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ART & COLLECTABLES

New York, London, L.A. …This Artist Has Seen It All, As She Jumps In The NFT Boom

Karen Amy Finkel Fishof is the creator of #FamousFaces, a digital collection of NFT portraits with a touch of charity.

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Born in the Bronx, Karen was influenced by the New York art scene in the 1980s. In elementary school her art was chosen to be shown at City Hall in New Rochelle, NY. She was labeled as “gifted”, and her parents encouraged her artistic development enrolling her in painting and sculpture classes. She apprenticed under artist, Marylyn Dintenfass and was motivated by her work practice. Karen received a BFA in painting from Syracuse University including a year abroad at St. Martins School of Art, London, UK, creating photograms under the same professors as Gilbert and George.

Photograms

By pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, she produces large scale, life size, and one-of-a-kind photograms. The work is thought-provoking, visually compelling and a challenge to norms grounded in integrity.

“I stage scenes on photo paper in the darkroom, expose them to light, and then develop them traditionally with black and white chemistry. Photograms provide the medium I need to tell my stories. Through them, I can communicate. I love the creative process of these works, from the exposure to the development. The magic of seeing the image appear when the photo paper is placed in the chemistry, knowing it was a moment captured with no negative, and the anticipation in the darkroom of seeing how various objects live in the light and how light wraps around them, fascinates me.” She then captures that living dance on 2D, still, photo paper. Unlike conventional photography, each piece is a one-of-a-kind, like a painting and bears a painterly feel.

She considers the process drawing with light. It gives her the strong imagery and narrative, with hidden subtleties. Each piece is premeditated to a degree with a window left open for spontaneous improvisation. From a pictorial standpoint, compositional organization is paramount.

“I start with what interests me, not just ideas, but the relationship between ideas.” Her work merges socio political content with sculptural, painterly objects in its own reality experience. The pieces are theatrical stills, each with its own story.

“I am influenced by all artistic mediums including interior design, film, music, fashion and social media. I’ve worked in all these areas professionally and draw from their current trends.”

Inspiration may come from current events, personal experiences or from found objects. Creating photograms allows her to collage these areas together into one cohesive image statement. 

Figures are not only in a physical space, but a psychological one as well. The characters are firmly planted in their own surreal, distorted space. All persons and objects serve a double role. Not only are they instruments in imagery, but also declare a statement about the medium itself. We are forced to recognize a new aspect of the person or object touching the surface, the form itself.

There is a presence that remains of the people and objects, sort of like when you see the handprints on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame”. You know that the person had physical contact with the paper, unlike conventional photography or portraiture. Not only are the figures actors in a drama, but they are also portraits of the models and reflect their inherent personalities.

“The work makes one cognizant of the relationship we have with objects. We almost always have an object in our hands, whether it be a phone, pen, fork, cup, remote control, gun, bible or flowers. We are dependent on them and they define us.”

Recent photograms explore contemporary issues of parenting, politics and the intersection of gender and religion, defining her identity, confronting stereotypes and moving between the secular and the sacred. The work engages the viewer to explore the definition of photography as well as examine their pre-existing ideas of the various content.

NFT Portraits

Karen hasn’t actually transitioned, but added NFTs to her creative arsenal. Aside from her BFA in painting, she also has a degree in computer graphics and have been working as a graphic designer for over 20 years. She had in the past, used those skills for helping brands promote themselves creating websites, logos, brochures etc. When she got wind of the NFT boom, she immediately went back to her love of color, pop art and a statement about celebrity.

“I’m at a point in my life where I really want to give back. There are so many needy people and so many worthwhile causes that it was hard to decide what to put my efforts behind.  I came up with an idea…”

Karen created an #NFT series called #FamousFaces and she’s donating a portion of the proceeds from each piece to a charity that she associates with that person. 

