FIRST! The exhibition is OPEN! Check it out here! Seeing as this exhibition has occupied most of my energy over the last week, I thought it made sense to make today’s blog post about it. Besides, who puts on a show and then doesn’t shout about it? Certainly not me! I would, however, like this to be a tad more exciting than reading a shameless promotion, so I thought instead I would write about my process for curation. While I can’t speak for all curators in the metaverse, as they are as varied as artists themselves, I feel my methods aren’t too dissimilar from others, and I hope it gives some insight into the thoughts of at least this curator.

For this show, DAO_The50, wanted an extensive exhibition to feature as many artists as possible. They wanted to amplify more modest voices and highlight creators who would greatly benefit from promotions, specifically creators looking for their first NFT sale. They were in a bit of a rush as they wanted to capitalise on some momentum and donations they had received from their “Never Featured” demonstration, which meant less than two weeks to select, invite and install 50 artworks. It was a big order but doable. I just needed to work smart.

I compiled the long list prior to the unveiling of Foundation’s shiny new discoverability features. Instead, I did what I lovingly refer to as shill-diving; this is where I wade through shill channels on about 20 various discord servers. My favourite hunting grounds are the platform servers, such as Foundation, SuperRare, Makersplace, and H=N. I have also plucked many interesting finds from Aito, NFTWIN and Artchick’s discords. I also look at Twitter shill threads, though not as much, and if I have had a conversation with you on IG, Twitter or Discord, then I have seen your art because I look at everyone’s socials and add them to my categories. Additionally, for this show, I had some beautiful recommendations from DAO_The50 members themselves.

While Frank and DAO_The50 assisted in adding to the longlist, the final selections and invitations were my decision. From the collection, I began to look more critically at the artists and artworks. When all the art is phenomenal, its little things can’t make you stand out for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. If their links were inaccurate, this automatically took an artist out of consideration. If the first post I saw was aggressive and full of negativity, I was less inclined to contact them. If their last post were three months ago, I would likely have a hard time getting in touch. I don’t care about follower counts. I never even look. Instead, I read the bios, and I check the links. After that, I start looking for cohesion amongst the diversity. Groups naturally began to emerge, such as photography, black & white, figures and illustration, I don’t force it. I just let it flow. I continually moved the artwork around like a seating chart for a wedding. I was trying to imagine who will play nice with each other, how they would look in the virtual space and consider all my possibilities. Next, I needed to contact the artists.

Cold contacting artists is not the most fun thing to do, and with the recent scams going around our community, this was a much more challenging task. I thought it best to first reach out to creators I already knew, artists I had already some references and a level of trust. Almost all of these creators were eager to join the exhibition. I believe this is why you often see so many curators select their ‘friends’. Creators known to me are easy for me to defend and promote, as I am intimately familiar with their art and practice. The unknown creators are more of a risk as they might not trust me enough to join. However, I was undeterred and reached out to over 30 artists I had never interacted with prior. I was able to set many at ease, and I am humbled they put their trust in me. Others I was unable to encourage to join us, no hard feelings, I get it. I hope exhibitions like this will continue to grow community trust.

Living in the Shadows featured in FIRST! The Exhibition.

Speaking of trust, Oncyber.io is doing a great job of building trust. Their support and service are phenomenal, and the ease of use was a relief. The artists hang their work by connecting their wallets and selecting their assets. It really was a snap. The only slight inconvenience is that if I changed my mind or needed an asset moved, the artist had to make that adjustment. Which just meant I needed to plan, so I directed artists to my desired locations. I adjusted sizes and added frames. I tried to consider every angle, every view and I hope I have curated an enjoyable show that highlights some great talent from our community. Please follow my blog to read future spotlights on some of the amazing artists featured in FIRST! and please join us for an opening reception on Twitter space on July, 5th at 17:00 GMT, hosted by @iamwhitelights.

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