How NFTs Are Changing the Traditional Art World 

An Interview with Art Collector Steven Abraham  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

“The biggest difference between the traditional art world and NFTs is the pace. NFTs have become hot potatoes - and no one wants to be the last one holding it.”
 

I sat down with NY based art collector Steven Abraham, to discuss the effect that blockchain and the rampant popularity of digital collectibles are having on the traditional art scene. 

From increased artist equity and independence, a decreased reliance on existing gatekeepers (galleries, brokers, etc.) and the overall cool factor, NFTs have the potential to reinvent the industry. 

Is this the harbinger of a major sea change within the world of traditional art or is that change already here? 

Watch Interview

 

About Steven Abraham 

 

Steven and his wife Lisa own the Young - Abraham art collection in Brooklyn NY, which is focused on displaying, promoting, and championing the work of Black and Asian artists, as well as the artists themselves - via gallery showings, interviews, and written content. 

A self-described art outsider, Steven bought his first piece of art when he realized that being wealthy was not a prerequisite to owning art. Since then Steven and Lisa have amassed a sizable collection that they display publicly and even loan out as part of their mission to increase awareness, to provide advocacy, and ensure equity for the artists that they support and the NYC art community as a whole.

 

About NFTs

 

NFTs (Non-FungibleTokens) are digital content pieces (art, trading cards, collectible animals) that are bought, sold, and traded on blockchain networks. Non-fungible means that each piece is unique and can’t be duplicated. Because of this, certain NFTs can become more scarce than others and that scarcity can help to increase the value of a particular NFT.  

Because they are on the blockchain, there is always a public record of a piece’s movement which helps to confirm authentication of a piece. These factors are some of what makes NFTs one of the hottest items in crypto right now.

 


Rochelle: What are the main barriers to purchasing art in the traditional art world? 


Steven: Reputable galleries will usually make an effort to vet those that acquire works from them in terms of their reputation and credibility. Many galleries, and even artists, want to know who are the other artists in the collector's collection because curation is quite an integral part of a gallery's process.
 

Rochelle: How do you like to pick the art you purchase? 


Steven: We feel it is important to have a strong connection with the artists and works we acquire and feel an urgency to uplift minoritized voices. So in terms of the process to select a work, we normally are connected with an artist through a studio visit or IG (or both), and will acquire works both based off of that, our own research, and of course the work itself. Being able to deep-dive into the work with the person who created it is one of the big joys in collecting contemporary art for us.
 

Rochelle: How do you discover new artists?


Steven: As we built relationships with galleries over the years, they have helped give us recommendations. But mostly instagram, to be honest (check out his IG here). 
 

Rochelle: Tell me about the shift from this traditional art collection world to what you’re seeing with NFTs.


Steven: I feel like the audience for NFTs, the first wave at least, are people who are already involved in the new collecting culture (whether it's sneakers, designer toys, memorabilia, and etc. I think people are seeing NFTs more as an asset than actual art, which translates into how some of these platforms are presenting those pieces.  
 

“NFTs are more like an Instagram feed than a proper art curation.”


NFTs are presented more like an Instagram feed than a proper art curation. Even before NFTs, collecting digital art has always been a hurdle for art collectors who just don’t understand how online art can be enjoyed or displayed. Which makes me think that NFT art is just another way to store your assets instead of an actual art collection, at the moment at least.  
 

“NFT art is just another way to store your assets instead of an actual art collection, at the moment at least." 

 

Rochelle: What do you think would be the ideal progression of NFTs if it were to enhance the art world?

 

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