Monegraph is a new platform that makes distribution, licensing, and authentication easy for creatives working across digital media. Using blockchain technology, the platform is able to create unique digital tags that create an identity for digital works. Launched in the iTunes and Android App Stores this past Monday, Monegraph introduces its own transitive verb ‘to monegraph’ (monetize + graphics) into the lexicon of the art world. Digital artists can now monegraph virtual paintings or selfie portraits, while photojournalists can monegraph editorial content for print or web. Monegraph is currently available as a channel for art and photography. To further grow the ecosystem, the team is working on integration with video, source files and social media applications.
The concept for Monegraph first appeared at Rhizome’s Seven on Seven conference in 2014 as a collaboration between artist Kevin McCoy and blogger-entrepreneur, Anil Dash.
“Coming from Seven on Seven the question was: how does Monegraph become a platform? I was invited to NEW INC to answer that question and build that out. When I arrived here I was on a single, part-time membership and then that grew as the team grew and the idea grew,” said Monegraph CEO Kevin McCoy. Two critical components were needed to fully lay the foundation for the app--technologist Chris Tse joined to develop the software and funding had to be procured before the larger, conceptual question, “what is Monegraph?” could be answered.
The concept behind Monegraph’s work involves introducing a new platform and scaling it in order to solve the problems creatives face in sharing their work professionally online. Coming from an artistic background, having worked with his partner Jennifer as part of a collaborative art duo for almost 20 years, McCoy empathized firsthand the challenges creative people face in building their careers.
“People working in a freelance capacity—it’s easy to move data around but difficult to get paid for what you are doing,” he remarked. As freelancing becomes more common in the market for millennial, creative labor, so does the problem of having compensation standards. Chris Tse, technologist at Monegraph, chimed in to say, “I think creatives aren’t well compensated for their time. The correlation isn’t as strong with more conceptual forms of digital art which are more difficult to price. What is your creativity worth?”
The most tangible way to see Monegraph at work is in a brand scenario. This traces the monegraphing process from digital creation to categorization to legal licensing. Roxana Vosough, Marketing and Operations, sketched out a case for us. “If you’re walking down the street in new Nike hi-tops and you take a picture of your shoes from a cool angle and you tag Nike in it, they could potentially come and buy that photo from you and use it in their new ad campaign,” she explained, “as opposed to reblogging it and reposting it without your permission. Sometimes companies don’t even attribute credit to you [when they use your work]. This goes back to the idea of attributing ownership for creative work.”
The app allows users to create the legal terms of licensing their work without sacrificing the legitimacy of conventionally interacting with a lawyer. From licensing to payment to media handling, Monegraph is a digital platform whose ideal is to streamline professional distribution for creatives. What’s the next challenge? To create a market for buyers who want to find compelling, digital art.