get sucked in through cryptocurrency or from the art side?

Micol: [00:02:56] No, not at all. Neither, to be honest. So I do not come from cryptocurrency. I did not have any crypto before May of 2020. So the my introduction to the space was primarily through a friend of mine. I've always kind of had a lot of like artist friends, especially artists that are not really plugged into the traditional art world and have always tried to find different mediums and different ways to communicate their art in different forms. So one of them essentially found out about NFTs, found out about blockchain and and yeah, he just kind of introduced me to the space. And so through this person, I then essentially found out about the whole world of NFTs and art and blockchain and really just fell into a deep rabbit hole.

Craig: [00:03:55] Where did you come from in terms of like your your experience that you're bringing to this space?

Micol: [00:04:02] I've worked in tech companies for and with creators, for a major tech company for five years. Before that, I was working in advertising. But yeah, always kind of been pretty much plugged into doing partner management, partnerships, communication community. So it's always been something that, like I've kind of worked around. But obviously it was more of a corporate structure than currently

Micol: [00:04:35] The skill set that you're bringing to the table. There is being a conduit between partners in the creatives or business world people and the creatives kind of a conduit to be able to communicate between those two. Is that about right?

Craig: [00:04:50] To be honest, I don't really like make that connection at any point in time. I just think I brought some of the I brought with myself some of the, I guess, nuances of having worked with creators on a platforms that were offering a space and a place for creators to show their work. But I also think that these same platforms have also used these same creators for a lot of time to for their own, obviously profit and intentions. And I really do see vertical crypto art as a completely new, let's say, way of communicating with creators of a way for myself, actually to find a space and a place to do and build community and empower artists all over the world. So I don't really see that as a connection between the two, to be honest.

Craig: [00:05:49] Part of your services are around curatorial services, and there's also NFT consultancy. How do people come to you? There are probably two different groups, right? I mean, they're the creators. And then there are the people that are wanting to get up to speed. About the end of space. Do they just reach out to you and what are those engagements look like?

Micol: [00:06:08] Pretty much through email or Twitter. Primarily, I think it's like the two ways in which people reach out. Sometimes it's through connections. Sometimes it's through like different social media, as sometimes it's through some of other projects that we work on and therefore our what we do. Our work kind of gets passed on to different entities and people reach out for there. I think with artists, mainly the community is pretty active on Discord. So I do get a lot of artists and creators reaching out through our server, which is great. And I and I absolutely love that we do have quite an active discord community and an overall kind of like community of people that contributes, collaborates with us, adds value to a vertical crypto art as a whole when it comes to like brands and, let's say, more institutional work and projects, it's usually comes through the usual channels, whether it's Twitter or email.

Craig: [00:07:16] You talk about having these studio projects. What sort of projects have have you guys been working on to this point?

Micol: [00:07:23] So we collaborate with a few different projects. We have been working with a few of the marketplaces such as Rarible and Known Origin and Hickock Known providing curatorial videos where we highlight, for example, 10 to 15 different artists per week. We collaborate with a few of some collectors to provide to do exhibitions with them for existing collections that they have. We work pretty closely with MOCA Museum of Crypto Art and we do curatorial exhibitions. We do artist interviews. We then also work with like different protocols, depending on whether it's like launching their event in the Metaverse. And we curate an auction as part of this, or we recently curated a sale for Sotheby's. So, yeah, like all sorts of things, usually it's obviously like including our expertise, which is the artist side of things. And so connecting these brands, these protocols, these projects with different creators, curating exhibitions, curating auctions and providing some sort of guidance, especially for protocols and projects for firstly approaching the NFT space.

Craig: [00:08:41] I think you also mentioned an incubator. Can you provide some more details there? Is it a matter of of handholding with folks who have creative talent who are just now wading into this market and exactly how to navigate that can you provide some more details there?

