Superchief Gallery’s co-founder on NFT challenges

Rate explores digital art’s future with Edward Zipco, the Superchief Gallery NFT co-founder, at NFT Show Europe. We discussed mainstream challenges and emerging NFT artistry trends.

NFT art is transforming global art, with digital works gaining major attention and value. While some artists display their creations online, others partner with galleries for wider exposure. 

Superchief Gallery NFT in New York opened in March 2021, is the world’s first physical NFT gallery space. They’ve worked with Christie’s Auction House for their first CryptoPunk Auction and have launched significant NFT art events worldwide. sat down with Edward Zipco, the gallery’s co-founder, at the NFT Show Europe in Valencia, Spain, to delve into the intersection of digital and real-world art, the challenges of mainstream acceptance, and the emerging trends in NFT artistry. As the first real-world NFT gallery, can you explain the difference between a traditional art gallery and an NFT real-world gallery for beginners?

Edward Zipco: An NFT gallery showcases work minted onto the blockchain. The idea is to display it in ways you might enjoy in your own home, taking it off of your cell phone or laptop. And yes, there’s the option to buy; we often have QR codes directing to the site for purchase. It’s important to us to create environments where people can be present with the artwork. It’s about experiencing the artwork as you would in a traditional gallery rather than just viewing a picture of it on your phone. What inspired this concept? Do you have a history with digital art?

Edward Zipco: I grew up in an art gallery. My grandmother ran an art gallery. I went to art school and fell in love with the art scene in New York in the late 90s and early 2000s. We opened our own gallery in 2012, and by 2016, we launched our first digital-only gallery. 

It was all about smart TVs everywhere, no physical artwork. Back in 2016, this concept was quite new, so we fully embraced it, collaborating with as many international artists as we could. It felt like the moment to seize. We held expansive warehouse exhibitions from there, projecting digital art and hosting digital art raves. And then, in 2021, we opened the world’s first NFT gallery, which was pretty incredible. It changed my life.

We have physical galleries in New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. It’s a huge honor to showcase this kind of art to that community. We’ve also established relationships with sister galleries globally. Soon, we’ll bring Superchief to Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Melbourne, and Montreal, and we will have another gallery opening in Paris and Switzerland. It’s often discussed how NFTs offer artists a solution for copyright challenges and more visibility. Are you seeing tangible impacts from this?

Edward Zipco: Yes, Many of our artists have had life-changing experiences by reaching out to new communities that support their work. We’re witnessing the largest wealth redistribution to creators in history. 

I think there’s an opportunity here, especially with NFTs promising artist royalties.  That’s something that has been promised through NFTs and is now at a struggle point to continue happening. It needs to be reinforced, and we have to keep strengthening the ethos of the space. I believe that’s a crucial aspect of what we do.

Artwork by @Lynx_NFT_Bear, showcased at the NFT Show, Valencia, Spain What are the other challenges you see that might hinder NFT art from gaining universal acceptance?

Edward Zipco: I’d say safety and security, followed by education. The reality is it’s still very easy to make a mistake and lose everything. I think it’s a bit like one of those video games where it’s very easy to die. So people that are very good at it fight against death every day, and they become very, very good. But they don’t have a lot of empathy and compassion for the people coming into this that are not already experts. And most people don’t have the resources to make mistakes. So I think ensuring our community is well-informed is vital. For many, NFTs evoke images of simple pixelated graphics. But like traditional art, NFTs have a broad stylistic range. What’s currently trending?

Edward Zipco: I think everyone is fascinated to see what new innovation will happen with AI and AI text-to-whatever prompting. The videos emerging from text to AI video are truly incredible.

The post-photography movement (an art style where digital images are created through AI and machine learning – is inspiring. It’s inspiring to see surrealism being embraced by the DeFi investor community.

AI has given rise to several artists who’ve crafted their own distinctive styles and aesthetics. It’s impressive how swiftly they’ve made a mark; in just a year and a half, they’ve carved out a significant niche.

As for cyberpunk, we’re big believers in this genre. It serves as a medium to help us define the future before we have to live in it. It’s akin to experiencing the Cassandra syndrome, where you know the future, but no one believes you. Through satire, you can talk about the horrors that are coming, hopefully infecting people’s dreams enough that they have nightmares about it and do things that stop the dystopian situations. It’s fun. Lastly, in your view, what does the future hold for NFTs and galleries like yours?

Edward Zipco: I think it will catch on, continue to catch on, and eventually be the default. I hope this leads to an art boom on both sides: where traditional artwork gains value due to its scarcity, and digital thrives because, while it exists in a global market, it can be displayed locally. I see that as potentially positive for both sides.

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