Why it took this Obama artist nine months to debut his NFT

Paul Gerben, a New-York based contemporary artist, has added blockchain to his palette. While some opportunists are jumping on the NFT train for a quick cash grab, creators like Gerben see a long-term value in token-based art, pushing technology providers towards more sustainable solutions.

Gerben, often dubbed the “mixed media master”, had been experimenting with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for quite some time before actually dropping his first piece.

NFTs might have given birth to a digital art renaissance. However, numerous technological issues, including vanishing tokens, storage difficulties, and scams, are overshadowing this new era that some are so excited about.

Renaissance for creators

Gerben is a digital artist, sculptor, and photographer, whose work is collected by icons including former president Barack Obama, fashion designer Donna Karan, comedian Dave Chappelle, and TV presenter Jimmy Fallon.

A huge believer in NFTs and the opportunities they present for artists of all mediums, Gerben earned $500K in sales with his Genesis Series drop. However, he is not on the path to mass-producing NFTs to make a quick buck. He told Cybernews that an artist has to think about his collectors as much as he thinks about himself to be successful.

“It is a renaissance for creative people in general,” he said. “A renaissance of creativity and community.”

Gerben waited for almost nine months to release his first NFT, as it was quite a challenging journey at first.

“Before I even released anything, I probably did over a thousand NFTs. I kept designing and animating them, and then I built a team of amazing animators and collaborators helping me produce this upscale, beautiful, original work.”

Man by the sea
Paul Gerben was excited to announce gis first NFT drop "MAN BY THE SEA", a unique 1/1 that included the physical original mixed media artwork in October, 2021.


Gerben is also collaborating closely with A-list celebrities, such as ice hockey player Bobby Orr, singer Rob Thomas,, actor David Arquette, and many others. Gerben has portrayed many iconic figures, including Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe, and Karl Lagerfeld. As Warhol did himself, Gerben has also experimented with brands such as Coca-Cola, Chanel, Vogue, and Playboy.

"I think this is a perfect submergence,” he said. “I'm going to do a lot of physical pieces with the art that I'm doing – from printed work to sculptural work. This is a great combination of everything. It meshes together into this one beautiful space and opens up a world of creativity and ideas. I'm thrilled," he said.

Gerben highlighted that digital art was underappreciated and had been frowned upon in the traditional art space for many years. However, he believes that NFTs constitute a game-changer.

"You can't deny its power. I think it's here to stay. We are just in the beginning, but Christie's and Sotheby's, the two oldest art institutions on Earth, are already behind it. It doesn't get more credible than that."

NFT disappearances and scams

As they have done with traditional art, criminals develop creative solutions to scam artists, marketplaces, and creators in the NFT space. As digital tokens gain traction from mainstream audiences, cybercriminals are crafting new scams to drain investors' wallets.

Last October, OpenSea, the largest digital marketplace for collectibles and NFTs, patched a vulnerability after Check Point Research (CPR) spotted cases where people tweeted reports claiming they had lost their crypto wallet balances. Moreover, several reports surfaced claiming the digital wallets of merchants had disappeared, leaving collectors out of pocket by hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of NFTs.

In February, cyber crooks stole 254 NFTs from the OpenSea platform, after hackers stole $18.7 million from Animoca Brands' sports NFT platform the previous month.

These are just a few examples of problems that NFT enthusiasts are dealing with. But, as more prominent artists and brands engage in the market, it has pushed companies to develop solutions to protect their customers.

A growing demand for fraud prevention

Gerben has employed Pastel Network's Sense and Cascade protocols – designed to protect NFT creators, collectors, buyers, and sellers from copyright infringements and scams – as part of his new Genesis Collection. It also offers a permanent storage solution that is supposed to prevent data manipulation and NFT disappearances.

Anthony Georgiades, co-founder of Pastel, said that similar solutions are becoming more prominent, particularly recently.

"As the ecosystem matures and things start to validate more and more, these pieces of infrastructure and tools will be a lot more important for people to adopt," he told Cybernews.

Georgiades puts his hopes in artists like Gerben – they are entering NFTs with a long-term vision, and assessing all the potential pitfalls in the system.

"It is interesting to see the demand starting to flood towards these sorts of solutions,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of fluff scams and fraud that are still prevalent in the space, as in the traditional art market. The general idea is that it will subside over time, and you are going to have prevalent artists like Paul playing a big role and retaining massive pieces of market share."

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