Our newest drop traces the history of Portion.io, as told by Founder Jason Rosenstein.
By Jason Rosenstein, Founder and CEO of Portion
In 2011, I went “all-in” on Bitcoin and blockchain — philosophically, ethically, and spiritually. The mission of decentralization resonated with me on all levels. Against the tide, blockchain proposed a technology that broke down barriers, leveled playing fields, and ushered in a more egalitarian world. This new paradigm would be agnostic to political affiliations, untethered from the bureaucratic encumbrance of borders, and could connect people with their value. So Bitcoin had created a new shift for financial transactions, but surely there was a higher purpose just waiting to have this new technology support it. What was next?
My prior startups: Coinographer produced headless turn-key mining rigs, and Blockchain of Things was a toolbox for Bitcoin based applications. Both exceeded all expectations, but for me, there’s always room for more disruption and new energies to challenge the status quo of incumbents. I saw a gap plainly visible in the physical world to verify the authenticity and track the provenance of art and collectibles — and so the Portion journey began in 2016.
I hacked together early prototypes using Counterparty on top of Bitcoin which led me to discover the Rare Pepe Wallet by Joe Looney — a precursor to NFT technology. Instantly obsessed and falling further down a deep rabbit hole, it was clear to me that digital content could now be scarce, unique, and rare. CryptoArt was born with the Rare Pepe Wallet, but it would be years before anybody called it a non-fungible token (‘NFT’). It was the first time creators around the world could submit and sell their own artwork. It was also the first time digital art could have intrinsic value.
I jumped into the creation process, sharpened my photoshopping skills, and created about 20 CryptoArt pieces that are now owned by hundreds of collectors worldwide. It was just a first step in what’s turned out to be my life’s mission guiding a growing global community of artists, collectors, and investors to create economies of digital art outside of the legacy system.
But there were a few steps in between...
Portion: Turning Royalty on its Head
Several pivots, adjustments, and realizations after the conception, we built Portion on Ethereum and IPFS to empower creators to create a physical or digital piece of artwork and list it on the platform. Our logo is a crown, flipped upside down, representative of our powerful technology which grants creators 100% and delivers royalty payments in perpetuity.
By 2018 we had partnered with over 30 galleries who still use our technology to this day. Early crypto artists who pioneered the platform were Osinachi, Hackatao, Oficinas TK, Connie Digital, David Young, Kevin Abosch, and many more (some of whom were auctioned live in 2019 at Ethereal Summit hosted by ConsenSys).
By 2019 we stayed strong through the crypto winter and opened a physical gallery in Manhattan where many exhibits, auctions, and exciting live events took place. Retrospectively, we assisted the NFT market in becoming as educated as it is today. By March 2020, Covid struck and we closed the newly renovated gallery with no choice but to once again focus all our initiatives on the online platform.
The company bank account was empty, so I took it upon myself to brush up my Ethereum solidity skills and rewrite the smart contracts from scratch. Our CTO, Vlad, graciously extended his time and skills to connect the smart contracts to a backend and frontend environment to push us live. This was Portion’s final hurrah and regardless of the world’s conditions at the time, we believed.
Well over 4 years ago Portion started off to tokenize art. We’ve stayed strong through the harsh sentiments of external stimuli, pushed forward, and persevered through much fear, uncertainty, doubt, and a long bear market. We emerged from cryptowinter with hundreds of devoted and brilliant artists and collectors joining our community all over the world, a strong crypto market, and robust consumer appetite for better and more efficient systems.
In our early days, Portion minted NFTs utilizing the ERC-20 standard to provide a solution for edition based multiples. This was before ERC-1155 became widely used. Now, as an homage to the ecosystem and as a celebration of how far we have come, Portion is proud to announce that early cryptoart will be ported to ERC-1155. This will immediately make our OG cryptoart available on external interfaces such as Opensea and Showcase. As an adherence to industry standards, the art will be re-minted on Portion’s address and distributed to early artists and collectors who can verify their identity or access to earlier accounts. Pieces that are not claimed by June 1, 2022 will be burned forever. These pieces will forever be immortalized as some of the first cryptoart with editions minted on the Ethereum blockchain.
Today we step strongly into a new paradigm of NFTs, thrilled to have been along for the entire ride. We step forward as a technologically modern auction house for rare, high-end NFT art, music, and collectibles. The power of Portion’s community is only beginning, and our token, $PRT, will continue to thrive by giving artists new liquidity avenues, providing governance for the future of the platform, and feature ever-increasing use cases. We believe that building in aspects of decentralized finance (DeFi) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) will set us apart with a strong community as a high-end auction house focusing on quality NFTs. It’s imperative that we remain open and decentrally curated by the amazing community who continues to shape who we are and what we will do next. Our inexorable belief, paired with our technical ability and desire to promote artists, will bring Portion.io to the forefront of the NFT world.
