Mathieu is the founder of Somewhere, a community of 1.1 Million creatives on Instagram. We spoke with Mathieu on Somewhere’s journey into web3, logistics on curating a world, and on uplifting artists through curation.
I have a background in filmmaking and music videos and I've been doing blogs since probably 2009. Somewhere started out as a passion project that was originally just about analog photography. We started the instagram page when Instagram was just beginning and quickly found traction. I was just randomly posting photographs mostly at that time taking the time to curate photographs that fit our visual universe. Back then, I remember being a big fan of Six N. Five and artists like him, who created these surrealistic, but digital images which had lots of styles and emotion in them. Since then, Somewhere has blossomed into many different things. We’ve also done a collection on Foundation called Invincible Summer which kinda shows our curation style for the past nine years.
Our focus has shifted from strictly analog photography to include more video content due to Instagram's changing algorithm. But overall the aim is still in finding original, powerful and emotional images that resonate with the aesthetic that Somewhere has been built around. A mix of light, of spaces, of openness and trying to really gather strong and beautiful images. Lately, I've been exploring AI art, but I'm open to anything that speaks to me. At Somewhere, while there is a general editorial line, there is also a sense of openness and adaptability. Ultimately, what matters most to me is the soul of the art.
A friend introduced me to crypto a couple of years ago, but I didn't pay much attention back then. It wasn't until I realized how NFTs could give value to digital and video art that I became more interested. We did our first NFT project in 2021 and it's since become a big part of my life. Web3 and NFTs have opened a new world for artists, especially those who haven't been able to monetize their work before. I try to encourage my friends and fellow artists to explore Web3 and NFTs because it offers new possibilities and a more open art world.
For ART X MACHINE, Olga Baranova reached out to me to see how we could work together. We came up with the idea of ART X MACHINE and reached out to some really cool AI artists. ART X MACHINE aims to create the ultimate collection of AI art by bringing together diverse visual artists. The project is an ongoing effort and the goal is to potentially collaborate with 100 artists.
SOMEWHERE is a charity project that aims to support Ukrainian refugees by giving 50% of its earnings to the artists and 50% to charity. It was named SOMEWHERE as a place for people without a home. Recently, the project was modified to allow for up to 100 artists to participate, and this has given new life to the world-building aspect of the project. We’re launching a Twitter space soon called ART X MACHINE to discuss AI art with collaborating artists about their creative process, workflow, and AI news to keep building this world and bring new artists as the world evolves.
The goal is to create a strong brand and collection where artists want to belong, where we’re pushing and giving exposure to AI art's relevance. The recent acquisition of NFTs by the French museum Centre Pompidou highlights the importance of a brand like ART X MACHINE, where artists can take part and be recognized.
The curation approach for Invincible Summer and ART X MACHINE involves discovering, recommending, and working with creative people whose work resonates with us. The goal is to bring creativity and discover new talents that may not have been recognized yet. In our SOMEWHERE world, we brought in two Instagram photographers who were not in NFTs previously. We helped them join the NFT space as part of this world.
Every time we’ve launched a world, we create a group chat where we coordinate with all the artists after the world has launched. We use this chat to share updates, strategies, and coordinate everything within the group. Especially when you're working with a large group of artists, it's good to have everybody in the same place. It creates stronger energy.
We tell artists our curation fee upfront when coordinating with artists. It was a little different for SOMEWHERE World, since it was higher and all proceeds went to charity. Some said it was too much but also later reached out because they wanted to be part of it anyways. Frankly, our curation fees go toward compensating our staff.
For SOMEWHERE, we set a 0.5 ETH reserve price for all creators. A few creators wanted a higher reserve price, which was fine with us. With ART X MACHINE, we let artists decide their own prices. It's good to have different pricing so there's art for everyone.
For our first World, we shared as much as possible on Twitter, which is our main channel. We also created a virtual gallery, but I'm not sure how effective it was. We also had a Twitter space for the launch. You definitely have to build relationships with collectors, and we’re doing more of that now. We haven't shared much on Instagram because our audience isn't really into Web3 yet. My recommendation is to find some collectors before launching a world to create momentum.
Our first project was Invincible Summer, a photographic project of 88 images that we dropped on Foundation. The way we released it kind of disconnected the artist from the artwork, leading to issues with the provenance. With Worlds, this issue is resolved, making it easier for collectors to avoid that problem. Creators can now maintain ownership of their work since they own the smart contract. And since Worlds separates minting & listing, the NFTs are composable and not forever tied to a curator, marketplace, or platform.
Furthermore, now that we have access to all the images or the NFTs who have been maintained on Foundation. Now, we can reach out to artists and give a second life to NFTs who might have not sold like two years ago. And I think that could be interesting, that sense to find lost grails.
Everything is still new in the NFT world, and it's changing all the time. From our perspective, I want to build a world around video art and NFTs are the best tool that can truly bring it to life. Overall, I want to see more surprising projects and technologies that blend physical events and digital sales to create new experiences. There's still a lot to think about and imagine, and I'm excited to see where things go.