The graffiti economy behind Williamsburg's NFT wall

The graffiti economy behind Williamsburg’s NFT wall

Last year, NFTs began appearing in a three-story brick apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Located at the intersection of Grand Street and Roebling Street, the murals are the work of a graffiti artist named Masnah. Each one is a commission taken from the token holder, faithfully. There are about 60 in total and more are coming, a kind of physical proof of the NFT explosion.

A cyclist stands in front of the murals that cover both the northwest and southwest facing walls of the building.

Starting in the graffiti world, Masnah was amazed at how graffiti artists were selling NFT versions of their work and how few were trying to get NFT images to the street. “All the big names in the graffiti space were interpreting their art as NFTs,” he recalls, “so I wanted to approach NFTs from the graffiti side.”

He started getting commissions after speaking the idea in the CryptoPunks dispute. “The power of graffiti is that you see it around every corner, right? It’s alive. It’s part of the public space,” he says. “I thought the physical space would be a good place to do it.”

Masnah’s first commission painted a cowboy CryptoPunk a few blocks away, on North 14th Street between Nassau and Wythe streets. The mural itself has garnered some attention, but when its owner started sharing it online, it really started with the kind of conspicuous consumption that was inevitable during the NFT boom.

“She yawned,” Masnah recalls. “When she put this on Twitter, she was kind of blown away because no one had done it before.”

You can find it on North 14th Street. Fored Ape Yacht Club #768 and #5974.

That summer, NFT owners were full of cash, and many were willing to pay to see their profile pictures in physical form. Soon, Masnah started receiving so many commission requests that she started putting them all in one place: the Roebling apartment. The building owner sympathized with the project and even put an anti-graffiti coating on the murals in case anyone tries to tag them.

Meanwhile, the commissions kept coming. For NFT holders, being on the wall was part flexible and part investment. “The owners of these assets saw the value in me painting it on the street,” Masnah says. “If I had taken the photo, it would have gotten all the attention on Twitter that day.”

Finally, Masnah put the commission system on the blockchain as well. After curing a few times, she launched her own NFT collection called “Another Flex on the Wall.” To get a mural done, coin holders buy one of Masnah’s coin bricks at prices of 1 ETH, 1.5 ETH and 2.5 ETH, depending on the size of the mural. The mural itself also continues to the blockchain, depending on the original token.

“The first graffiti collection on the chain. Before NFTs, you couldn’t really own graffiti. you these photos [famous graffiti photographers] Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant who documented the graffiti and took these famous photos of trains. His photos cost a lot of money, but the man who painted the train doesn’t even have a job in the market. He will never get credit for it. Now with this technology, we can have that wall as street artists.”

While NFTs typically represent digital images, Masnah’s project fits a newer trend of markers linked to physical objects. In most cases, the item itself is either held in custody by the mint or traded independently of the token. The system was used to sell tungsten cubes, sell a physical painting by Damien Hirst, and manage a marketplace for collectible luxury items.

Meanwhile, the mural rental business is sprawling. Masnah had heard of an artist named Manny Links doing a similar job in Los Angeles, but rates were lower and he hadn’t found a single building – at least not yet.

The northwest wall of 267 Grand Street.

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