​She’s been working on #FamousFaces – a digital collection of NFT portraits while in lockdown. Her approach is to bridge the art with the Jewish concept of Maaser, giving a tenth of your earnings to charity. The works are slightly animated, living in the small space between a traditional portrait and a full blown animation. Employing a “close up” of the face, she has integrated the Jewish practice of “looking at the faces of the righteous” with the idea that looking at the faces of those with honorable traits, one will feel a sense of connection and in turn, that will imbue the onlooker with inspiration to obtain those positive attributes.

​The first collection of #FamousFaces (1-10) includes:(1) Notorious RBG – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (2) Imagine – John Lennon, (3) Dare, The Greta Effect – Greta Thunberg,  (4) Dave Stands Up – Dave Chappelle, (5) Let’s Talk About Sex – Dr. Ruth Westheimer, (6) Visionary Elon – Elon Musk, (7) Compassionate Oprah – Oprah Winfrey, (8) Art Takes Action – Ai Weiwei, (9) Girls Just Wanna Have An Education – Malala Yousafzai, (10) Truth, Justice and Nonviolent Resistance – Mahatma Gandhi.

“What do you want this piece to say and what is the best method to get that message across?” is what she always asks herself before creating an art piece.

Mod Wall Art

“It’s a funny thing when you’re an artist and you finally get a wall large enough to hang one of your own works on. That’s what happened to me when my husband and I purchased a house. For two years we sat looking at a blank wall over the sofa. I felt that none of the works I had done prior worked in the space, a space that I had decorated!”

​After seeking inspiration from various sources, it finally hit her. She has been creating such large scale, delicate art. The photograms require a truck to transport and expensive mounting of the photo paper to Sintra, an archival PVC board and then that gets mounted onto a wooden support frame. Beautiful in their own right, she had always thought of them as museum pieces. For her home (and to please her husband who loves color) she created Mod Wall Art.

“At first I designed the entire piece in photoshop and then, working backwards, I hand painted 27 wooden hexagons. That would be the first and last hand painted pieces.” Her fabricator who has been mounting her photograms came to one of her shows where she was also displaying some hexagons. He told her she could encase them in museum grade acrylic. They worked together to get the fabrication just right and Mod Wall Art was born.

What’s great about these pieces is that they can scale horizontally or vertically to fit any wall and still fit in a small space for transport. They look like floating glass. Karen has created hundreds of designs, incorporating various colors, patterns and themes as well as utilizing photos from nature, sports, music and the like. They can be created for bespoke, site-specific installations in any shape or size. 

​“These works allow me to utilize my ‘found object’ skills, while out and about I stop to capture an image as opposed to the photograms which are premeditated and staged.”

The final works are of course carefully curated and the vault of images she has amassed and have at the ready, permits her to collage the best images together to obtain sensational results.

Karen has designed window displays for Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Dress Barn Stores, and major music labels and fashioned licensed products for Kraft Foods, Simon Malls, Crayola, Nickelodeon, Imax, Cartoon Network and Gameboy after receiving a second degree in Graphic Design. 

Currently, Karen is active in the Los Angeles Arts scene, exhibiting frequently including, The Orange County Center For Contemporary Art, PhotoLA, The Other Art Fair by Saatchi and Solo Exhibitions at DNJ Gallery and UCLA, pushing the boundaries of conventional black and white photography, producing large scale, life-size, one-of-a-kind photograms, abstract modular hexagons for interior designers and digital NFT art for the metaverse.

ART & COLLECTABLES

In the Largest-ever NFT Drop, WAX will Distribute Ten Million Free NFTs

WAX will give out free NFTs to commemorate its success with a variety of companies on board and rising play-to-earn games.

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#nft #nfthours #wax #drop #10million

Despite the recent NFT market surge, WAX has received little attention. Solana and Flow have both had considerable accomplishments in the field, but Ethereum has high-dollar, headline-grabbing sales and most of the overall trading volume.

