We talk to John Craine about the mission, purpose and growing pains of scaling the world’s leading NFT (Non Fungible Token) platform. We explore how they are breaking out of the ‘crypto art’ niche to become a social layer and network for the curation of digital fine art. And we look at the market for this new asset class, it’s experiments in growing forms of multimedia and its experience in both the physical and virtual world.
- Social networks for NFTs
- Growing crypto communities
- NFTs and digital fine art as an asset class
- The role of curation and community management in crypto
- Metaverse and VR galleries
Jamie Burke 0:06
Join us for diffusion digital diffusion dot events a two day virtual conference from the 15th to the 16th of September, showcasing leading projects from across web three with fire size and panels featuring leaders like Joe Lubin athyrium and others from projects including set protocol, the graph, Apple apps, parity are three, Gollum and etoro. Today, I’m really happy to welcome founder and CEO superare john crane. Welcome, john.
John Craine 0:34
Hey, thanks for having me, Jamie. appreciate being on.
Jamie Burke 0:37
I would describe superare as an NFT marketplace for digital art, and not just for artists, but also collectors. And it kind of serves as both a primary and secondary market. Is that correct?
John Craine 0:51
Yeah, that’s correct. I think the only thing I’d add is, we maybe also focus on this one private social network. So we have a lot of features that may be the more utilitarian marketplace might not have.
Jamie Burke 1:05
So the great thing about perhaps, might be inherent to kurtzweil. Generally, NF T’s is there’s lots of data available. But you’re also very open about what happens in a marketplace. So last time I looked, there are over 13,000 unique assets created, minted and listed on super rare artists have earned over 1.6 million and collectors have earned over $500,000. So this is in the context of crypto still relatively small, but there are kind of noticeable increases both in terms of the volume and evaluations in the market generally, but I think specific to superare. So I when I look into the marketplace, they go for anything from an equivalent of $250 all the way into the thousands, what’s the most the highest transaction that’s happened so far,
John Craine 1:57
the highest transaction was 16 times As it is paid for a, I believe it was looping video
Jamie Burke 2:04
interesting without primary or secondary
John Craine 2:07
ads in the primary. Okay? Yes, there’s about a month ago.
Jamie Burke 2:11
So I mean, I’ve been in crypto for just over seven years. And I remember whenever blockchains were mentioned in the context of art, it was usually around the provenance of physical art, that kind of conversation seemed to move down significantly now into it being in the context of digital art and NF T’s. And as I’ve got increasingly interested back on back into the space, both as an investor into startups that are working on NFT at the application layer or infrastructure layer, but also personally as a collector, it seems that the market now is kind of leagues apart in terms of both the kind of volume and quality of of artists and it’s actually Jake Brickman of coin fund. I did a podcast a few weeks ago, who got me to kind of look back into it. He’s obviously a both an artist, an avid collector, but also an investor in the space too. And what I can understand you’re one of the top platforms, and you’re showing some really great growth stats. So you recently showed that your sales for August 2020 were $624,000. That was up from 246,000 in July. So it feels like something big is happening on the platform. So congratulations for that momentum. But as I’ve been kind of looking at the space and trying to form a thesis, it kind of feels like crypto art, especially in the context of a bull run in the wider market could kind of be the Lambo of you know this aspiring you crypto wealth which always felt slightly at odds with you know, this Right technical dickish community whilst and FTS with kind of crypto art definitely feels more of that street. And so it feels obvious that as more crypto wealth is generated, it’s going to move into crypto art that is kind of self referential to to the space. But it’s gonna be interesting to get your view on whether NF T’s are going to kind of break out from from that niche into mainstream and into wider digital arts. And when I’ve spoken to other people in the space, some of references already this kind of consolidation happening in terms of almost blue chip artists, perhaps some of the earliest movers in the crypto art space, but it seems to be extending beyond creators in both aetherium and Bitcoin community and into digital artists that are working either with AI generative arts, also gaming engines and film which is which is really exciting. And also this convergence with VR AR, and gaming, which you might call metaverse. And I know you’ve been doing some religious things in VR. So we’re going to touch upon that a little bit later. So to just quickly contextualise you as a founder, I’ll do my best to summarise your origins, please feel free to jump in. From an education perspective. You went to San Diego State University and you actually studied computer computational science. It says you completed your first semester. So hopefully that means you dropped out.
John Craine 5:33
Yeah, so that was actually a Master’s programme, which I did drop out of. I completed an undergrad in San Francisco actually studying civil engineering and architecture. Ah,
Jamie Burke 5:45
interesting. Okay, I missed I missed that one. And perhaps that then feeds into the first role where you describe yourself as a creative technologists working at something called Mr. Wai which was working in web and mobile development and It looked like there was a spin out called MRI coffee app. Was that your kind of first first startup?
