In this episode, Jigsaw, the co-founder of seen.haus explains why a boutique platform can help lesser-known artists make a name for themselves. The company curates an NFT auction house and offers buyers the option to redeem a physical art piece along with their NFT. The option is a way to differentiate themselves from other platforms.
What is seen.haus?
- Seen.Haus is a highly curated NFT auction house, looking to merge the physical and digital worlds of art. They want to do that in two ways: making physical artwork with digital artists with a linkage between NFT and physical art, and making NFTs for traditional artists. The combination of the two allows seen.haus to build a vision of merging both worlds.
- The platform started in October after Blue Kirby and Buddy Castille had some success on Rarible doing NFT drops. seen.haus wanted to take it a step further and bring physical art into the process.
- Buddy is a painter from the traditional art scene. The two decided together to create the auction house.
How Jigsaw joined the company
- Blue Kirby’s idea: Last summer, Jigsaw came across Blue Kirby who was promoting NFTs. They developed a friendship and eventually helped him with his newsletter. From there, he was invited to help with the seen.haus project writing blogs and other content.
- Expansion: As the platform expanded, the responsibilities grew. The team now has 10 people, many of whom came from the crypto community. Collectors Justin Trimble and G Money were added on as advisors. Ferdinando, the Creative Director for Vogue Magazine was also added to the team to focus on branding and high luxury fashion.
“As you can imagine, when you bring the physical into play, there’s a lot going on in the back-end. So, we’re very hands-on with the artists that we do work with.” (Timestamp: 3:17)
“You have the community getting involved with the actual scene. And then, it’s taking it a step further down the line in having the community assist in choosing artists, choosing auction styles, really progressing the project that way.” (Timestamp: 22:31)
“They have more of a say in who’s going on the platform, what we’re auctioning, what type of products so that there’s not that one central gatekeeper ruling the land.” (Timestamp 22:48)
Selective NFT Auctions and Drops
- Being selective: The pace of the auctions has been weekly. The company is selective about what they put out because a lot of work goes into the process.
- Wifi contribution: The first auction was October 26 of this year. The piece was a painting focused on Andre from Wifi. They also did a collector’s card focused on Wifi. From there, they brough in artists from the traditional art world for collaborations.
- Hands-on approach: The hands-on approach with the artists is a benefit to them. The traditional artists don’t always know what NFTs are. They don’t have a metamask set-up. seen.haus helps them understand the NFTs.
- Types of auctions: The company tried the one of one auction for one NFT drop, offering one random person the physical piece. They tried NFT collections where if you collect all of the items you’re entered into a raffle for the physical piece and extra NFT rewards.
Niching out is important
- Offering a physical copy: When you purchase an NFT and get a physical copy, you’ll always have that material image even if the NFT’s value drops.
- Standing out in a big market: There are many NFT marketplaces and niching out is important if you want to stand out. The physical element is the company’s niche.
- Art must resonate: The artists don’t necessarily find success in the NFT world just because they’re successful in the traditional art scene. People resonate with themes like anarchy, money, and anonymity. The art needs to connect with the crypto community and these themes. Street art is also popular, for example Banksy does well.
- Grass-roots movement: The community is grass-roots and considers itself a boutique brand. seen.haus is a community-driven version of Sotheby’s and Christies. The community is involved with choosing artists and choosing auction styles, what type of products are launched.
- No exclusivity: For many artists, it’s their first NFT. The platform is a gateway into the metaverse. The agreements are not exclusive. They are encouraged to try other platforms and create more NFTs. There are no restrictions to them expanding their brand and getting in front of more people.
Moving forward as the market expands
- Customer experience: The customer experience is important. Developer Cliff Hall has done work for Avastars and Known Origin. He’s helping the company build out a secondary market that will allow people to buy an NFT through auction or one of the drops. They can then trade that NFT and whoever holds it in the end can redeem it for a physical version. The goal is to have a seamless delivery process for that physical version.
- Redeemable ticket: At the initial purchase, the buyer would get a redeemable ticket. They could exchange it for the NFT and the physical piece. This can be taken further by giving them 30 days to claim it, otherwise they would be charged an escrow fee until the product ships. This takes the weight off of artists’ shoulders and gives the customer confidence that they will receive the piece intact.
- Options for dynamic pieces: A hologram QR code is attached to the physical piece which links it to the NFT. The code is tamper-proof which links the two together. The company is looking to transition to NFC technology. Engraving the QR code to the canvas would be another option.
- Demand for secondary trading: When the site was launched, there was no expectation for secondary trading demand with the physical piece. They saw more and more need for it. You buy the NFT first and redeem the physical later. Artists also want royalties from secondary sales. Having the option for resale attracts the best artists. The company is planning to implement a new EIP standard that would allow you to collect royalties no matter which platform the item is sold on.
Advice for starting a marketplace
- Start small: A smaller platform can give artists more visibility rather than getting lost in a sea of artists on a platform like Opensea. Over time this trend will increase.
- As the NFT market begins to flood, you may start to see gaming NFT platforms, Sports NFT platforms, etc. emerge as places where artists can get more exposure.
- Supply and demand: When you start a marketplace, you need the supply and the demand. The auction house needed to find artists and they find that through Buddy’s connections. They found a roster of artists through a Gallery in New York City. They also needed an audience which they were able to tap into through Kirby and Buddy’s following. Kirby had a network of connections from his time as head of marketing for Wifi and due to his success on Rarible.
- Challenges: There are artists everywhere in the world who want to get into the NFT market. The challenge is to curate the collection and introduce unknown artists. The bigger challenge is to find an audience willing to buy the art.
- Artists and collectors can check out seen.haus’ blog, State of Scene or reach out to Jigsaw on Twitter or Instagram @jiigsaw01. Artists can submit their work on the Spotlight tab on the website https://seen.haus/.