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Meet the Collector Trying to Build the Internet's Next Big Digital Art Market

Talking to Mike Duca, co-founder of the NeonMob online digital art platform.
Candy Cane by Cindy Suen in Cutie Treats,all images courtesy of NeonMob

"I grew up collecting everything from seashells to comic books," NeonMob co-founder Mike Duca tells The Creators Project, "and thought collecting was the coolest activity." Duca's youthful digital art exchange platform for artists and collectors modernizes the collector's lifelong passion for bringing things together. Every day on NeonMob, artists create and upload their works, as, armed with their five daily “free packs” and curated collections, collectors trade through a flurry of furious typing.


It all began in 2012, as Duca considered his latest collection obsession: Kidrobot’s bunny-shaped, soft-customizable Dunnies. He wondered “what a new "era" of collectibles might look like, and why the Internet had, so far, done so little to redefine the collectibles space."

“So many other marketplaces had been redefined by the Internet era, but collectibles had not," he says via email. "I thought if someone else hadn't done it, I would—and that was the earliest inspiration for NeonMob: to create a 21st century representation of what collecting could look like in the digital age.”

To grant artists quantifiable ownership over their work, Duca's platform promotes digital scarcity through artist-assignable rarity. “Scarcity is a crucial component of a collectible,” Duca says. “There's something pleasurable about having something that not everyone else has. Thankfully, we've found that in the digital realm, there aren't as many obstacles to creating scarcity as one might assume.” At the same time, NeonMob's many-payer model keeps prices low and affordable.

Now, with the advent of the site's new Creator Tools, which NeonMob unveils today, the platform makes the shift Duca had always planned for his project. The tools allow users to piece together and launch collections, therefore transforming the platform from standard exchange arena to open marketplace, administered by artists. “Our mission as a company is to empower artists and help them to earn a living,” says the founder. “We could never do that with a closed, highly curated marketplace. […] We also know that by opening the system up, the ideas and concepts that will start appearing will be so much more interesting than what we could ever come up with on our own.”


Tree of Sorrows by Craig Henry in Kojiki Elemental Forces

Tommen the Tree Sprite by Rob Charm in the Light  With Creator Tools, artists are walked through several stages before their work goes live. After choosing a theme and medium for each collection—either GIFs or images—artists build up their portfolios by uploading original artworks, complete with title and description. Then, with the assignation of the tool’s gemstone icons, artists determine their pieces’ rarities before publishing and promoting. To track the progress of their collections after publication, artists can also monitor trends of exchange and determine which works are selling better than others.

“The Internet just hasn't done much for creators as far as giving them good earning options. We think we can change that with NeonMob, where artists earn up to 70% of every sale,” says Duca. Further—and aside from the economics of the platform—the founder believes NeonMob fosters growth and inspiration in the creators themselves. “We've had multiple artists tell us that creating a collection was both the hardest and most fulfilling creative project they've ever undertaken.”

Radio Child by Michael Vincent Manalo in Vintage Kids

Buy, sell, trade, and create extensive collections of digital artwork on NeonMob.


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