Despite the lack of publicity, WAX has quietly racked up impressive numbers. It now has the greatest smart contract transaction volume of any network, with DappRadar having recently reported about 18 million daily transactions. In addition, major brands such as Funko, Mattel, AMC, and Sony Pictures have used it for NFT drops.

WAX—short for Worldwide Asset eXchange—has also recently passed the 10-million-to-11-million-total-wallet-accounts-on-the-platform-mark and will celebrate by airdropping a total of 10 million free NFT collectibles to those wallets. It’s the most significant single NFT drop to date, and the first 10 million WAX wallet holders will get it for free.

The free NFTs are distributed across ten different digital pins, commemorating a different period in WAX’s history. The 10 million NFTs jointly mark the platform’s success up to this moment, from its mainnet launch in 2019 to its carbon-neutral accreditation, and even its recent cooperation with AMC and Sony Pictures for “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”

WAX CEO and co-founder William Quigley told Decrypt that the company planned to commemorate the wallet’s one-year anniversary with a large-scale drop that would be unfeasible on other major platforms. While the airdrop represents WAX’s history, he also wants it to demonstrate to companies that they can use its platform to execute initiatives involving millions of NFTs.

“Most individuals familiar with NFTs recognize that minting Ethereum NFTs is slow and expensive,” he explained. “So we reasoned: Well, no one has ever attempted to make 10 million NFTs. We’ve only done about 2.5 million Topps MLB baseball cards, but even that much outnumber anything done by other chains.”

According to Quigley, WAX had roughly 500,000 registered members at the end of 2020, so the current 10 million record implies a 20-fold growth in users in just over a year. Furthermore, according to data from DappRadar, the larger NFT market surged considerably in 2021, going from over $100 million in trade volume in 2020 to $23 billion last year.

He said that minting 10 million NFTs on Ethereum’s mainnet would be too expensive and that the “chain would have collapsed” due to the network’s low transaction throughput. He also chastised competitor chains: Solana experienced extended downtime in September. In addition, Ethereum sidechain scaling solution Polygon recently suffered rising costs due to a now-defunct play-to-earn game called Sunflower Farmers.

On DappRadar’s list of the most popular decentralized applications (dapps) by user count, WAX offers several play-to-earn games and other applications. While increased demand can put WAX to the test, Quigley says the blockchain platform has stayed online and functional.

“We’ve made it through, although it’s been quite difficult at times. WAX is still standing, “he stated. “You’ve got chains like Solana and Polygon whose entire raison d’être is their ability to scale. And [Polygon] couldn’t even handle one of the most popular learn-to-play games. There isn’t one. And there are many of them.”

WAX plans ahead

According to Quigley, WAX’s growing reputation as a destination for brands—which includes Reebok, Mattel, Capcom, and Atari—is partly due to the platform’s scalability and inexpensive pricing. But it’s also because of his team’s experience working with brands, including his previous role as Chief Financial Officer of Disney’s licensing division.

“When we communicate to brands about intellectual property management, we speak their language,” Quigley said. “We can safeguard their brands, and a lot of it boils down to trust.”

He expects interest in WAX’s “vIRL” NFT format, which stands for “Virtual in Real Life,” to rise in the future. It’s essentially an NFT digital twin that can be redeemed for a physical version of the product, and companies like Funko and Mattel have already used it in projects.

It’s excellent for high-demand products like shoes and streetwear, according to Quigley, because it eliminates some of the expenses and environmental effects of shipping things through many parties before they reach the end-user.

He also anticipates increased crypto gaming activity on WAX, especially as the nascent play-to-earn genre matures and expands into more affluent, more appealing game experiences. He understands why AAA game companies have been chastised for launching in-game NFT products and believes that such items have yet to add value to games.

“A lot of gamers dislike NFTs because they see them as money grabs,” he stated. “When it comes to AAA titles, I’d say that’s not far off.”

In the end, he believes that conventional, big video game publishers will lose out in the play-to-earn market. Instead, indie developers will create games with NFTs at their core, considering how the technology benefits users and experiences.

