Back in the not-so-great days of January 2021, not many people would have thought much of NFTs and the possibilities when combining them with digital art.
A year later, the Seattle NFT Museum is set to open its doors to highlight the work of those who have navigated the billion-dollar boom and changed lives like Bellevue artist and conceptual illustrator Robbie Trevino.
“It’s great for people like me, isn’t it?” Trevino, who has two pieces in the first installation for the Seattle NFT Museum, said. “Because we can finally make a really good living out of what we do and have a lot of respect. I mean, Christie’s and Sotheby’s weren’t even looking in the direction of either of us a year ago, you know?”
If you’re a bit confused by the whole NFT thing, join the crowd. It’s a bit surprising to think that digital assets that were once free and now widely available sometimes hold tremendous value when combined with non-perishable tokens that provide instant proof of authenticity and verifiable provenance.
While NFTs aren’t new, the big, bold headlines about NFT-branded digital art began early last year when a pseudonymous buyer in March purchased a batch of artist Beeple’s digital pieces for $69.3 million, a staggering sum called a “milestone.” for digital art by auction house Christie’s.
Seattle NFT Museum founders Jennifer Wong and Peter Hamilton hope to create an appreciation of the limitless possibilities of digital art through their Beltown space that will showcase the work of artists and collectors to 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 are beginning to see the dramatic impact that can have in seeing digital art live in person at scale in a physical space and how that makes you think about and experience art in different ways,” Hamilton said. “And we believe there was an opportunity to create a physical space that can show the breadth of art and technology that is being developed and that can explore new areas and categories and show the audience the breadth of that medium.”
The museum, located at 2125 First Ave., will vary. , about the NFT Gallery’s growing experience in two ways. First, while art may be for sale from the artist or collector, this is not a selling space. There will be educational and social components as well, including a series of events around the January 14 opening.
“We felt that the missing aspect was just the teaching and learning and the context for what we were looking at,” Wong said. “I think we love experiencing being able to see physical art with friends and being able to talk about it as you would in any shared experience. But without being deep experts in NFT, we didn’t really understand the true value of what we were looking at. That’s why we wanted to focus Really on the museum side versus just a gallery, so we can focus on providing context for the art pieces rather than just having someone walk in with the expected knowledge understanding what they really are considering the possibility of buying it.”
Wong and Hamilton, a tech executive couple who recently married after meeting during their stints at marketing platform company TUNE (now President of TV Commerce at Roku, and Head of Sustainability at Convoy), assembled an expanded group of artists for the opening. Blake Katherine from Los Angeles is the prominent artist. Collaborator Lil Nas X and Jimmy Choo will be attending and participating in a Q&A about her work. The collector’s show will highlight the Bird Family group, and artist representation company H+ Creative will present the artists.
The work of Seattle-area artists will also be highlighted with exhibits from Trevino, famed grunge photographer Charles Peterson and environmental designer and 3D artist Neon Salt Water.
Two contributions from Trevino, who has worked with Lucasfilm on Star Wars projects, to Netflix on the popular “Love, Death & Robots” series, and the instrumental musical Tool and deadmau5 come from his multimedia project Numinous. It started as a picture book project, but as the NFT boom showed, he is now seeing more applications of his ideas.
“The book project could be anything,” Trevino said. “It could be a video game, a board game, an AR/VR experience, or an anime. But NFTs seemed like the next obvious face to explore that story, ‘Numinous’.”
Trevino is surprised by the speed of the NFT phenomenon. He remembers the idea of pairing art with coins that caught fire in February and March of 2021, and now he has a thriving market for work that he was willing to give up in some cases.
“The important concept this year was that digital art actually has a value far beyond what most people realize,” Trevino said. “It’s something we consume regularly so people assume it’s free, right? We constantly see a lot on social media – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook All these sites that would be just walls of code without art, without a user interface or some kind of website design or content that creators like myself would upload for people to see.”