How Blockchain-Based Folio Hopes to Solve the Art World's 'Big Problem'

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

Image courtesy of Folio

For Joey Primiani, designing a new NFT marketplace is just the latest stop in what’s been a long and fascinating trip through the world of tech.

After stints at Google and Cortex and a gig developing Lady Gaga’s online fan community, Primiani, together with business partner Mirko Kiefer, unveiled his latest venture this week: Folio, a social network that offers artists a platform and tools to showcase their NFT creations.

Billing itself as the “first mobile NFT marketplace and social network,” Los Angeles-based Folio is an invite-only community allowing artists to promote their work, collaborate with other artists and connect with NFT collectors. The platform, which is accessible via iOS app or web browser, is meant to act as both a digital portfolio for artists and a tool allowing collectors to search and discover digital art. Artists decide what price they want to sell their art for, and Folio takes a cut of every work sold.

Primiani told dot.LA that the idea was motivated by the difficulties those in the NFT art community can face when accessing various online platforms, such as setting up and logging in through digital wallets like MetaMask.

“The onboarding experience is a pain point for a lot of artists that we really want to solve,” he said. “We want to make that an easier experience so that more people can use it.”

Primiani first interned at Google in 2009, where he helped design the Silicon Valley giant’s search products, and later worked as a designer at the Google Labs tech incubator. From there, he went on to work with Lady Gaga to create, a social network for the singer’s devoted fan following. It was his work with the renowned entertainer that turned Primiani onto the idea of creating a marketplace of his own—particularly one focused on showcasing LGBTQ+ and underrepresented artists, which is a focus of Folio’s.

“The big problem in the art world previously was that a lot of people were making art for the galleries, and now they're actually making it directly for the fans and the consumers,” he said.

Primiani’s dream came closer to fruition after he connected via Twitter with Mirko Kiefer, an engineer and blockchain entrepreneur. After some workshopping, they officially—and quietly—created Folio in 2020. The platform was in private beta testing in recent months, during which time the founders were completing a Web3-focused residency at L.A.’s Launch House accelerator. (Creatives such as Pol Kurucz, Zigor, and Marc Hemeon had access to the beta product.)

“We really wanted to be one of the first to really nail that experience, because it's so new and platforms couldn't handle a lot of the demand that was happening,” Primiani said.

Folio and its small five-person team is still in its pre-seed stages and has bootstrapped all of its funding to this point. Primiani said any new funding will go toward hiring both in L.A. and remotely, and to grow and scale the company.

“I think we're only at like 5% of what's possible,” Primiani said of the blockchain-enabled internet known as Web3. “It kind of feels like the internet in the ‘90s, where it's like the wild West and anything's possible.”

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Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Image by Joshua Letona

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Photo by James Opas | Modified by Joshua Letona

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