Exhibition: Motion Design and Cryptoart


The exhibition features Gavin Shapiro, aeforia, beyondbola, Blake Kathryn, Sasha Katz, Adam Priester, Steven Baltay, James Owen, smeccea, Esteban Diacono, Alessio De Vecchi, and Render Fruit (click links to view interviews)

Co-organized by SuperRare and Motion Designers Community.


Toward the second half of 2020, besides the rising popularity of NFTs, we see a large number of motion designers coming into the field. Before joining the new world of crypto art, these designer-artists are often already well established, both as Instagram influencers and well-known motion designers working with big clients.

Usually connected to large communities of digital artists on social media, their adoption and financial success in crypto art bring more and more motion designers into the world of NFTs & crypto art with the hope of making a living from selling their own art, as a better alternative or complementary for working solely for clients.

This large incoming of motion designers is not and should not be overlooked, not only because they occupy a large proportion of crypto artists and their work constitute an important sub-genre under crypto art, but also because of 1) these work’s distinct recognizability as a sub-genre; 2) the artists’ above average skills and crafts in aesthetically and visually powerful forms of imagery that result from decades of practice in doing commissioned work; 3) the high appreciation of motion designs in the crypto art market; and most importantly 4) the fact that these digital motion images are being unprecedentedly collected, sold, owned and invested in as if they are traditional fine art.

By giving traditional fine art’s attributes to digital art, blockchain (/crypto art) also brings motion design the status of fine art and incorporates it into the game of art market. With the advent of each art movement, the fine art canon is constantly challenged, questioned and undermined, the concept and rules of art constantly breached. Looking at these moving images with trending visual effects that one often sees in commercials or Hollywood blockbusters, art world academics are likely to question “Is this art?” while staring at their screens.

Motion design has huge artistic potential as it suits the society of our time. It’s already infiltrating our society, contemporary culture and becoming ubiquitous through mass/social media. We as audiences are trained on a daily basis to have high visual literacy to understand the world through the vocabulary of motion pictures. Art will be the next sector to reflect a trend that’s already spreading in daily lives. As popular NFTs, motion images receive ready acceptance from the collectors. By giving value to these motion designs, the crypto art market helps legitimize their significance in the context of art.

Crypto art and motion design seem to be the continuum of the art phenomenon led by Takashi Murakami and KAWS, who infuse commercial designs & entertainment culture into high art, make collectibles in parallel to fine art, and bridge the chasm between the more exclusive art world and the wider popularity, while at the same time challenge the identity of art. So it remains to be seen how together motion designs and NFTs will challenge the art of the 21st century.

Motion Design – Definition

Literally, it means moving images and animations. When working with companies/clients, motion designers create art forms that are practical, useful, serving clear purposes and audiences. It’s used as a visual tool to convey concepts and messages. It needs to be effective, so that a large target audience can understand the intended message conveyed in a short period of time.

Another important aspect of motion design results from the competition for attention (as for commercials or movie trailers) in a society where moving images proliferate and dominate our life through phones and computers, social media like Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube etc. Artists on Instagram for example, have to catch viewers’ attention among thousands of other animations that appear in people’s feed every day. So being particularly eye-grabbing and impressive in a very efficient way is integral to motion design. There’s a constant strive to standout by being more flashy and visually/technically impressive. The fierce competition for attention leads to rise in quality from dedicated motion designers, which also results in their popularity and high sale prices in the crypto art world.

Role in contemporary culture

Through mass/social media, moving images have become ubiquitous in our lives. Social media are filled with animations, and it’s become the main way for people to share their life and companies/brands to broadcast ideas. Motion design is a contemporary language of which people have an increased visual literacy and take pleasure in when enjoying the life of the visual. Yet it’s still growing, faster and faster. The boom in artists who use motion and its popularity in audiences are hard to ignore. All these give motion design an indispensable role in contemporary culture.

Why highly valued in the crypto art market

There are several answers to this question. Besides being “a contemporary language” that has mass appeal, many motion designers have a career background that almost guarantees high qualities. To produce client work, these artists have spent years developing effective visual communications, learning latest technical skills and adapting to professional design trends. The amount of practice gives them an advantage when pivoting to crypto art, where they can now freely develop their personal work. Equipped with the sufficient skillset, they can maximize the effect of their self-expression and have the freedom to explore wide ranges of artistic ideas and emotions.

Another reason is that, closely related to commercials, motion designers are good at the smooth, perfect application of contemporary visual culture, if not the glamor of advertising and stimulating effects of Hollywood blockbusters. These increase their chance of success in appeals to larger audiences.

Technically, motion design fits perfectly with crypto art. It’s the most “true-to-medium” exchange: crypto art allows the digital motion designs to be born and crafted digitally, promoted digitally, appreciated digitally and then collected and traded digitally. The whole process realizes the full potential of the medium without compromises.

Finally, there’s still a huge mystery surrounding how such complicated visually impressive 3D motions are made. To most ordinary people, motion designers are like magic makers. This more or less contributes to its current success in the crypto art market.

Motion design, cryptoart/NFTs, fine art

Unlike traditional art galleries which have always been rather uncomfortable with digital medium art, the crypto art world accepts motion design with open arms. The crypto art market further allows this digital art genre to be collected and owned as fine arts. The values assigned can help legitimize motion design as an art genre of its own.

Outside of the art world, digital animations are already the mainstream and play significant roles in our culture. What dominates the culture of a certain time period will eventually enter the arts which bear the responsibility to record and reflect upon its own time.

For motion designers, crypto art frees them from clients and gives them time & money to invest in creating their personal work, telling their own stories, and communicating messages that are true to themselves. They can make a living as independent artists, selling digital art in a valued manner through blockchain. As these personal works are collected at respectable prices, artists receive recognition in the market that is more than just likes or reposts on social media (the life of most digital artists before crypto art). And the artist/patron relationship they find in the crypto art world is not different to what has always accompanied fine art.

Yet all these are just the beginning. As motion designs continue to evolve with the crypto art market, both will one day enter the mainstream art market as well as the fine art canon.

Author profile

Art & Cultural Program Director @SuperRare


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