Digital Art Is Just Getting Started: In Conversation with Andrew Jiang and Todd Goldberg

Digital Art Is Just Getting Started: In Conversation with Andrew Jiang and Todd Goldberg

The cofounders of Curated, a fund supporting NFTs and digital art, want future collectors’ legacies to surpass their own.
The cofounders of Curated, a fund supporting NFTs and digital art, want future collectors’ legacies to surpass their own.

A decade has passed since the creation of the first NFT. As the medium has exploded in popularity, a select group of collectors has begun expanding the digital art canon. Historicization of this unprecedented moment for digital creators is at the forefront of many collectors’ minds as they delve into the most historically significant works created on the blockchain over the last decade, as well as the best means to present them.

In 2021, two collectors of generative art, Andrew Jiang and Todd Goldberg, joined together to found Curated a fund dedicated to collecting and supporting cryptonative art. In addition to the fund’s goal to invest in and support digital art, its broader mission is centered on curation and cultural stewardship. Curated has created a bespoke digital gallery featuring selected works from their impressive collection, enriching the viewing experience with artist comments and editorial content.

Here Jiang and Goldberg discuss their deep appreciation for generative art and algorithmic artmaking – topics explored further on Curated’s editorial platform – as well as highlights from their exceptional collection, advice to new collectors and the future of digital art.

XCOPY, Don’t Panic

Tell us about your backgrounds in art collecting. Were you interested in digital art before the advent of NFTs? Have you collected or curated traditional art?

Todd Goldberg: Neither of us have a background in art history or collecting; we both worked in the tech industry. Our initial curiosity was in the underlying tech of blockchains and the NFT spec itself. I first discovered NFTs shortly after the ERC-721 spec on Ethereum was created and launched with the CryptoKitties art project in late 2017. I acquired a few of those, but never considered myself a true collector at the time.

Around that time, I started building related products, such as the first NFT gallery tool. I also helped launch some of the earliest marketplaces and creator tools – they were way ahead of their time! It wasn’t until late 2020 that both Andrew and I dug deeper into collecting digital art, thanks to CryptoPunks, and we’ve been hooked ever since.

Andrew Jiang: I grew up around digital culture and always loved computer art. One reason that 0xDeafbeef’s work resonates with me is that it’s inspired by many of the same influences that I had as a kid: old terminals and ASCII roguelike games. I would spend class programming my TI-83+ calculator to make drawings on its 64-by-96 pixel screen.

Collecting digital art just wasn’t possible in a way that was accessible to me. That changed with the introduction of NFTs.

Drift, Where My Vans Go #26

What works were critical to your entry into collecting?

Jiang: Todd and I fell down the rabbit hole collecting works by artists around 2020-21. CryptoPunks changed how we viewed collecting cryptonative art and set us on the path that eventually led to Curated.

Goldberg: Two other collections we discovered early on are Where My Vans Go by Drift and Archetype by Kjetil Golid. Where My Vans Go helped us to deepen our appreciation for photography – but also what it means to be cryptonative, since Drift built his community around cryptonative collectors. Archetype introduced us to on-chain generative art, which eventually led to us becoming one of the biggest collectors of on-chain generative art in the world.

Larva Labs, CryptoPunk #7641

What advice would you offer to new collectors or participants in digital art, especially those entering in the very different landscape of 2024?

Jiang: Time is your best advantage. When we collect art, we’re thinking about what’s going to matter in a decade or beyond. We believe we’re still in the early days of the long journey in the rise of digital art on the blockchain. The internet can have a short attention span; be patient and see if you’re still excited about a project 3 to 6 months after the initial market hype cools down. Then look for opportunities to collect.

Another helpful exercise is to write about artists or collections you’re interested in. We’ve written many long-form editorials on collections we have high conviction on, including Chromie Squiggles, Autoglyphs and CryptoPunks. It helps clarify our thinking as to why we’re excited about an artist and their work.

