“Branding is no longer the opaque art it once was”: Could DAOs alter the make-up of our industry?

ES: And there’s less pretending that there are hard costs when there aren’t, which is very common in agency settings. It’s more like improv and less like Broadway theatre.
Except at the same time, I think I learned early on – having graduated from college a couple of years after the 2008 financial crash – that having a diversified stream of work is actually more resilient than putting all of your eggs in one basket by having an employer (who could fire you at any time, given that we live in a country that doesn’t have labour protections, basically). And so, that’s been part of the evolution of our business. I think that now there is a lot more money moving around through Web3, although there will be less for a while, it does open up more opportunities for people to do smaller, collaborative projects and actually make a good living from it, which will be interesting.
LM: And clients pay for access to specific individuals over the agency as a whole. When you hire an agency, a bunch of low-status creatives are usually doing the work, fronted by a named creative director or partner, who gets wheeled out whenever the client is needing reassurance their money is going to the right people. There’s this weird kind of irony where it is more about the people in this pseudonymous context.
ES: Yeah. I mean, he started it, but it’s not just his thing. But another aspect is the way that agency work in general has changed, or the role of that. Of course our work with Nemesis is one example of that, where we were trained in more conventional settings, but now it’s totally possible for us to do high-level work with three people and a Google Drive. And a lot of the infrastructure that the agency provided is made redundant by easily available, free online collaborative software. And of course it is more precarious in a way, to run your own business or collaborate endlessly.
ES: Right. I mean, but we’re all doxed… I also think that there’s an issue in Web 3 around overstating creativity. I think it has to do with the NFT boom and the sense of a whole new strain of art and artistic possibilities, and markets around artwork, coming up so quickly and being attached to so much money. That, coupled with the market euphoria, led to a situation in which people were saying: “We’re all the most creative people in the world and we have endless ideas and so much to express.”
LM: Low-infrastructure, but also low-overhead. I think we’re talking about a kind of post-professionalism. A lot of the performative parts of having a company or having an organisation, or writing a brief with costs down to the last decimal, is related to a working culture that’s sort of been replaced with a more common-sense working culture. Where people have fewer dollars to spend, there’s less overhead, bullshit and ceremony, in a lot of instances.
Of course, real human creativity is not particularly compatible with endless Discord notifications, and the sort of pace of information digestion you’re expected to do if you want to keep up with crypto markets in a really top-level way. There is a mis-registration, which I think people who believe the whole thing is a scam point to as evidence of its scamminess. It’s like everything else – both a scam and not a scam at the same time. There are authentic, interesting, novel, emergent technologies and uses of those technologies, coexisting with scams and delusions. It’s not one or the other, in my opinion.

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