Chris Adamo, co-founder of Flamingo Capital and creator of the NFT group JPEG Morgan, is an outspoken champion of how community and crowd-sourcing inspiration can help folks get ahead in the ever-changing NFT space.
Chris has successfully positioned himself as a conduit in many ways as he’s built flourishing communities in both the physical and digital worlds, helping companies give people a voice and bring them together. Professionally, he’s transitioned from re-branding and scaling businesses based on consumer feedback to sharing information at the ground level to grow the NFT space and welcome more people into it—and he’s optimistic about the future ahead.
NFTs as the Base Layer of Organizing
While some people may think of NFTs as “silly artwork”—and, as Chris concedes, there may be plenty of that—to him, NFTs are actually more of “an active membership card.”
Chris believes that, just as in business, building a network of users and stakeholders is foundational to future growth. From his vantage point, the communities that are forming around NFTs are the key to the sustainable success of building blockchains in the space.
“It’s like a stamp that you’re a part of this blockchain and if you give out ownership stakes and voting rights through it—it’s a much more flexible and transparent way of organizing people, and it makes people feel like they belong. It’s just a way to do the organizing part of it with transparency,” he explains.
The difference between frivolous art and the pieces that are actually making it through the Crypto Winter lies in whether they’re doing the work to build memberships. While Chris admits little about this process has been seamless, he believes giving a voice to the people who invest in the work is what sets successful artists apart.
The Most Powerful NFT Projects Rally Communities Around Them
Of course, NFT projects may start with art but according to Chris, “you have to go deeper into it than that”—and that’s where the community aspect lives.
Recently, Chris launched a project with artist Peter Tunney in Miami’s Wynwood Walls museum which was centered around building a thriving network comprised of Peter’s fans. The goal was to get people involved with each other away from their screens, so Peter opened up his world to the top thousands of fans who bought his art to create shared spaces, experiences, and events and let people start creating a world of their own.
This, Chris says, is where “things get really beautiful.”
“People start to meet each other, they build projects together. They help each other out with instructions. Anything can happen, and that’s what you want to happen in art with artists we really love and having the artist really deliver on that. Have these people meet each other and get involved and do things together, whether it be on the internet or in real life. You have to have both sides of that. It can’t just be on the internet,” he emphasizes.
Peter also bridged the gap between old and new school artists by making the physical art people love to collect an NFT as well. This model created a membership program that granted members exclusive access to gallery events, concerts, and dinners and further strengthened the connection between artist and audience. Chris believes this is the direction art is heading toward.
As artists like Peter pave the way in this manner, Chris also acknowledges the work others are doing to help people discover and understand the NFT space and push it forward. He admires the efforts of Kevin Rose of the Proof Collective, V Friends, Alpha Group, and, of course, his group, JPEG Morgan, to become places where people gather to learn about NFTs and ultimately create a springboard for growth.
Ultimately, Chris believes communities are giving power to the individual. He’s seeing a trend of larger groups branching into smaller ones and people finding fulfillment in the NFT world as it becomes more personal.
Mission Alignment and Niching Down Are Key
Chris has spent his entire career building networks, and he feels that projects should be based on what the community is interested in. As he put it, “I think it’s more about organizing around mission alignment and niche interests. I think you’re going to see that spread into things like non-profits, for instance. It should become NFTs and tokenized communities. That’s where people can have more of a say in what happens, and maybe there is a way to raise money that way through these NFT drops that are more focused on different topics.”
Chris advises narrowing in on a simple, unifying goal in order to attract the right audience to achieve it.
“If you only have 1000 people interested, guess what? Those are probably the people most interested in doing it anyway. That’s all you need to get a thing pushed across a finish line. Don’t try to go too big, too fast is my thing.”
“Art Doesn’t Have to be 1:Many—It Can Be Many:Many”
Continuing in the same vein, Chris urges artists to use audience input to push the boundaries of their art.
What does that mean, exactly? Essentially, it translates to being more open-minded. “A lot of artists stay kind of insular because their creative energy is kind of in them. But, you know, I have ideas too—and maybe my ideas are pretty cool, and maybe it kind of sparks yours to be even bigger.”
To him, this is the next phase of NFT communities built around artists and their work—everyone riffing on ideas to create something new while artists also generate art the audience can use on the IP side to make shareable products of their own.
He points to the Bored Ape Yacht Club and how they empower owners to use art as they see fit. “What that does is give you a way to do brand extension really well. When you have more people behind you, maybe they can do it in different ways and go even broader. That makes me pretty excited to see how folks turn it from one-to-one to many-to-many and the opportunities there,” he adds.
What Comes After the Crypto Winter?
Amidst all the buzz about the crypto winter, Chris maintains that the projects delivering on their promises and building communities with utility are going to be the ones who last.
He thinks what we’re seeing now is a culling of people—both creators and owners—who weren’t all-in to begin with.
“We need more people to stop who aren’t taking steps to produce quality output for [their] members and community. People who aren’t doing that are going to go away. We’re going to see that 99% of those are gonna fail and there will be new ones, of course. It’s just natural that not everyone is going to excel, and you actually only have that 1% that does really well and thrives,” he explains.
Commitment to the community and being willing to play the long game are what will see us through this period, according to Chris. Ground-level involvement and engagement for both creators and founders is the only true way forward. Connecting with everyone directly within digital spaces, offering regular IRL gatherings, and “living and breathing this community” will keep things productively moving forward.