This week Dana Farrugia Ceo of Tech.mt and Maria Galea founder of ARTZ ID, have presented the grand prize to the winner for the Pitch live contest, part of Digital , shaping the future of art. Zack Ritchie, known to be a creative thinker and designer, speaks to us about his interest for NFTs and his plans for the NFT Club which he himself founded. He also speaks about ‘The Beppe Coin’, his winning pitch at the pitch live contest organised in collaboration with tech.mt, and expresses his future aspirations for the concept of utility NFTs.
Known to be a creative thinker, how do you describe your practise and do you believe your creative ability does not limit you to one practise?
I love and appreciate creativity in all forms. Creativity has led me to a number of different roles which I run on a daily basis. These roles all involve creativity and being of service.During the day I run Ritch Studio which is a digital agency that aims to help brands visually communicate with their target audience, via tailor made illustrations, character designs and branding. During my leisure time I focus on Archipals, formerly known as “Malta’s Got Character”. This is a self initiated project that started in 2018 as a solo exhibition aiming to humanize Maltese culture into contemporary cartoons. I also dedicate time to developing NFT Club, which is a curated Instagram page where we support creatives in the digital era by educating, showcasing talent and encouraging artists. In terms of “thinking outside the box”, creativity has no limits, however we need restrictions or rules to get creative. “To think outside the box, we first need a Box” – Phil Hansen.
From where did your interest for NFTs start?
My interest in NFT’s started from the recommendation of a very good friend of mine, who is very into crypto. Back in late December/January he had sent me an article about digital art using the blockchain. The article highlighted how NFTs introduce scarcity in digital art. Since then I’ve been curiously exploring, in the early months a lot of what I learned was on the social media platform called “ClubHouse” an audio oriented platform where top leaders formed interesting discussions. NFTs are very popular on Twitter and quiet on Instagram, so I went ahead and created a feature page on Instagram called “Nft_Club” where I shared the nuggets of information I was learning from the NFT leaders on Clubhouse.
You have founded the NFT Club, which is doing extremely well on an international level, how do you see this developing further?
Yes! It’s crazy how the platform is growing, the NFTcommunity is very supportive. The page is now more demanding than ever before and is run by my brothers and I. We aim to keep supporting creatives in the digital era. To educate, showcase talent and encourage artists. We have loads of ideas to grow, and help the community. One of the main ones being Utility NFTs. NFTs so far have generated a lot of buzz, however they currently don’t have much utility besides showing proof of ownership, scarcity and a visual image. Utility NFTs are more functional, offering exclusive value to holders. We are excited to learn how the “Beppe utility NFTs” will do and how we can maximise it for NFT Club.
The Beppe Coin is your winning pitch, tell us more about it and how do you think this will help you in your creative practice?
This project aims to explore the creation of utility NFTs. This means collectors who purchase one of these NFTs will be able to redeem them for exclusive incentives and gifts, such as prints, merchandise, digital art & mystery boxes (surprise gifts). There will also be value given to those who hold the NFT such as access to a library of process videos, working files and airdrops. Collectors may trade and sell their utility NFTs for crypto and fiat currency (Usd, Euro)
The project will be built on an email database where every month exclusive gifts will be offered to NFT holders. Collectors may choose to exchange their NFT for a gift of their liking, doing so will burn the NFT (no longer in circulation). A total of 50 NFTs will be created to start off this proof of concept. The lessons and implementations learnt from this project will be applied/replicated for other artists. Another reason behind this project is to increase awareness and adoption of NFTs and blockchain technology.
In a general sense the concept of utility NFTs has the potential to bring artists and collectors closer together, to form a deeper more personal relationship. Utility NFTs works on the idea of exclusivity – exclusive attention to holders. This has the potential to be a great way to filter the super fans and social supporters. A great way to be personally funded and financed by people who love the artist’s work and believe in them.
Lastly, what advice would you give to anyone interested in innovating and using new digital technologies or tools through their creative practice?
Technology has become part of our lifestyle, from the web, to tablets, cellphones. It is the future, there is no escaping it. You can either resist it and stay where you are or adapt and innovate. One thing that really helps me, is to try to approach digital tech with an open mind, to see the alternatives of adopting it or not. Will this help me? Could this speed up my work flow? Is there value in using this?