Truff to his friends, Lord Truffington is a trader turned collector, and he's on a mission. He sat down with Leo Nasskau to talk the about two types of crypto art markets and how he wants to make collecting better for everyone.
Listen to this interview as a podcast on Spotify.
Lord Truffington had his pseudonym sorted long before anyone else. After a career in TradFi – hedge funds, banking, and the like – Truff and a business partner co-founded a recruitment business in 2015. Italian by birth, Truff is known amongst friends for his dress-sense. “My business partner was always joking that I was a lord because I like to dress well, and when we got our office, he registered me on the lease as ‘Lord’!” As for the surname, ‘Truffington’ is an Anglicised version of his Italian name that arose during his poker days, but also helpful when presenting to British clients. “I created an account on Twitter called Lord Truffington, and after I abandoned poker a little bit and started on NFTs, it stuck – and now I can’t change it!”
That and Harry, Truff’s Bored Ape. “I can’t change my name, and I can’t change Harry. Harry is forever me and I’m forever Harry.” That quote in itself speaks volumes about the role NFTs and cryptoart plays in Truff’s life today. A trader in the space turned art collector who entered the web3 world in 2020, Truffington has seen all sides of the NFT market, from before the pandemic bull run to the current bear market. And as a TradFi alum, Truff has seen plenty of both.
"Harry is forever me and I’m forever Harry.”
“Last year there were so many PFP projects, collectibles, that were launched every day. If you knew a little bit about what you were doing, there were a lot of investment opportunities.” And at the end of the day, JPEGs are just another asset class. “Whatever you trade, the psychology of people in the market are the same, regardless of what their market is. I would buy as I see something starting to get hyped and I would sell when I thought the hype had already had a big run up – it doesn’t matter if it continues to go up, as long as you can lock in some profits. Up to April, last year, there was a lot of hype in everything that came out on Nifty Gateway. You could assess based on the trading for the artists’ other pieces roughly where that thing could trade. The idea was to always price it in the primary market a little bit below what it would sell for in the secondary, to create profits for more people, attract more people to the platform, and overall, it is always good when an artist sells for X, and then the next day the price is 2X.”
So how did Truff meet Harry? Or perhaps the better word is ‘become’. “I think Bored Apes at some point will be a case study of the very early emergence of NFTs within the media and mainstream culture. I don't think that the Bored Apes actually did something different. I think it is just that the people that bought it started to embrace these JPEGs in a way that made them feel proud to have it. They were showing it all the time and theywere wanting to connect with other people that had that ape.”
It was the community aspect of the Bored Ape Yacht Club that made it so exciting and so big. “CryptoPunks were the real, true OG collectibles; they've not had that. The community is very different. One thing that Apes did very well is that they were the first real collection that gave full commercial rights to their holders. We have seen a lot of people developing brands or developing products in the real world. We have seen brands buying apes and associating themselves with the community. This created a snowball effect where we got periods in which celebrities started buying apes and using them as a PFP, which is incredible.”
As the market rumbled on and the capital continued to build up, Truff began to explore the world of art for its own sake. “As I started to build a bit of liquidity, I got a lot more into art, 1/1s, and some editions. Less collectibles and more really nice stuff that I like to look at and admire”. Indeed, though reluctant to call himself a ‘curator’ – “I think that’s a loaded word and I don’t know enough about art, in general” – Lord Truffington spends his time almost entirely on the collecting side of NFTs, rather than the flipping.
"You don’t say ‘I am part of the eBay community, because I’m a user of eBay’.”
— Lord Truffington
“There is a spectrum when you buy a piece of art. On one end, you have the investment purchases, regardless of what the piece looks like. On the opposite end, you have the art that you just buy because you fall in love with it, the pieces where you don’t care what happens to the price.” As a collector, Truff is a huge fan of Ishita Banjeree, otherwise known as Soul Curry Art, and he has some of her prints hung up behind him on our interview. “I love everything that she puts out. One difference between the traditional art world and NFTs is that the community is not as large in NFTs. You actually get to connect with the person behind the artwork. You get to talk to them and learn a little bit more about their history, their story, and the story that they’re trying to convey in the piece.”