Micol: [00:08:59] Yeah, it's a residency program, so it's an educational program which is ongoing at last 12 weeks. We on board 15 to 20 creators in each cohort. We're currently at the second cohort. We actually have twenty one creators. This for this second cohort and the first eight weeks are dedicated to classes and knowledge sharing. So we have over twenty five different mentors who are experts in different topics such as Jason Bailey, a.k.a. Artnome, such as Colborn from Museum of Crypto Art, such as Fanny Lakoubay art advisor and curator such as people from SuperRare and from various different marketplaces who share their knowledge and teach classes. I'm going to say classes is more like workshops because they're very kind of like a two way conversation between them and the artists. And then the last four weeks are dedicated to creation, so the creators are left to produce one to two NFTs, which, if they want one of them, will be donated to vertical crypto art. And then at the end of each residency, we have a NFT auction and an exhibition in the Metaverse, where we auction off the donated NFTs and the proceeds part from the royalties go back into our Treasury wallet of their residency, which then automatically feeds into the future residences.

Craig: [00:10:27] Wow, that's really interesting. And so it's I assume it's a virtual residency, right? Are people?

Micol: [00:10:33] Yes. Everything happens online and we have a Discord channel dedicated to the residency.

Craig: [00:10:39] And is there a cost for the artists to participate?

Micol: [00:10:43] No, absolutely not. No cost. No. Nothing, everything is free. We actually provide them with budget to mint. We provide them with resources such as hardware wallets to secure their digital assets. We actually. And like our mission with this is for this program to always be free and for all of the resources that we provide to be completely free of charge for all of the creators that are part of it, we actually want to scale these programs to include even shorter residencies specific to certain topics. So for example, now I'm working with one of the artists that was part of our first cohort to potentially activate an educational program in Senegal. She's based out of the car in Senegal to potentially educate a select group of probably women artists who are interested in learning how to code.

Craig: [00:11:39] Is there a particular profile that the artists that are coming to your residency? Are they younger or are they coming from the the art world with a capital A.? Or what do you see in terms of the folks that are coming on board through through your residency?

Micol: [00:11:56] Yeah, so we have an application process. We actually haven't the last time we opened, it was the first time where we got over like one hundred and eighty applications. We filtered it down. It wasn't just our decision. We actually had a peer review along with all of the twenty five mentors that are part of this program where we got to vote on all of the resident applicants. The main criteria is pretty much to one of them is how long have they been into the NFT space? I think the program is more suited to people who are newer and approaching the NFT space. So let's say from zero up to six months, obviously these are not set in stone criteria, but it's just a better to keep these in mind. And then the second one is just making sure that the program is as diverse and inclusive as possible. I have personally always been very focused on emerging artists and especially showcasing artists from all over the world. I think the power of this, these technological innovations, such as blockchain and NFTs, is really to also kind of distribute that inequality that happens around the world and educate other countries and creators coming from various different areas to empower them with a set of tools and resources, which they can then ultimately provide more economic value and society values, also to the place that they're they're living in. So these are like the only two criterias. The first cohort we had were 17 artists from 17 different places, and now we have twenty one artists from around. I think it's 12 or 13 different countries around the world.

Craig: [00:13:49] Yeah, that's amazing work. What do you think makes a good NFT? I know that you guys have there are some curatorial discussions that go on at different levels. Whether you're deciding who's qualified to be part of the residency program or who you know, an institution comes to you and ask for for help picking out work. What do you how do you define what what makes a good NFT or crypto art?

Micol: [00:14:17] So I think NFTs unequipped to art are two different things. NFTs are a medium technological medium by which it can be applied to different things doesn't necessarily have to be art. And if he's going to be gaming, NFT can be contract. NFT is can be a variety of different things. So for me, what defines a good NFT is a very broad question. I personally enjoy seeing artists that are pushing the medium and actually communicating through the technological medium, which is the smart contract and the blockchain, and really experimenting with what that means and how it can play into the art in itself. This is something that I personally find very interesting. It's like a combination of engineering, like developing and artistic mediums like all coming together, which I think is extremely interesting and exciting. But then obviously, like, I'm also a big fan of artists that reinvent themselves for this digital medium. So artists that are able to bring a very physical practice, such as painting or like wool felting into the digital medium by enhancing this by, for example, learning how to use Gans or learning how to code and then applying this into their physical practice and all of these like mechanics. So I think in general, for me, it's like. How can you add to your practice for the medium?

