APENFT Foundation, a marketplace for NFTs, recently held a contest for digital artists to explore the theme of “Second Life” in the metaverse, inviting artists to portray their dream lives and futures. The foundation selected 13 finalists. Each will receive a cash prize and work with APENFT partner LiveArt to develop their digital artwork, which will be featured through cryptovoxels in an online exhibition in January and will be available for purchase on the LiveArt platform.
The grand prize winner, who will be awarded $20,000, is WMD Studio, with Infinite Falling, a digital animation depicting a nude human figure tumbling through space, partially enveloped by a synthetic blue wave.
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There are also four Best Creativity Award winners, who will receive $10,000 each: Verdi Jackson, Kong, Allyn Belfred, and Chengcheng Shi. Finally, eight Best Category Award winners will receive $5,000 each: They are Ron Guetta, HUIHUAN, Lil E, Pandalifa, Jansword Zhu, LOVEBEING, RocketHand Studio, and duo Zhang Hui and Zhao Xuetong.
APENFT received more than 500 works from digital artists worldwide. Submissions included a variety of 2D and 3D digital art forms, including images, music, video, animation, and VR/AR. The submissions were judged by APENFT art director and curator Sydney Xiong, TRON founder Justin Sun, and a panel of NFT art experts. The winning pieces were selected based on aesthetic and creativity; ideas and concepts; technical skills; relevance; and artist’s statement. TRON is an open-source blockchain operating system that raised $70 million through an initial coin offering in 2017, shortly before China banned such offerings.
“A good artwork has two essential components,” said Xiong. “First, a universal message—the work must have a clear and common language, so that the audience understands what you are trying to say. Good artworks can be understood across cultures. Second, artists’ own coding—in other words, their own symbols and styles,” Xiong said.
The prize money comes from the $100 million Art Dream Fund, recently established with TRON. In addition to the prize money and the opportunity to collaborate with LiveArt, finalists receive support and guidance from APENFT and TRON, particularly on legal and copyright protection issues.
“LiveArt and Justin Sun share a common vision of bridging the traditional and digital art worlds, and APENFT is an ideal partner in that journey” says Marisa Kayyem, chief curator of LiveArt.
“‘Second Life’ supports the growth of crypto-native NFT artists, and LiveArt is thrilled to not only share our experience and technology, but to also expose their work to the traditional art market through our marketplace.”
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are cryptoassets that use blockchain, a decentralized electronic database, to keep ownership records. But, unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are “fungible,” or similar to one another, each NFT is unique, with a different underlying asset, such as digital drawings or music. Blockchain supports all cryptoassets; each block on the blockchain records information—such as transactions—and cannot be changed. Once formed, the blocks are like complicated digital Lego pieces that can only be linked to the blocks that come before and after them, forming a stable chain.
There’s been more and more interest in NFTs as a way to sell and collect digital art. APENFT Foundation, founded in early 2021, is registered in Singapore and has a mission to register world-class artworks as NFTs on the blockchain. The organization aims to act as a bridge between top-notch artists and blockchain.
Most APENFT team members are traditional art industry experts from institutions such as Christie’s and Sotheby’s, or professional engineers with backgrounds in blockchain and cryptography. NFT holders can vote, share profits, and participate in community events.
Since their introduction in 2020, NFTs have mushroomed. According to the Dapp Industry Report, trading in NFTs totaled $10.6 billion in the third quarter, up 704 percent from the previous quarter. Christie’s first NFT auction, of Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days, sold for $69.3 million in March, an amount that surprised many.
APENFT seeks to help artists navigate this new world of NFTs and blockchain, and will provide contest finalists guidance about this burgeoning market. Marketing for the crypto and NFT space can be different. For example, when an NFT project or artwork is released to the market, artists are encouraged to create an eye-catching airdrop teaser. It’s also important to promote NFT projects on Discord, Twitter, and Telegram.
Contest winners will also be offered advice on NFT legal rights, how NFTs work, and ways to protect copyrights. The “smart contracts” that accompany each NFT can vary widely, affecting copyrights, royalties, and other crucial details. For instance, NFT ownership and copyrights are separate: An NFT owner doesn’t necessarily have copyright of the underlying asset, which means the copyright owner could release more NFTs based on that copyright. Smart contracts can be written to include restrictions on the NFT owner to commercialize the digital file or to ensure payment of royalties to the creator each time the NFT is resold.
The APENFT Foundation sees these issues becoming increasingly important to artists. The organization estimates that 50 percent of the world’s premier artists and artworks will be recorded as NFTs over the coming decade.
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The foundation previously sponsored the “Art + Technology” Summit at Christie’s in New York and the “Artnet NFT 30” report. It also has a vast assemblage that includes works by Picasso, Andy Warhol, and crypto artists such as Beeple and Pak, as well as other high-end NFT collectibles of various categories, including Punks avatars and EtherRock. The collection is valued at over $100 million.
Winners of the APENFT Foundation “Second Life” Contest can be viewed at artdream.apenft.org.