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S. Preston, a Digital Artist, Makes his NFT Debut

Last month, Candy Digital worked with a well-known sports fan to create MLB Stadium Series.

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S. Preston, a digital artist, had been selling his prints for a decade. But, as the non-fungible token market has grown, he now has his name on a series of non-fungible tokens created by Major League Baseball.

In an interview with Blockworks, Preston said he first learned about NFTs in 2020, during the coronavirus epidemic. However, the artist began making calls to explore how he might enter the space earlier this year, as the digital collectable platform NBA Top Shot, which began its public beta testing phase last October, grew in popularity.

In March, Dapper Labs, a Canadian blockchain technology company, raised $305 million in private finance, including Michael Jordan, to scale NBA Top Shot. Since going public, the trading card site was said to have made $500 million in sales.

“I believe that’s when every league’s ears perked up in the sports world,” Preston added. “… I saw this double world of memorabilia collectors and then the NFT OpenSea world of NFT collectors, and I felt like I belonged somewhere in the middle.”

Morphing prints to NFTs

Preston informed his more than 21,000 Twitter followers on March 2 that he had minted his first NFT. Wendy Peffercorn, a lifeguard in the baseball film The Sandlot, was combined with Taylor Swift’s 1989 album cover to create the black ink and copic marker image. The NFT is still available for 0.2 Ether.

But he saw Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League, for which he has been a licensed artist for years, as a better way to break into the NFT market. Preston has also worked with the NFL and NBA, Looney Tunes, and LucasFilm and is well-known among Disney fans for his drawings of Disney princesses in sporting attire.

On July 4, Candy teamed up with Major League Baseball to produce an NFT of Lou Gehrig’s legendary “Luckiest Man” speech, which he gave after being diagnosed with ALS on July 4, 1939. The digital collectible company will reveal other products in the coming weeks, including S. Preston’s MLB Stadium Series.

He told Blockworks that the stadium artwork, which he first made roughly ten years ago, was the catalyst for his career. The collection was preserved at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s permanent archives in Cooperstown, New York.

He stated that the art, which has been marketed as prints for years, is focused on evoking an emotion or connection to the squad rather than being extremely intricate.

The first two stadium NFTs, which depicted Preston’s interpretations of Fenway Park’s green monster and Citi Field’s home run apple, debuted on Aug. 9. The others will be released monthly through the end of September.

The NFT, a ceremonial first pitch, two tickets, a stadium tour, a meet-and-greet, and a S. Preston print are all included in the one-of-a-kind “Gold Edition,” which goes to the highest bidder. During the designated auction period, anyone can purchase additional “Steel Edition” NFTs for $100.

“Through his unique minimalist approach at the crossroads of sports branding and graphic arts, S. Preston has established himself with sports fans and art lovers alike,” Candy Digital CEO Scott Lawin told Blockworks in an email. “Connecting and connecting with the next generation of fans and collectors through new digital realizations of his work is fascinating to behold and represents the future of fandom,” says the artist.

According to a Candy Digital spokeswoman, his Yankee Stadium NFT sold for $33,000, the highest auction price so far. According to the spokesperson, as of Sept. 2, more than 4,000 Steel Editions had been sold, with nine of the 30 ballpark NFT sets auctioned off.

Physical art versus NFTs

Preston, a graphic artist, said that he had never before been able to offer collectors a one-of-a-kind creation, but NFTs have altered that.

“People always wanted the most collectible version of my paintings, therefore that was always a gap in my career. These are one-of-a-kind pieces for me. These are my own creations. This is the end.”

In recent months, the NFT market has exploded. Following the public sale of its Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection, OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, reached $3 billion in monthly volume in August, or 925,000 ETH.

Despite the space’s growing popularity, Preston claims that many collectors only want to acquire art that they can exhibit, making NFTs a difficult notion for them to grasp. But, he continued, “The next stage of growth for NFTs comes when that thinking evolves.”

Preston stated, “Art is not its functional value on the wall. You won’t want to put a Mickey Mantle rookie card on the wall if you buy one. The more money you pay, the more you want to save it in a shoebox or a vault. So it’s both an investment and a collection. It’s the worth of possession.”

What can we expect?

Preston predicts that his work on NFTs will earn him a lot more money in three to five years, when some of the skepticism and animosity surrounding the field will have dissipated. Still, he enjoys being an early contributor to the field.

“I believe the boom will come when the Fanatics, Amazons, and eBays of the world decide which chain to use and build those massive marketplaces,” he said. “At this point, it’s just exposure. We’re aware of its existence, usefulness, and other features, but once the marketing machine gets behind it, I believe that’s when everyone will get on board.”

Preston intends to continue working with Candy Digital to turn some of his previous artwork into NFTs with accompanying video, similar to Lou Gehrig’s release. He also hopes to produce NFTs to sell alongside some of his original artwork, mentioning that he is currently working on images for the Tasmanian Devil from Looney Tunes.

