Trouble is brewing for the team behind the highly anticipated Weather Report NFT collection. In essence, the original artist who created the collection’s admired art is claiming unfair treatment from the project’s founders. Of course, the dramatic story has traveled a lot on NFT Twitter all day today. Let’s analyze the events that led to this.
Dentin, the artist behind Weather Report’s NFTs, talks
The current drama surrounding the Weather Report NFT project began on February 16. Dentin, the founding artist of Weather Report, sent out a tweet that read “EXPOSED WEATHER REPORT” along with a link to a nine-page document.
Dentin also tagged the three core members of the Weather Report team: Founder and Creative Director Zach (@ZachGoesHard), Founder Will Nichols (@nevermindwill), and Co-Founder Toby Lasso (@tobylasso).
To summarize the document, Dentin himself sets out his position in the closing section of the document. He says,
“I am the founding artist of Weather Report. The artistic vision is mine. I created all the illustrations that launched Weather Report to the brand it is today. My artistic vision and creation are still being used by the brand to this day.”
Dentin provides screenshots of different emails and messages between him and the Weather Report founders to help support his claims. Namely, that he is the creator of the Weather Report NFT base character, and that Weather Report is ripping off his work at this point after removing him from the team.
The team’s relationship problems began with the revenue split
In essence, the relationship between Dentin and Zach & Will soured when Dentin asked the couple to negotiate their share of the sales proceeds. Zach and Will initially offered Dentin a 5% stake. Dentin felt the percentage was unfair, given the importance of his creation to the success of the Weather Report brand thus far.
However, according to Dentin, instead of negotiating, Zach and Will simply kicked him off the team. And to add insult to injury for Dentin, Zach and Will continued to use their base character for Weather Report NFTs. They simply hired other artists to copy the style that Dentin created.
Despite the potentially huge sum of money Weather Report NFTs are likely to generate, Dentin maintains that this is not an attempt to get the money he feels he deserves. In this regard he says,
“I’m not looking for any specific results from this. Just let people know my side of the story so they can make decisions for themselves.”
Even so, Dentin later tweeted another document. This time it was the cease and desist letter that their lawyers sent to Zach and Will on January 31st. Clearly, Dentin doesn’t want to see the Weather Report founders profit from his work with the current state of their relationship.
Does the NFT space live up to its supposed pro-artist values?
The incident has sparked an important conversation about the challenges facing the artists behind major NFT pfp projects like Weather Report. Particularly when it comes to how NFT projects pay their artists.
Dentin joined a Twitter space created specifically to broadcast his version of events. This came after the Weather Report team held their own space, allegedly downplaying Dentin’s contributions.
The space also provided a platform for others to talk about their experiences with the founding team of Weather Report NFT. One artist even took the stage and challenged an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). He did this to illustrate what he called the exploitative practices of Weather Report.
Overall, Twitter Space highlighted some important questions for the NFT community to address. To be sure, artists on large avatar projects all too often see the value of their work diminished. In fact, apart from NFTs where the artist is also the founder of the project, artists can be prevented from sharing in the success of a project.
This is despite the fact that, ultimately, they are the ones creating the images. NFT projects build entire brands around it. Dentin sums up the contradiction of this situation well, saying:
“This proposal is similar to the deals predatory major labels have dealt musicians with for years. If this is the standard set by the leaders in this industry, then we are a long way from the artist-by-artist Web3 philosophy that we preach.”