Discussing The Role of the Artist in an NFT Project
Art is incredibly important in an NFT project. And yet, digital communities/projects are about more than just art. This places the artist in an interesting dilemma — is it more important to focus on creating and delivering meaningful art, or developing relationships with community members and creating a strong network? Obviously, in an ideal world, artists could do both, but time is limited, and it’s important to be intentional about how team members are best spending their time.
Today, we wanted to take a look at both sides of this argument, and think about the different degrees to which artists can be involved in their projects beyond art creation.
Method 1: Total Involvement 🌐
This is a method that artists who start their own NFT projects often use, and usually works best for smaller communities. Artists may take the role of the de-facto “community manager” and often get community members’ input on the art they create or what direction to take the project creatively.
Of course, the limitation of this strategy is that it’s incredibly labor-intensive, and not always scalable. In a 50-person telegram chat, it’s easy for an artist to keep track of members’ perceptions and ideas, but when a project becomes a full-fledged brand with multiple social channels and thousands of community members, community managers become necessary in order to streamline operations and prevent individuals from becoming overwhelmed with commitments.
Method 2: Hybrid 🔮
This is the method we see from most artists: basically, when artists stay involved in their community, even serving as a figurehead, while delegating part or all of the community management.
This method makes a lot of sense, especially for artists who are also founders. It’s nice to still stay involved, even if they are not in charge of the day-to-day operations of their community. Many artists will take a specific interest in a few areas outside of visuals — say one-on-one fan interactions or brand partnerships. This once again allows them to get the “best of both worlds,” and having an artist’s leadership incorporated in any manner certainly adds value to a collection. However, artists may feel torn over exactly how much time to spend on these tasks in a vague “artist-community figurehead” hybrid role.
Method 3: Art-Only 🎨
A community may decide on this method because they have chosen to outsource the creation of art because the artist does not have much interest in Web3, and/or because the art is not central to the community, such as a game-based project. In these cases, it’s important for the community to really shine in other ways, and to have an even stronger community manager, who can serve as the figurehead for the community.
Sometimes, a brand might already be established, and the art/project might be an extension of the already existing community. However, it can still be helpful to help members understand what differentiates the Web3 project from other brand extensions and highlighting the art/artist can be a great way to do so, even if the impulse is to outsource/de-emphasize the art.
There’s not one level of artist involvement that is universally best — each artist has different skill sets and goals. However, thinking about which method is right for yourself or your community’s artist is important, so that artists aren’t wasting their time on activities that they don’t enjoy or that won’t benefit their community. Furthermore, if an artist has a less involved role in your community, it’s important to think about how you can make the vision and voice of the project strong without a traditional creative figurehead.