The Street Dreams Origin story starts in the streets of New York City and in the halls of early Instagram days with street artists and photographers of all walks of life —black, brown, white, asian, male, female — building a community for almost a decade and democratizing photography with iPhones, social media, and a communal ethos that led to 270,000 IG followers and close to 13 million hashtags. Read our story here.
In May 2021, we launched a campaign called #NowCrediting to credit photographers and artists across all platforms and released a single photo NFT by artist Aimos (a portrait of the rapper XXXtentacion that holds the record for most commented photo in Instagram history). This sold for $130,000 with a portion of proceeds going to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Half The Story.
For too long, photographers have gone uncredited for the works they create. Images that travel the globe, inspire millions and sometimes even change lives often move so far away from the source that they completely leave out the original creator. We’ve seen this happen countless times to members of our community with real material and mental costs. With the promise of web3 allowing for proof of provenance, we are slowly changing this narrative and helping create a fairer ecosystem.
Web3 🤝 Photography
Shortly after this momentous drop, we were introduced to Solana Labs; they told us they were launching an NFT product called Metaplex and were looking for launch partners with different perspectives and diverse backgrounds. We were new to Solana, but the energy from the community in addition to the transaction fees and environmental impact convinced us we were in the right place.
We decided to launch Street Dreams Cafe, our web3 vertical with the mission to onboard new artists and photographers into the metaverse and contribute diversity and an equal playing field into the space. We quickly understood that web3 and NFTs could help us scale our community and solidify our bonds, trading likes for tokens, and engagement for collective ownership.
In a sense, as our friend and SD member Dave Krugman eloquently said, it allowed us to renegotiate our relationship with the internet.
And with every magazine issue we’ve published in the past and every gallery show, equal gender representation and racial diversity is paramount. If you browse through our creator page and dive into the work and social profiles of our artists, you will experience a wide and colorful rainbow of perspectives. This is in our DNA.
Behind-the-scenes of Celebrating The Wins
We spent the summer creating our biggest gallery to date at The Seaport in NYC, a 3-month art and culture residency called Celebrating The Wins and decided to bring the success of this IRL experience into the metaverse. The entirety of the show was re-adapted for our Metaplex launch - we gathered works from our 35 artists and designed a collection at a scale larger than anything we had seen in the photography NFT space.
From ideation to mint launch, the process took almost 6 months with a team of about 10 people from the Street Dreams and Metaplex side working in collaboration on a daily basis. There were so many takeaways from the experience, but the main lesson that stands out is that building something completely new and unprecedented is both scary and exhilarating. Pushing culture and tech in a new frontier means there will be a lot of ups and downs, things will break, sleepless nights will be had, stress levels will spike, but if it leads to new doors opening for thousands and hopefully millions behind us to feel inspired and improve/elevate on our foundation, it becomes entirely worthwhile.
The genesis for Celebrating The Wins on Street Dreams Cafe comes from something we had been mulling over for years: What if we could make trading cards for creatives? What would that look like? Inspired by sports cards like Topps and NBA Hoops as well as other collectibles like Marvel cards, Pokémon cards, and even Magic cards, we fantasized about creating our version of this, our own MCU, the Street Dreams Universe.
With this project, we are creating digital collectible packs for the creative community, trading cards for photography if you will - something that has never been done before. At least not in the way we envision it. As for everything we’ve ever done, this is about community, inclusivity, and discoverability. We’ve always considered our photography community as a universe full of superheroes and artistic athletes, with the lens as their superpower and a unique point of view being their muscle. Photographers are native digital artists, so the NFT space is the perfect environment for the community to bloom.
Our Celebrating The Wins Collection features 49 cards:
- 32 cards from our original cast of CTW photographers
- 12 cards from legendary documentary photographer Joseph Rodriguez
- 2 cards from illustrator and concept artist Patrick O’Keefe
- 3 cards from illustrator Loubot
There’s also 5 revealed combos which holders can complete to unlock additional rewards:
- Full Signature Combo
- Full Premium Combo
- B&W Signature Combo
- B&W Premium Combo
- Harlem 96 Combo
One of the main things to keep in mind when collecting are the two main categories- Premium and Signature. Premium cards have a white border and represent 80% of the supply. Signature cards, or “sigs” as they are already becoming known, have a black border and represent 20% of the supply. Both categories have their own rarities and combos but Signature cards are generally more rare. Rarity is further divided into 3 groups, in addition to Joseph Rodriguez, Patrick O’Keefe and Loubot having their own rarity.
For the full breakdown and rewards, click here.
Two of the rarest cards in the collection are a pair by concept artist Patrick O’Keefe who also happens to be the Production Designer for Sony Pictures Animation, Marvel Comics and the Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse franchise. These two cards combine to complete an original piece of artwork called “We Are Bigger Than Our Buildings”.
Patrick on the inspiration behind this piece:
“They tower above us, house us, and employ us. They are icons on postcards around the world. What is a city without its buildings? But what are those buildings without the people? New York’s skyline is big, but its personalities are bigger. Its architecture bold, but dull compared to those that call it home. The history and the future is not held in brick and mortar, it's in the hands of the people who placed them. We think it's the cities we're from that define us, when truly it is us who define our city. We are bigger than our buildings.”
In partnership with Magic Eden, Street Dreams Cafe and Patrick O’Keefe will be auctioning the original piece as a 1 of 1 on the 17th of January.
Welcome to the Cafe. Have a seat :)