He anticipates rapid and significant evolution, much as he did with mobile and browser-based games.

“Indie game creators who embrace this technology will start building games that progress from primitive–almost like DeFi mechanics rather than games—to full-fledged video games,” Quigley added. “It’s very much a work-to-earn situation right now—there isn’t a lot of playing. Finally, however, we will be able to play-to-earn.”

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Mercedes-Benz Collaborates with NFT Artists to Commemorate the G-Class Series

Mercedes-Benz has enlisted the help of five NFT artists to create their unique interpretations of the G-Class.

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#nft #nfthours #gclass #mercedesbenz

According to a tweet from Mercedes, the luxury automaker has teamed up with Art2People to produce a unique Mercedes-Benz NFT collection based on its G-Class car line.

Five NFT artists were commissioned to create G-Class-inspired works in various media, each unique design.

Music, fashion, graphic design, architecture, creative marketing, luxury design, and real estate are participating artists. Charlotte Taylor, Anthony Authie, Roger Kilimanjaro, Baugasm, and Antoni Tudisco from Germany are among the artists. The NFTs will be launched on Sunday by Nifty Gateway and Mercedes.

Mercedes isn’t the first major manufacturer to experiment with NFTs. McLaren announced its aim to use NFTs to produce virtual copies of its renowned F1 cars in June 2021. In addition, Coca-Cola created a one-of-a-kind NFT campaign to collect money for Special Olympics International in July 2021.

Mercedes-Benz isn’t the first company to experiment with blockchain technology. The automaker has launched a trial with blockchain company Circulor to ensure that cobalt emissions are traced throughout the supply chain.

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ART & COLLECTABLES

Participants in the NFT Market in the United States may Face Harsh Tax Penalties

As the NFT market grew in 2021, so did the tax questions for the next tax season.

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#nft #nfthours #taxes #irs

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants a piece of the NFT loot. There is uncertainty over how NFT holders should be taxed, although tax experts estimate that taxes could be as high as 37%. According to James Creech, a tax attorney in San Francisco, “you don’t get to report earnings or losses because the IRS has failed to provide guidance that satisfies your expectations.”

According to Chainalysis, the NFT business would see $44 billion in transactions in 2021. Some artists made large profits, with one American artist selling an NFT for $69 million-plus royalties. This raises some concerns about how they ought to be taxed. Although the taxation of NFTs is not apparent at the moment, that does not mean they should not be declared on your tax return.

Those who failed to declare quarterly earnings from NFTs may be in for a rude awakening when penalties are imposed the next tax season. NFT owners can sell their NFTs on NFT marketplaces like Opensea or Rarible, and they may be liable to income tax of up to 37 percent when they do so. In addition, if NFTs use another cryptocurrency to purchase the NFT, they will owe capital gains taxes to the IRS.

Experts on taxation weigh in

NFT taxes are estimated to be worth billions of dollars, according to Arthur Teller, CEO of TokenTax. However, aside from the 37 percent income tax, the tax requirements are murky. For example, should they be taxed at the same rate as capital gains on art collectibles, currently 28 percent? Moreover, in light of Joe Biden’s proposed tax infrastructure package, the Treasury Department provides no detailed guidance on how NFTs will be taxed. According to Jarod Koopman, a director of the criminal investigation at the IRS, as a result, tax evasion may become a distinct possibility.

The IRS has issued general crypto tax guidelines

Notice 2014-21, 2014-16IRB938, Rev. Rul 2019-24, 2019-44 IRB1004, and ILM 20214020; the IRS explains how bitcoins are taxed. It should be noted that none of these include any mention of NFT. Section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) may necessitate the inclusion of creator income on the revenues of NFT sales and royalties. In contrast, Section 197 may allow amortization to buyers who use the NFT for business purposes. Buyers from other countries will be subject to local taxes. At the same time, if the copyright owners are citizens of the United States, they may be required to pay state and federal taxes on any royalties received.

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