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Austin already has a reputation as a hub for technology and art, making it the perfect candidate for the emerging crypto-art scene.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are a form of digital collectibles that come in many forms, from digital art and animations to NBA Top Shot basketball highlights. It's a market that's exploding globally. In our neck of the woods, Grimes, girlfriend of "Mr. Dogecoin" and Austin transplant Elon Musk, has already sold $6 million otherworldly NFTs herself, and cryptocurrency giants like blockchain company Blockcap have recently made the move to the Texas capital.
🗡️The "War Nymph" collection is dropping tomorrow, February 28 @ 2pm EST.
Are you ready for this collaboration between @Grimezsz & @MacBoucher1? Who is excited for this drop? 👀👀👀
Don't forget a % of the proceeds from the #NFT sales will be donated to @carbon_180! pic.twitter.com/Z07WTvrM6g
— Nifty Gateway (@niftygateway) February 27, 2021
Some say the NFT market is a bubble waiting to pop, while others question why a JPEG image that could be viewed by anyone has value. Thomas Dylan Daniel, an NFT publisher who has been in the cryptocurrency sphere for over a decade, said it comes from owning an original product. "You can see pictures of the Mona Lisa on the Internet, (but) nobody says that you own the Mona Lisa now because you saw it," Daniel said.
Daniel, a longtime Austinite, is creating what he calls the NFT world's Library of Alexandria ("It can't burn down this time") and said that while NFTs are becoming a household term, they're still widely misunderstood. An NFT owner isn't just receiving art, they're also gaining an invincible virtual certificate of ownership.
"The big benefit with an NFT is that it's an immutable link that sticks around forever," Daniel said. "That's the point. That particular link is inscribed upon the Ethereum blockchain until the end of time."
But NFTs have hardly broken ground on the local level.
One Austin curator who goes by the name "Apollo The Curator," is looking to bring the lofty NFT sphere back to Earth. He's seen celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton sell NFTs for millions, and he's hoping to transfer some of that success to Austin artists who are just beginning to get into the crypto-art scene.
"I simply put the dots together on why Justin Bieber sells NFTs," Apollo said. "I started thinking about how we experiment with that locally and reaching artists that are all in the physical space. Why (are they) not in the space right now? The answer is access."
Apollo, 26, founded Open Art Studios to bring NFTs down to the local level as he mixes Austin's iconic street art culture with crypto art. He started his passion project by hosting Battle Buses, an in-person event that pits four well-known Austin artists together in an interactive paint-off. Each canvas is then put up for sale in a bundle that bridges the gap between the physical and digital world.
The owner receives the canvas and an identical NFT of the work, which serves as both an asset on its own and a proof of ownership. While still in its early stages, it's proven successful—the first NFT put up for sale by artist Tommy Disco sold in 2 hours for .1515 Ethereum (around $365 USD.)
Apollo said that his business model helps street artists by getting them in touch with graphic designers who can create NFTs for them and in turn marketing them in a sea of global NFTs. As a result, both value and authenticity is added to these artists' already successful work.
He's the first in Austin to bridge the gap between physical and NFT art, and he's one of the first to make an organized NFT studio in the state. "It's adding real authenticity to art," Apollo said. "I think that's where I'm really changing the game, is combining the physical aspects with visuals."
Apollo is eager to keep putting down roots in the city before the inevitable NFT boom takes over.
"I think being here in Austin just makes so much sense, because of our techie background," Apollo said. "Tackling that barrier to understanding some of those digital concepts isn't as hard, and there's a big social interest."
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From a one-woman show to a billion-dollar brand, jewelry entrepreneur Kendra Scott always has something up her sleeve. This time, she's breaking into gender-neutral jewelry and teasing a new partnership.
At the Q2 Stadium on Wednesday, Scott presented her men's and gender-neutral collection, ahead of a major partnership with Austin FC. "It's already in the works," Scott said, giving no other details.
In the meantime, you can shop Scott Bros. by Kendra Scott, designed in conjunction with her three sons, Cade, Beck and Grey. Scott said this collection has been a long time coming since her sons and male colleagues had been asking for jewelry to fit their style. The news comes on the heels of Scott stepping down as CEO, handing the baton to former company president Tom Nolan (Scott is still the executive chairwoman).
"My boys have been part of the family business since day one. I didn't have the resources early on to be away from them, I couldn't afford a nanny, I couldn't do a lot of those things," Scott told Austonia. "So them being engaged and involved was just part of how this business was going to go."
Three of the different styles are named after her boys, with another named after her father, Kenneth, who Scott described as her "North Star." Scott said she named the collection after the important men in her life and dedicated her launch party to celebrating inclusivity.
"We need to celebrate not just the women in our lives, we need to celebrate the men," Scott said. "Scott brothers is about celebrating diversity, inclusion, men. We are not just Kendra Scott, we are now Scott brothers by Kendra Scott."
