An interview with Stefan Stignei (LoveArtHate): Tokenizing digital artwork on Ethereum

Today, we will be taking a look at the impact blockchains are having on art. This post will be focused around an interview with Stefan Stignei, a SuperRare artist, who is better known by the pseudonym: LoveArtHate. His work can be found on the digital art platform known as SuperRare, as well as many other blockchain based art marketplaces. We will be diving into…

  • How Stefan’s work has been influenced through distribution method of digital NFTs (what is a NFT?)

  • His experience in using blockchain technology to monetise and distribute his work

  • His cryptocurrency based income generated through the sale of his digitised artworks

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So what is your background and what have you both been doing these last few years?

Art. My main focus these past 6 years straight has strictly been art (techniques, creating, learning, videos, fairs, receptions, exhibitions, workshops, meetups ,etc). To the detriment of many other aspects of my previous life; jobs, stability, friends, family, opportunities, loves, etc. . . Oh yeah, my psychosis began to come out full force around this time… which led to very interesting situations (psychwards, prisons, hospitals, rooftops, bridges, living in tents, on the streets, random art studios, festivals, broken bones, missing tooth, etc.)... I cherish it all because currently I made new group of super duper amazing friends (even though there are much less of them than before and they are all across the world). My family has a better sense of my psychosis and I’m able to express my selves around more people.

Most recently I’ve been traveling in the Balkans for 6 months volunteering at hostels and trying to get an understanding what is out there. Hostel living has helped with this tremendously. I’ve basically been able to get an intensive crash course of cultures from other travelers.

Communications and digital media have always been a passion of mine ever since I started high school in 1999 and got involved in the morning news and AVClub. Non Linear editing and the ability  to actually manipulate how a story is told was amazing to me. Also doing the morning broadcasts of our schools news was super fun. When I went into college I focused on a liberal arts degree in New Media Communications. Which was a three pronged approach to media (theory, production, and business).

After school I got into the advertising world and worked as a digital media planner. I loved it and still do, primarily from a data, storytelling and educational approach. I quickly found out that there are numerous data points which could be called upon to show various results (views, time spent on a site, audience types, geo, purchases, subscriptions, ROI, KPI, etc. etc. etc.). I rose up pretty quickly in the field. If I would have stayed in it, although my personalities had other ideas for us.

How did you learn about SuperRare and other blockchain art platforms?

Most directly from Arnome (an article by Jason, whom I find as a stupendous writer btw and an expert in the field of data, art, and futurism). However I think it started when I wanted to setup an art selling profile on the darknets through agora market but after doing a bit of research found out pretty quickly that that market probably wasn’t really interested in buying art. Then I found a peer2peer selling marketplace program called openbazaar and opened up shop with it, the catch with it was that I had to be online in order for my “marketplace” to be open. Then laid low again on the research, as I mentioned I spent most of my time with Art. I also wasn’t in the “selling” mode at the time either.

Did you know about Ethereum and blockchains before learning about SuperRare?

Yup, primarily threw bitcoin cryptocurrency in 2013. Invested in a cloud mining company until it went bust. I got into silkroad a bunch too. Basically everything about the open market interested me. I ended up getting a few sweet books which aren’t available anywhere. Sadly I don’t have access to them any more with all the sporadic life choices I’ve made along the way.

When did you first tokenize your work? Were there any concerns or hesitations you held before? Has any of that changed?

Mar-15-2019 05:12:48 AM +UTC was my first tokenized work. No hesitations what so ever. I grasped the idea of digital scarcity and ownership right away. Obviously there are a few other nuances which have crept along the way. I also wanted my first piece to also incorporate Augmented Reality, and in time have it raise the question of who can own the virtual space? Tokenizing any type of asset is a must these days.

Have you previously uploaded to your work to sites like Deviantart or behance? Do you still do?

I dabbled with a few of those sites. My work has been more “experimental art” so it didn’t really fit in many of the mainstream sites which focus on a lot of illustration. So I focused on other markets,

How would you describe SuperRare and tokenising work in comparison to posting onto such sites.

