The Big Whale : You are known in the NFT community, but not at the general public level. Where do you come from? What is your background?
Colborn Bell: I actually started out pretty far away from the world of art and NFTs. I studied finance and psychology in New York before moving into finance. I worked in investment banks and family offices, and discovered cryptos in 2016. I remember buying my first ether in February 2017. I was super excited about smart contracts.
The first project that really appealed to me was Augur (a platform for betting on whether an event will happen). To buy their crypto, I had to have ether, so I bought my first ether. I still remember registering on the Poloniex exchange platform and that's when I discovered how wide the field of cryptos was. There were so many of them!
Having worked in finance pushed me quite quickly to build up my own portfolio, and at the same time I worked a lot on projects. I also participated in many ICOs (initial coin offerings).
When did you enter the world of NFTs?
I vividly remember going to the Satoshi conference in January 2020. There, I discovered the breadth of the NFTs community. I already knew about it via Cryptokitties, MoonCats, and other collections, but I took it a step further. And it was also around this time that a friend asked me to do a compliance study of the specialized SuperRare marketplace. He was wondering what these kinds of galleries were worth.
Subscribe for free to read more.
Do you haveany experience in art?
My mother is a dance teacher, so I was raised in an artistic world. I have always loved art, very young I was looking for all types of music, I love to find and expose nuggets.
Isthis why you created the Museum of Crypto Art?
Yes, of course. We created the digital museum in April 2020 and the artists loved it very quickly. They love the way we talk about their work. I think unlike 2017, when cryptos were only discussed through the financial prism, the market has changed a lot. We live in a much more digital world, and NFTs are a modality of this new world.
Whatis your goal with the museum?
My goal is to encourage and support creators, while preserving that pioneering spirit. The internet has created a world of strong cultural exchange and cryptos allow this world to be enhanced instantly.
Thebig brands are interested in this universe. What do you think about it?
I think most of them are wrong because they haven't taken the time to understand the philosophy of cryptos, NFTs and Web3. They think it's just a new market, when it's much more than that. It's a decentralized world where value is no longer concentrated in the hands of a few.
Whatdo you think is the difference between digital art and crypto art?
That's a very good question (laughs). Digital art has been around for a very long time, whereas crypto art is a recent movement based on digital sovereignty. Cryptos allow the immutability and incensurability of art. It is a real revolution. They allow to create without limit and to exchange this art. It's a way for artists to gain even more power.
How many artists do you work with?
Hundreds of them. In our permanent collection, there are just over 260 artists. We also have thousands of enthusiasts and artists in the Discord or on Twitter.
What are your development projects?
Our goal is to continue to improve the experience in this digital world.
What is themost interesting thing about NFTs?
I think it's the ability to create and assemble a collection of works in record time. A traditional museum could never create an exhibition in a few days. It would take at least weeks.
Whatis the objective of NFT Paris for you?
I love Paris, I go there often. I think it's the place in the world where you love culture and creation the most. The people in Paris are incredible, especially in the world of NFTs.
How do you see the European NFTs scene?
The pioneers, the innovators come from France, Italy... There are also some from Spain. Europe is extremely dynamic.
Who is your favorite artist?
Ah, it's really hard to answer. Most of the collection is made up of artists like Robness. I love that eccentricity, that creativity.
There is a lot of talk about artificial intelligence... Do you think it will impact art?
Of course! A few days ago, an artist came to me and showed me a picture that someone had sent him using one of his works with artificial intelligence, and it was a work that he could have done himself. It was exactly his style.
The person asked him if he could mine the work and the artist was super embarrassed. He didn't know what to say. The arrival of AI is going to have a huge impact. We are going to enter a world where everyone will have the ability to create without limit.
Do you work with classical museums?
I talked to a lot of curators and people in charge of classical museums and galleries, but overall nobody was interested. You have to keep in mind that art is a real industry and that some people don't want it to change. They won't let the outsiders, that is to say us, enter the game. But there is nothing they can do to stop us.
Aren't you bothered by the speculative dimension of NFTs?
It's a real topic. I talked about it a year ago. Obviously there's a speculative dimension, which is problematic, but also for that reason I'm pushing so hard for acculturation and education on cryptos.