Next week, the NFT platform Expressions — a marketplace dedicated to supporting underrepresented global art communities in Web3, will launch its genesis art project — Origins & Ancestries. The drop is the first of ten that will take place over the next year and will showcase 1,000 artworks from 12 artists in the Caribbean, including Sofía Maldonado-Suárez (Puerto Rico), Edward Bowen (Trinidad), Carlos Davila Rinaldi (Puerto Rico), Isabel Berenos (Curaçao), and more.
Expressions was created with an expansive goal in mind; Web3, for all its open-access rhetoric, remains frustratingly Western-focused, with North American and European artists dominating trends and headlines. To better shine a light on efforts to broaden the NFT ecosystem’s horizons, we spoke with JD Lasica, co-founder of Amberfi, the tech solutions platform behind Expressions, and Amberfi’s Director of Marketing and Community, Milena Rimassa, to talk about Expressions’ ambitions and why the NFT ecosystem needs to ensure all boats rise in its tide.
Expressions: a platform for global communities
Like misconceptions of the gender imbalance in Web3, the stereotype of the crypto art space being composed of white men is an unfortunately persistent caricature. Similarly, the Black community in Web3 is doing amazing work in the space, with both artists and founders helping to carry the culturally diverse torch forward.
Lasica and Rimassa are well aware of this fact and aim to prevent the repetition of inequities that are so common in the traditional art world.
“We feel really strongly that the Web3 space needs more diversity,” Lasica told nft now. “Not enough women are involved, not enough artists and creatives from underserved, unheard art communities are involved. Why can’t we have our ownership economy working in a way that benefits everybody?”
“There are so many artists all over this planet that were underrepresented in earlier iterations of the art world,” Rimassa said while speaking to nft now. “And there’s a lot of art that exists out there that can finally be monetized in ways to provide a sustainable living for others for marginalized groups.”
The artists taking part in Expressions’ inaugural drop, Origins & Ancestors, likewise believe Web3 can and should encapsulate a much wider spectrum of artists and cultures than it currently does.
“As an artist from Curaçao, it’s exciting to share my work alongside talented creators who are exploring themes of identity, culture, and heritage,” Berenos said in a press release shared with nft now. “Being a part of this project means more than just showcasing my art. It’s about contributing to a larger conversation about who we are and our origins.”
Building with artists in mind
Lasica and the Amberfi team have spent the last year talking to “thousands of creatives” around the globe to better understand what they want out of Web3 and how they’d like to engage with it. Most, he says, feel that the major NFT marketplaces out there aren’t serving their needs around intellectual property protection and ease of use. Expressions was built with these artists not only in mind but on board, with Lasica saying they regularly invite artists onto Zoom calls and Slack channels to “build the platform together.”
The platform will feature a one percent marketplace fee to sellers and a 1.9 percent fee to sellers on each NFT sold. Lasica and the team are trying to keep things relatively inexpensive on the marketplace while adding value in terms of curation and opportunities to artists to establish a footing in Web3. Benefits to creatives and collectors will include free mints, enforceable royalties, prices pegged to USD (payable via ETH, MATIC, or credit card), private workspaces for creators, and more.
Expressions’ season two drop is due in July and is set to feature 12 artists from the African continent. In the future, Expressions community members will be able to vote on the next geographical region the platform will focus on, with options including South Asia, South America, Aboriginal communities in Australia, First Nations, and more. For those interested in getting early access to the site, head to the platform’s Discord to learn more.