“The NFT space is quite white”: The Black Arts Project on championing Black creativity in Web 3

Launching its first NFT collection with illustrator and animator Aurélia Durand, the organisation’s founder talks to us about creating an inclusive Web 3 community.

9 March 2022

The Black Arts Project, a curated NFT project that celebrates and supports Black creativity, is launching its first collection with none other than the incredible illustrator Aurélia Durand. Featuring 10,000 unique generative NFT artworks, the collection begins The Black Art Project’s mission to create an inclusive Web 3 creative community, producing works that support important Black causes, “from grass roots to the Metaverse”, as The Black Arts Project site explains. Crucially, it’s also taking steps to champion diversity in an already-imbalanced space.

For those who have been keeping their eye on the world of NFTs, there has been a lot of talk about the new space offering potential for greater equity and access for emerging artists. However, at present, the system seems to mimic more of the same structures already present in the art world, particularly around representation. “While there are some notable Black NFT collectors, from Snoop Dogg to Non-Fungible Tony, and some Black artists in the NFT world, especially from, say, Nigeria, in general, it’s a creative space that still doesn’t feel overly welcoming to Black people,” Anthony Gibbs, founder of The Black Arts Project, tells It’s Nice That. “This is even reflected in the fact that NFTs with white complexions are selling for more than those with darker complexions.”

Anthony explains that while there have been successful, more diverse NFT projects, like WomenRise, their focus was on the female experience rather than the Black experience. “I realised that there weren’t any really high-profile NFT projects that were Black-led and were focusing exclusively on Black voices or Black art,” Anthony continues. “I guess that thought led to the idea of a project that could actually make a difference to Black lives.”


The Black Arts Project: The Black Arts Project (Copyright © The Black Arts Project, 2022)

The Black Arts Project’s first NFT collection is with illustrator Aurélia Durand (who recently joined us at Nicer Tuesdays to discuss her work and her practice). Like much of Aurélia’s work, the artist says the work is a celebration of African descendants, drawing inspiration from themes ranging from African Art to 90s pop culture. Entering into the space of NFTs for the first time, Aurélia was drawn to how the project is creating a Web 3 space for artists from the African diaspora. “On a creative level, I’m someone who generally likes to have a high degree of control over the look of my work,” she says, “so it’s quite an interesting feeling to be working with the generative AI part of creating the collection, where you supply elements of artwork to a team of coders and programmers and watch them put your artwork together in a randomised way, creating over 10,000 unique artworks.”

The Black Arts Project was founded over Black History Month but officially launched the first day after it ended (1 March), “to mark the fact that this was about building Black futures,” says Anthony. One way the project will do this is by donating a significant portion of collection sales at grassroots level; working with local community organisations that support arts, and at the professional level; working with major arts institutions and companies such as Imaginary Forces, Framestore and ILM to expose them to rising Black talent. Intriguingly, The Black Arts Projects will also be using funds to buy land in the Metaverse, to create virtual galleries and where work by Black artists can be displayed.

For readers wanting to support The Black Arts Project and learn more about NFTs, Anthony recommends following the project on Twitter, where you can find information on minting launch dates and future projects, and joining its Discord. However, the founder continues: “Ultimately, the best way to support the project is to buy one or more of the NFTs when we mint them. Whether you buy one or ten, you’ll not only own artworks that are likely to hugely increase in value, you’ll also be supporting Black talent and creativity in ways that will be transformative for Black lives.”

GalleryAurélia Durand: The Black Arts Project NFT collection (Copyright © Aurélia Durand, The Black Arts Project, 2022)

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Aurélia Durand: The Black Arts Project NFT collection (Copyright © Aurélia Durand, The Black Arts Project, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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