John Craine 6:06
That Yes. And that was kind of like an internal project that they built in is that it basically, it was kind of like early days for mobile apps. And some of this like, is like Bluetooth, I forget exactly what they were called. But like, you could like, schedule it, like as soon as you walked in the door, or would like order a coffee for you. So yeah, I don’t know the first from ideation to like actual product people use that I worked on,
Jamie Burke 6:33
don’t you? And then you worked at General Assembly, where you were a front end web development instructor from about 2014 onwards, where you were helping you kind of develop the technical curriculum, lead students through front front end web development courses. And presumably, that gave you some good grounding in terms of working with and I’m onboarding developers, and I don’t know how much that’s true in what you do with See Pereira in terms of developing a developer ecosystem around that platform, you then move to consensus where your product engineer you also involved with the accelerator there. And around 2015, you’re a founding member of block apps, which was working primarily in an enterprise context, founded the enterprise aetherium. Alliance, and many of the partners like Azure, AWS, Red Hat, etc. 2017 you then founded superare. And you’ve been doing that for almost three years. So congratulations. You survived. So what was the in that journey? I mean, I guess consensus was the place where you can really develop this understanding or appreciation for the space. What led you to found superare What was it about the space Especially at that point, because it was not obvious. I think it would be as hot as it is becoming now. Why was that the problem or the opportunity or the mission that you kind of settled on to, to focus your career?
John Craine 8:15
Yeah, there’s sort of two parallel tracks, I think. Yeah, I got lucky ended up just kind of like following my two separate passions that, you know, ultimately converged and superare. You know, as I mentioned, I had studied engineering and architecture from undergrad, so I kind of always was interested in our Neato creative expression building things. But at the same time, while I was doing my undergrad, I was in an econ class during the fall of 2008. And so I had no interest in finance or anything, but that kind of, you know, spurred some interest and so I started reading about things like Austrian economics and kind of like going down a rabbit hole that ultimately ended up At Bitcoin so I was kind of interested in the arts, also interested in, you know, crypto, both of them were kind of like, you know, hobbies, you know, passion projects, things that work on the weekends, I was working in advertising. And then eventually, kind of seeing what was happening with Bitcoin in New York roots of rumours about a theory was a little bit sceptical at first, but it the network, watch this sort of playing around and got really excited about possibilities. So it went to work with consensus, but at the same time, you know, I was kind of how I got interested in art really was through generative art. So when I was in college, sort of playing around with things like processing, I loved I was always a little bit of a math nerd. So I love the idea that you could like, use random numbers to you know, generate, you know, visually aesthetic and pleasing things to look at. So yeah, does eventually, you know, I was working with consensus kind of saw some days, you know, Seeing what happened with rare pet bays, which, you know, could be like early tokenized, digital art, the crypto pumps, guys, you know, pioneered kind of the early NFT standard. And then, you know, seeing what had happened with crypto kitties, you know, and like building the actual standard for NF T’s I got really excited about that. Having seen how the standard for ERC 20 tokens affected, you kind of like this Ico boom, I thought that having a standard for, you know, unique digital objects was going to be game changing, right? Like everything on the consumer web has a unique ID. And that was kind of the, you know, NF T’s facilis facilitate that in on chain manner. And so I got really excited and was just wanting to build, you know, get involved build something. And so, at some point, you know, I was just talking with my brother who’s our CTO, and you’re like, oh, man, what if you you know, built Something like a social network but you had instead of just like Instagram posts or tweets or whatever you have it, you know, what if each thing each artefact was a piece of art, and so that it’s kind of the to the colliding passions in crypto and in our
Jamie Burke 11:16
so that’s interesting. So you did you co found the company with your brother? What did you kind of did you hire him and later
John Craine 11:23
Ah, so yeah, I started working on it. But he had more experience. So he actually worked at block apps as well. And he was a low level he was working on, they had a custom aetherium node kind of like, with extra features for big enterprises. And so he had a lot of low level experience. I’d often asked him, you know, as asking him questions about solidity, how does this work? And so he was kind of advising me, I’d say, and then eventually, he decided to join full time but yeah, and there’s three co founders. It’s myself, my brother And then actually, I Jonathan Perkins, who’s my cousin. So,
Jamie Burke 12:04
Oh, wow. Okay, so you’re really keeping in the family. And how does that work? I mean, I’m sure it has its pros and its cons. Right? I mean, I guess you can go outside and have a physical bust up and go back into the office. And that’s perfectly acceptable.
John Craine 12:16
Yeah, exactly. It makes the it makes the the the conflict pretty easy because we get we’ve been doing it for decades. So
Jamie Burke 12:23
yeah, there’s a younger brother, older brother.
John Craine 12:26
He’s my younger brother. Okay. Interesting.
Jamie Burke 12:28
My assumption was, again, looking at your background, and at first glance, or at least my exposure to the space has been that crypto art seemed to be primarily coming out of the theorem community at the same time. You know, you do see a lot of work referencing Bitcoin. Do you think that the confirmar community perspective, is that polarised or is that actually when it comes to crypto art the the kind of put down The arms is less tribal between those two communities.
John Craine 13:03
Yeah, I think with regard to art, it’s a little bit less tribal, you know, people still love to, you know, joke and poke at the other projects. But I think people are just they’re often excited to see other people who see the vision for you know, how, how powerful on chain art can be. And so, you know, there’s people who can’t you a Counterparty was a pioneer. So a lot of folks who’ve done experiments with Counterparty that was kind of my first, you know, foray into the space and understanding about is like, Counterparty assets. As you know, they’re a little bit tribal, but I’d say overall, last tribal, they’re kind of just excited. You know, that it’s happening and growing. I think that’s
Jamie Burke 13:46
pretty exciting for everybody. Yeah. And I guess in the Bull Run, there’s even less reason to be tribal, right. So one of the things that I’ve been trying to wrap my head around is when you look at superare in the context of the kind of wider NFT digital ecosystem, what is the function of superare? And if you kind of look at that ecosystem of participants, what’s the same? And what’s different to the traditional art market? Or, you know, the traditional digital art market?
