Non-fungible tokens or NFTs, which are unique, verifiable digital assets on the blockchain, have found digital art as one of its strongest use cases. The NFT art phenomenon has made its way to Southeast Asia. It has also reached the Philippines, with many Filipino artists known locally and internationally as pioneers in this up-and-coming space.
Narra is described by one of its co-founders, Colin Goltra, as a joint venture “of sorts” between friends “for various cultural pursuits in the broader metaverse.” It has launched multiple projects that aim to, among other things (such as “do other cool stuff”), ensure Filipino artists occupy a premiere space of recognition in the growing NFT scene.
Narra Art Gallery
Narra Art Gallery is a digital art gallery on Decentraland—a virtual world made possible by the blockchain. Crypto arts owned by Colin and Narra’s co-owner Gabby Dizon are showcased in the Narra Art Gallery, but the space is also a venue for crypto art exhibitions, auctions, and the like. It is designed by Shelly Soneja, Art Director and OG Filipino crypto artist, and Van Halen Cunanan, Narra’s 3D artist.
In an article introducing Narra Art Gallery, Colin said it was for him and Gabby to participate in the crypto industry in new ways. Colin was previously the Head of Cryptocurrency at Coins.ph and now the Director for Southeast Asia at Binance. Gabby Dizon, OG game developer and co-founder of Altitude Games, is currently busy bringing all players to the metaverse through Yield Guild Games.
It just so happened that they were at the right place at the right time to participate in the formation of the 100xArt district in Decentraland, where the gallery can be found. “[We] really wanted to contribute back to the crypto art scene with a grand project like Narra,” Colin wrote.
Later on, it appears that the digital art gallery is just the beginning. What came to be known today as the “Narra Network” is an all-encompassing initiative to create more opportunities for artists and creators.
First Mint Fund
Narra’s next key initiative is to ensure more and more artists not just in the Philippines but in the Southeast Asia region get onboarded into crypto art and get exposed to the opportunities in this space. Because of non-fungible tokens, the works of digital artists are exposed to a market that they don’t have access to before. So Narra launched the “First Mint Fund” to get artists in Southeast Asia started with crypto art.
Narra seeded 1.12 ETH ($2k or Php 100k at that time) into First Mint Fund, meant to ease the barriers to entry (read: high gas fees) for artists wishing to mint their first NFTs. According to the fund’s custodian, AJ Dimarucot, Narra, and First Mint Fund do not get a portion of the artist’s profits when selling their art. Every dollar (or, in this case, every Ether) goes to the artist. Neither Narra nor the fund gets a cut.
As of May 4, 2021, the fund’s Ethereum wallet address has 7.84 ETH worth more than $25,000 or Php 1.2 million. The support does not end when the artist mints their art. In a display of how tight the crypto art community is, the Narra network will also share the artist’s work on social media platforms and promote their fellow artists. This rush of support culminates in more awareness for the artists and their work. According to Shelly Soneja, art director of Altitude Games and Narra Art Gallery, the crypto art community was very supportive of her art and the first rush in sales was a lot to take in at first. “I’ve never experienced such a warm welcome from any other creative community online. I never thought that I’d eventually build out my biggest and most engaged following on Twitter for my art. [It’s] really a dream come true to not only be able to earn well on my own art, but also make a number of really good friends in the space too,” Shelly told Adobo Magazine in an interview.
Art Fair Philippines
The increasing public awareness on NFT art is finally in full display during Art Fair Philippines, the annual art exhibition in the country.
Running from May 6 to 15, 2021, Art Fair PH will highlight digital art and emphasize it in a big way. “Welcome to the Metaverse,” The NFT 101 Showcase will be co-curated by the Narra Art Gallery and Tropical Futures Institute, a think tank and studio based in Cebu.
Narra Art Gallery X Art Fair Philippines
Art Fair Philippines will dive into NFTs, with multiple talks about the topics:
- The Artist Journey: A Chat with Three Artists and Their Journey into Making NFTs
- Early Blockchain with Harm van den Dorpel
- Harm van den Dorpel, artist and co-founder of the left gallery, shares some of the pre-NFT artwork exhibited by his gallery. These digital pieces explored some early blockchain-related concepts that expand the digital art space today.
- May 8 at 4:00 pm (Register)
- A Virtual Tour of Narra Gallery with Chris Fussner, Gabby Dizon, and Colin Goltra
- The founders of Narra Gallery give a tour of their virtual gallery, share their origin story, and showcase some of the artists they have in their collection. Get to know Chris Fussner, Gabby Dizon, and Colin Goltra
- May 8 at 6:00 pm (Register)
- KÖNIG DIGITAL: Creating Experiences Online
- The gallery’s founder, Johann König, talks to ArtFairPH/ Projects curator Chris Fussner on how to show great art in two realms, from IRL to URL.
- May 9 at 4:00 pm (Register)
- Artificial Scarcity with Sam Hart
- Sam Hart, scientist, artist, and researcher; shares a lecture on ‘Artificial Scarcity’ from an aesthetic standpoint, particularly works that engage blockchains as a medium for art
- May 11 at 6:00 pm (Register)
- How to Become a Crypto Artist with Luis Buenaventura
- Luis Buenaventura, a blockchain entrepreneur, and crypto artist conducts a ‘how to NFT’ session directed towards everyone who wants to participate in the cryptoart ecosystem.
- May 14 at 6:00 pm (Register)
- What’s Next for NFTs with Colin Goltra of Narra Gallery, Fewocious, Parrot, and Jonathan Wolfe
- Narra Gallery founder, Colin Goltra, sits down with some of the most prominent crypto artists in the space to discuss all things NFTs and some thoughts looking into its future.
- May 15 at 1:00 pm (Register)
Nifty Gateway Drop
Around the time of Narra’s exhibition in Art Fair Philippines, Narra will also have its first drop on Nifty Gateway, a premier NFT marketplace known for hosting the first crypto art release of famous contemporary artists Beeple and Justin Roland.
Called “The Narra Gallery Zodiac Series’, the collection will feature the works of popular and highly influential crypto artists: Android Jones, Glass Crane, Tim Riopelle, CECHK, pplpleasr1, Orabel Art, Corey Meyers, Caroline Dy, Parrott_ism, Shelly Soneja, Daniela Atfield, and Totemical.
There are still few details about the Nifty Gateway drop, but we’ll hear more once the date draws near.
The Philippines’ Crypto Cultural Move
It was in 2020 when the Philippines’ crypto ecosystem began to experience a shift. While the first Filipino crypto startups were primarily focused on granting access to tokens and enabling basic payments, in 2020, the PH crypto ecosystem is involved in using the technology’s characteristics for more diverse crypto projects. In 2019, in an interview with BitPinas, Colin said these crypto native projects would transform the Philippines into a global technology center. Among them are DeFi and NFTs.
Today, the Philippines is at the forefront of the many innovative use cases for crypto. And the Narra Gallery ensures the country is also leading in the growing crypto art space. And leading this initiative is the team behind Narra – Colin, Gabby, Shelly, and Van Halen. “Between our Nifty announcement and excitement around Art Fair Philippines, I am all the more excited and motivated to create new opportunities for the artists and creators in the Narra Network,” Colin said in a tweet. “New drops, collabs, shows, platforms.”
“Literally a boundless Metaverse frontier.”
This article is published on BitPinas: Narra Art Gallery Announces Nifty Gateway Drop, Brings Metaverse to Art Fair PH