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Featured Collector: Protein Prosecco

Powerhouse collector Protein Prosecco has entered the digital art scene with some high profile acquisitions and a strong voice in the space. With a background in crypto and an instinct for some of the top art on the blockchain, his style and energy has reverberated through NFT Twitter and the different marketplaces alike.

Diverse in the genres of work that he collects, his tastes range from illustration, glitch and painting to 3D, loops and photography.

We were given the privilege of conversing with Protein Prosecco to gain a bit more insight into his collecting strategy, value system and approach to this space.

What first brought you to collecting NFTs and when did you start?

I recognized the potential of crypto early, but was much later to the game when it comes to 1/1 digital art. As a derivatives and options trader, the limits of my crypto awareness ended at Bitcoin, until February 2021. That's the point where I finally started to pay attention to the potential of smart contracts and NFTs.

Being a dabbling creative writer and artist on the side, the impact of blockchain tokenization on art clicked immediately for me. So I did what any financially responsible person would do – loaded up a Metamask and dove into Rarible and Opensea, collecting anything and everything that spoke to my taste: loops, PFPs, gaming NFTs, photography, collage, etc etc etc.

Over time I began to get a good feel for the digital contemporary art market and have focused mainly on that over the last year. It’s an incredible blessing to not only collect from some of the best artists of today, but to also have developed great connections and friendships with so many creators, collectors and builders along the way.

How do artists get on your radar?

Like many people, I spend a fair amount of time scrolling twitter and falling down the rabbit holes of other collectors' and artists' wallets. And artists will often DM me, either pitching me their work, or looking for feedback or advice. Although I'm always happy to offer my opinions on people's art, I also enjoy giving feedback and advice on how to market your work – one of the most satisfying things I've found is watching a talented artist find their groove, get recognition, and start making sales after recommending some small adjustments to their approach.

For instance, for better or worse, the market today shows a particularly strong bias for cohesive mini-collections. Call it a digital variant to the “cheerleader effect,” a quirk of our mental firmware which makes people (or in this case, art) look more attractive when presented as part of a group. Or perhaps its partially due to conditioned trends in the PFP market, where rarity and variation are explored around a central theme of, say, cartoon ostrich jpegs.

Either way, this new paradigm of art is grounded on an open, permissionless blockchain, for all to see and experience. And built into that is a certain social leverage, rooted deep in our DNA, whether we like it or not. Savvy artists who are struggling to gain traction can sometimes get a boost and build momentum with a simple adjustment to minting strategy, ultimately using that momentum to expand into new directions.

How do you see those social aspects of art collecting maturing in the future?

Currently, the information is all there – blockchain is a great equalizer, and the art is open and freely accessible. What we are sorely missing are some organizational tools. As the space matures and 2d and 3d virtual galleries are fine-tuned, we will see a shift toward seamless cross-chain art galleries in both browser and metaverse settings. Much like social media apps changed the nature of communication with friends/family/strangers, and twitch streaming changed the nature of one-dimensional, single-player gaming, the social aspect of blockchain based digital art will likely be a critical component of experiencing the art, discovering new things, and socializing with each other.

Is there a guiding philosophy that informs your collecting?

I always maintain a holistic approach with an eye toward the complete collection. I think hard about whether a certain piece fits, and often pass on terrific work that I admire. Ultimately, it’s my intention that every piece of art amplifies the collected works around it, in a resonance where the whole transcends the sum of its parts. This effect will become profoundly clear with the development of the metaverse gallery where they will be housed – the “Prosecco Mansion” (wen? Soon.).

What's your time horizon for collecting?

The Proseccos are a family business – although pieces may occasionally be sold from the collection upon inquiry, we intend for the core of the Prosecco Collection to be retained as a multi-generational curation operation, spanning far into the future.

Do you care what marketplace the work you collect is from/minted on?

No. Although I focus most of my time and effort on Ethereum-based platforms, I own quite a few outstanding artworks minted on Tezos, Solana, and Cardano. It's impossible to predict how the future plays out, and with improving cross-chain interoperability, we may see the distinctions between chains becoming blurred and mattering less and less.

There is one exception, however – I avoid the Opensea Shared Storefront contract like the plague, and strongly encourage artists to instead mint on their own Manifold contracts. Personally, I even applaud and encourage artists who burn their original OSSS pieces and re-mint them on Manifold. Doing so raises several issues in its own right – for instance, pre-communicating the decision to as many collectors as possible, disruption of provenance, collector objections, etc. However, given how poorly OS has treated artists and collectors alike (political-based censorship of artists, takedown of seemingly random collections with no support, poor customer support on suspicious/fraudulent trades, etc), I think extreme measures are warranted in dissociating from them. They clearly don't stand for artists or collectors – so why should we support them?

What do you think the 1/1 space will look like in 5 years?

Good question. As I mentioned previously, I think the gallery experience will be tremendously improved, allowing collectors to play a deep role in elevating artists and cheerleading for their success. The permissionless nature of this era will disrupt the walled gardens of private collections, and favor artist and collector participation. Of course, there are pros and cons to all of this – the “on all the time” twitter/social media/click-consumption aspect is a balancing act that can create serious burnout. I think some amount of delegation or automation of social media management is advisable for artists, in order for them to focus on their craft, and I could see that becoming more the norm into the future.

As far as how art itself will evolve, I think theres so much room for exploration and innovation, it's really anyone's guess. Blockchain authentication has finally filled a gap that's always been missing from digital art and photography, but this is only the beginning of the story. Music, short animations, video, generative art, immersive AR/VR, AI based work – I find it very difficult to predict where we are going, which is part of why this is such an exciting time to be involved.

In your opinion, what are the traits of a great artist that will stand the test of time?

Someone once told me that great poets all write the same poem, over and over again. I think that's been true for me, in the sense that my own creative process is an obsessive pursuit of the unattainable. For great artists, I think that pursuit is driven by a unique and clear vision (which is adaptable and can evolve freely over time), and a total lack of concern for failure.

Thank you very much to Protein Prosecco for sharing his thoughts, insights and experience!

Artists and collectors alike have a lot to gain from hearing this influential collector’s thoughts, and we are happy to bring him here to you at ISeeYou!

You can follow Protein Prosecco on Twitter and we eagerly await the construction of “Prosecco Mansion” to browse in depth this diverse and strong collection of digital art.


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