artist advocate


Heart My Art: A Reading of the Social Media Landscape

Self-promotion and art have always gone hand in hand, but what happens when only a few billionaires like Musk and Zuckerberg control the means of promotion? In 2023, we’re a long way from the innocent early days of Myspace and Tumblr. These social media sites used to encourage creativity, customization (remember learning HTML?), and community, free from algorithms and constant advertising.

When Twitter launched in 2006, most people were using it to share status updates in the vein of “Eating a sandwich.” Meanwhile, artists used Tumblr to share their work in an open-ended and stylish blog format, and curators used it to compile their favorite art and memes on the web. It was a simpler time (and now Gen Z is pining for it too). 

Today, most artists have to play the social media game, no matter how many times the algorithm or terms of service get changed. Would Yayoi Kusama be the household name she is today if not for her instinctive grasp of Instagram? Would Beeple have made that record $69 million sale if not for posting viral work on socials every day? As the digital art world and social media collide with blockchain technology in the form of NFTs, leveraging social media and cutting through the noise has only gotten more important. But many artists are tired of the status quo.

The Social Media Landscape in 2023

In June 2023, the social media landscape is a chaotic mess. After a series of jarring and sometimes head scratching moves by Elon Musk at Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg saw blood in the water and launched Threads on July 5. It reached over 100 million sign-ups within a week of launch, taking off like a rocket with its Instagram integration and a contingent of Musk haters ready to protest by switching to a different corporate overlord.

social media Meta

Just a few weeks later, it’s a very different story. Threads only has around 13 million daily active users (a 70% drop from its 44 million peak), and those users don’t have a reason to stay engaged, as they only spend an average of 4 minutes a day on the platform. Meanwhile, Twitter retains a core audience of around 200 million daily active users who spend an average of 30 minutes on the platform. 

There’s clearly a hunger for something new in social media, so why has Threads dropped like Meta’s stock price in 2022? First off, Threads feels eerily similar to Twitter but lacks a lot of its competitor’s functionality. You still can’t browse your feed in chronological order (it’s coming soon), so the algorithm is bound to show you a lot of unwanted brand and celebrity content. And you can’t search topics (a huge piece of the Twitter experience) or even use the app on desktop. 

Then in recent days, Musk followed through on his X obsession by changing the Twitter logo to a minimalistic X, which lines up with his ambitions to rebrand Twitter as a “super app” in the vein of WeChat in China. WeChat is like a Swiss Army knife of apps — you can chat, pay for things, hail a cab, book appointments, and more.

As Twitter/X CEO Linda Yaccarino tweeted, “X is the future state of unlimited interactivity – centered in audio, video, messaging, payments/banking – creating a global marketplace for ideas, goods, services, and opportunities.” Perhaps the X team can pull off the seemingly impossible and create a new “global town square” that combines social media and fiat/crypto payments in a transparent way that avoids WeChat’s privacy and censorship issues.

Can Crypto Solve This Problem?

Meanwhile in web3 land, the most visible social platform is Lens Protocol, which is still in beta and slowly rolling out access with a waitlist. Lens takes a decentralized approach to social — you own 100% of your data (including your posts, connections, and profile info) and can move it to another platform at any time. Creators can monetize their work with NFTs on other platforms and bring them into their Lens posts, token gate their content, and use the same handle across apps.

In a way, Lens is on a similarly ambitious mission as X, but with the web3 ethos and community at its core. Who knows if they can deliver on these ambitions (and if non-crypto natives will even be interested in their vision), but for now, it’s exciting to see their team putting it into motion. 

So in this shifting and unpredictable landscape, where does that leave artists? For now, the promises from X, Meta, and Lens are largely unrealized, while other platforms like Bluesky and Mastodon face similar existential struggles as Threads, without the benefit of Meta’s massive reach. 

Where are you supposed to direct your energies when web2 and web3 social are currently “Under Construction”? At the moment, it’s an open-ended question, with plenty of opinions and few answers. Only time will tell. One thing is for sure — artists are craving a new place to connect with their communities in a more direct way, away from the noise and sneaky game-playing that the algorithm requires. 

The NFT space deserves something better. Now’s the time to dream big.

Ready to get started as an artist or collector on Mint Gold Dust? Check out our Metamask start up guide to get started. Ready to start minting? Apply to talk with our curatorial team today.

