Greg Oakford, co-founder of NFT Fest Australia, is your guide to the world of NFTs from a collector’s and fan’s perspective.
Andy Murray x Wimbledon x Refik Anadol
A special open edition NFT collaboration between tennis star Andy Murray, Wimbledon and well-renowned digital artist, Refik Anadol is launching to commemorate the 10th anniversary of tennis star Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.
“The Exposition” describes itself as “a world first exploration into the marriage of fine art, high performance sport and data science.” In the teaser video, it reveals how the artwork is a visual representation of points played including body movement across Murray’s illustrious career at the last remaining grass court tennis major.
At a price point of $147, 248, editions have been minted to date with the mint window closing on July 16. Buyers can mint using crypto or via a credit card on Manifold. Holders of the token will also later be afforded the opportunity to buy a physical print edition of the artwork.
I believe what we are witnessing here is the early signs of a trend for where sports memorabilia and general fandom is headed. The collaborative nature of digital art and collectibles and the ability to layer utility on top is too big of a value proposition for sports administrators and athletes alike to ignore.
The future will start with digital first. Scalability and accessibility are huge drivers for sports that command a global audience. As NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said last week at NBA Con:
“Because our buildings are essentially full, we can’t scale our arenas, 99.9-something of our fans only experience the NBA through our media. Through technology, how can we extend beyond that — products like NBA Top Shot are ways to do it.”
U.S. Women’s Golf Open ArtBall
Last week, golf followed in the footsteps of the Australian Open tennis grand slam’s NFT project the AO ArtBall, rolling out a similar concept for the U.S. Women’s Open. Using the same name “ArtBall,” the USGA teamed up with some of the same architects on the project, which ties a piece of the surface area of the sports field to an NFT.
More than 3,000 people minted an NFT for free that correlated with a plot of the 17th green at host course Pebble Beach. In the tennis version, a match point landing on your area saw your NFT upgraded, but the U.S. Women’s Open opted for a variety of ways to provide upgradable traits, including “landing points,” closest to the hole and longest hole out. (There’s more here on how the mechanics worked.)
The ArtBall concept is a strong one where we see the integration of existing highly sophisticated sports data tracking technology and a new way to engage with fans by blurring the lines between physical and digital experiences.
Kudos to artist Amy Goodchild, who spearheaded the generative art on the golf balls. They look very clean and crisp. This is another example of sport and art blending together via NFTs.
UFC to integrate collectibles with a mobile-first game
The UFC announced a new multi-year partnership with Concept Labs to help build upon the already launched UFC Strike collectibles product built on Flow.
Cornerstones of the new deal include UFC Strike: Fight Camp, a mobile-first roster management game compatible with UFC Strike digital collectibles. Holders will also participate in matchmatcher sweepstakes where you can meet UFC president Dana White to pitch a dream fight matchup, plus other exclusive digital and IRL fan experiences.
What’s hot in NFT art markets
Some big sales for Fidenzas at 75 ETH and 71 ETH, “Ringers #514” went for 88 ETH, and a “Bold Chromie Squiggle” sold for 28.5 ETH.
But the past week has really belonged to Terraforms by Mathcastles with more than 145 sales for the on-chain land art project that launched in December 2021. By comparison, the previous week saw 50 sales. The collection floor has moved from 1.2 ETH up to 2.17 ETH in the past seven days.
NFT Creator: Tjo
We meet a genius of mixed media artists, Tjo, from Quebec, Canada.
Who is tjo?
Originally introduced to NFTs by friend Wally Sajimi around the end of 2020, Tjo’s truly unique art is an outlet for his diagnosed OCD condition and strives to shine a light on mental health. He minted his first token on Feb. 23, 2021, saying he understood very little about NFTs at the time but found it “mesmerizing.”
“My own emotions and experiences with pure OCD greatly influence my art. I don’t want people to feel a particular emotion when engaging with it — rather, I hope it forces them to look into a deep place within themselves and get out feelings that were always there.”
“I also hope that the people who have dealt with mental disorders feel better about their differences by sharing these experiences.”
Tjo’s style and influences
With a background in physical paintings and photography, Tjo, like many other artists minting works on the blockchain, doesn’t like to be pigeonholed as a particular type of artist.
“I don’t particularly appreciate how we discuss style in markets like NFTs. It is weaponized as a vehicle for speculation without regard to historical context. If forced to pin down my art into a category, I would fall under mixed media. It is straightforward: I mix a variety of mediums and approaches, both digital and physical,” says Tjo.
Greek mythology and anime are two big influences on his work.
“I get more and more influenced by Greek mythology. Something about those stories gets me fired up and curious. I also love anime like Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell and Neon Genesis Evangelion.”
“To find myself and a visual language I felt was proper to myself; many artists greatly influenced me, such as Francis Bacon (Irish-born British figurative painter), Jean-Michel Basquiat (American artist part of the neo-expressionism movement), Tim Walker (British fashion photographer), Frank Ockenfels (American photographer and artist of celebrities) Kazimir Malevich (Russian avant-garde artist) and many more.”
Rapid fire Q&A
What’s your favorite NFT in your wallet that’s not your own NFT?
“My ‘Mathcastle Terraform.’ It is just a perfect crypto art piece.”
Is there an up-and-coming artist/s you think people should be paying attention to?
Who is a notable collector of yours that makes you smile knowing they own one of your pieces?
“An OG that collected one of my early pieces was Path. I think that brought a lot of eyes to me, and I’m grateful that he still owns the piece he bought.”
Do you have any favorite pieces of your own work?
Vegas Sphere captures imagination of digital art enthusiasts
Las Vegas captured the imagination of the sports world last week with the debut of No. 1 draft pick, 7’5” Victor Wembanyama in the NBA Summer League and T-Mobile Stadium playing host to UFC 290 during international fight week. But for digital art enthusiasts, the only game in town was the imagery coming from the Vegas MSG Sphere.
The $2.3-billion construction is the home of a new 17,500-seat stadium that doubles as the best interactive billboard you’ve ever seen.
As digital art continues to push the boundaries in a rapidly accelerating creative environment layered on top with provenance via NFTs, a big unanswered question remains of how to best display digital art to truly do the work justice.
We’ve seen the introduction of premium screens such as Danvas and digital galleries around the world like JRNY, which just opened in Vegas, and Oshi Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, but it feels like we’re still scratching the surface. Well, what bigger surface area than 580,000 square feet of the Sphere?
Surely, it’s just a matter of time until we see iconic digital art, such as CryptoPunks, Fidenzas, Ringers, Chromie Squiggles or XCOPY having their moment on the Sphere, or maybe Jake Fried’s “Ball.” Could only imagine what a giant ball rolling down hill at you on the Vegas strip might look like as you jump into the Uber after a few drinks.