While mainstream adoption grows everyday, Bitcoin still traces its roots to the tech community. A 2013 survey of Bitcoin users found them to be 96% male, 37% anarcho-capitalist or libertarian, and with a median age of 32.7 years old. The clear majority found Bitcoin to be intellectually rewarding (70%), while a much smaller portion used it to broaden their social circles (22%). As cryptocurrency seeks to expand adoption, people outside the traditional tech community remain a sought-after demographic.
Cryptoart is a project that serves this purpose of bringing Bitcoin beyond its traditional social circles by creating art pieces related to cryptocurrency and affixing them with paper wallets, allowing the art piece itself to serve as a store of currency. Cointelegraph spoke with Troy Fearnow of Cryptoart about taking Bitcoin into culture.
Cointelegraph: This seems like a very non-typical idea for the Bitcoin community. What was the inspiration?
Troy Fearnow: As a Bitcoiner I wanted to contribute in some way. I spent much of my professional career dealing art. One day I was printing off paper wallets and came up with the idea to merge them with physical art. It just seemed like a fun way to secure and enjoy my Bitcoin. Additionally, The concept of growing value by creating demand and introducing scarcity is interesting to me.
CT: Is Cryptoart something that can be used as a way to hide one's finances from theft?
TF: The art is just a vessel to hold a paper wallet, so yes. The QR code and paper wallet can be switched out. I felt it was important to observe trustlessness.
CT: Any success in the art gallery/coffee shop world as a way to display art?
TF: I've had a few retail experiences -- some exceptional and some not. Obviously, the crowd is important. We had a pop-up gallery at SXSW that was fantastic, but that is really the perfect audience. I test marketed a mall and had mixed results. In all instances, Cryptoart requires some explanation. You need someone with knowledge that can talk to the customer, which means traditional retail or galleries is challenging. I don't view this as a negative, because the ultimate goal is to bring new people into the world of digital currencies.
Cryptoart is an effective teaching tool, because it forces people to think about how Bitcoin can "be on the art." Specifically, it's a great tool to understand that Bitcoin is an entry on a distributed ledger that is controlled by your private key. People also find it interesting that a Bitcoin address can be created without logging into some sort of centralized database. These are empowering concepts once you grasp them.
CT: Have you seen a "busking" approach where artists display their art for crypto tips?
TF: I'm sure crypto tips will be a normal part of busking in the future, it's just not something we are concentrating on.
CT: Who are the artists and where do they come from? I’d imagine it could be challenging to find people at the nexus of these two very different worlds.
TF: At this point it is by invitation. We find artists online. It’s actually the hardest part. We do have a creative studio that did one piece that used multiple artists. Two Dots Creative Studio in France has very talented artists. They’ve done work on Assassin’s Creed and Star Wars.
CT: Art is certainly a departure of sorts from the norm of the coder nerd-filled crypto world. Over your years of involvement, have you seen a shift towards more artists and "regular folks"?
TF: Artistic efforts are becoming more collaborative inside the Bitcoin space. I did a show in San Francisco about six weeks ago that included many of the Bitcoin artists. There is another show in the works right now. In terms of regular folks, it depends where you live. I’m in Austin where most folks have heard about Bitcoin, they just haven’t made the leap to ownership yet. As a side note—This is why Cryptoart comes with a tutorial. The idea is to give new users a painless bridge instead of making a big leap.