Weekly Recap

79AU | 12.20-27

Featured Artworks of the Week

Hypnomancer, "TWOGLO"
Brooke Ganster, "The Bold Hold"
drlemny, "Mama 'Heard Voices'"

Yearly Wrap-Up

As the year comes to a close, we’re reminiscing on past collections featured on Mint Gold Dust. From explorations on AI to collaborations on digitized murals and sculptures, this year was one for the books. Keep reading for a look back at some of our collections from this past year.

Released this Fall, Machine Dialogues is an investigation into how artificial intelligence (AI) can inform the creative process. The artists of Machine Dialogues utilized AI tools across mediums such as Typography, Fine Art, Gaming Artifacts and more. Whether artists were experienced working with AI applications or were new to the programs, Machine Dialogues was an opportunity for them to experiment and expand their vision and art practice with AI.

Ira Greenberg, "Protocephalopod_0923H_SD"
ARTficialis, "Grounded"
Tom Laroc, "Global Tribes by Tom Laroc (GT0000CC)"

Created using various forms of AI by Joseph Munisteri, aka Butterflies in Space Joe, Butterfly Space Opera is inspired by classical modern artists and nature. What originally started as writing prompts for Munisteri’s poetry blossomed into a collection of operas filled with drama, tragedy, and spirit. This collection invites viewers to experience AI artworks as a collaboration between man and machine and challenge traditional ideas of art. 

ButterfliesinSpace, Butterfly Space Opera - 3
ButterfliesinSpace, Butterfly Space Opera - 1
ButterfliesinSpace, Butterfly Space Opera - 5

Dia al-Azzawi, a pioneer of modern Arab art, launched his first NFT collection this past year on Mint Gold Dust. His fondness and love for his grandson, Frederick, and the importance of future generations inspired his work.

“I wanted to create a body of work that captures a young child’s energy using the traditional shapes and colours I grew up with. By embracing this connection between the old and the new, the Freddie collection allows me to leave a piece of my childhood in the metaverse for future generations to enjoy.”

Dia al-Azzawi, "Freddie 1.0 #1"
Dia al-Azzawi, "Freddie 1.0 #3"
Dia al-Azzawi, "Freddie 1.0 #7"

Austin-based muralist collective, HOPE Campaign, teamed up with Mint Gold Dust and Illust Space during SXSW to digitize murals by local Austin artists and mint them on chain. The physical artworks were originally on display at the convention center for SXSW 2022, however, by utilizing the power of the blockchain, these artists can now earn royalties and archive their artworks.

Jiminai, "Howdy from Austin"
Mixed Hues, "Peace and Joy"
uloang, "Help On The Way 001"

Mint Gold Dust Event Form

In 2022, Mint Gold Dust welcomed our community to events in New York, Miami, Austin, Denver, and Los Angeles. Next year, find out if we’re hosting an event near you! Be the first to know about our upcoming events by filling out our 1-minute survey below.

Have you seen our latest collection, Cu3ntos? Get all the details of our new curation here.

Ready to get started as an artist or collector on Mint Gold Dust? Check out our Metamask start up guide to get started. Ready to start minting? Apply to talk with our curatorial team today.

Weekly Recap

79AU | 11.9-17

Featured Artworks of The Week

VanDi, Abstract in Pink

Since beginning his digital art journey in 2001, VanDi has explored various mediums such as photography, film, and, most recently, digital drawing. earlier this year, VanDi began a new series of digital abstract paintings titled “Color Abstractions.” The artworks in this series sit somewhere between Bauhaus-style and Abstract-Expressionist style while leaning into modern color combinations that result in playful harmonious images. Each piece is designed to work both as physical and digital wall art.

VanDi, Abstraction in A Minor
VanDi, Finish Line

Upcoming Events With Mint Gold Dust

You heard it here first — we’re going to Art Basel! From November 29th to December 5th, the Mint Gold Dust team will be in Miami for all things art and NFTs. Follow our Twitter to stay up to date on upcoming event announcements.

Mint Gold Dust Founder and CEO Kelly LeValley Hunt on Artist and Collector Royalties 

Smart contracts for Crypto Art and NFTs have a myriad of unique features that separate them from a sale of an artwork in the traditional art world. One of the most hotly debated differences is the ability to distribute payment automatically to the artist and automatically send the art piece directly to the collector on the primary sale. Royalties are then automatically distributed after a sale on the secondary market and any subsequent sales. This is something that the traditional art world has never been able to offer. 

