“I think that collectors shouldn’t feel bad at all about selling work – it can make a noticeable difference to life in the real world and can provide capital to curate and further build on a collection.”
Blockbird has worked as an online entrepreneur for the last 10+ years and has participated in the crypto space for the last 5+ years. He’s from New Zealand but currently traveling in South America and married with two daughters. Together he and his wife travel extensively, where he follows his wife in her humanitarian career and pursues his work as a photographer so far through Afghanistan, the Congo, Nepal, and Iran to name a few.
As you’ll see, Blockbird’s collection ranges in aesthetic and discipline and supports a wide range of artists including Tyler Hobbs, Dmitri Cherniak, Aaron Penne, Reuben Wu, Roe Ethridge, and Barry Stone, Mickey Smith, Matthew Porter, and many many more.
Art3: What was your first introduction to NFTs and how long after did you begin collecting?
BB: My first NFT exposure was to Crypto Kitties. I was working for a crypto startup at the time and we were all in Taipei – I remember going home back to my hotel at the end of the day’s meetings and just buying and breeding crypto kitties until late in the evening, for a solid week at least. I had zero investment thesis at that time, I just thought it was fun that there was a ‘game’ to play in this crypto world I was so enthralled with.
Foolishly, I barely thought about NFTs again until mid 2020, having taken time away from the crypto space to work on other projects during the 2018/19 bear market period. I minted a couple of my own photos in Sept 2020 just to play around with the idea again, but I didn’t start to collect seriously until discovering Art Blocks in January 2021.
Art3: If you could only keep one of the NFTs you have collected, which would it be?
BB: This is a really tough question! There’s many possible candidates but I think I’ll go with Archetype #476 which I find deeply satisfying for some reason, from a truly amazing long form generative series by artist Kjetil Golid. A very close second would be ‘Ailan’ by the mysterious generative genius, Manaloide.
Archetype #476 by Kjetil Gold
Art3: Did you collect art before the blockchain? If so, does that inform how you collect digital art?
BB: Barely! My wife and I have always made a point of buying local artwork from many of the countries we’ve traveled to over the years, but never spending more than a few hundred dollars at a time. I’ve bought a small number of photo prints too, but living quite nomadically, it’s never made much sense for us. Being able to own as much NFT work as I like without needing a wall to hang it on is actually very appealing. I can display it in galleries and other online spaces and once our house is finally built in NZ I intend to get several digital displays to hang there.
Art3: What kind of work catches your eye the most — are there specific genres or aesthetics?
BB: Generative art really clicks for me – there’s something about creatively written code that renders as organic forms or with satisfying geometry that really pleases me – I don’t know specifically why. Photography is my other big favourite as it’s always been a passion and something I’ve followed for many years.
Ailan by Manoloide. Courtesy of Kate Vass Galerie copyright © artist Manoloide, private collection of blockbird
Art3: There’s a lot of talk in the community about how long to hold artwork and when to engage with the secondary market. Do you employ a strategy with your collection?
BB: Early on I knew that I would need to sell some work in order to have sufficient capital to build the collection I really wanted. During the euphoria of mid-2021 I bought and sold a lot of work. This year my aim has been to hold onto as much as I can, selling only occasionally and buying as much photography as I can. I think that collectors shouldn’t feel bad at all about selling work – it can make a noticeable difference to life in the real world and can provide capital to curate and further build on a collection.
Art3: Who are some of the artists that you think deserve attention right now?
BB: There are some amazing photographers whose work I’m very much enjoying at the moment – Carlo Van de Roer, Robert LeBlanc, Mickey Smith, Amy Woodward, and many others…
Ellipsis 6 by Amy Woodward
Art3: Which was the collection, NFT or artist who got away?
BB: Autoglyphs for sure. I don’t even want to think about how much they were when I was considering them in mid-2020. Max pain.
Art3: How do you go about discovering artists?
BB: Discussions in the Art Blocks discord for generative art and often who other artists are talking about or following. For photographers, I have plenty of favourite photographers so it’s often watching out to see when they enter the NFT space. Otherwise conversation in Twitter and Discord in general, that’s where it all happens.
Art3: What do you believe your primary role as a collector is?
BB: I don’t think I have a specific role, but in general I like to think I can be a curator, an advocate, a supporter, a sounding board – and hopefully in many cases a close friend.
A New America #1 by Robert LeBlanc
Art3: What has been your biggest triumph and your most challenging lesson since you began collecting?
BB: Biggest triumph I guess would be seeing how important I thought this technology could be, becoming a reality. I hoped it would offer artists a new alternative to get their work seen globally, provide royalties, and have access to an entirely new collector base, and that really seems to be happening. The most challenging lesson is probably that despite being directionally correct, timelines and market cycles have been brutal and completely unpredictable.
Art3: Naturally, there’s a lot of speculation in the NFT space. Do you have projections as to what the next year will bring?
BB: Given the above, it’s very hard to predict the next year specifically, but I do believe over the next 1-3 years we will see a huge shift of creatives of all types into this new medium. I also think almost all major photographic work will be represented here within the next 5 years. 24/7 global markets and creator royalties will be too interesting to resist.
Find more about Blockbird as well as a link to his collection gallery here.