When it comes to creating Western-themed art, Jeremy Booth could be considered the NFT world’s head honcho. But the artist won’t explore that Web3 frontier on his lonesome, revealing Tuesday that he plans on roping in more creators and leading them towards depicting greener pastures.
Booth announced the creation of the Western Art Dept, a project that seeks to onboard traditional Western artists into the Web3 space while tapping established NFT creators that can tip their hat to the historical genre.
The Western Art Dept. will kick off in early May as a collection hosted on NFT art platform, Foundation. Showcasing 1-of-1 NFTs from several artists, it’s both an opportunity to highlight people’s talent and bring more of the Wild West into the digital space, Booth told Decrypt.
“It’d be really nice to see more Western art represented in the space because it’s got a really rich history on the traditional side of art,” he said. “At the time when I started doing it in the space, I felt like I was the only one.”
While Booth primarily creates digital artwork that’s sold as a unique, single-edition NFT, the artist launched the open edition “Boots” mint earlier this year, and over 6,000 NFTs from the drop were minted within a span of 24 hours. Boots NFTs have thus far tallied 587 ETH, or over $1.2 million worth of total sales volume, according to NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Although they were created solely as a digital collectible with an accessible price, Booth said that Boots holders will be able to burn their NFTs—permanently removing them from circulation—to redeem artwork created by other artists and commissioned by the Western Art Dept.
The project is rooted in conversations Booth has had over the past several months with Robert Hagan, a painter that’s been represented in several galleries across the U.S. over his decades-long career.
Booth described Hagan as a legacy artist with a knack for depicting Western-themed landscapes and subjects. He said the Western Art Dept will “give [Hagan] his own space for a day or two” to celebrate the 75-year-old artist’s upcoming foray into the Web3 realm.
“I’ve been having an open dialogue with him for several months now, kind of preparing him to release his first NFT,” Booth said. “What we want to do long-term is develop relationships with traditional artists and then get them onboarded.”
Though Booth is a leading artist in terms of depicting the Wild West, a Western-themed profile picture (PFP) NFT collection called Outlaws recently burst onto the digital art scene. The collection was featured as a trending project on NFT marketplace OpenSea and has notched over 2,800 ETH, or $5.8 million in total sales volume since launch.
Some expressed the view that Outlaws was a copycat of Booth’s work, while others claimed that allegations of plagiarism were overblown, pointing to the longstanding history of Western-themed art. For Booth, his main priority was trying to avoid any confusion on behalf of prospective collectors, after he was tagged in some of Outlaws’ promotional content and name-dropped in DMs by Outlaws’ official Twitter account.
“I didn’t really try to interact with it,” he told Decrypt. “My only concern was I just didn’t want people to be confused, in regards to going in and buying that project because they were kind of using my name.”
In terms of the new initiative, Booth put the Western Art Dept. on his back last week, literally, walking around New York City amid the NFT.NYC conference in a custom Wrangler jacket that displayed its name.
A patch on the jacket was also embedded with an NFC (near-field communication) chip that people could scan with their phones to claim a Concrete Cowboys “proof of friendship” NFT.
Originally, the jacket was meant to be a piece of clothing that evoked a sense of community. But he said the notion of the Western Art Dept. is evolving into something bigger.
“I see it all as one in the same,” he said. “It still represents the same thing, just bigger than what I originally started.”
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