John Craine 14:19
Yeah. So I’d say that you the function of superare has kind of continued to evolve as the space has evolved. So the first launch, we launched a minting tool, and then also a marketplace tool. So we had primary and secondary marketplace capabilities, and the minting tool. I think we were one of the first places where you could mint NFT we launched that April 2018. And, you know, since then, I think we’ve kind of gotten more, you know, our opinion, you know, looking forward there’s going to be, you know, millions and millions of pieces of tokenized art And we’ve ended up becoming more curated. So I think, you know, now there’s tonnes of options for places you can go into. And so one of the things we’re doing is trying to be an interface for people who are from more traditional art backgrounds. So we recently launched and editorial, II, which is kind of open to, you know, there’s opinion pieces, there’s artists, studio tours, you know, write ups on the exhibition work that we’re doing. And so yeah, I think a big part of what we’re doing is kind of showing, showing the world that you know, hey, this isn’t just Bitcoin means and, you know, pictures of metallic, like, there’s tonnes of incredible artists who you know, are really serious about their craft. And, you know, we’re kind of helping them find collectors and, you know, monetize this art that you know, people haven’t really thought about digital fine art so much, you know, it is there. is a market for it, but it’s pretty small. And I think NF T’s can really unlock a much larger audience, just due to the nature of how they work. And so
Jamie Burke 16:11
as I understand that this kind of curation isn’t necessarily from you centrally as as an editor, but it’s through collectors. So you have the artists, and then you have the collectors and people can follow the collectors or, or an artist. How does that kind of function in reality, from what I could see a lot of the collectors are also artists. I don’t know, like, what percentage but it certainly feels like you’ve kind of got a fairly self contained community initially, at least, the most active users, but could you kind of talk through what is a typical superare artist or or collector and is is there? What’s the difference between a collector and somebody that’s perhaps making a one off transaction
John Craine 16:59
Sure. So So yeah, with artists, basically, right now we kind of have a rolling application so artists can apply. We actually do have it. So we have an in house good curation team that helps with the application process. So it’s, you know, a big part of it is like, vetting just making sure that people are who they say they are, you know, they’re not just ripping stuff off of Google or Instagram. Yeah, trying to create a digital forgery. And then, so that’s one component. These people, you know, often do, do collect art. But there’s also a pretty wide, you know, a big pool of, I’d say NF t enthusiasts who are not artists who are just interested in sort of, you know, what NF T stands for when we think about, you know, like, the metaverse to like what is you know, digital property. And so, I think those are kind of the two big categories. Right now, the big collection Are people who are generally really excited about NF T’s and think, you know, there’s something really special happening there.
Jamie Burke 18:07
So that the four tree bits interesting. So I remember the first time I heard art and blockchain mentioned together was by Trent McConaughey of now ocean, he worked on something called a scribe, which was trying to tackle that problem. Is it still a manual process? do you leverage something like a scribe? Do you think there’s a gap problem still not been solved?
John Craine 18:30
So I think that problem is still not been solved. And kind of the way we’ve approached it is just every relationship that we have with an artist we do where it’s a partnership. So you know, we’re kind of methodically and slowly onboarding new artists and really view it as a long term relationship. You know, it’s not. Now it’s kind of a decision we made early on, it was like, well, we could build something completely open. But then you need to spend a lot of resources building you know, spam prevention tools, and Things like that, or, you know, we could have a more manual process and kind of focus on like, building an ecosystem around digital art. And then you know, potentially later if you do want to open it up more, you have nice infrastructure to rest on versus, you know, just worrying about. This is just, you know, stuff that’s being tokenized from Google. So I think there’s still some, some opportunity to improve, you know, those types of tools. What’s interesting as well with art is, you know, in crypto, people love to talk about reputation systems. And, you know, art in a lot of art is kind of reputation and personal interaction. So even though they’re not codified, and things like smart contracts, they’re still very strong. And it would, you’re pretty disincentivized if to, you know, create a forgery because if it gets discovered, and especially in this case, you know, we have a very clear record that you did, indeed do tokenize something that wasn’t Yours two years ago and this specific block, that would be pretty bad for your reputation. And so it is, you know, it’s interesting, I think people will want it to the reputation system to be permissionless. But it’s actually a great reputation system just in the social layer itself. That kind of helps disincentivize that type of behaviour.
Jamie Burke 20:20
Yes, it’s interesting. So one of the things that I asked you, before we did the interview, whether you’re comfortable talking about was a couple of things, firstly, the perceived toxicity in in the community. And then what you described as kind of this growing pain of an evolving growing community, where recently there was a problem between a collector and an artist and it’s interesting. When you talk about building the community around super rare, that you’re not trying to just devolve as much of this to code as possible that there is this kind of social layer Recently there was this this challenge between a collection of artists could you can talk through what happened and how the community responded and ultimately, how you as a platform, I guess, intervened?