Average NFT royalties on the secondary market typically range from 5 to 10%, and can be set at up to 20% on Mint Gold Dust. For most marketplaces, the creator can choose their desired percentage. Payments are distributed automatically via smart contract on the secondary market, and upon each subsequent sale. The challenge is if a collector decides to resell the work on a different platform to which it was minted, the artist’s royalties do not automatically follow. This is an important point for creators and collectors to consider when navigating the secondary market and is an area which innovators have been trying to address. However, the reality is that the complexity of managing cross-platform royalties is cost prohibitive and unaffordable in the long term for many Crypto Art marketplaces, especially in a Bear Market. 

Recently the NFT community has been abuzz after a handful of the largest and most widely used commercial platforms announced potential plans to no longer honor established royalties, making them optional rather than respecting the creator’s chosen royalty percentage. As a result, over the past couple of weeks, the term “Zero-Royalties” was born.

Artists across the space voiced their opinions on one platform’s decision in favor of “Zero-Royalties.” The highly anticipated upcoming release, Badam Bomb Squad, posted their position via creator BobbyHundreds Twitter, stating:

Bobby Hundreds on Twitter

Similar sentiment was echoed across the space with artists, creators, and platforms voicing their concerns. Artists and creators worried they would lose essential future income if royalties were not honored, inciting a protest that could not be ignored.

The comments on one platform’s Twitter thread echo this and are proof that the community will not easily forget the quick dismissal of one of the fundamental benefits and differentiators of creating art using blockchain technology. This platform has now reconsidered their stance and have decided to go in the opposite direction by enforcing creator royalties on their platform. While this is a win for those fighting for the creator’s financial legacy, an intervention like this still ignores the web3 ethos of decentralization and disrespects the part that the collectors play in the ecosystem. I think of this ecosystem like, ‘Does a flower grow and bloom without water?’ 

Mint Gold Dust Community Manager @GiraffeCupcakez comments, “Even with taking the time to build a creative solution that on the surface seems like a worthwhile fix, it’s not easy to dismiss the fact that this platform’s stance flipped only after public backlash.”

Enforcing collectors to honor royalties may also have the opposite of the intended effect, and perhaps the community should be spending time on changing the cultural ethos. In other words, rewarding collectors for opting-in to paying artist royalties rather than forcing payment should be encouraged. As an example, collectors who pay royalties could gain access to exclusive pieces not available to “Zero-Royalty Collectors.” Such a change would be a testament to the power of the NFT and Crypto Art community at large and just the beginning of the next “DEgeneration” of the Crypto Art ecosystem at work.

Rakkaus Art, Coming To Surface

As we now have a new and improved way of transacting with Blockchain and cryptocurrency, we need to start thinking about how we utilize web3 to improve the economic system of every sector, and not just rebuild what we already had with this new decentralized technology. If we continue with old and out-of-date ways of thinking, we only repeat our existence–never evolving, never changing our world for the better.

Mint Gold Dust believes that royalties should be paid to the artist, especially now that there is streamlined technology to auto-distribute these payments on a single platform. However, in the spirit of true decentralization, we also believe that collectors should have the choice to be a “Zero-Royalty Collector”. Therefore we will be looking at options to implement a “Zero-Royalty Collector” search mechanism on the Mint Gold Dust platform for pieces of art that do not have royalties attached to them.

This will be accomplished by creating a collector verification system that categorizes collectors into 2 categories, “Plus +Royalty Collector” and “Zero Royalty Collector.” This membership program will offer incentives to collectors who purchase Plus Royalty Artworks while making room for those who choose to collect only Zero-Royalty Crypto Art. 

Brooke Ganster, The Quest

This new model gives creators the opportunity to monetize their work the way they want on the primary and secondary markets on Mint Gold Dust. This is not technically addressing the broader picture of cross platform (secondary market) sales. At Mint Gold Dust, artists choose their desired royalty percentage for secondary sales on the platform upon minting, giving them control of their selling power. From the beginning, we have offered 10%, 15%, and 20% artist royalty options in our smart contracts, and soon we will be adding 0% royalties as an option. To learn more about our origin story where we discuss our founding royalty percentages, check out a podcast I did in 2021 here.

As the Crypto Art and NFT space navigates the royalty evolution, we will continue to provide a decentralized platform for smooth, on Ethereum blockchain transactions for artists, creators, as well as our Collectors. 

Write your memoirs on the “Plus+Royalty” topic in your profile on Mint Gold Dust and share the link with us on Twitter or post in our Discord

Did you read our latest 79AU article featuring interviews from Arabella, QueenEarth, and Everyday Research? If not, take a look at the article here for an insight into how they utilize NFTs as an extension of their artistic practice.

Ready to get started as an artist or collector on Mint Gold Dust? Check out our Metamask start up guide to get started. Ready to start minting? Apply to talk with our curatorial team today.