Seems like everyone is doing an NFT showcase these days. But last night’s Los Angeles showcase highlights the secret to success in a crowded market: the modern day artwork sold in digital form, with strong backing from the cryptocurrency world. With over 200 in attendance from different generations, the Markus Klinko NFT showcase “Recalling Bowie, Beyoncé & Beyond” provides a roadmap for what audiences find compelling in 2022 NFT showcases.
Celebrity photographer Markus Klinko was an accomplished musician before transitioning to becoming the premier celebrity photographer in the 2000’s. Starting with David Bowie, his photography of the legendary icon and the wolves has now become a signature image in Bowie’s persona and portfolio. In addition, Klinko’s popular and timeless images include Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and the cover of Mariah Carey’s multi-platinum comeback album “The Emancipation of Mimi”. Not only does Markus capture the essence of pop in the 2000’s but the Bowie connection adds texture to his dedication to nostalgia.
Many that were drawn to the West Hollywood showcase launch event from the younger generation Z expressed nostalgia for the 2000’s, which we are now 2 decades removed from and a more innocent time when they grew up. Klinko’s work with celebrities during that time have defined a decade, stirring feelings of nostalgia and childhood for young 20-something yuppies as they looked at the cover of Beyoncé’s “Dangerously In Love” her career defining first solo album after breaking away from Destiny’s Child.
And that truly is the secret to selling NFTs and building an audience: evoking memories but putting a fresh spin to things. NFT launches are characterized by a surprising simplicity. Klinko’s launch was no different. Set at Allgorithim, a boutique gallery in West Hollywood, the open bar was uniquely Gen Z. No big complicated menus, just a signature drink for the evening, Espresso Martinis and one choice of beer. Droves of young urbanites flooded in, some were there to be at the hottest spot on a Thursday night and others were serious investors who saw NFT art as a great investment to diversify their portfolio.
Aidan Meagher, sales director of Allgorithim, which hosted this showcase, passionately spoke about Klinko’s work. “I love it, he has a different eye than other photographers. So you can tell there's always a vision he has. There’s always a character that each person plays. As you can see, half of our gallery is David Bowie, just the whole one side of it.” Allgorithim has a heart for indie art but with the huge crowd, clearly understands the scene and brings in business and qualified investors who are looking for fresh art in the form of NFTs. “We feature independent artists, usually one at a time. Shows run from two to four weeks.”
Peter Klamka, an expert in the NFT space, has launched everything from Tiger King to Audrey Hepburn to Megan Thee Stallion. Along with Markus Klinko’s launch, he loves the sweet spot of marrying nostalgia with the modern investor. Creating the market is his specialty as he took brands like Tiger King, who’s audience is not exactly lining up to buy NFTs and put a twist on the brand by adding a nostalgic element. Marrying Joe Exotic and fusing his image with Marilyn Monroe on a Warholian backdrop ended up selling like hot cakes. Unique pieces like this “become an investment. They become a piece of art. It become a trading car,” Peter says.
Peter sees two distinct audiences: the young investor and their parents’ generation who buy for the nostalgia. “I did the estate of Chris Farley's NFTs and I had two different audiences. There were the ones [in the older generation] that watched ‘Tommy Boy’ in college 100 times. Then I had kids who bought them for investment speculation. It didn't exist in the NFT space and then it was insanely successful.”
The young investor is no dummy. “You can't sell them junk. And you still have to be a combination of say, Steve Jobs. Vince McMahon and Gene Simmons. You got to have some technological [component] it's got to have some finger movement. And it's got to have some hype around it.”
While he cautions against choosing amongst his babies, Markus’ favorite piece is of this vein. It is the limited edition David Bowie made with a liquid printing technique developed in the late 1800’s, for sale to hardcore collectors. His successful pieces include one that just launched in New York, a Joe Perry from Aerosmith piece, which goes purely to charity. The showcase was at the beautiful museum that was featured in “Inventing Anna”. Klinko did not attend in person but it was a successful event as his work is a huge draw for audiences.
It took 2 years for Klinko to wrap his head around NFTs but the final longtime coming showcase packed the punch with a “wow” factor as his iconic pieces, many that were originally merchandising posters, have now come to life in their new digital form. “NFTs [allow me to] reach an audience that's much broader.” Klinko married Nostalgia with the modern but also the art with the commerce. The NFT featured a baby goat, Loka, in attendance. It was fitting as Klinko’s work is truly G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time).
Marc Ang (email@example.com) is a community organizer in Southern California and the founder of Asian Industry B2B. He is also an avid music lover of all genres. Marc’s book “Minority Retort” will be released in early 2022