Waxing NFT with Kerry McLaney By Vivek Jayaram

The NFT market is exploding globally, and places like Miami—which has become a hub for both contemporary art and crypto enthusiasts over the past couple of decades —have given birth to dozens of NFT makers and entrepreneurs. We sat down with artist and blockchain entrepreneur Kerry McLaney to discuss NFT and its impact on the art world. 

Kerry was born and raised in Haiti and is currently living and working in Miami.  Her art practice is a blend of analog and digital photography. She is currently developing an all-in-one management platform to help artists organize, track and sell art by leveraging blockchain technology.

VJ: Tell us how you first became interested in the NFT market? Do you make, buy, and/or sell NFT yourself?

KM: I first discovered NFTs through a Blockchain & Crypto program I did in 2018. Friends had been talking about Bitcoin for many years before that but I pretty much brushed it off as gambling, so I wasn’t interested. But through the program, I learned about the underlying tech that runs cryptocurrencies. I had a huge Aha! moment when I learned about the Ethereum blockchain and programmable smart contracts that power NFTs. CryptoKitties had just launched as these cute digital collectibles or Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and I thought, how can I merge this type of technology with fine art. So I’ve been developing an artist management platform to help artists organize, track and sell art by leveraging blockchain technology. 

VJ: We have been inundated with requests to provide guidance on all things NFT over the past 6-8 months. Obviously, we as a firm believe deeply in the value of NFT and their place in the art and collectibles market. I often times liken a NFT to having an early pressing of a Beatles record or something. But not everyone sees it that way. How do you frame NFT’s place in the universe in a way that speaks to people outside of the art and crypto worlds?

KM: I see NFTs as a deed, or proof of ownership of an asset. That deed could be tied to a digital or physical object. The metadata programmed into the NFT can serve as a certificate of authenticity, provide history of ownership, pricing transparency, and most importantly, automate resale royalties.

VJ: You have been an important staple in Miami’s creative community for decades. People like you and I were around when Art Basel Miami Beach was just getting off the ground. How does today’s #miamitech emergence feel similar or different to those moments 15-20 years ago in Miami?

KM: What is happening in the #MiamiTech movement now is similar to when ABMB had arrived in 2002. People from other cities took over Miami and pushed the locals off to the side. Very few local artists were showing in the big fairs at the beginning. I think that’s why Wynwood exploded back then. There were about 75 galleries and many showcased local talent. But I do see a big push now to integrate the local tech community with the transplants pouring in. I’m a big believer in collaborating, so I’m happy to see the inclusion and diversity. 

VJ: You’ve quickly become a thought leader in this space. What space do you see NFTs occupying in the contemporary art world going forward?

KM: Whether you want to call them NFTs, or tokenized art, crypto art or art-on-the-blockchain…I believe that the entire art industry will be blockchain-based.

VJ: What are some unique and interesting NFT that have caught your attention lately?

KM: Christie’s has been very active in the NFT scene for years and now they’re working with FEWOCiOUS, an 18-year old transgender artist who is dropping a 5-piece series of drawings ranging from when he was 14 years old to now. He was in an abusive household and creating art kept him alive. So his story is very moving and he is the youngest artist at auction. Current bids range from $14k-$55k with 5 days remaining. So I’ll be watching what happens with that.