John Craine 21:15
Sure. And yeah, so, you know, one thing that we’ve been working on and probably, you know, would have helped us greatly the situation that we, you know, finished it earlier is, you know, community guidelines, I think it’s important to have, you know, a healthy shared understanding of, you know, where are we and where are we going, you know, where do we want to go with this thing? So, I think that was, you know, on our part, having those guidelines that would have, you know, been pretty helpful. In this case, you know, there was some, you pretty trolli behaviour happening. And so, you know, one of the collectors said, you know, basically asked us to, you know, remove an artist who is, you know, participating in And we basically asked for it, we were like, well, we’re trying to get these guidelines out, you know, it’s, you know, we certainly don’t kind of like support drolly behaviour, but at the same time, you don’t want to just go Oh, like, oh, here, we’ll just turn your account off. Right, there’s, you know, like, we’re all building trust with one another, trying to build something special. And so, yeah, I think it was just, you know, grown people growing and changing communities evolving. And so, inevitably, be inevitably there’s going to be conflict, and you need a way to, you know, resolve it in a healthy manner. And so I think we’re still, you know, it’s a reasonably young project, and so we’re kind of building that infrastructure to help deal with these types of situations. You know, in crypto, there can be some pretty toxic, you know, negative attitudes. And, you know, I think it Yeah, it’s the same here right. You have lost personalities on the extreme ends of spectrum sometimes you like. And so it can just be challenging to deal with. And so we kind of tried to, you know, we did our best trying to be reasonable and fair, and you know, can’t please everybody. But, you know, I think ultimately, these types of things are actually super healthy, right? You need to you need to have thick skin to be able to deal with stuff like this. And for me, it’s just like, I know what I’m doing, right? Like, I’m trying to build a platform that’s going to, like have an amazing future for our collecting. Right? I think we’re changing the way people interact with art and perceive art and I’m excited about that. So my goal is to build these tools that get Yeah, they can help people I think we are you know, we’ve helped a bunch of artists around the world make money with art that they probably wouldn’t have done before. And so, you know, I just tried it is distracting is it can be stressful, just trying to stay focused on you know, what my mission is and go with And kind of try to ignore the noise as much as possible.
Jamie Burke 24:04
Yeah, so I mean, so the outcome in the end, I believe, was that you remove the collector rather than the artist
John Craine 24:10
or the collector, quit. And then in that process, kind of like on Earth, other sort of opinions and feelings, and, you know, sort of like the very trolley behaviour continued. And so we ended up the art artists in particular was, was removed. It seemed like, sort of lost on both sides, in some regards, but I think ultimately, it’s net positive like it was, there was a lot of trolling behaviour. We’re trying to build some, you know, a positive, you know, place for people to respect each other. And, you know, what we’re doing is hard enough. So if you’re, if you’re not interested in supporting our efforts, then
Jamie Burke 24:56
it’s probably not a good place for you. I guess this comes back to the idea that you alluded to At the beginning, which is one of us USPS is that you’re also trying to have a social layer be a social network around these assets. And so that I guess requires moderation. And is a good argument for why you want a degree of censorship. I know like generally in crypto censorship is seen as this apparent thing. But as you can see from the different types of social media in the place, there’s like a 4chan you do want superare to become like, 4chan or or something else, right.
John Craine 25:31
There’s lots of and I think, you know, it like when I we first launched, we were one of the only, you know, minting platforms out there. And there’s plenty of other options. So if you people don’t like, you know, how the community is shaping up then. Yeah, they they can go somewhere else. You know, it’s I said, there’s plenty of other things to do. So,
Jamie Burke 25:51
yeah, well, I guess it’s a free market and also, as you say, other platforms may cater to this kind of censorship resistance or the ability to Not have deep platforming at the same time. I think we all know from our own personal experiences with social media, having a degree of curation and moderation generally creates a more friendly environment. So if you kind of look at the, again, when I speak to people in the space, and I ask them, at least aspirationally, what they think will be different about this as a market compared to the conventional art space, they might talk about, there is less of an opportunity to manipulate the market, you can potentially remove capacity in terms of who’s buying and selling, what art pieces, and then also this idea that you can remove galleries from the equation, or at least the kind of tax quote unquote, of the gallery, which I believe can be up to 50% in the conventional art market. So what what’s your perspective on that, where do you think? What do you think realistically will be different? What might turn out to be the same? Is it okay that there is just a new form of gallery that inserts itself into the space? And is is the platform potentially the gallery?
