Photographer Dave Krugman’s first minted non-fungible token (NFT) has a rich analog history. It’s a high-resolution film scan that the artist shot on his grandfather’s old Hasselblad 503CX, a variation of the camera used to shoot the Apollo moon landings.
“There is a long legacy of photography in my family – my father and grandfather both were photographers as hobbyists,” Krugman says. “Since I consider the art we mint to blockchain the legacy of our creative careers, it felt right to lead with [that] work.”
Read more: Presenting CoinDesk's Most Influential 2022
Krugman still describes his early photography NFTs as the “keystone” of his blockchain art ecosystem, which is filled with close-ups of raindrops on pavement, haunting cityscapes, and arresting car portraits. He just got to spend time with the subject of his “Most Influential” portrait, Art Blocks founder and CEO Erick Calderon, at NFT art events in both Texas and Mexico, seizing the opportunity to photograph someone he considers a great artistic influence.
“His leadership in generative art has had a profound impact on me,” Krugman says of Calderon. “I view photography as a study of the generative nature of the universe. The laws of physics are the source code, the photographers freeze instances of it unfolding.”
How and when did you first learn about NFTs?
I first learned about NFTs when my friend J. N. Silva brought them up to me in spring 2020. At first, it went over my head. But as people were forced into increasingly digital spaces due to Covid lockdowns, it dawned on me that much of our social signaling is happening in digital spaces. This technology could catch on as a way to enable digital objecthood. If so, markets would form, especially around art, since so much of our consumption of art is happening in online communities.
What were some of the artistic decisions you made when creating your “Most Influential” portrait of Erick Calderon?
When I make a portrait of someone, I'm capturing the person in a specific context and the relationship I've formed with them. To photograph Erick at Bright Moments in CDMX when his work was just minted and after spending the prior week with him in Marfa for his Art Blocks open house – everything just aligned perfectly to immortalize this moment in time.
I don't typically plan deeply when making portraits like these – I simply seek to capture someone's true energy in an environment where they feel at home. I think, together, we achieved that here.
What about Calderon's work in the crypto/blockchain industry most inspires you?
Erick Calderon, or Snow Fro, is my biggest inspiration on the artist side of this space. This was someone who saw the future way before others did, acted on his convictions, and changed the world. But more importantly, his humility, support of others, genuine excitement, and boundless enthusiasm is most inspiring to me. Through Erick, I've been introduced to an astounding community of artists, and it’s changed my perspective forever.
Where do you see yourself in the NFT art world moving forward?
NFTs are just a technology. It’s the tool that lets us have digital objects. What we do with those objects is literally limitless. The best use cases of the technology haven't even been dreamed of yet. We are at the beginning of a vast world being born in the digital substrate that our social spaces exist in.
My main goal with this tech is to find ways that artists can sustain their creative careers, gain leverage, and make less compromises with their time and craft. It's the artists that make the world a beautiful place to be, physically and digitally. This space is building a bridge between these two worlds in fascinating ways.
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