I see posting on other sites without tokenizing as nonsensical. Having the data between creator and owners of an art piece is a huge benefit. History of how the art piece travels. I still think it’s important to post on previous places for the time being, and let others know of this market.

Do you think having the option of tokenizing your work changed how you think about producing or sharing work?

I still share my work and my process on all the same channels. I just do it in a much more meaningful way now, I like to tell the story of how a piece is being made on social platforms and having the final be on SuperRare.

SuperRare artists definitely had an impact of how I’m producing my artwork. I’m in love with animating and working threw all the layers of options to create a finished looking animated piece. My art style has morphed in a way that was completely unforeseen.

How would you describe the implications of blockchain technology on your work?

Brings me a sense of relief. I like timestamps verified independently.

Will you continue to tokenize your work on platforms such as Super Rare? If so, why do think you continue to tokenize?

Yes. I’ll continue to tokenize for life.

I’ll probably only stick with SuperRare. I like the idea of scarcity and being on only one platform. I’m a brand loyalist type of person and superrare was the first platform to accept my submission. If I test out other systems it would be for a one time art project series which would also allow me to test out a new platform.

Why do you think other artists on Super Rare tokenizes their work?

Oh to delve into the mind of another artist, what tricky endeavour :). I’d most likely garner there are 100’s of reasons. If I were to guess, the ethos of rarity, community of artists, track-ability, accountability, a way for patrons to support, opens to market to anonymous and verified buyers,

What do you think people are so fascinated with NFTs? Are they? What makes them special?

Humans have always been interested in scarcity and bragging rights. My rock in shinier :). It’s human nature. “Look at my husband isn’t he intelligent?” “Yo, check out my wife, no surgery needed” ( is it wrong of me to compare NFT’s to people? I dunno, probably, but also probably not either because if I had another wife I’d love to show her off). Jokes aside. NFT is just more fancy jargon. I don’t think 95% of the population will even care, they’ll understand collectable. Acronyms have never stuck around. I mean WTF, where’s the fire!!!

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What lies ahead in the future for artists and the blockchain?

I see almost every site incorporating this concept for their artists. How they execute this will be on the competence level of their executive team (90% will fail). The 9% that succeed will just get bought out. And the 1% that decide to keep on going will only keep on going further and further.

Oh I may have answered that question reading with a form of dyslexia. Lets try again. A good friend once told me “we are about encouragement here” so I think we need to be encouraging of many artists to adapt …. Ugh, answered this question with an emotional memory.

Artists will become the latest athletes in this new era. People will want to collect something from that artist. Like a pin, show it off on their phone, threw augmented reality. I don’t think I’ve talked about augmented reality and blockchain and art yet. It’s going to BE HUGE!!!!.

How much have you earned with your work and how does it compare to the usual artists income opportunities?

I’ve been on the blockchain for roughly 8 days and have made roughly 2.10 ethereum ($340 or so). Usual artists income opportunities suck. No redeeming factors what so ever. The galleries, the art fairs, the glut of “art” which has no heart or soul. No accountability. I like the art in cafe’s and bars and streets. Some frame shops. There is no data in the art world. I’ve done better at selling my art pieces on the street to random people than showing at a gallery or reception. I still think that galleries serve a tremendous purpose though, one just needs to sludge threw what appeals to them. So I suppose there are redeeming factors, but only for the ones who are willing to adapt to the future. Also for the future ventures who are trying to adapt to an older way of thinking, I don’t think it works that way. We can build upon what’s worked in the past and move forward. I guess i see the entire world as a gallery now, opportunities are everywhere for artists to make an income.

These are all big questions.

What do your artist friends think about your work with blockchains? Is that something they are curious about?

Most of my artist friends are “go with the flow” vibe types. I’ve been talking to them about blockchains, however the interest level seems low at the moment and many of them are still sticking to their own platforms of choice. Maybe in a few months they’ll begin to adopt. I came from a heavy data is king background so for me it was more of a no brainer. Also many of those artists don’t want to deal with the technology “on boarding” side of art, they only want to create. Perhaps if there was a small artist on-boarding team to help artists whom just create to upload and manage their work

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