January 26, 2022
At TRLab, we’re on a mission to pioneer a new way to conceptualize and collect fine art. With $4.2 million in additional funding from a consortium of major art collectors, tech entrepreneurs and angel investors, we are entering an accelerated phase of growth for TRLab’s NFT platform and community. As we celebrate this significant milestone, it’s a good time to remind ourselves and our members that this journey all started with a simple phrase: What if?
In early 2021, as global interest in NFTs exploded, we asked ourselves: what if we could build a production studio and platform that would support digital and traditional artists as they integrate NFTs into their artistic practice? What if we could invite collectors into a unique virtual community with those artists, and ground the act of collecting in access, engagement, and a shared love of art? What if we — as veterans of the so-called ‘traditional ‘art world — could demystify NFTs for artists, foundations, museums and established art collectors, and help to bridge the gap between the analog art world and the crypto-native marketplace? And what if we — as citizens of the world with roots in Asia — could celebrate Eastern and Western art traditions seamlessly, and create a truly global NFT art platform?
These are the ‘what ifs’ that became TRLab’s core mission. Since our founding in May of 2021, we’ve been building the infrastructure to transform these possibilities into reality. Starting with Cai Guo-Qiang’s genesis NFT project, our production teams have worked hand-in-hand with the artist and his studio to launch his first 1/1 and his first limited-edition project, notching one of 2021’s top prices for NFT art at $2.5m US, and creating a vibrant secondary market for his Exploding the Self series with a floor price of 6 ETH (as of January 25, 2022).
By fall, we launched AI 2041, our ground-breaking multi-artist project highlighting the most talented generative artists and 3D animation artists in the industry, as they collaboratively create a body of NFT artwork that will live on in the blockchain in perpetuity. With each drop, new participants have joined our community, drawn by the quality of the artwork and the opportunity to connect with and learn from such talented artists as NessGraphics, Ash Thorp, PrayStation, Blake Kathryn, and Brendan Dawes. We’ve proven our theory that we are at the dawn of a new era for the many artists and collectors who share our vision of what NFT art collecting can become.
While we’ve made much progress against our initial goals, we’re not stopping there. Consider 2021 a prelude to what is to come, as we head into a new year with even bigger dreams for ourselves, and for the TRLab universe. As we grow, these are the core principles that will continue to define ‘the TRLab way’:
- Innovation. The NFT art market is still in its infancy, and this is no time to proclaim or accept a one-size-fits-all position on how to produce, launch, sell or collect NFT art. As we grow, TRLab will continue to introduce innovative approaches to every aspect of the creation and production process, and leave room to conceptualize unique projects that have never been attempted before. To guide our growth, we’ve defined a product roadmap — represented in the graphic below — to illustrate the types of art projects we will continue to pursue.
- Curation. An over-used word in our industry, but the right one to explain that we will continue to be selective in the projects we pursue. We don’t intend to curate projects based on any one tastemaker’s aesthetic or a record of past sale prices. Our goal is to present projects that fit with our core mission, provide a great collaborative experience for the artists we work with, and ultimately create lasting value for our members and collectors.
- Accessibility. Serving both artists and collectors well requires much more than just a minting solution and a trading platform. The artists and partners we collaborate with — whether their primary medium is digital or physical — are seeking more meaningful and ongoing connection with their followers. Our production process, drop mechanics, and membership structures coalesce to create an environment where art enthusiasts find a level playing field to engage with the artists and artworks they love. Once they become collectors on TRLab, they find a community that prioritizes ongoing engagement and rewards long-term participation.
In Latin, a ‘tabula rasa’ — the TR in our name — is a blank slate, a raw canvas for creating something new, without assumptions. In 2022, we will continue to ask ourselves ‘what if’, as we keep pushing the boundaries in this new space. If 2021 was the year in which we started on a clean slate, 2022 is the year we deepen the bonds between the digital and traditional art worlds and wow you with new additions to our artist roster.
If, as you read these words, you find that the TRLab mission and philosophy resonates with you, please reach out to our team via Discord, Twitter, WeChat, or good old-fashioned email and tell us how you would like to be involved. Our TRLab team and our member community are both growing rapidly, and we will have lots of developments to share. We’ll make sure you stay in the know for what’s next.
Xin Li-Cohen, Co-Founder and Chairwoman of TRLab, Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of Christie’s
Audrey Ou, Co-Founder and CEO of TRLab