Discover what is Art Blocks and how artists are using this platform to launch generative art NFTs.
The most hyped NFts of 2021 were picture-for-profile images like Bored Ape Yacht Club. You can either participate in a mint for PFPs or purchase from a secondary marketplace like OpenSea.
In any of the above scenarios, you know what you’re buying. You can see the artwork or other types of creative content and its rarity. But what about NFTs created purely with code that exist on the Ethereum blockchain?
Contemporary artists, digital artists, and programmers are using code to create a type of NFT that exists entirely on the blockchain rather than hosted as a JPEG or GIF. The most successful are minted via Art Blocks.io.
What Is Art Blocks?
Art Blocks is a dedicated platform for minting, hosting and discovering contemporary generative art NFTs by leading artists.
Typical Art Blocks projects are static images, 3D models, and interactive experiences. These NFTs are stored immutably on the Ethereum blockchain. T
A minter doesn’t know what their NFT will look like before mint as the algorithm generates a random image based on preset parameters. NFT fans can also use Art Blocks to browse past successful projects like Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro.
A Deep Dive Into the Art Blocks’ Process
Generative NFT artists create algorithms whose sole purpose is to produce unique artworks. Artists randomly inject colors, patterns, illustrations, interactive properties, motifs, and more into the script.
Artists can tweak the script until they lock the project for minting. Once an artist locks the project, there’s no way of changing the inherent features of the code, hands, max iterations, artist’s name, and project title.
Now, this locked algorithm can generate thousands of unique NFTs or a collection. Some artists may go for a single or one of one NFT. When you mint an NFT on a collection or one of one NFT project, the transaction creates a random seed.
The seed code then interacts randomly with the generative art script of the project. Again, through another randomization, the machine produces a truly unique artwork. It could be 3D art, animated art, or just a still image.
Hence, until you mint an NFT, you wouldn’t know what you get. Here lies the surprise and the feeling of trying your luck and getting something priceless.
The Creator of Art Blocks
Snowfro had extensive knowledge of blockchain and smart contracts. In 2017, when Larva Labs studio announced the mint event for CryptoPunks, Snowfro tweaked the underlying systems and collected the rarest of the collection, the Zombie CryptoPunks.
Since he knew it was possible to game the system to get rare assets, he wanted to create a mint system where no one could manipulate it and get the rarest assets. Instead, the mint transaction will go through multiple randomizations to create unique NFT art of creative and technological value.
Erick told ARTnews that he’d always felt like an artist and an entrepreneur but had always struggled to produce art through conventional methods like drawing and painting.
Accepting that he wouldn’t become a typical artist spending his days in a studio painting masterpieces, Erick turned to his interest in computer coding to fill the artistic void growing within.
“I realized that I didn’t have to know how to use a paintbrush to create something that I, at least, thought was cool,” Erick said in the interview.
His exposure to the crypto space started on Reddit, where the then unheard-of CryptoPunks project was gaining traction. Erick decided to mint his own Punk paying just the Ether transaction fee for an NFT that would later form part of one of the most expensive NFT PFP collections of all time.
The CryptoPunks helped push Erick towards the realization that code and art could be married together in the crypto world to create valuable and visually engrossing pieces. During the minting process, Erick noticed that he could manipulate the system to guarantee that he ended up with the rarest tokens – he took it upon himself to stop this happening again by creating his own mining platform.
Snowfro and Generative Art
Snowfro’s biggest contribution to the NFT space has come through his generative art creation platform ArtBlocks.
If you aren’t sure what generative art is you can read our guide here, in short this technique uses algorithms to build vast collections of unique art by randomly distributing qualities.
Some of the most expensive NFT collections, such as the CryptoPunks and The Bored Ape Yacht Club, were built using this system; however, creating generative art can be complex, especially if you haven’t graduated in computer science. Snowfro saw an opportunity to move the NFT and digital art world forward by making generative art more accessible and more secure for both artists and buyers.
Art Blocks Collections
Art Blocks launches projects by vetted NFT artists under one of four collection types. These are as follows.
The Curated collection hosts some of the best generative art projects. You might have heard about Fidenza, Ringers, Running Moon, 720 Minutes, and Apparitions making all the buzz in the generative art NFT niche. These were all part of the Curated project of Art Blocks.
The Art Blocks team has set up a curation board to evaluate submissions. The curatorial board members come from different domains. The board consists of different creativity, perspective, and experiences from life. The goal is to select the most innovative and interesting generative art projects.
Curated collections also represent the vision of the Art Blocks platform and are vetted by the Art Blocks team. These projects also bring aesthetic beauty and technical innovation to the Art Blocks marketplace.