The 49-year-old artist stated that he intends to prioritize his work as a physical artist.

“I believe that in 10 or 15 years, when NFTs truly become the MP3s of the art world,” he said, “the younger artists who grew up with an iPad and an Apple Pencil will gain the most from the expansion of the NFTs.”

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‘It’s Time’: NBA Top Shot Maker Dapper Labs to Launch NFT Platform for UFC

Following the UFC 270 pay-per-view event, NFTs from the Ultimate Fighting Championship will debut on Flow this weekend.

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#nft #nfthours #dapperlabs #ufc #collection

Dapper Labs announced today that it would launch an NFT platform for the popular mixed martial arts organization Ultimate Fighting Championship later this week, following its success with NBA Top Shot and subsequent arrangements with the NFL and LaLiga.

UFC Strike will premiere on Sunday, January 23, immediately following the UFC 270 live pay-per-view event on Saturday. UFC Strike’s digital collectibles, like Top Shot’s, will be based on video footage from previous events and will be minted on Dapper’s Flow blockchain. However, unlike Top Shot, the UFC collectible moments will include the original soundtrack to match the video clip.

Furthermore, rather than having different tier levels, all packs—which contain a random selection of moments—will be sold at the same price (as with NBA Top Shot). NFT moments from fighters like Francis Ngannou, Amanda Nunes, Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas, Derrick Lewis, and Justin Gaethje will be featured in the first pack.

Dapper’s contract with the UFC was signed before NBA Top Shot was out, which is interesting. According to statistics from DappRadar, the partnership was announced in February 2020, when the NFT sector was still small and niche—well before it grew to $23 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Dapper Labs’ head of partnerships, Caty Tedman, said that the company wanted to debut NBA Top Shot first and learn from the experience—which includes serious scaling issues early last year—before launching the UFC memorabilia.

She stated, “We’ve come to the stage where we feel ready to [launch].” “We’re ecstatic to provide UFC fans with a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as well as the utility that comes with this type of product. We’re finally ready to launch this as the industry, and we grow together.”

Tedman stated that the UFC Strike platform would be heavily promoted during this weekend’s pay-per-view event, including appearances by UFC President Dana White and fighters.

Because the UFC’s timetable is mainly based on pay-per-view fights every few weeks, UFC Strike will plan its releases to coincide with those significant events. As a result, the portal will first focus on fights from the previous year but ultimately include highlights from older UFC fights. The first fight in the promotion took place in 1993.

Despite the roughly two-year gap between the original announcement and this week’s launch, Tedman said the UFC—which already has a crypto fan token through the Socios.com platform—was keen to make a big statement in the NFT industry.

“Every company has its personality, and the UFC’s approach is to test with us and try new things with us,” she explained. “It’s fantastic to have a partner that doesn’t say, ‘Well, let’s try it little and see how it goes,’ when you’re talking about how to launch a product. It’s like, ‘Let’s make it as huge as we can.’ ‘Let’s do it in a UFC-style fight.'”

Unlike Top Shot and the impending NFL All Day platform, UFC Strike will be released without a closed beta period to the general public. According to Tedman, Dapper is investigating live activations at future UFC events, as it has done with the NBA, and added value for UFC NFTs, such as potential community or gaming features.

Top Shot in 2022

The UFC announcement comes on the heels of NBA Top Shot’s first major commercial campaign, including Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets player and two-time NBA champion debuting yesterday.

In October, Durant and his Boardroom media group signed a deal with Dapper Labs to give him “a starring position across NBA Top Shot,” according to the company. According to Tedman, Durant, an early investor in Coinbase who has invested in other crypto firms, is familiar with the Top Shot concept.

“He’s a world-class athlete. He’s a top-tier human. He’s a tech entrepreneur,” she explained. “It’s been a long time since he’s been with us. He’s been interested in the crypto world for quite some time. Therefore, he ticks all the boxes. But isn’t he also swaggering? There’s nothing about him that wouldn’t make him a fantastic candidate for this type of campaign.”

ACCORDING TO TEDMAN, the NBA Top Shot team is “very focused on raising participation in the product and increasing accessibility” for 2022. Following the early 2021 boom in demand and Dapper’s time spent improving platform reliability and customer service, the business feels Top Shot still has substantial growth potential ahead of it.

“This sector is still in its infancy,” she explained. “There’s no such thing as ‘tried and true,'” says the author. “We’re going to attempt a lot of things, but we’re going to do a lot of things to make sure that current collectors feel valued—so they don’t feel like we’re creating an experience where they don’t feel valued.”

And NFL All Day, which Dapper promised would debut by the end of the current NFL season, is still on track to do so—for reference, Super Bowl LVI is on February 13. The NFT platform is now in closed beta testing, and given the recent nature of Dapper’s NFL partnership, Tedman said they’re concentrating on polishing it before going public.