Goldberg: I’d add to collect only what you personally like. Crypto art sits at the intersection of fine art and the market. Every piece can be listed on a global 24/7, trustless marketplace that includes a fully transparent sales history. It’s easy to let the market or Twitter drive your thinking, but that should be secondary to whether you actually like the art.

Kjetil Golid, Archetype #215 (left) and Archetype #397 (right)
“When we collect art, we’re thinking about what’s going to matter in a decade or beyond.”
- Andrew Jiang

Share some highlights from your collection: specific works, standouts from certain projects or bodies of work that you find personally compelling.

Goldberg: Within the realm of digital art, there is no one more cryptonative and well known than XCOPY. Our appreciation for his work has only grown over the past two years as we’ve dug into his history and experimentation with early NFT platforms, many of which are no longer around. His glitchy and vibrant art is often one of the first things people think of when they hear the term “cryptoart.” Our curation is focused around one-of-one works that feature characters and meme-y titles, or hold early provenance for the artist – say, 2018-19. As a pseudonymous artist, XCOPY is like the Banksy of this world.

Tyler Hobbs, Fidenza #479

Jiang: We often talk about curating pieces within a generative art collection that together provide a representation of its underlying algorithm, aka “collecting the algorithm.” Our curation of Tyler Hobbs’ Fidenza is a prime example of this concept.

However, if you take a step back and look at Tyler’s overall body of work, you’ll see an even more compelling narrative: In each successive project, the artist pushes into a new aspect of generative art. Fidenza is about algorithmic versatility, while Incomplete Control explores cohesion within tightened parameters and QQL puts the artist’s task of “short-form” curation into the hands of collectors. Collecting the broader trajectory of Hobb’s artistic evolution really allows us to expand our understanding of what generative art can be.

We’re also very proud of how we’ve curated our complete set of DEAFBEEF’s eponymous collection of work. He’s truly in his own category. One of the highlights is Series 3: Entropy - Token 145, which delves into the idea of permanence by simulating the loss and damage that can happen during the transfer of art. Another favorite was Vol. 2, Series 0: Caves - Token 1. Caves is a tribute to the late Herbert Franke, and is a reference to both Herbert’s love of cave exploration and a nod to Deafbeef’s childhood playing ASCII-based roguelike computer games.

Your platform,, provides an engaging experience in viewing works of digital art, while also foregrounding both critical and historical context to the artwork, alongside its algorithmic data. Why was it so important for you to build out a unique, dynamic user experience, and what sort of feedback have you gotten from viewers?

Goldberg: As digitally native collectors collecting works of digital art, the way our collection is digitally displayed matters. We couldn’t find any existing platform that focused purely on the art, so we decided to build our own. It was important to us that each gallery and individual work has artist commentary and curatorial notes, because that adds to the richness of the viewing experience.

Stills from DEAFBEEF, Series 3 Entropy – Token 145
“It’s easy to let the market or Twitter drive your thinking, but that should be secondary to whether you actually like the art.”
- Todd Goldberg

It’s important that we focus on the artists and their works without the distraction of the marketplace – prices and extraneous metadata. We worked closely with artists to customize each gallery and ensure that only the most relevant information is surfaced, while the rest of the space is dedicated to showcasing the art. We built a live renderer for our generative-art collections, optimized the site and media assets to showcase video assets reliably and even added in keyboard shortcuts for easy navigation.

Jiang: We’ve gotten incredibly positive feedback from both artists and other collectors. People appreciate the thoughtfulness of the design, and many have even asked us to open the platform for their own collections. The editorial aspect of the site is also quite important. We spent the past three years studying and debating hundreds of collections – probably more so than 99.9% of other collectors. As our convictions grow, we want to open-source our thinking, both about how we collect and how we think about each individual artist and collection. Our goal is to publish the canonical essay for anyone interested in those specific collections.

That’s all part of our mission. When we first started Curated, there was a shortage of long-term, thoughtful collectors who truly appreciated digital art on the blockchain. Today there are many more, but we have a long way to go. We hope to see even more collectors grow legacies that equal, or even surpass, our own.

Digital Art

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