Lucien Smith, who shot to prominence in his early 20s for his process-based abstractions painted with a fire extinguisher, has dropped his first series of NFTs in a collection called “Seeds.” The collection is currently being sold through Lobus, an artist equity management company that recently brought in Smith to direct its Cultural Innovation Lab. The Lab will work with elite artist clients to help them adapt to the digital age, and Smith’s Seeds drop is a kind of proof of concept for the kinds of assistance that Lobus can provide.
“NFTs are a really powerful platform for artists to build and reach their community directly,” said Sarah Sherill, cofounder and co-CEO of Lobus. “Lucien had maybe about 200 buyers with his previous practice. With the NFT model, he could be reaching thousands of people, if not more.”
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Each Seed NFT looks like a seed packet that one might find in a hardware store, with a kind of screen-printed, Warhol-esque aesthetic inspired by a recent suite of paintings that Smith exhibited in an exhibition titled Secret Garden at Over the Influence gallery in Hong Kong. Like many procedurally generated NFT projects—see Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks—the Seeds collection is a 10,000-work series created with an algorithm. Smith designed different traits and attributes that were then mixed and matched into unique combinations of varying rarity.
Sherill said that additional technical flourishes might include a project for which holders of Seed NFTs can “plant” them on a special Lobus platform and cross-pollinate them to create hybrids, in a sort of collect-and-breed model that mimics the gamified collecting device developed by CryptoKitties in 2017. Offerings of the sort are examples of digitized projects that Smith might not have been able to execute without the technical support that Lobus aims to provide to other artists.
“We’re really focused on working with artists who have a physical practice who want to expand into the digital, creators with brand-equity who want to protect and pull through into a web3 environment,” Sherill said. When asked why an artists would choose Lobus over another platform, Sherill said, “There’s a reason you don’t see Bottega Veneta on Amazon.” Or, put another way: “We understand luxury, and what that means is that we understand the importance for the artist to preserve their brand identity in these initial drops.”
With its exclusive offerings of well-established artists, Lobus hopes to become the go-to platform for art world elite. And so far, the strategy seems to be working as the likes of DJ Diplo, influencer Zack Bia, and music-industry insider Brock Korsan show off their newly copped Seed NFTs on social media.