Self-described as a "non-blockchain specific, hybrid DAO" The Guild is a collective of artists who organize large-scale collaborations that are minted as NFTs.
The Guild is a collective of artists who organize large-scale collaborations that are minted as NFTs.
These collaborative pieces are often visually striking to the point of being dizzying. They contain what looks like an infinite number of contradicting elements that somehow manage to harmonize into a unified, grandiose image.
To get a better idea of the vision and team that drives The Guild, I talk to the collective's four core members, who are scattered around the globe.
Shinji appears faceless on the Zoom screen from South Africa. Rutger is a human face speaking from the Netherlands. MJ, from India, and "Jetski," from New Zealand, also appear faceless.
Shinji explains that The Guild started "as a means to connect artists around the world in a decentralized way," and to create large collaborations and opportunities for varying levels of skill.
Basically, the team wanted to provide a way for established artists to work with new and emerging ones, especially those that might not be as educated about blockchain technology and the NFT ecosystem.
Although The Guild has no structured educational program, the team tells me that artists actively share their knowledge with each other via their Discord community. They also alert people to recent scams, and encourage artists to ask specific questions about technical issues.
Shinji says that The Guild would like to create formal educational programs in conjunction with real-world institutions such as museums.
I ask the team to clarify what they mean by "hybrid DAO." Jetski says that The Guild is a hybrid because they're similar to other DAOs in many ways, in that they're a decentralized operation with core team members who drive the organization forward. However, The Guild doesn't have any tokens or any kind of coin offering.
"We're just a group of artists who are passionate about the space and looking to empower artists."
The Guild is also funded independently. The artists in the collective contribute as much as they want, and profits from NFT sales go directly back into funding the next project. They don't take money from outside investors or VCs.
"The works that we sell and the projects that we do help fund the next phase of development."
The Guild also takes some of their earnings and puts them into "charitable upliftment wallets," which distribute funds to people in need, from Filipino flood victims to Ukrainian children.
One of The Guild's recent projects was featured at the 2022 Non Fungible Conference in Lisbon. A total of 38 artists from around the world contributed to "Mariupol," a piece inspired by Picasso's "Guernica."
The team tells me that 100% of profits from "Mariupol" was donated to Voices of Children, an organization that supports the mental health of Ukrainian children.
What makes their projects interesting is that every artist is assigned a random part of each piece.
"We like to make artists a little uncomfortable in trying new things, so we randomly assign different layers. For example, a portrait artist will be assigned a background drawing and vice versa."
Shinji tells me this encourages artists to continue adapting and developing.
The Guild screens artists for personal traits such as empathy, which Shinji emphasizes is one of the most important elements in every creation. Naturally, they look for skill and talent, but they avoid people that are unlikely to be a good team player.
To maintain their community, The Guild organizes regular virtual gatherings on Discord as well as weekly discussions in Twitter Spaces.
"We essentially started during the COVID lockdowns, so it was extremely important for artists to be able to connect with people," Shinji says.
"We may be decentralized, but we're not disconnected."
The Guild is collaborating with d'strict, an art museum in Gangneung, South Korea, on an NFT exhibition that will be held in May and June of this year.
The team thinks it's a great opportunity for NFT art to be appreciated by Korean audiences, who still seem more unacquainted with NFTs than their overseas counterparts. They believe that d'strict's expertise in animation and 3D art will provide audiences with a submersive experience.
The exhibition will feature work from 45 Guild artists, with a lot of variation in expression and styles.
"A lot of the media in NFTs is still one-dimensional, moving in one direction. We hope this upcoming exhibition will offer a more mutual experience.”
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