The collection of bracelets is made with natural stones, each representing something: Banded Agate for stability, calm and balance; Blue Lapis for intuition, self-discovery and honesty; Brown Tiger's Eye for courage, confidence and motivation; and Turquoise Jasper for balance, healing and protection.
Scott's new collection is donating 20% of launch proceeds to the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital Art Therapy Program and going forward, 20% of proceeds from the Cade suite will benefit Shop for Good Giveback to support family and youth organizations.
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In the $159 billion global video game industry, Austin got a high score as the number one city of opportunities for gamers and developers and one of the best cities for gaming.
According to a WalletHub study comparing the 100 largest cities in the U.S., Austin attracts gamers like no other with the most job openings in the video game industry and ranked the second best city for gamers overall.
The list was dominated by California cities—with six in the top 10 alone—and Austin was the only Texas city up until Plano, which was ranked 14th.
Falling shy of No. 1 Irvine, California, which took a total score of 73.6, Austin scored 65.9 across 22 indicators of gamer-friendliness, including the number of gaming stores per capita, average internet speed and number of video-game-centric events.
Austin attracts those in the tech sphere, so it is no surprise that the city holds more opportunities for those who are trying to break into a video game-related career. The city is home to a multitude of companies that focus on video games; Rooster Teeth, Unity and Zynga all have jobs available.
While you might find more arcades in Orlando, Florida; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Las Vegas, Nevada, which all tied for the first slot, Austin was next on the list. With plenty of classic arcades like Pinballz, Main Event and GattiTown, Austin has also made several recent additions to the retro gaming scene with Cidercade and Texas Gamers Lounge.
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of American men aged 18-29 play video games and 49% of American women in the same age range do as well. Austin has the fourth-highest percentage of residents between the ages of 18-49 that game, falling between Seattle, Washington, in third place and Minneapolis, Minnesota, in fifth place.
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From its garden-studded outdoor space and rooftop pool to its cozy-yet-luxury indoor bar and club, Soho House Austin has arrived.
The London-based, members-only club opened its 27th global location, sandwiched in between music venues, iconic Austin eateries and more on South Congress' new Music Lane last month.
While the House's 46 bedrooms and screening room are still in the works, Austonia's Claire Partain and Laura Figi took an exclusive tour around the club's bar, terrace and rooftop pool, all of which opened May 19. Here's an insider's view of the new space, with photos provided by the Austin Soho House itself:
Greens, golds and beiges at the third-floor bar
Inside the bar, which serves as the hub for social hangouts, DJ features and events, club members will feel right at home among the dusty sage green and beige color scheme. The bar is lined with cushioned green stools, a marble countertop and warm lighting.
Cushy seating for both work and play
The airy indoor seating area is lined with professionals during the day, but as the sun begins to set, a strict no-laptop policy is employed. Cushy seats, open to groups both big and small, are designed for both times of day, with plenty of space for members of the community to mingle. Windows line the space to merge both indoor and outdoor seating areas.
Vintage furniture, work from local artists and craftsmen and reclaimed lighting
Brown and beige vintage furniture and lush green vegetation give the room an earthy, Southwestern feel that is somehow authentically Texan. Aged reclaimed floor lamps and glass pendant lights give the space a warm glow.
A full bar menu, from appetizers to gourmet meals
Soho House's bar serves gourmet kitchen items as well, from homemade Tex-Mex items like guacamole to deluxe pizzas. The Texas-inspired kitchen is led by Chef Dustin Musgrave, a former executive chef at Soho House Chicago.
A lush terrace complete with views
Soho House worked with local artists and craftspeople to merge both Texas Modernism and Spanish contemporary styles, and it's best seen on the terrace. A wooden pergola hangs overhead, and more seating is nestled in every corner between native Texas plants, with chairs centered around a large tree. The outdoor club space overlooks Austin's Music Lane, with views of the city and more greenery amid the terrace gardens.
The rooftop pool overlooking downtown
The Soho House rooftop pool hasn't gotten much use in the weeks of rain, but Austonia still got a peek at the house's crown jewel. The House's Spanish feel is embodied by red-and-white tile, while shaded seating equipped with coolers line the entire pool. While taking a dip, club members get a birds-eye view of the city on the third floor.
From spicy to sweet, the bar's drinks have plenty to offer
Just like the rest of the space, Soho House's bar menu can make club members feel both surprised and at home. For a Texas feel, try the spicy Picante, or stick to a classic Soho House Mule.
After looking at all it has to offer, you might be wondering how you can join. Admission to the club is on the steeper end—membership is $3,500 annually for access to every location and $2,290 for Austin-only entry, and the bar still comes with $14 drinks. Still, the club offers huge discounts to those under 27 ($1,750 and $1,140, respectively), and the space also provides something many consider priceless: for many Austin creatives, it's a one-of-a-kind club perfect for building a community.
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