John Craine 27:17
Yeah. So let’s see if there’s a couple questions. I’ll start with, you know, one of the things I think that’s different in this market, and I think is related to the opacity you mentioned, in our and I think a lot of people don’t know that there’s, it’s very difficult to get good data, you have to pay for an expensive appraising database subscription. Just to you know, if you wanted to see, you know, what’s the average price of our by a specific artist or something like that. And one of the beautiful things about NF T’s is we’re creating a free open data set and you know, there’s going to be some level of noise and spam in the data, but you’re free to analyse the data and kind of filter out what you do. irrelevant. And you know, this is important information as well, yeah, happening in real time. And I think that’s, you know, it’s not very, like exciting and sexy like talking about having good clean data, but it’s actually super important, I think, for healthy market. And so I think that’s one thing people don’t often think about when thinking about this. And I think a result of having that data is that you’re gonna have more participants in the market. I think art and art collecting is, you know, it’s a very fun social activity collecting is, you know, very human. And I think the way the current contemporary art market structured, it kind of keeps a lot of folks out of it. So there’s plenty of people who would be interested in joining, but there’s a high enough level of friction that they decide it’s not for them. And I think that actually is a much greater number of people who would enjoy art collecting and who are already starting To collect art, we’ve seen it on our platform, people who have said, you know, like, I was always kind of interested in art collecting, you know, but I just, I didn’t see a good place to get started. I didn’t want to go to a gallery, you know, like, they often, you know, not all galleries are the same, but sometimes it can be like, you know, it’s like a little bit like, Who are you? You know, you have you Do you know anything about art? Did you study art history? And so I think, kind of lowering those barriers, which is exciting because you have more people around the world getting excited about and involved in art. So galleries, I think, yeah, 50% is obviously an extremely high fee. Do I think the galleries are going to go away? I think there’s something really interesting component of art kind of is the storytelling. And I don’t know that everybody wants to some people. I think it’s a whole spectrum of like art creation, and there’s art storytelling, there’s art appreciation of the storytelling. So it says sort of intricate web of social interactions. And so it’s, you know, I don’t think galleries and curators are like banks where they’re just like charging overdraft fees, you know, they’re exhibiting the work. So making people think about it differently as they do add value to the situation, they’re not just this tax collector on the road. That said, I think 50% is pretty high, like, absolutely, I think, you know, I definitely think this is going to help kind of lower and lower those fees, and then also kind of blur the roles because you now can have a collector can sort of be their own gallery, right? They’re gonna have certain tastes and like, a collector can be a curator it is there were kind of like I was talking to someone recently. And they said, it kind of seems like a flattening and emerging of a lot of the components. So you’re seeing the lines blurred, and before where there is a rigid distinction. Now it’s kind of a grey area, you can kind of fall in there. And so I think I think that’s pretty exciting because it opens up, you know, somebody could be a collector, but maybe they also like to tell stories about art. And you know, they can, you know, they could go sell it if they chose to. So, I think we’re seeing the roles change, I don’t think it’s gonna go away. And like, for me, I love reading about, you know, if a curator does a studio tour, and I learned about an artist process, then I go appreciate the work in a completely different way. And if I had never heard that story, I you know, I wouldn’t know a lot of those things. And so I think it’s just changing, but I don’t think
Jamie Burke 31:32
they’re going to go away. And presumably, as you say that, that storytelling or giving context to a piece of art or collection artist, as a premium, I guess the difference now is that you will be able to see that premium, you know, like the marginal premium that’s been added or not. And presumably, if somebody is actually not adding a premium to the asset, then they won’t be able to, you know, participate in it. In a way that they might have previously. So, both in terms of superare, but then also maybe owning art generally. Have you considered a Dao? And in terms of evolving from what you are now towards one, and then the kind of community governance that might come with that? Do you think that dows will have a role to play in the ownership of art kind of the fractional ownership of art?
John Craine 32:29
Yes, so, yeah, we we talked pretty extensively about, you know, what a governance token could look like, I think, you know, like you mentioned and we talked about, we’re doing a lot of the curation for who has access to Super air right now. It’s, you know, very challenging it’s, it’s certainly not fun to tell people No. Yeah, get lots of, well fuck you emails or English hackers photo. You can swear
Unknown Speaker 32:57
John Craine 32:59
All right, yeah. So, you know, that’s very challenging, and I think, a huge opportunity. It’s amazing that the the kind of the community that’s grown around superare is pretty passionate about, you know, the this decision making process. And so, yeah, I think absolutely, at some point, we’re going to have something that’s more you kind of community owned and community governed. And so I think one of the great the dreams of crypto is that, you know, people who are participants in the network actually own the network, right. That’s, you know, I think, a big part of why we’re all here. And I think there’s a huge opportunity to do that. And so we just, we, our goal is to be pretty thoughtful about it. You know, we don’t want to rush it. But I think it’s, you know, it’s an exciting, exciting area to experiment in, right? It’s, you know, it’s something like an art collective, but it’s also a social network and a marketplace. And again, it’s this kind of blurring of the roles and I think, yeah, there’s something really interesting And special to be built there.
Jamie Burke 34:03
But you were of any cartels or dows that are focused on acquiring and owning NF T’s and art like their office a gaming.
John Craine 34:13
Sir, there is definitely rumours about these these being built in people people doing that, which I think like you mentioned the fractionalization I think it’s great to have you there’s a lot of folks who are interested but you know, maybe don’t have the time to do what they consider due diligence to go spend money on art. And so I think I think it’s going to be great for for artists to have kind of more, more capital coming into the system, supporting the creation of more art, supporting more people. So yeah, I think you know, probably over the next year, we’re gonna see a lot more than I just because just from what I’ve heard, hanging on discord channels and stuff There seems to be a lot of interest in it.
Jamie Burke 35:02
So if we try to then understand the market as it is or, or the asset, kind of from a financial perspective, as I said, we’ve seen kind of lots of new types of artists entering whether that’s AI generative art, a lot of people building stuff using unity in the gaming engines, and and even some music or scores being added to two pieces now, how do you see the the asset or the media evolving in terms of what’s being listed now on on Super app?