“We’re much newer to the NFL,” she added, “in the same way that every organization has a different personality and every partnership has a different pace. So as a result, we’re taking our time with it.”

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Meta’s Instagram Experimentation With NFT Marketplace

Meta, formerly Facebook, is said to be working on a feature that will allow users to display their NFT collections on Instagram.

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#nft #nfthours #meta #facebook #instagram #marketplace

According to the Financial Times, Meta, formerly Facebook, has new intentions to enter the fast-growing non-fungible token (NFT) market.

The Financial Times stated, citing unnamed sources, that the social media company is working on a tool that will allow users to mint and trade NFTs and display their collections on their Meta and Instagram profiles. In April 2012, Meta, formerly Facebook, paid $1 billion for Instagram.

The blockchain network on which these capabilities would be developed is still unknown. However, NFTs are currently available on several blockchains, including Solana, Tezos, Ethereum, Flow, and WAX.

According to two sources, an NFT marketplace similar to OpenSea is also in the works.

OpenSea has been a cornerstone of the burgeoning NFT industry. Despite a more significant market decline, the platform set a new monthly volume high of $3.5 billion two weeks before the end of January. According to a report by analytics firm Chainalysis, the total market for digital collectibles will reach $41 billion in 2021.

The $69 million auctions by digital artist Beeple at Christie’s, monthly million-dollar sales of CryptoPunks, and a slew of celebrities endorsing the craze in one way or another capped off a spectacular year.

This publicity has piqued the curiosity of non-crypto companies as well.

Instagram, Meta and NFTs

In December, Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, said that the company is “actively studying NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience.”

The company organized a session for NFT makers earlier this year to raise awareness about how to use the technology. However, artists said they “need more information on how to [use NFTs], not just from us, but from other creators,” according to Instagram’s VP of global partnerships, Charles Porch.

NFTs are also expected to play a significant role in the metaverse, a persistent digital world where individuals interact through virtual avatars. Therefore, establish non-fungible ownership of objects inside a wholly digital environment.

With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform. Facebook’s recent rebranding as Meta signaled CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intent to move “from being Facebook first as a company to being metaverse first.” With its latest push into NFTs, the tech industry is getting a glimpse into how Meta could implement NFTs on its platform.

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Tom Brady’s Autograph NFC Platform Raises $170 Million in Funding

Autograph raises significant cash and extends its advisory board with the help of celebrities like Brady, The Weeknd, and Simone Biles.

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#nft #nfthours #tombrady #autograph

Autograph, the NFT platform co-founded by NFL quarterback Tom Brady in 2021, has made a significant splash by enlisting the help of sportsmen and entertainers like Tiger Woods, The Weeknd, and Simone Biles. Now, the firm has also raised a substantial sum of money.

Today, Andreessen Horowitz’s a16z fund and Kleiner Perkins led a $170 million Series B fundraising round for Autograph. Lightspeed Venture Partners, 01A, and Katie Haun’s new venture capital business are among the investors in the round.

Together with a16z General Partners Chris Dixon and Arianna Simpson, and Kleiner Perkins’ Ilya Fushman, Haun will join Autograph’s board of advisors as part of the fundraising.

Along with the funding announcement, Autograph did not provide a valuation. However, in July 2021, 01A and Velvet Sea Ventures co-led a Series A fundraising round.

The platform was revealed in April 2021, during the first NFT boom, and launched in August in collaboration with DraftKings Marketplace. Autograph has also released NFTs from Tony Hawk, Naomi Osaka, Wayne Gretzky, Derek Jeter, Usain Bolt, Rob Gronkowski, and the aforementioned names.

According to the firm, the cash came from “many recently finalized” collaborations that will be publicized soon. Autograph began with sports but has since broadened its focus, first with Lionsgate’s “Saw” film franchise and later with the addition of musician Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye as the platform’s music vertical’s head.

Autograph is “pumped to add some incredibly skilled experts in the Web3 sector to our team,” Brady tweeted today about the financing round. Autograph is “beginning with celebrities, but wants to encourage innovators at every step of growth,” according to a16z’s Dixon.

Images, video files, and interactive video game items can all be represented by an NFT, which works as a blockchain-backed deed of ownership for digital property. According to DappRadar, the market grew to $23 billion in transaction volume in 2021. Autograph issues NFTs using Polygon, a sidechain scaling solution for Ethereum, the primary NFT platform.

With Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot bringing NFTs to widespread audiences early last year, sports memorabilia have become a vital component of the NFT industry. Dapper has also formed partnerships with the NFL, UFC, and LaLiga. In addition, in October, Fanatics raised $100 million at a $1.5 billion value for its Candy Digital platform, which holds the official Major League Baseball license.

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