Return"You Had to Be There" - Kid Acne Produces a Slogan Mural Converted to an NFT by Arroz Estúdios
Kid Acne was invited by Arroz Estúdios to produce a mural in Lisbon which has been converted into an eco-friendly NFT.
The multitalented English artist Kid Acne was amongst the first writers to design a Limited Edition for Montana Colors, and 16 years later, his work figures as one of the first NFTs in the MTN collection.
The project was coordinated by Arroz Estúdios, a non-profit organization based in the Beato neighborhood of Lisbon, Portugal. To get to the bottom of this new way of authenticating public art and the role of companies like Montana Colors in the process, MTN News talked to Kid Acne, Arroz founder Steven MacKay and MTN Head of Culture Marc Mascort i Boix.
MTN News: What drew you to this project?
Kid Acne: Steven at Arroz reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked if I'd be interested in painting a mural on the outside of their studios and combining it with a short residency in Lisbon. Having not traveled for a while due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was keen to get abroad and work with people again.
Arroz funded the trip with NEAR crypto currency, with the view of making an NFT of the final piece. I've been hearing a lot about NFT's lately so I was interested in finding out more about them.
How did you decide on the final slogan?
KA: Part of the agreement was that this would be a collaboration with Arroz and not just a "guns for hire" commission. They knew they wanted the slogan to reflect their ethos and the ephemeral nature of their studio and the events they put on there, so once I arrived in Lisbon, I visited the site and started making a list of possibilities I thought would fit the composition and connect with their sentiment.
We talked about a number of options and had them translated into Portuguese to see what would work best for the mural. Steven then put the more successful options to a vote with the studio holders and this one, “YOU HAD TO BE THERE” (in English) is what they went for. This is probably the most collaborative mural I've painted and was nice to do something so inclusive.
For me, the phrase represents those good nights out, fun times and special moments that can only ever really be understood by the people who were there at the time. We experience so much 'content' through our phones that it's easy to forget the value and importance of doing things in real life and how meaningful those experiences can be - as opposed to endlessly scrolling through social media.
Without sounding too old fashioned, I'd say even viewing street art and graffiti is better in person because you get the context of the environment and the sense of scale that doesn't always translate into a jpeg.
Of course, we all know these paintings are ephemeral, so documenting the work for posterity (and a wider audience), becomes part of the process too. This mural has now been captured as an NFT in a virtual space, which might seem contradictory to what I've just said, but I think it's a nice "as well as", rather than an "instead of" for a painting like this.
Why didn’t you want to sell the NFTs?
KA: I am interested in making purely digital NFTs for sale, but for me, that would be more suitable to a different strand of my studio practice - perhaps something more character based, incorporating music and animation. I'm aware we could have turned this mural into an animated gif and added a soundtrack to it, but I didn't want to sell an NFT of a piece that was painted in the street. It wouldn't feel right somehow.
Giving them away feels like a nice way to document the work and share it, a bit like like the old days of trading photos or whatever.
Do you think NFTs will change the way you document and sell your work?
KA: I’m sure lots of people are already doing it, but yeah, I see it as a good way of archiving your work and retaining the IP. There's a lot more I'd like to do with NFTs, but this experience was a good introduction while I figure things out.
Steven MacKay from Arroz Estúdios coordinated the project.
Why was Kid Acne chosen to paint this mural?
Steven MacKay: Before I moved out here to Lisbon, I studied and lived in Sheffield for seven years running parties and cultural events under the name “Nice Like Rice.” I got to know Ed's work through proximity and seeing it around the city, and was put in touch through the city council when we were running projects with them.
I've always been a big fan and follower of his work and when we were discussing painting the outer wall of the studios I threw his name into the mix and got really nice feedback from the group, we just went from there really. Ed was really keen to get involved with the project so everything came together pretty quickly.
How were the NFTs minted and distributed?
