When it comes to DRIVE, his 1/1 photography NFT collection, Dave Krugman doesn’t play favorites–or at least he prefers not to comment on them. Instead, he lets the community decide which photographs are the rarest or most highly prized. In many ways, this sense of collaboration was baked into the project, now a decade in the making, from the very beginning.
“After growing my main Instagram account into a full-fledged photography business, I noticed that I received one question more than any other: ‘What camera do I need to buy to make photographs like you?’” Krugman remembers. “I realized there was a common misperception that you could buy your way to a good eye. The truth is far from that: photography is the art of observation, and you can do it with any tool. I launched a secret side account called @secretstreet that I would send to people who asked about gear. The catch was that it was all shot on my iPhone.”
It was through this second account that he noticed a recurring motif throughout his work: cars, mostly parked on the street. “By limiting myself to just the phone, the 3×2 format, and narrowing the subject matter I would photograph, incredible patterns began to emerge,” he tells me. “One theme was cars, shot from the side in front of cool backgrounds–cars that had a bit of character, that seem to have stories embedded in them.”
He photographed thousands of cars, from New York City to Havana and all over the world. “The beauty of shooting with my phone is that all of these images were shot in the in-between moments,” Krugman says. “Walking to shoots, to meet friends, to get coffee, to grab a drink. Whenever I see a car that fits the pattern, I simply pause, take my phone out, and add it to the bank.”
Out of those thousands, he chose 111 to include in the collection DRIVE: Lap 1. “Culling them down to 111 was an arduous process, an act of art and curation itself, but also a really fun trip through my mind,” the artist explains. “A photograph is a catalyst for a cascade of memories, so each one I looked at reminded me of all the life and love that surrounded each moment I stopped to shoot. I made sure each car had character, a story, something that made it a true 1/1 work. The key to a successful NFT collection is to have a cohesive overall set, but with each piece having a bit of individuality so that people identify with the works they collect.”
Krugman then divided those 111 photographs into categories: Tier 1 cars were initially sold for 0.5 ETH, while Tier 2 cars went for 0.33 ETH, and Tier 3 for 0.25 ETH. Then there are the Grails. “I will say that the GRAILS, eight cars that were auctioned off on the day of the project launch, all hold a very special place in my heart for various reasons, and are considered the most valuable vehicles in the fleet, as dictated by the market reactions,” Krugman admits.
These eight cars went to the highest bidder, with bidding starting at 1 ETH. “I was absolutely blown away at two parts of this experience: the demand for the cars, and the prices that the auctions ended up at. We had hundreds of people unable to purchase a car, and the highest GRAIL, #1 in the whole collection, sold for over 23 ETH. It was a life-changing day.” As of this writing, that sum, 23.888 ETH, is worth the equivalent of $50,082.83. The floor price for the entire collection is 5 ETH, or the equivalent of $10,482.84, and goes up quickly from there.
And finally, beyond the Tier 1s, Tier 2s, Tier 3s, and the eight Grails, there are the Trophies, twenty rare cars held back from the original launch. These cars are not for sale; the only way to get one is to win it in a Race, or a contest built for the community. A recent one was a competition where everyone was invited to submit photos in the style of DRIVE. It was open to both holders and non-holders, with the winner in the former category receiving a Trophy car and 0.5 ETH going to the winner among the non-holders. The winner among the holders was @pennypacker00, who photographed a Ghostbusters-inspired van.
“This project emerged out of a decade-long effort to prove that anyone can participate in the craft of photography–if they have the motivation and interest to try,” Krugman tells me. “The most rewarding part of growing this community is seeing people who never thought they could make a photograph becoming fascinated by the craft. Photography is the process of noticing, and once you get in the habit, it spills into all areas of your life. If I can get people to slow down and see the beauty that surrounds them, nothing can be more rewarding than that. I get texts every day from people all around the world sending me cars in the style of DRIVE. Every single time, it makes my day.”
All images © Dave Krugman. You can follow the artist on Twitter at @dave_krugman. Krugman is also the founder of ALLSHIPS, a creative community for artists. “ALLSHIPS is an editorial platform, a store, a culture,” he says. “We throw events and parties and concerts- there is no limit to the future of ALLSHIPS. All of my efforts and resources I gain through NFTs will go towards realizing this dream–that a rising tide raises all ships.” You can follow along at @ALLSHIPS on Twitter for updates.