John Craine 35:36
Yeah, so I think, you know, it’s interesting is it can be more of an experience, like you mentioned, you know, having via a looping video with sound or an audio component as a piece of art, you know, that’s going to be totally different than if you didn’t have the audio component. And I think we’re kind of in early days experimenting, you know, what, with what does this look like, but I think It’s going to be more and more experiential. And I think another thing that’s pretty interesting is, you know, the experience could also be, you know, like, depending on where you are and what you have, you might experience the art in a different way. So for example, on the website, you might just see a video clip of a piece of art. But then if you say it’s something that has a lighting component, and an audio component, and a video component, like if you have the right equipment, you could, you know, sort of immerse yourself in a more detailed, you know, in different fashion. And so I think that’s an interesting thing. You know, if you, if you go to the Tate Modern, and you look at a Rothko, that’s gonna be a pretty different experience than if you’re just browsing Rothko’s on Google Images. And I think, you know, we’re seeing more and more of this as you know, we have people building VR sculpture and so on super rare it looks one way but then In kind of the immersive unity experience, you can appreciate it in a completely different fashion. And so I think we’re just going to see more and more detailed kind of experiential media that you know, people is considered art.
Jamie Burke 37:15
Yeah, I’m going to talk about that a little bit later in terms of how NF T’s could become more experiential, either in a virtual context or a physical context. But it’s really interesting. Have you already seen groups, collectives or studios work together? So somebody that could do audio, somebody that could do an animation, as you say, maybe somebody who works in lighting in a film context, so have you seen collaborations between different artists with different skills to create a single piece yet?
John Craine 37:49
Yeah, absolutely. So early on, you know, artists who were talking to with you know, might be more traditionally might be more traditional. So you perhaps like pencil On paper or you know, went on canvas, and so they would partner with people to do who are kind of, you know, better at animation or or you know, like mixed media and multimedia. And so sort of since day, kind of seeing some of this collaboration and teamwork around this, and I think, yeah, we’re just continuing to see that, you know, for example, with the, the Atlantis VR exhibition, you know, that was a collaborative effort to, you know, kind of put together the world a bunch of different artists who put together their different sculptures. So yeah, I think, you know, we’re just gonna see more and more collaboration because it’s kind of required to build these bigger experiences.
Jamie Burke 38:41
So for context, the Atlantis thing was your second VR Archer, right?
John Craine 38:47
Yeah, that’s correct.
Jamie Burke 38:48
Before we go into some of the detail around understanding NF T’s as an asset and like a financial asset, could you first explain to me trash art because this is a meme that I’ve been trying I get my head round for the last week and I can’t really understand its origins. And it seems to be this now, trash. Your meme has merged with some pill meme. And it’s like the mimetics in the crypto art community are just off the wall.
John Craine 39:12
Yeah, absolutely. I wish I had more time to spend in my meme creation. Just trying to build superior features. But, um, so yeah, I think the origins of trash are, we, you know, as I mentioned, we kind of view each relationship that we have with an artist as a partnership. And, you know, one of those partnerships, I think, sort of like opinion started to diverge. And so we had an artist who was, you know, in their, they would say, they’re maintained pieces of conceptual art, which were basically just things they had found on Google that were in the public domain and then tokenizing them, which, you know, we were like, this is not the ethos of superare we’re trying to, you know, tell people about digital art is very confusing. If there’s a This is not a great way, this isn’t helpful for us as a community for you to be doing this. And so we revoke this artist’s ability to tokenize on superare. And the last piece that he created was sort of like a trashcan that he had run through a photo, like photofiltre, basically. And so that was the origin of trash are in that, you know, there’s, people love to yell about, you know, the sort of, like, fair use and the righty, and people should be able to do whatever they want. And I think people should, there’s plenty of places where you can do whatever you want. Just, you know, for us trying to build this ecosystem around digital art, it’s not extremely helpful to have, you know, to be asking questions about like, well, what is fair use it? Is this pushing the boundaries, like so. That’s kind of the origin story of trash art. So yeah, it’s turned out to be a great platform, people are standing on it yelling about, you know, rights and things. So,
Jamie Burke 41:05
now people have kind of created and it’s a whole meme right trash meme. There’s people producing versions of his version, which is, which is awesome. It was slightly confusing to me looking from the outside, but that now, now Now I know what’s going on. I guess I need to quickly Hurry and try and buy that original one of his right because that sounds like the the thing that starts means presumably is going to have value at some point. So in terms of the kind of nfcs as a financial asset, DC correlation to the price of what’s happening in on a platform like yours, versus what’s going on in the wider market. As I said at the top end of the, the podcast, people I’ve spoken to said that a lot of the very early crypto artists that were kind of very referential to crypto itself have almost become emerging as blue chip artists, you know, some have said, well, it’s not because they’re a great artist, it’s just because they were the first or the most referential. Are you seeing that happen is kind of more capital, or more of a premium being associated to the early, early movers? Or do you think that there’s other other dimensions of play?
John Craine 42:21
I think there’s a lot of dimensions. But I definitely think that there is an element of while the you know, these people were here around there, at least either part of or around the time, the origin of just the movement around crypto art, and so, yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a higher premium. Yeah, a lot of those artists, I think are amazing artists, but also, just, you know, we’re making art history. And so I think, you know, it makes absolute sense. You know, some of the early impressionists Are they the best impressionist, yeah, people have different opinions there, but they were the first one so that makes it exciting.
