THE FUTURE OF THE ART WORLD BEGINS WITH ALPHA’A:
HOW ONE ONLINE PLATFORM IS CHANGING HOW PEOPLE INTERACT AND COLLECT ART.
Since the beginning of history, we have learned so much about the culture of a people by looking at the art they create and share with the world. As a species, we’ve always been storytellers who seek to surround ourselves with representations of the things we love, the values we cherish, and the dreams we strive to make real. Our art reflects these things, as well as our sense of humor, our changing interests, and perhaps most of all, our perspective on it all. Art collecting however, has always been slightly more removed from the people in the sense that while an artist may emerge from any economical background or experience, a collector is almost always a descendent of access, connection and substantial means. When Manuela Seve and Renata Thomé set out to develop their community-based, online platform Alpha’a in 2014, they endeavored to change all that, and to revolutionize the world of contemporary art while they were at it.
Alpha’a is an online B2B marketplace that connects a network of over 7,000 visual artists from all over the world to businesses and companies in industries that span from hospitality and interior design to tech, commercial and residential. Through its very own in-house blockchain technology (developed before NFT was even a household name), Alpha’a offers tailor-made art collections and special edition prints that are certified, authentic and utterly unique. Seve and Thomé call themselves the “largest, inventory-free art collective in the world,” and their intent has always been to increase transparency and opportunity in the art market by providing “the white glove experience of a gallery, the speed of an online transaction, high customization, and affordable pricing.” They’re able to stand by that promise of affordability by streamlining the supply chain process and printing each piece within the country and geographical proximity of the customer’s business, thereby reducing the cost of shipping, time and materials.
Seve and Thomé are both Brazilian-born and of Latin descent. Like many ambitious startup ventures, one of their business’s greatest challenges was initial, external funding, a hurdle that proved even more complicated by their being Latin American and female entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, they steadily built traction and with their combined background in art, finance and galleries, they soon graduated from the Metaprop Accelerator program at Columbia University and found themselves in the rapt company of enthusiastic, like-minded supporters and future collaborators. Today, Alpha’a is rounding out its busiest quarter yet with no signs of slowing anytime soon. Their customers include companies like Airbnb, Gilt, West Elm and Zola, and some of the notable artists on their roster include Ernesto Neto, Jarbas Lopes, Alexandre Arrechea, and Nelson Leirner to name a few.
In January of 2022, they also plan to launch their own certification technology platform, aptly called Alphaa.io, who’s tagline: NFT for REAL, cleverly explains how the platform is focused on real assets and their core clientele, the real estate market. The unique hybrid NFT system will serve to simplify the process of authenticating and certifying original works of art by creating digital clones associated with the piece that can then be used as an immutable reference for provenance. The approachable UX also bypasses the process of creating a meta wallet, and allows artists and institutions to set royalties and build generational wealth. In this way, Alphaa.io returns some of the power within the transactional process to the artist, while also guaranteeing ownership and transactional history on the full chain of custody for the customer. In short, here’s how the process works: a QR code on the back of each piece links back to the platform where the owner can then transfer ownership swiftly and directly through the site. All purchases receive a unique identifier that acts as access to that work’s token, and in order for any trading to take place, a specific work of art and a token must have the same owner. Authenticity and certification have long-been a challenge for the market of visual art collectibles, and with the rise of NFTs, transparency and trust are even harder to come by. Alphaa.io is a simple solution aimed at expanding transactional visibility while also facilitating easy trading to benefit all parties involved.
The Alpha’a mission doesn’t stop there, however. While Seve and Thomé are well on their way to democratizing the art industry and making it more accessible to any and all who might be interested in getting involved and building a collection of their own, they are also deeply invested in expanding opportunity for the talented artists whose work they curate. Over 50% of their artists are female, in contrast to the mere 13% national average in today’s art market. The QR code integration doesn’t stop at provenance, they also create links to personalized video content of that work’s artist, thereby putting a literal face to the creation who might then expound a little on his/her process or personal connection to the piece’s subject or inspiration. This humanistic approach to buying and selling visual works of art has been ideal in encouraging a younger generation to take notice as well since within their hyper-digitized reality, there is an ever-increasing desire for traceability, transparency and authenticity no matter what industry they choose to operate and purchase within. The Alpha’a platform also allows clients and select audiences to vote on newly presented works exhibited on the site, with the chosen pieces then receiving limited print editions. Limited prints have proven to be an encouraging way to involve new players in the collectibles world because they’re not only more affordable for first-time investors, but they also appreciate in value over the years. In this way, Alpha’a is ushering in an opportunity that wasn’t readily available before: the chance for new appreciators to develop their own specific palette, and start building their own collection based on art and artists that resonate most profoundly with them.
Art is, by its very nature, personal. In every culture around the world, these inspiring and thought-provoking tools of self-expression and communication have left their marks on hearts and minds, on gallery halls and living room walls. We recognize aspects of ourselves reflected back through the brush strokes, images and carefully crafted lines of a piece that moves us. It is this message of generosity and universality that still stands tall at the heart of the Alpha’a mission, and through their own work, they ensure its safe passage home- to the hands of the people, where it belongs.