In the business world they say "you can mine either mine for gold or you can sell pickaxes." In brothers Avery Andon and Alec Monopoly's case, they've got both bases covered and then some.
Andon, a veteran art consultant and founder of ArtLife Gallery, and Alec, a prolific visual artist and pop culture phenomenon, are the latest to join the NFT arena, and they're tackling the space thoughtfully, from all angles.
The duo recently launched ArtGrails.com, an NFT platform bringing a uniquely collaborative vision to the flourishing blockchain-powered digital art space. The launch also saw the minting of several new pieces from Alec Monopoly himself, a renowned street artist who is taking the opportunity to explore new artistic avenues.
Monopoly's debut offering was a collaboration with quadruple platinum-certified "Taki Taki" singer Ozuna. "Ozuna has this really cool teddybear image as his logo," he tells EDM.com. "I had a lot of fun entering the teddybear into my Monopoly world."
The artist is no stranger to the dance music realm, and the music industry at large. He's been commissioned to deliver a number of high-profile installations, including murals at Las Vegas' XS Nightclub and Miami's Ultra Music Festival. His most sensational work, however, is predicated on the creation of colorful words for iconic pop culture icons and characters, with the monocle-toting Monopoly man as his de facto muse.
Though non-fungible tokens present a vastly different medium for the canvas artist, Monopoly says learning to develop them evokes similar feelings to when he first started painting. "When I was a kid first starting to paint, I was all excited," he admitted. "I was having butterflies, I was nervous. This is like reliving that all over again with something new. It's amazing."
On the other hand Andon recognizes that the NFT space, which has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity and attracted the world's biggest artists and celebrities, is rapidly becoming oversaturated. While many NFTs have fetched jaw-dropping sums, ostensibly trading off of artists' names alone, ArtGrails is betting on demand for rare, curated collaborations as a means for driving long-term value.
"I've felt and still feel that the [NFT] market has become completely cluttered, and the top platforms offer zero curation," Andon opined. "It's become one big money grab. I wanted to step back and focus our releases on curated collaborations, partnerships, and innovative uses of technology."
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Andon says that to his surprise, organic collaborations such as the Ozuna and Alec Monopoly collection seem to be falling into his lap. In its short time in business, ArtGrails has already produced a bevy of perfect matches, including a recent joint NFT drop between rapper Internet Money and visual artist Mister E, who has made his name by painting elaborate pictures of money.
"In my opinion an incredible NFT release brings together artists or brands from multiple worlds and connecting them in a way that would not have otherwise been possible," Andon says. "Alec connecting with Ozuna would not have made sense for a painting, but in this new medium it makes sense." Andon dissects that statement further, explaining that NFTs uniquely appeal to a younger, increasingly online audience, rather than the traditional art collector.
His new ArtGrails platform defines itself as a "standalone Blue Chip NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) Platform." The term "grails" specifically derives from the world of rare collectibles, such as watches and sneakers, and harkens to the world's most coveted assets.
"If I did my job correctly people would be able to go to our site and know that whatever is being released that week is worth paying attention to," Andon said.
The swift and ubiquitous gravitation to NFTs by collectors has precipitated countless new questions relative to the future of art and the role it will play in society. Though he believes NFTs are here to stay, Monopoly does not see the technology rendering traditional art obsolete. "People ask, 'Is the future of art collecting digital?' And I don't think so at all," he asserted. "I don't think people are buying less canvas art because they're buying NFTs, which is exciting because it gives us two different markets to explore."
So what does the evolution of the NFT space look like? Monopoly and Andon agree it will embrace more of a social component, and they're already striving to remain ahead of the curve.
"Right now the experience is going to a website by yourself, buying an NFT by yourself, and you can share a screenshot of it," Andon explained, noting that one of the most exciting developments in the ArtGrails pipeline will focus on creating a new forum for users to showcase, highlight, and personalize their NFT collections.
ArtGrails' next release is a collaboration between Diamond Supply Co. and Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Wale, which is slated to drop on March 31st.