Jamie Burke 42:58
Yeah, really interesting. And again, I’ve been I’m trying to snap up a few of these before I start talking about them on podcast or Twitter, by the way, so that’s why I’m not mad. That’s why I’m not mentioning any names yet. Try to use that information asymmetry to my to my benefit. So if we can now go into the infrastructure, both kind of digital and physical infrastructure that will enable this stuff to mainstream. Obviously, the big the big question is around gas prices, because of the nature of the dominance of aetherium related to NF Ts. How you handling Now obviously, there’s things like fuse from dapper labs now, which is looking to try to create a protocol specific to NF T’s. How are you navigating that dependency upon aetherium? Are you considering other protocols? Are you kind of philosophically wedded to a theorem and waiting for him to point out?
John Craine 43:57
Yeah, I’d say not really you fellas We wedded to any particular protocol. So we, you know, we’ve been looking at layer two for aetherium pretty heavily so like the roll up technology, there’s, you know, platforms like like medic or Matic and some of these other kind of like layer two scaling solutions, you know, near recently announced their Rainbow Bridge we have like polka dot kind of coming online with these are like application specific chains which are, you know, kind of like side chains. There’s, you know, there’s a lot of options. I think none are like really amazing there. They all come with, you know, technical challenges, and it’s a pretty heavy, you know, engineering investment to get them to work. And then I think you also have UX challenges, you know, just based on the nature of these solutions. I think, you know, one of the great things about just using a theory is your like, well, everyone’s already familiar with the token people have meta mask like the moment you add a layer to You’re adding more complexity, I often think more complexity just means it’s worse. Yeah, which so there’s two, there’s just a lot of trade offs. And so that’s kind of like, I guess so maybe philosophically I just think simple is better. And so having, not having to deal with something else is nice, but at the same time, if the gas fees, you know, continued to increasing at this pace now we’ll be able to do anything except for you know, people farming sushi or whatever they’re doing. So, yeah, we’re doing we’re pretty actively researching everything actually just opened up a scaling channel on our discord today, because there’s a lot of interest in so we’ll be sharing kind of our findings. Yeah, it’s it’s a tough situation to be in because I think nothing, there’s no silver bullet, no magic solution. Any of them right now are pretty, you know, you’re going to be building features that don’t really add to the user experience. So like can help with the ultimate goal of building a great art collecting platform. So, yeah,
Jamie Burke 46:06
so at the moment, you can only purchase by using metamask, which for those that don’t know, is a browser, which effectively lets you purchase NF T’s with aetherium, or kind of move in and out of various crypto assets versus a nifty gateway who, as far as I can understand, only allow fear payments, I think you might be able to do it through the Gemini wallet because they were recently acquired by by Gemini. But is that a deliberate decision? Is it again, just a way to try to reduce complexity whilst the community is still quite, you know, crypto for crypto sake, and at what point might you consider on an off ramps to allow for people to pay with with fear?
John Craine 46:52
Yeah, I think it’s mostly just been going to keep it simple. I think it would be great especially as you know, We’re there’s a lot more interest from going to the more traditional art world. They’re just folks who are not crypto natives getting excited about the, you know, the space that the movement that’s happening. Sitting credit card would be great that there’s regulatory challenges if we wanted to, you know, actually, one of the nice things about using smart contracts is, you know, we’re completely non custodial. That helps keep things simple for us. So, yeah, I think it’s, you know, it’s coming. It’s just something we haven’t prioritised yet. I think we’re still, you know, building in some amount of infrastructure around it.
Jamie Burke 47:35
Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s interesting, because of course, when we’re thinking about an NFT, the SEC would, could maybe possibly who knows consider it as a the same as any crypto and therefore custody is a regulated activity. You need an MIT licence and everything else and I guess, because you you in the US, you kind of have that regulatory overhang which perhaps people outside of the US don’t have Have you ever considered? Well, firstly, are you registered in the US? Have you ever considered operating out of another jurisdiction to make that easier? As for now, you’re kind of just deferring to this. Going through metamask. And that kind of keeps you out of trouble.
John Craine 48:16
Yeah, so we’re registered in the US.
haven’t spent too much time heavily thinking about other jurisdictions. So yeah, it’s mostly just been well, it’s simple if we’re non custodial, but I think it would be nice, you know, like, there’s plenty of people who don’t want to, you know, they’d love to swipe a credit card and have something happen behind the scenes, not terribly technically difficult to build much more difficult from a regulatory perspective than anything else. So, yeah, you know, we’re we’d love to have a good solution there.
Jamie Burke 48:48
So to circle back to this idea of the kind of physical infrastructure or spaces where you could experience this multimedia form of NF t beer. Physical gallery or compared to the virtual space. I spoke recently with Mokhtar the Museum of Contemporary digital art. And I know that they’re, they have a virtual space in somnium, which is a VR blockchain environment. But they’re also been exploring, having a physical space to, to kind of showcase the experiential nature of NF T’s. How much of this is on your roadmap Now, given everything that’s going on with with COVID?
