The Anonymous and The Known

I can’t tell you which creatives I have been speaking to this week. Partly because I am not allowed to, but mostly because I don’t know who they are. They have chosen to remain anonymous. So, I did my best to relate to them while respecting their choices.

The reasons for their anonymity varies. One chooses Twitter anonymity but had no problem divulging their first name and approximate location in our DMs. I was honoured by their trust in me. This brand of anonymity feels a bit non-committal and is, perhaps, an excellent way for an emerging artist to dip their toe into the metaverse. One anon refused to divulge anything, not age, not gender, nothing but their art. They have even adopted their own sort of language, which I like to imagine is a clever device to disguise themselves further, but in reality, it could just be the authentic voice of an unknown. I think this method is best for keeping the focus on the art and the brand. Yet another anon chose to use masterful misdirection, planting ideas real and false to sow unquestionable doubt. This anon’s reasons for anonymity were extensive and intentionally vague, and speaking with them felt more like a game. Each strategy has its merit for safeguarding identity, and each reason for anonymity is valid, but will it help sell art? Maybe.

I enjoyed watching and reading while they each worked hard to connect and conceal themselves. It was interesting. I did often find myself wondering who they are in real life, and I recognise that to some anons, that mystery is currency. However, I resisted searching for their identities. I don’t have the time or the capability to creep. Nor do I ever wish to violate anyone’s privacy. I only want to see what they want to show me.

I, on the other hand, am not anonymous. I chose to enter the crypto-sphere as myself. I am easy to find for anyone who is looking. I want to be seen. I want to be relatable. I want to be myself. Additionally, what I enjoy doing requires trust. I am an artist, but I am also a curator. I need artists to trust that I will show their work with respect and promote them appropriately. I need collectors to trust that I have done my due diligence to feel confident buying the art I promote. Being known undoubtedly helps establish trust.

So, what started as curiosity about the anonymous lifestyle, quickly revealed an interesting social dynamic. My conversers held all the information, and I was at the mercy of their storytelling. They could see my whole life if they wanted to look, and there was no way for me to verify a single word they typed. I had to trust them and my perceptions, which is hard to do if you think everything is a red herring. It was amazing how many miscommunications there were when conversing with the unknown. It was like trying to relate to a redacted document or understand a joke whose punchline is in a different language. It’s incredibly challenging and requires patience on both sides, patience that some collectors won’t bother with, patience that some anons don’t have.

Despite the challenges, I was able to piece together at least a few ideas of personality and preference, but I am not confident in my assessment, and I will likely seek more data. Perhaps, that’s the brilliance of the anon lifestyle. It will always leave buyers wanting more. I did find those that shared works in progress were the most relatable. The behind-the-scenes feel gave me a limited sense of intimacy and vulnerability from the artists. The ones that held all their cards close to their chest struggled the most to help me see them, but I found I sought them out even more. I believe this is because I discovered more about myself than I did about my interviewees. How could I not? While chatting, every assumption I could make about them could neither be confirmed nor denied and likely said more about my experience than theirs. It was therapeutic in a way, and strangely, made me want to buy their art.

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