The team releases such curated projects every quarter. Hence, as a collector or trader, you can regularly collect and build a trophy board of generative NFT arts from some world-class artists and coders.
For the audience from the art and coding background, it’s notable that you can only launch one collection of NFT arts in the Curated section every six months.
The Playground collection comprises artists featured on Art Blocks curated but with more room for experimentation. Some top-grossing generative art NFT projects are Void, Paper Armada, Latent Spirits, and The Eternal Pump.
The Art Blocks team doesn’t vet these projects as thoroughly as Curated pieces. However, some stringent rules uphold the quality of the projects and protect the interest of collectors. Some notable policies enforced on the Playground section are:
- The Art Blocks team allows only one Playground project per artist.
- Once the active project has been minted, an artist must wait two months before deploying another Playground project.
- Any alteration in the NFT project like mint size change or pricing revision will force the artist to apply again for a new Curated drop and then they can only deploy a Playground project.
Playground projects let artists take chances with style and theme and evolve from their primary line of generative artworks.
The Factory collection gives artist-turned-coders an option to drop their NFT projects without waiting for acceptance from the curation board. The Art Blocks development team introduced this section to satisfy the collectors and artists. Some popular Factory collection projects are Empyrean, Gazettes, and Dear Hash.
The requirement to publish your NFT project on the Factory is relaxed compared to the Curated or Playground projects. However, every creative coder and project proposal still undergoes a cursory Art Blocks review. A few key policies that the team enforces in the Factory segment are:
- One artist can’t propose the same project for the Curated and Factory segment.
- The artist can’t publish new NFT projects in any segment of Art Blocks until the previous project has been fully subscribed.
- There’s a two-month cooling period for dropping new NFT projects in the Factory segment.
- If a Playground artist drops an NFT project in the Factory segment, they must go through the Curated collection process before becoming eligible to drop NFTs in the Playground.
With the launch of the Factory collection, more artists can now become a part of the Art Blocks artist community and try their creative luck. On the other hand, more collectors and traders can now get their hands on some cool and promising generative art NFTs.
The team collaborates with select and premium partners to expand this generative art NFT marketplace’s reach. The aim is to organize with brands and produce a new vertical of collaborative collections. You’ll find all such NFT projects in the Art Blocks X Pace section.
Art Blocks host the partner projects on its own platform. Hence, to maintain the quality of the NFT offerings, the team thoroughly reviews such collaborative NFTs for quality, functionality, aesthetic beauty, and technical innovation.
Petro National is currently the only NFT offering in this segment. John Gerrard created a generative art algorithm to allow the minting of 196 NFT arts, that resemble the spilling of fossil fuel on water bodies. It utilizes a thin film refraction algorithm with generative technology.
Differences Between Art Blocks NFTs and Other NFTs
Digital asset storage draws the fine line between conventional NFTs and Art Blocks NFTs. Normal NFTs usually store the transaction on the Ethereum blockchain for proof of ownership. The NFT creator stores the artwork on a peer-to-peer network, cloud storage, or InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
In the case of Art Blocks NFTs, the generative art algorithm and seed code are stored on the smart contract of the NFT. It means the NFT is immutable and does not depend on third-party servers, software or hardware.
In the future, if you need to display the artwork on high-resolution screens like 16K, which are not available today, the ordinary NFTs will need an upgrade. However, Art Blocks NFTs will work as it is.
What Is the Future of Art Blocks?
The creator of the Art Blocks platform, Snowfro, has put forth an idea of enabling NFT owners to play online games using their Art Blocks NFTs as licenses.
The NFTs will be linked to the gameplay achievements. Once an owner sells their NFT, the new owner will automatically start playing from the current gameplay level rather than starting from the beginning.
Some Art Blocks NFT users utilize the fractional NFT concept for NFT trading, without putting too much ETH or USD at stake. Since third-party NFT fractionalization tools are increasing in numbers, this could also prove to be a new front of earning for the Art Blocks community.
Moreover, few users are finding creative ways to get loans by using their Art Blocks NFTs as collateral. NFT liquidity platforms like Nexo, NFTFI, etc. connect borrowers and lenders.
What Is Art Blocks? The Final Word
Art Blocks plays a significant role in the appreciation, reputation, research, and growth of the generative art niche. It encourages the artists to give their best and innovate by the second.
Because an Art Blocks artist has to accept all the artworks generated by their algorithm, there’s no way of discarding some not-so-good artworks and displaying only the best-looking ones.
For collectors, traders, and NFT enthusiasts bored of PFP NFTs, Art Blocks offer a perspective on NFTS. There are AI algorithms at work to create exceptional artworks that no one has ever seen before.
Check out our round-up of the best Art Blocks projects to date.