John Craine 49:29
Yeah, so we Yeah, we’re big believers in you know, the physical, physical space. A lot of our first exhibitions we need framed a bunch of iPads and so you know, we’re at hanging out at DEF CON, telling people about digital art. And I think is a big opportunity there. But also the kind of like the In Home digital experience is also, you know, kind of lacking at this moment. So, we’re working on just the UX around like, what is it? You know, how do people want to know are in their home. But then also, I think there’s, you know, there’s super interesting stuff happening with these more immersive digital art experiences all over. There’s the art, art tech, art and tech house in New York. I think there’s a Japanese art collective, or maybe they’re global, but I think they’re based in Japan, on teen lab that does incredible work. And so I think we’re just, you know, on one, for one thing, that the technology is getting a lot cheaper. Yeah, it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to do incredible projection mappings. And so I think, you know, there’s interesting things happening with public art. And what’s cool about that is you can do it on a scale you just can’t you know, if you had a 200 by 200 foot, painting, the be very chatty. You got to move it around, set it up, versus if you have, you know, projection mapping capabilities all over the world. You can stream the same piece of art You know, you could have a global art show, everybody’s kind of experiencing something similar. And so I think we’re just getting started, like the technology is getting cheaper. It’s getting better. And I think we’re gonna see more of that happening.
Jamie Burke 51:14
So to kind of maybe end on the big vision, how do you understand the role of NF T’s in the context of the metaverse? Do you kind of subscribe to the metaverse as a as a direction? Or do you kind of see it going in a different way?
John Craine 51:31
Ah, well, I think there’s, I think digital art is going to be an enormous market. I think we’re seeing a complete, you know, there’s a revolution happening. And that’s really exciting, kind of just around digital art in general. So even metaverse aside, we’re seeing there’s lots, you know, happening in crypto, there’s lots happening outside of crypto and traditional art. So that’s, that’s happening and then on the other hand, I do think there’s amazing stuff happening with the metaverse. I think NF T’s are a foundational component of this. People are working on standards, they’re getting better. And so I think art is going to be something that kind of bridges the metaverse and, you know, this physical world. You know, maybe it’d be like metaphors like here we’re just displaying a piece are in real life. But um, yeah, I think, you know, we’re we’re seeing the early like, the early stages of this my opinion, it’s going to be like, you know, there’s going to be millions of meta versus you know, all connected. People are still figuring out how that works. You know, there’s I think is a tonne of standards work that needs to happen. It’s, uh, you know, How simple is the ERC 20 standard compared with you know what, we’re going to need standards wise for a metaverse to function. So I think, you know, we can probably have five years. Yeah, I don’t know maybe even standards writing just is gonna happen but eventually We’re going to end up in a place where it’s stuck is actually interoperable and you can kind of travel between these virtual worlds it can be very exciting.
Jamie Burke 53:11
Well, this opportunity I have to do a shameless plug because I’ll never forgive me if I if I don’t do it, but crucible is a project in our portfolio that is trying to work on this trust layer, identity layer and portability of NF t. So there you go. Ryan can make sure I got that in. The final bit is we do something called Twitter asks, so I kind of put out on Twitter a few things. No tricky questions you’ll be glad to hear actually. The first one I asked is kind of linked to the final point around the metaverse. So apt probe said, Do you think everyone should have a VR set? And what is the minimum entry level for virtual galleries?
John Craine 53:52
And I do, I think everyone should mvrc Yeah, I think it’s it’s completely different. You know, if you are walking around VR with an Oculus quest, I think is the Oculus quest is me is still a little bit expensive, I think the price points around 500 bucks. So, you know, that might not be feasible for everybody. But if you can afford it, I highly recommend getting a quest. It’s totally game changing, not having all the wires connected. So I think that’s a good place to get started. You can do a lot of a lot of fun things with that Oculus quest.
Jamie Burke 54:26
Cool. And then interesting. We’ve got a question from x copy, which is one of those artists
John Craine 54:32
who does is one of my favourites.
Jamie Burke 54:35
Right, exactly. And I’ve got I do have a couple of his pieces. And he’s potentially one of those blue chip artists that we were leading to earlier. So his question is a little bit kind of more functional or technical, which was around timed auctions. So do you imagine it’ll be some options in the future he suggested that the coding method seemed Ferris I don’t know what that is. By the way. But he prefers short extensions for like bids.
John Craine 55:03
I interesting. Um, so yeah, we were we just finished the spec. So auctions are in there in route we’re building out right now. So that’s been super exciting. They are going to be two options. One is, you know, the Colby method, and which yet for those who don’t know, I call these LG in the space shout out to Cody. He’s awesome. He kind of pioneered an auction method via Twitter. And so we’re going to add, it’s basically once the reserve prices met, it kicks off a 24 hour auction. And then there’s kind of like a 15 minute extension towards the end if people are continued to bid it up. So that’ll be an option. And then we’re also going to have sort of just scheduled auctions with the timeframe. So if you want to have a an auction last week, you could do that as well.
Jamie Burke 55:59
Awesome. And then final question. I don’t even know how to pronounce this business, I think something like that. I actually blocked him for asking this question, but I’ll give him anyway. He said, If you could see if you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be? And why?
John Craine 56:16
Let’s see. Well, it probably be you Frank Sinatra in New York, New York. Mostly because that’s just my go to karaoke song. And so, a few I could actually sing all the words do
Jamie Burke 56:28
nice they go, so it’ll be happy and we can pretend it doesn’t exist anymore. Awesome. Look, thanks to you. Thanks for your time. It’s really appreciated. As I said, both at a kind of personal level really interesting to see that the growth of super rare and equally as an investor, I think it’s going to be super interesting watching what you do, especially around governance tokens and downs and everything else. So thanks for coming on the show.
John Craine 56:54
Yeah, thanks for having me, Jamie. Really appreciate it. It’s been a fun and lively conversation.
Jamie Burke 57:03
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