November 7, 2018

DADA: The Social Network for Artists Powered by the Blockchain

DADA is a social network where people communicate with each other through original drawings they create digitally in the platform. The company was founded by Beatriz Ramos, Abraham Milano, and Judy Mam in 2012. I had the chance to talk with Mam about how the social network came to be, as well as how the blockchain is used to make the founders’ vision for the platform a reality.

Tell me a bit about your background. What were you doing before co-founding DADA?

I was a creative director/writer in advertising, which is actually how I met Beatriz Ramos, our founder. She had an animation and production studio and used to do beautiful work for the agency I worked for. I grew up in Mexico City where my dad was an advisor for collectors of Mexican art, so from childhood, I was surrounded by art, going to museums, galleries, and collector’s houses. It turned out to be a good mix for DADA.

What's the story behind DADA's founding?

DADA is Beatriz’s’ brainchild. She is an artist who moved to the US from Venezuela and worked for companies like Disney, MTV, and The New York Times. Then she opened her own animation shop, Dancing Diablo Studios. Her first big client was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! And she did commercial work for big brands like Macy’s, Kraft, etc. She was fairly successful, but at one point, she realized that she did not own the rights to any of the work she had produced, and had only made a tiny fraction of the millions of dollars in value that she helped create for these huge brands. So she came up with DADA as a community where artists could collaborate and have more control of their work. She approached me with the idea, and I was intrigued. Then she found our CTO, Abraham Milano, who basically coded the platform as it stands today.

Judy Mam DADA
DADA Co-Founder Judy Mam.

I'd love to learn more about what DADA does. How does your blockchain-based social network work?

DADA is a very unique platform because it is a social network where people from all over the world communicate with each other through drawings they create digitally in our platform, creating spontaneous visual conversations that do not exist anywhere else. This is special for a number of reasons. 1. Nothing is uploaded. All the art is created freshly on DADA. We have over 100,000 drawings that constitute the biggest collection of art on blockchain. 2. Because people draw with each other, DADA is an actively creative social network, where people spend time engaging their skills and imagination in order to reply to someone else’s art, so we avoid the negative aspects of most social media.

We launched our first collection of blockchain-based digital art last year. Blockchain allows for the creation of provably rare, transactable digital assets. It allows for each drawing made on DADA to have a certificate of authenticity and of ownership. It allows for encrypted artist signatures, and the smart contract attached to each drawing can be coded to ensure that artists always automatically get a percentage of the secondary sales. It is a game changer for artists.

How has the company evolved since its founding 6 years ago?

Originally a platform to discover and unite artists, today we are pioneers of the art in blockchain space. We have over 160K registered users, which makes us the biggest creative community in Ethereum. We are fully committed to decentralization, migrating our entire collection of drawings to the distributed server IPFS (Interplanetary Filing System - I love the name) and we are about to expand our marketplace by turning each drawing into a unique Non Fungible Token or NFT - as an original digital print.

Where do you see blockchain-based tech going from here?

It is early still, but I see this technology becoming more user-friendly, and more and more people adopting it. Blockchain has immense potential to help people create new systems. It truly opens the possibilities for peer to peer transactions. It can give far more control to individuals than what they currently have with centralized technology.

Where does your company go from here?

We are going to be launching the redesign of our platform and our new marketplace where we want everyone to have a creative experience, not just people who draw. We are exploring things like allowing people who don’t draw to create art by remixing the existing drawings they like. We are exploring different revenue models such as tipping or licensing, but most importantly, we intend to create a whole economy based on millions of people making and collecting art. By launching our own token, we want to incentivize people to make art, enjoy it and collect it. Our long-term goal is for artists to get a guaranteed basic income from their contribution to DADA.

Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer at VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @culafia.