Craig: [00:16:05] Where where do you think this crypto art space is headed? What what do you think is on the horizon?

Micol: [00:16:14] It's going to be it is already the future, you know, we're we're seeing we're going to be seeing more and more brands coming in using NFTs as a way to build communities, as a way to engage fans, as a way to build a new customer base. We're also going to be seeing many more creators working closely with brands and like adopting these forms of these methodologies of working together, which hopefully can benefit both parties and not just be one sided. I think we're going to be seeing many more metaverse experiences and the whole like ecosystem such as gaming, such as museums such as institutions. So I really I just see this space growing more and more. It's it's. Yeah, it's it's it's an exciting time, I think. We're just really at the start of it. So what will happen in the next five to 10 years is, I think, going to be. Pretty surprising.

Craig: [00:17:24] Are there any hurdles that stand in the way of of this space being all it all it can be? Is there anything that's standing in the way of this growing to the next level?

Micol: [00:17:39] Personally, I'm not really worried about the space going to the next level. What I am worried or what I do think about is making sure that the values and the ideologies with which the the ecosystem was built from the start talking about 2016 2015 so far, such as artist royalties, secondary royalties, you know, smart contracts, integrations on chain transparency, all of these aspects are maintained in the future. And I think the risk when something like a new technological innovation gets so big and so mass adopted is that you tend to potentially lose some of these aspects, which in my view, are extremely important.

Craig: [00:18:34] So I know that you work with with a lot of artists, and I'm sure you you have favorites. I hate to put you on the spot and risk the you alienating yourself from from specific folks. But are there some are there some specific artists that you would recommend listeners to to check out their work that you really love that you collect? Who who should we be checking out?

Micol: [00:19:06] It's a really tough question like my my position is is one that I really try to avoid this as much as possible. I am obviously going to be biased towards the artists that are part of our community. So I think on the top of my mind, an artist that really struck me specifically at the moment is an artist called Linda Dounia. I mentioned her before, but she's from Senegal, from Dakar, and she, I think, has a huge potential. She does some really incredible work, and at the moment, it's the first name that comes to my mind.

Craig: [00:19:54] Well, how how would you describe her work?

Micol: [00:19:56] So she has a very varied practice. One of her aspects is Gans and generative art. Another practice is digital paintings, but her whole focus is really depicting and showing the culture where she's from and the place, the place where she lives and her society, political, economical, societal structures. And it's very clear from from the work that she does. So she tries to transfer what she sees in real life and what she lives into her body of work. And it's pretty incredible.

Craig: [00:20:37] Sure. Let me ask you this, so I know that you were on the schedule to speak this week at NFT NYC. What topic were, you know? What was the topic that you have been chosen to to contribute to?

Micol: [00:20:53] The panel was on community and how to build community within the NFT space, but unfortunately, because of the COVID regulations, I won't be able to make it.

Craig: [00:21:04] Tell me, what would that conversation have looked like in terms of community building? What are the the talking points that folks would have gotten to hear?

Micol: [00:21:13] Well, it was a panel, so I think it was going to be more of like a conversation with all of the panelists. I think on my side, like my my biggest, my biggest thoughts around like how to build community has always been around being as organic as possible. My community has really built itself up very organically, very authentically, very honestly like it's never been. Nothing has ever been forced. It's always been pretty much me trying to learn as much as possible about the NFT space and speaking and engaging with people that I find inspiring and building out of a out of the deepest form of sincerity and love and passion for what I do, and for the artists and for the creators of the space. So nothing has ever feel felt forced. And I think that's part of why, you know, vertical crypto art is also where it is at the moment and why we've managed to build such strong bonds and connections between the people that we've interacted with.

Craig: [00:22:33] Sure. So is is discord a big part of that? Is that where the majority of of kind of the organic growth is? Or is it on all the platforms?

Micol: [00:22:45] Uh, primarily Twitter, that's where we've built our community, our strongest community. And yeah, I think primarily Twitter and then obviously we open the Discord server. And that's where I guess the even kind of the core of our community really stays and chats and interacts super well.

