Global rum brand Bacardí is teaming up with celebrity photography and videographer Cameron Kirkland, known by the moniker “Cam Kirk,” to create its first-ever non-fungible token, known as an NFT.
The digital token, much like its predecessors Bitcoin or Ethereum in the blockchain universe, can be thought of as a type of cryptocurrency, but NFTs are unique and aren’t interchangeable. In recent months there’s been an increase in interest in this new kind of virtual artifact, with prices soaring to eight-figure levels for some creations, including a JPG file collage that sold for $69 million in March. NFT are traditionally seen as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files.
The Maryland-born artist has worked with several prominent names in the entertainment industry including, Migos, Future, DJ Khaled, Monica, and many more and he recently chatted with Atlanta Black star to discuss his latest collaboration with Bacardí, how he got his start in the industry, and more.
What sparked your interest in photography and videography?
Wow, I guess the initial spark would have to be when I was a kid; my dad’s a photographer. So I grew up around photography cameras. Every house that we lived in had a studio in the basement. So my early memories always included photography.
Although my dad shot a much different style than me — he was much more corporate-based photography, like proms, weddings, balls, graduation pictures — he always, I think, naturally gave me that eye and to be very [inaudible] and have that eye for photography.
So it wasn’t really until I moved to Atlanta and I was able to get closer to my other passion, which was, like, music and popular culture, that I realized that there’s a pathway here where I can kind of merge photography and bring it to a space that I was actually excited about it and familiar with.
Who was the first star or major artist that you collaborated with, and how did that relationship come about?
Well, the first artist that kind of put my name out there a little bit was actually the reason why I bought a camera. So, it actually happened, like, the day before I had actually owned a camera, and that was Wiz Khalifa. When I was in college I threw a concert, and I booked him on one of his tour dates. And that was the first time I ever even used the moniker “Cam Kirk,” because far as that, I was just Cameron Kirkland around campus.
That was the first time I actually put out Cam Kirk. The first time I was doing something actually within the entertainment space working with a celebrity, and at the end of the night when my phone was dead and all my friends had left, I couldn’t get a picture with Wiz Khalifa, and I was like, that was one of the sparks that said, you know, “Go out. Get you a camera tomorrow.”
Talk to us about your latest project with Bacardí and the NFTs you guys have partnered up to create?
So, this is a very special project. It was actually my first time stepping into the blockchain and NFT space. So, basically, we partnered together to try and do something really great for the community and for those in need. So, through our partnership, we came together and we decided that it would be kind of cool to do something new, something digital, something fresh like the NFT.
So, what we created was a really cool gift box that includes the number of different assets, but most importantly, it includes a new motion asset that I created with my team here in Atlanta out of my studio.
What motivated you to take on this new partnership, especially with how new NFTs are to the world?
I’m always trying to do something innovative and new, especially within my creative process and within my work. In Atlanta I mentor a lot of creatives within the community, and I would even say just worldwide.
I think I’m looked at as one of the creative leaders just pushing things forward. So the NFT space was one that I was conscious about jumping into without having the right knowledge, because I didn’t want to lead people down a path of something that I didn’t know much about.
So after I done a lot of research and after I had this partnership with Bacardí, which made it like a perfect partnership and a perfect partner to kind of jump into the space with, I realized this could be a good opportunity to show people the value of digital art and NFTs through our project. And also, it does something good for the community. So those elements were really what made me excited about it, what made me want to jump in it.
Tell us about Collective Gallery?
Yes, Collective Gallery is our latest venture. It is a record label-style company, but it’s designed specifically for photographers. So, we’re basically taking the blueprint that so many historical labels like Def Jam or Roc-a-Fella or Roc Nation have laid out. And what we’re doing is bringing that same support, that same business structure to the photography industry.
And we signed photographers financially. We give them financial advances, financial investment into projects that they have on the plate, as well as full-service management and representation. So, it’s the first of its kind — the first label for photographers. We’ve actually been, stamped and backed by Atlantic Records, you know, probably the biggest label in the world, specifically within the hip-hop space and music space.
So, we have a joint partnership with them where a lot of artists are given the opportunity to work directly with their label of artists.
The NFT was created to celebrate the launch of Bacardi’s new limited-edition Reserva Ocho Sherry Cask rum. The non-fungible token is currently being auctioned through a dedicated microsite for only two weeks. All proceeds from the NFT sale “will go back to Backing the B.A.R. – an initiative spearheaded by the NAACP and BACARDĺ which provides business acceleration grants, education, support, and entrepreneurship solutions for Black-owned bars, restaurants, nightclubs, lounges, liquor stores, and small businesses in the process of applying for a liquor license.”