Truff himself enjoys artwork inspired by vivid colours and composed of abstract shapes. “Art is about the emotions, the feeling that a particular piece can arise in you. You might just see something and fall in love with the colours, the shapes, or the underlying meaning that the artist is putting into that piece.” His On Cyber galleries are full of abstract – almost neo-Cubist – and vibrant pieces, but his Twitter timeline is an eclectic collection of all kinds of creations, on Tezos and Ethereum, like Prismatic Selva, a tropical floral piece by Maneki Neko.
“For artists it is incredibly difficult to create their own audience, to reach a wide audience, and to create their own collector space."
— Lord Truffington
“I spend most of my day curating on Twitter, which is good and bad at the same time! I have a tweet that I do twice a day called Truff’s Truffles, where I showcase art that I like: one tweet is about photography, the other is about digital art. I try to build a little bit of community, to get as many collectors, as many people as possible within the community, interested in buying art.”
Community is the “backbone of everything that is happening here in web3”, regardless of whether it is small groups of collectors and artists, or the wider movement. “If you think about what web3 really means, it's where people log in with their wallets and have some tokens that give them some rights or maybe even some part of ownership. It automatically generates a different type of engagement from the end user. Rather than just being a consumer of that platform or that content, they become a lot more engaged, and they tend to congregate together – because we are social animals, right? It creates something that before just was not possible. You don’t say ‘oh, I am part of the eBay community, because I’m a user of eBay’.”
But in addition to feeling connected to their PFP and their DAOs and dApps, everyone across the web3 space feels a certain affinity, in an ‘us against the world’ sense, as part of the wider movement. “If you take crypto Twitter or NFT Twitter, it's an incredible community. The love and the support in the community, whether the markets are doing well, or whether the market is like right now, currently we're kind of in a bear market – that's probably an understatement, we definitely are in a bear market – but the amount of support that people are giving each other on Twitter; it’s fantastic. That has created broader communities, like NFT Twitter, and these smaller communities: the pieces that you own, the collectors that you collect with, the people that you talk with. It’s something that the traditional art world is struggling to understand. Community is a fundamental pillar of this new web3 world and of NFTs as well.”
For his own part, Truff’s next project is nftcollector.wiki, a collector database built to help artists find collectors in the messy NFT ecosystem. “I like to help artists that are coming to the market, trying to give them a bit more guidance into how to do NFTs, how to price it, how to do editions, how to launch it. And I also collect: I buy a lot of art NFTs that I will probably keep for a long time.” The next step is to help artists find collectors directly. In the traditional art world, marketing your art was handled by galleries, who would take a 50% cut. In the decentralised art world, that marketing falls on the shoulders of the artist,who would prefer to spend their time making art rather than promoting it.
“Often artists ask me for advice or help, and the starting point that I use in most cases is that your art is your product and it needs to be marketed.” But, as Truff explains, unless you spend your life on Twitter and you talk to a lot of people, this is hard. “So I started, a few weeks ago, to work on a vision to create an art discovery tool that will make this process of discovering art to fall in love with a bit easier.” The site launched in May 2022 as a free resource to collect the largest collectors in art NFTs. “You can go and see what these collectors collect, follow them on Twitter – which I would always recommend – and see their OpenSea gallery.”
“For artists it is incredibly difficult to create their own audience, reach a wide audience, and create their own collector space. The idea is to create an art discovery tool that is helpful for collectors to find art, and a way for artists to find the right type of collectors.” And for what Lord Truffington is building – in collaboration with Pepe Bondi – Truff has exactly the same message as for the broader web3 community. “We’re putting in the foundations for the next generation of platforms and websites, for the artworld and everything else. The market is volatile, it goes up and down, but we’re still building, we are really early, and just stick around, because this is going to go very far.”
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