Portion OG CryptoArtist Drop featuring David Young, Osinachi, and Kevin Abosch
Wednesday, May 5
David Young: "'Learning Nature offers that beauty and aesthetic experiences can provide a new way for us to understand AI and machine learning. It asks what it means for a machine, trained on very small datasets, to understand and interpret nature. It is in contrast to big-tech which uses their massive data sets to optimize and reinforce the bias inherent in that data. AI and the blockchain were originally built on the concepts of scale and massive computing resources. And while that is evolving, I think it’s interesting to confront that with works of intimacy and beauty."
Thursday, May 6
Osinachi: “'Black Fever' came about from my observation of traffic in my home country, Nigeria. As a child who walked a long distance to primary school – my brothers by my side – the sight of traffic wardens was a constant. These men and women always wore yellow vests – which prompted Nigerians to refer to them as "yellow fever" – and, every day, I watched them command vehicles to a halt so school kids like me would cross the road. As I grew up, I became more and more conscious of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. So I tied these two experiences using this piece by depicting a traffic warden turned black by the CO2 coming from vehicles. Since I'm a digital artist in the NFT space, it was only natural that I turned the piece into an NFT. The primary motivation was for me to share the work with a larger audience.”
Friday, May 7
The unique 1/1 print by Kevin Abosch was torn up by the artist himself at the Rare Art Festival on May 18th, 2019 as a commentary on the fractionalization of art. This digital edition is the only remaining version.
Kevin Abosch: “My 'Expulsion' works are studies of migration dynamics. My own father was a refugee who narrowly escaped the Nazi death camps of the Holocaust that claimed his parents. Today we are faced with peoples like the Rohingya of Myanmar for example being expelled from their homes. I use physics and AI to try to gain a better understanding of this tragedy. I ripped up the work, not to destroy it but rather to fractionalize it while at the same time minting 100 NFTs of the whole work on Portion giving it a new life.”
You listed these pieces on Portion back in 2018. A lot has changed in the world of NFTs since then! What have you been observing since the initial release?
David Young: It’s amazing how quickly and suddenly NFTs moved from niche to become a worldwide cultural phenomena. And it’s wonderful to see how, through this scale, new and more diverse voices can participate.
Osinachi: Joining Portion in 2018 was certainly one significant step in finding my commercial freedom as a digital artist. Looking back at how the space was then, it's clear that a lot has changed. One thing that's obvious is that we have a much larger community now in the NFT space, with new players entering on a daily basis. And just as new players are entering the space in the thousands, I have observed that the number of initiatives and innovations in the space continue to increase and even get better and better.
Kevin Abosch: It seems more collectors are embracing virtual works and understand them as both a store of intrinsic artistic value and with NFTs a store of financial value as well.
Do you think we're experiencing a creative renaissance on the internet right now?
David Young: It seems that with every new technology, there comes a belief that it will change everything that’s come before. I’m skeptical of this techno-utopianism.
Osinachi: Certainly, we're experiencing a cultural and creative renaissance on the internet. From the first I discovered the internet through my father, I have always held it as a crucial and powerful force in my development as a person. Right from when I typed poems and short stories that I sent out to online literary magazines to when I discovered cryptoart, the internet has fueled my creativity. It has become a medium through which I can share my experiences with people in other parts of the world – and what is better than being able to put food on my table while doing this?
Kevin Abosch: I’m not sure it’s a renaissance but I think there is something to be said for embracing the immaterial and placing less importance on the need to own things that have a physical manifestation. It’s a healthy development.
How do you see your artistic career developing in the NFT space?
David Young: My work has always pushed what can be done with emerging technologies. And I’m eager to explore what more can be done with NFTs.
Osinachi: In the NFT space, I'm currently focused on challenging myself to make the best art possible. That is one way that I can beat my chest and say that my artistic practice is really developing. The NFT space has opened up a whole lot of opportunities for artists like myself and these opportunities will continue to expand in the future, thanks to the blockchain. It's difficult to predict the future, but for digital art collecting I can say that we haven't even imagined the extent of what will emerge in decades to come.
Kevin Abosch: It’s difficult for me to predict how I might be making art in the future. As tools emerge, I explore how they can help me with my work. At the moment I am working a lot with DAOs and AI.
Join us on Clubhouse on Thursday, May 6 at 12PM PST / 3PM EST for a talk with the Portion team, David Young, Osinachi, Kevin Abosch, and other cryptoartist OGs!
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