For years, I’ve had a running group chat where my artist friends and I compare tips, encourage each other, and lament about the stress of trying to make a living with our art. Each one of us is juggling three or four different jobs at the same time—from running Etsy shops to churning out 10-second TikToks and Instagram reels “for the algorithm.”
But for all the work it takes to be an artist, it’s far too easy to lose everything in an instant. I’ve lost count of how many artists have told me they were “shadowbanned” (or just flat out banned) from Instagram or Twitter—instantly losing the content they had spent so long creating and the audience they had built.
So when I fell down the web3 rabbithole, the concept of NFTs resonated—NFTs give artists a way not only to earn money from their digital work, but also own their content and audience without the risk of being disintermediated.
Like many other NFT artists, I first started experimenting on Ethereum. But it was slow and expensive to use, and I didn’t feel good about Ethereum’s environmental footprint.
That’s when I learned about Solana. Solana is a blockchain, like Ethereum, but it shines in being eco-friendly and accessible—each transaction uses less energy than 2 Google searches. While Solana itself seemed artist-friendly, I didn’t see that reflected in the platforms built on top of it. The biggest NFT marketplaces on Solana didn’t even let artists upload their work—they only supported huge collections backed by teams with developers.
Independent artists have fundamentally different needs than the large teams that run most NFT collections. The 1/1 NFT scene is driven by art; the collection scene is driven by speculation and utility. But on Solana, there was no home yet for high-quality art, designed around the needs of independent creators who care deeply about their craft.
So with a small team of builders and creators, we built it. Formfunction is the platform I would have wanted when I was first getting into NFTs—it’s a marketplace dedicated to 1/1 art on Solana, with the mission to help independent creators make a living from their art. It’s early days, but we’re already well on our way: creators have earned over $400K since our launch in February. Out of our 24 creator launch partners, 18 of them received new all-time-high bids on Formfunction, and every single creator made a sale.
We’re excited to share that we’ve partnered with leading web3 builders and investors to accelerate our mission to build a better future for independent artists—we’ve raised a $4.7 million seed round led by Variant Fund with participation from Solana Ventures, Canonical Crypto, Pear VC, Palm Tree Crew Crypto, and OpenSea Ventures.
This amazing group of creators, collectors, entrepreneurs, and community builders will be helping us continue to grow. Li Jin and her team at Variant Fund bring extensive expertise in crypto and a creator-centric perspective to the table. We’ve also brought on several key members of the Solana ecosystem including Davinci DAO, Dylan and Ian Macalinao (founders of Saber), Francesco Agosti (founder of Phantom), and SOLBuckets, who are deeply integrated with the Solana and NFT communities. Finally, we’re extremely excited to have several amazing creators and collectors, including ThankYouX, IX Shells, Chris McCann, Cozomo de’ Medici, Amber Atherton, and Austin Virts be part of the round—along with our community, their perspectives will help guide us toward building a truly creator-first platform.
This round will go toward growing our team to better support independent creators, as we build out features that will move Formfunction beyond a purely transactional marketplace. We’re building a mobile app, creating social features to make auctions more fun, and working on ways for creators to connect with their community of collectors on Formfunction.
Lastly, we wanted to thank our community. We are deeply grateful for all the artists and collectors who have supported us, believed in us, and brought Formfunction to life through your art.
We’re incredibly excited to begin this next part of our journey to build a better future for independent creators! If you’re passionate about supporting creators and want to join us in this mission, please reach out to us via our open roles. This is just the beginning! 🌟
—Katherine, co-founder of Formfunction