Somewhere between a DAO (Distributed Autonomous Organization) and an artist-run gallery exists the community of Phantom Astronaut, and this month patrons were rewarded with an NFT that traded as high as 350,000x it’s initial value in just three days using a new model that combines the accessibility of Patreon with the open-source green blockchain Tezos.
Phantom Astronaut exists as part of a creator-forward ecosystem of blockchain-based collectives that includes the recently announced “Channel.”
Tokens enable a permanent, open and uncensorable,
💌 mailing list
🎟️ entry pass
💸 payment system
Why depend on a platform that might disappear one day, taking your community and livelihood down with it? pic.twitter.com/qzdukhVXug
— channel (@channel) January 10, 2022
Artists who saw the promise of NFTs and the headlines of extraordinary sales numbers have been confronted by the sobering reality of a marketplace that can feel as exclusive and difficult to navigate as traditional institutions. This revelation, along with the environmental concerns over blockchain computing, have made many creators second-guess entering the space. Phantom Astronaut thinks his proof of concept fulfills the promise of a democratized collecting market.
Phantom Astronaut (the creative pseudonym of Dekker Dreyer) is a digital artist who has been called a “VR pioneer” by Entrepreneur and MovieMaker magazines. His work has drawn comparisons to creators ranging from Massive Attack to David Lynch. In December of 2021 he launched a Patreon community which creates a podcast, a zine focusing on art and culture, and one unusual perk… a monthly NFT drop of original art. For the base tier price of $5.99USD patrons receive access to all of the regular monthly content plus a timed NFT listing on the objkt.com marketplace. On January 3rd patrons watched their discord alerts as the clock struck midnight and a url went live allowing them to purchase an art piece called Autonomous Bosch. This riff on the famous Garden of Earthly Delights by dutch master Hieronymus Bosch replaces the original painting’s hellish torments with the modern ills of big tech. Within three days of the listing, editions which were initially available at the minimum platform value of approximately $0.01 were trading at $35 and continuing to rise— an increase of 350,000%. This may not sound like a game-changer, but it radically democratizes art collecting and paves the way for independent artists to build a more sustainable community around their work. Dreyer calls this approach a reciprocal creative community.
Dreyer says, “My idea was to approach NFTs from a different perspective. Instead of looking for a few major buyers who might break auction records I wanted this to be a two-way street with my community. People sign up for my patreon and they get the podcast and zine, but as a ‘thank you’ I wanted to give them something in return. With that in mind I developed the idea of doing a monthly NFT drop, listed at the bare minimum, and timed in a way that my patrons could get first access. I combine that with offering help on my discord server to patrons comfortable with setting up a crypto wallet and understanding how it all works. It’s incredible having people who aren’t particularly plugged-in to the NFT world able to see their support for my projects turn into something that supports them in return.”
The environmental impact of NFTs is often criticized, but Tezos, the open-source blockchain which Phantom Astronaut currently uses, touts itself as a “green” blockchain using a fraction of the power consumption of bitcoin or ethereum. For example, the Tezos network uses just 0.001 TWh annually compared to Bitcoin’s 130 TWh. Tezos also claims to be able to adapt over time to further reduce energy consumption as technology advances.
Totally self-funded, channel is being built by three content creators: @1nterdependence, @newmodels_io, and @JoshuaCitarella, in partnership with @duncanswilson @cullenmiller and @new_username_22. pic.twitter.com/tora3Kv6vf
— channel (@channel) January 10, 2022
Although Phantom Astronaut patrons have seen growing financial returns, Dreyer is careful to keep the project focused on the relationship between artist and community, saying, “What separates this from a DAO or an investment opportunity is that everything is centered around the art, not the finances. Minting these NFTs is a way for all of us to benefit together, but the heart of the project is bringing people into the art collecting universe through human connection.”
Phantom Astronaut hopes this symbiotic relationship between creator, community, and marketplace can be an example for the future. Dreyer explains, “NFTs are the vehicle right now, but the idea of growing collective, reciprocal, value around creative objects is going to be how art collectives, record labels, authors, filmmakers, and independent artists deepen their relationships with their supporters. That’s the paradigm shift. The next step is helping my community members find ways to bring their own creations into this ecosystem, that’s where I’m looking ahead.”
Phantom Astronaut’s next drop The Mother will be available in early February. Check out his site.