Finding the Right Meuse…
One of the greatest challenges posed to the blockchain community is a perspectival one – Is it real? How is it worth anything? Won’t the numbers just go to zero at some point? With much of the crypto industry engaging the new technology through apps and interfaces, making the digital “real” is a major obstacle in nurturing public trust and interest.
As such, the blockchain world is beginning to enlist the help of other industries and products that help translate this newfound decentralized value to an everyday experience. Today, we’re sitting down with one such company. Meural strives to bring a creative experience into more lives with their digital frames, and in doing so, have become an efficient vehicle in formalizing the creative energy and value of blockchain products. We had an opportunity to visit their office in New York City and speak with co-founder and CEO of Meural, Vladimir Vukicevic.
The Creative Crypto (CC): Hello Vlad! Welcome to The Creative Crypto, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to start Meural.
I immigrated to the U.S. from Serbia when I was six years old and grew up in New York. At age 25, I started my first company—an early crowdfunding platform called RocketHub. At RocketHub, we helped people across many creative disciplines (filmmakers, musicians, writers, visual artists, etc.) to raise millions of dollars for their creative projects.
I noticed that there was a disconnect between the way that most of these creatives promoted and distributed their work and the way that visual artists did. I wanted to find a new way to use technology to help visual artists, and to make visual art just as much a part of people’s daily lives as music, film, and books. After RocketHub was acquired, Meural was born based on this central idea. Quickly, we realized that we needed a physical product to accomplish that goal and began developing the Meural Canvas.
CC: How did a company like yours find itself suddenly in the blockchain/crypto space?
The blockchain community came to us. A little over a year ago, we started getting a lot of messages from crypto enthusiasts and getting invited to crypto events. While we started the Meural library with a foundation of classical art, we had simultaneously positioned the Meural Canvas as a place where digital-native art lives.
However, a new need for our product emerged that we hadn’t anticipated. We realized that people were spending money on digital assets on the blockchain but were lacking a home for the assets. When you collect a piece of art, you don’t want it to be trapped on your phone or on your computer, where there are so many distractions. The Meural Canvas gives you a way to display your digital art and collectibles that makes them feel real, valuable, and meaningful.
Additionally, I was a very early crypto fan—my first company (RocketHub) had a digital currency back in 2009. We ultimately had to ditch it because the concept was just too early stage, and people couldn’t wrap their heads around it yet.
The famous CryptoKitty that auctioned for $140,000 at Ethereal NYC
CC: We first encountered the Meural experience at Consensys’ Ethereal conference, where you showed off a number of digital assets including the famous CryptoKitties. What has the response been to your injection of hardware?
The response has been unanimously positive so far. Our friends at R.A.R.E Art reached out to us because they were hosting a crypto art auction with Codex and wanted a way to display their auction items that would give them a bit more ceremony. Codex used a Meural Canvas to show a CryptoKitty that eventually sold for $140,000. I believe that being able to see it in a high-quality, museum-grade wooden frame helps facilitate the sale, because a buyer can picture how it will fit into their life.
CC: What are some of your future plans to integrate more with the blockchain sector? Any upcoming events or collaborations?
We currently operate on a subscription model for our art library, my.meural.com. We have tens of thousands of both digital and digitized artworks available to Meural members, and each one can currently be displayed an infinite number of times. When we add a marketplace model, which is on the horizon, we plan to implement scarcity via the blockchain—for those artists who choose this route.
This will allow our community to buy (and resell) limited edition digital works and allow the artist to continuously benefit from those resales.
In terms of collaboration, next up is a partnership with Axiom Zen/CryptoKitties at an Art and Blockchain meetup at ZKM, a digital art museum in Germany.
CC: How do you think your product will impact the emerging world of digital assets and digital art?
In addition to helping artists earn royalties through the Meural platform, it’s our hope that the existence of the Meural Canvas will cause more digital art to be created. If there’s an all-in-one platform for selling your digital art, getting it into people’s homes, and benefitting from its secondary and tertiary sales, it should follow that more digital art gets made.
On the flip side, having means to display digital assets should increase the number of buyers who are willing to invest. We are already commissioning artists to create work specifically for the Meural platform and will be doing a lot more of that in the future.
Meural is building a world where our environment can dynamically adapt to personality, mood, and preference. Visual culture and creativity will become a ubiquitous current running through our lives. And artists will gain control of a growing and economically sustainable ecosystem.