Craig: [00:23:09] Micol, I've really appreciated your time this morning. You know, I think you're doing amazing work and perhaps we'll get to meet at the net NYC next year. But I really appreciate what you do, and I sincerely think this is an exciting opportunity for for artists that that want to get in the space and people that that want to figure out how to wade into crypto art in in the in the right way. And so I really appreciate your time this morning.

Micol: [00:23:41] Thank you so much. Thanks so much for having me. And yeah, hopefully I'll meet you soon next year.

Craig: [00:23:48] Great. Thank you and have a good day.

[00:23:59] And now the news.

Craig: [00:24:05] In art collective called MSCHF spelled, M-S-C-H-F in all caps has just released a series of conceptual artworks that pokes fun at conceptual artwork. The release, which is part of the group's Museum of Forgeries project, is offering a 1954 line drawing by Andy Warhol called Ferriz, as well as nine hundred and ninety nine identical forgeries of the drawing. The forgeries were created by scanning the original and using the data to drive a robotic arm. The forgeries were then put through a series of steps that degrade the materials, making it almost impossible to tell the original from the fakes. They then destroyed the records of witches, which in shuffle the deck. So now, for two hundred and fifty dollars, you can buy a precise replica of the drawing, which might actually be the drawing itself. What's the point? Is this just a way to make two hundred and fifty thousand dollars selling a drawing valued at twenty thousand? Well, Mischief says they are actually wanting to make a statement about the art world. Quote the capital A.. Art world is far more concerned with authenticity than esthetics, as proven time and again by conceptual works sold primarily as paperwork and documentation by forging theories in mass. We obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork, though physically undamaged, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a needle stack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications. John Honoré of Ragnar's The Swing the most iconic image from the Rococo period has just undergone an extensive cleaning and restoration, which is shedding more light on the origins of the painting and the artist's intent.

Craig: [00:25:58] After removing a healthy layer of dirt and yellowed varnish, the vibrant colors of the painting appear even more so. The scene, which has long been cloaked in scandal, shows the young woman delightfully enjoying her time on a swing. An older gentleman appears to be pushing her, while a young man can be seen emerging from the bushes in the foreground, catching the perfect glimpse up the girl's skirt. The restored image reveals more blush in her cheeks and a more sizable bosom. It has always been presumed that the old man is the girl's husband, while the young man is her lover. We don't know for sure because the patron who commissioned the work was never identified. Frank Anade confirmed the painting was his, but would never say who paid him. The clues we do have about the origin come from an artist named Gabriel Francois Doyon, who supposedly passed on the commission. According to Doyon, he met the prospective patron quote in his pleasure house with his mistress. The patron told him that quote You will position me in such a way that I am able to see up the pretty child's legs with her on a swing pushed by a bishop. Well, the finished work totally hits all those same notes, except for the Bishop. Perhaps Fragmented negotiated a version that was more provocative than salacious. So there's the sprawling villa in Rome called Casino de Ville Bone Co. a load of B.S. That's a mouthful, but it's better known as Villa Aurora. Well, when it was constructed back in the 1500s.

Craig: [00:27:34] Cardinal Francesco Maria de Monte wanted something special to adorn his Alchemy Lab. I mean, wouldn't you? He wound up enlisting the work of a twenty something Caravaggio who painted a fresco of Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto on the ceiling. It's the only known mural by the mercurial Caravaggio, and it's not going anywhere. Such is the nature of fresco, but the villa is now for sale in the villa is soon coming up for auction. It's estimated that the prime palatial residence in central Rome would go for roughly one hundred and ten million euros if it weren't for the Caravaggio. With the inclusion of that mural, as well as another by grand piano, the starting bid for the villa skyrockets to four hundred and seventy two million euro. In a world where billionaires pay nearly that much for a yacht, it's possible that there may be a buyer out there. Only time will tell. But. That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rates show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to Canvia Art and click on the Podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Craig at Canvia. Art, thanks for listening. Do.

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