Dylan Field, the Figma CEO on what he thinks about Crypto Art
For the record, I don't own any crypto art or endorse it. But there's clearly a movement, Dylan is constantly ahead of the rest of us, and this was a great speech.
- Audio source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb5LapixLbk (59 mins in)
- The sale: https://twitter.com/cryptopunksbot/status/1369812648288804865/photo/1
- Vincenzo Peruggia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincenzo_Peruggia
- Peruggia's statement: https://twitter.com/peruggia_v/status/1370258347341934593
- Dylan's comments: https://twitter.com/zoink/status/1370649011821060097
Help share this clip: https://twitter.com/swyx/status/1371913108684349441
Sriram Krishnan: [00:00:00] Dylan Field is really very well known in our industry for being the founder and CEO of Figma. But what a lot of people may not know is he's been involved with crypto and especially CryptoPunks since the very beginning, which I think in some ways could be the beginning of where a lot of this art moment came from, and Dylan, you had quite the interesting week too, which I'll let you describe.
So can you talk to us about just crypto art, CryptoPunks? You know, your profile picture, your history there, and also what happened this year.
Dylan Field: [00:00:31] So for those who don't know, CryptoPunks was the first Ethereum crypto art project. It was created in 2017 by two visionary artists, Matt hall, and John Watkinson.
There are only 10,000 CryptoPunks, which anyone could claim for free in the early days. And of those 10,000 CryptoPunks. There are only 88 zombie punks, 24 apes, nine aliens, and exactly one alien punk smoking a pipe. His name is 7804. And I personally believe that in 100 years, we'll look back on 7804 as the Mona Lisa of digital art.
My relationship with 7804 started in January, 2018. When I bought it for 12 ETH, or 15 K USD. At that point, most CryptoPunks traded for about $100 or $200. So why would I pay 15 K for this picture of an alien? It wasn't just how rare it was though. It was rare. 7804 compelled me.
It had gravitas. I found it to be absolutely magnetic and I had a sense that others out there would feel the same way. I also believe that the question of "what is art" would propel the crypto art movement forward.
So: what is art and what does it mean to own art? What does it mean to have relationship with art in the case of crypto punks?
The answers to all these questions are unclear, which is part of why I personally find the project so, so fascinating. Let's start with "what is art". You might say that crypto punks art piece is the algorithm. Matt and John used generate images. Or we might claim that the art piece is each individual punk. I personally believe that the actual art piece is the CryptoPunks community, which has been feverously speculating on and trading punks and discussing funds over the past three and a half years.
And this might sound absurd to people listening, but many of us in the community have formed deep relationships with our punks. We set them to our avatars. We discuss them ad nauseum. We even dream about them. The punks become deeply intertwined with our identities. They effectively function as mass.
So why I sell 7804? To be completely honest is because I wanted to see 7804 become the Patron Saint of digital art, or perhaps the patron alien, if you will. It bothered me that it was not universally acknowledged that 7804 was the best, most valuable crypto punk. It bothered me that it was not a symbol for the entire crypto art movement.
And there's a paradox because 7804 can not be seen as the symbol for the crypto art movement, unless it changes hands. So I priced it at 4,200 ETH, which was extremely aggressive. It's still a believable price point for someone who resonated with 7804, as much as I did, knowing that it was bought for that price point, it would bring even more attention to her defense, to the project.
And also the 7804 as a piece of art. 7804 was purchased earlier this week by a mysterious figure known only as Peruggia. Peruggia is of course a reference to Vincenzo Peruggia who stole the Mona Lisa on August 21st 1911 and this theft was heavily covered in the news and made the Mona Lisa, the most known piece of art in the world. Since purchasing 7804 Peruggia has made a beautiful statement on Twitter, which I encourage all of you to read.
And I, as I reflect on it,, 7804 has been surprisingly emotional for me, which I think speaks to its power. It's emotional not because I think I could get more money from it, rather because I had a relationship with the work. As I reflected on that sale. I also felt a very deep bond. To Peruggia, the new owner of 7804 and I don't know who it is. I don't know what their gender is or what ethnicity they are or they live. But I have finally found someone who appreciate 7804 as much as I do. So with that it's time for me to change my mask.
Sriram Krishnan: [00:04:30] This is like an Apple keynote.
Dylan Field: [00:04:34] Hopefully it's updated for all of you. If you're out there listening, enjoy your time with 7804, but please know that owning 7804 is a paradox and possibly a curse. Because if you appreciate 7804 as much as I do, then you'll stop at nothing to make sure it's seen by everyone as the most valuable piece of digital art.
And because of that, your time will be limited with it. And when you sell, which you will, you will forever live with the question of why you parted ways with the Digital Mona Lisa.
Sriram Krishnan: [00:05:19] That was fantastic, man.