SM: The NFTs were minted on the NEAR blockchain using the Mintbase platform. We've been working with both NEAR and Mintbase for about nine months on various NFT projects including the Rare Effect NFT events so have got to know both teams well. NEAR funded the project through their Creatives DAO structure where we apply for funding for various projects that we build on top of their blockchain.
The NFTs are minted and distributed using smart contracts on the NEAR blockchain which is proof of stake and carbon neutral, we gave an NFT to everyone who came to the talk Ed and I did about the mural.
What was the feedback like from the local artistic community and residents?
SM: The feedback from the community has been really good, the text for the mural itself was selected by our wider working group of resident artists, staff and board members (approx 60 people). Even though the survey was last minute we had 55% response rate in 18 hours so people really engaged with it and are happy with the final result.
I'm yet to ask the local neighbours, but Ed tells me he was getting some great feedback as they were watching him paint.
Do you have plans to carry out similar projects in the future?
SM: Hell yeah, we're running more and more projects within DeFi & the NFT space and are still working with NEAR through their governance forum and DAO structures. We've also recently run hackathons with NEAR and helped them to develop their 'Lisbon City Node' with the intention of getting more organizations throughout Lisbon involved.
The sky really is the limit for the creative sector with DeFi and crypto so we're accelerating into the technologies. We're also starting a music specific NFT platform called autonomies.io, ran the first physical NFT events in Europe this year under Rare Effect with the rest of the APN (Art Progression Now) team. It's been about one year since we started learning about NFTs and it's been a crazy time in terms of developing projects and our association, I think the next year is going to be even more so.
The ultimate goal for us is to create a creative DeFi hub and raise enough funds for us to develop a permanent location here for our project. Lisbon has been developing so quickly over the past few years, spaces for emerging artists have been being pushed around a bit so we're trying to find a way to combat that. If anyone's interested in supporting, you can join the team here: https://bit.ly/GRAINSDAO
Marc Mascort i Boix is the head of culture at Montana Colors.
How do you think a digital format like NFTs can work for Montana Colors, a paint company?
Marc Mascort i Boix: Montana Colors, like any company, is subject to technological evolution, and its mission should always be up-to-date.
MTN is a company dedicated to the production and packaging of aerosol paint, mainly for the world of graffiti, street art and fine arts, and we’ve closely followed the meteoric progression of new technologies - like the internet - as channels that have allowed the promotion of graffiti and urban art to limits that were difficult to imagine at first.
What do you like about the format?
MM: The emergence of social networks and their potential for communication between artists, groups and the public represented a major step a little over a decade ago. Now it’s the turn of NFTs parallel with the popularization of cryptocurrency, along with its enormous communicative, artistic, and economic potential. NFTs exist in a disruptive market network that questions and shakes the gallery, exhibition and digital art collecting world in general.
This piece is the beginning of an NFT journey that will include different formats. We think that NFTs are a revolutionary format, as they offer new and greater accessibility to art and represent a great step in the empowerment of individual artists, as well as collectives, platforms, galleries and other initiatives whose mission is the production and dissemination of art.
Each NFT contains a smart contract which works as a certificate of authenticity, the technical and origin specifications of each piece and the conditions regarding future royalties for the author or authors of the pieces in the case of resale. So NFTs are doubly disruptive as they allow a reward for artists that is not usually found in the physical art market.
Montana Colors has started its digital art collection this month with a drop from the Montana Gallery and an NFT minted in this project. How can you see the collection increasing in the future?
MM: We’ve just entered the NFT scene, presenting our first drop with the Montana Gallery. A piece from the current “Interstices" show by Piero Maturana was selected for digitalization and animation according to NFT standards.
The piece is hosted on the NFT StreetArt Collective within Mintbase, a global platform that allows any artist to create an NFT without worrying about technical complexities. It operates with the Near cryptocurrency, which is special as it aims to follow a 'climate neutral' protocol, something we should all keep in mind.
November is #mtntechnologymonth at Montana Colors. Search for content related to all the latest technological developments in graffiti art by using the hashtag on social media.
Photos by Danni MaibaumShareNovember 18, 2021