This article is written assuming that you understand the concept of a Non-Fungible Token (NFT). If you need a refresher on what an NFT is, check out this video.
Art Blocks is an Ethereum-based NFT platform that allows artists to showcase and sell their original digital artwork. Art Blocks is focused on art that is fully generated through an algorithm and is directly uploaded on the blockchain.
This art is different from collectible NFT projects like CryptoPunks, where individual traits are created off-chain by a human. Instead, Art Blocks projects are 100% generated through an on-chain algorithm, that can be fine-tuned to create a series of images desired by the artist. On the Art Blocks platform, new projects are minted/generated/created on demand so neither the artist nor the buyer will know what the piece looks like until the transaction is finalized. This radical approach to the art world has caught the eye of the crypto/art community, and big money has been pumped into these projects, with some works of art selling for millions of dollars.
How was Art Blocks created?
The idea for Art Blocks began in 2017 when its founder, Erick Calderon, better known as Snowfro, was claiming his now-iconic CryptoPunks. Snowfro was baffled that he could claim multiple rare zombie CryptoPunks, instead of the art being revealed at the point of purchase. In 2018, Snowfro began working on an NFT minting platform focused on generative art that would come to be known as Art Blocks. On this new platform, generative artists could upload an algorithm and sell-off unique iterations as NFTs. The buyer is unable to view the art until it is minted, but can see examples of the algorithm in a gallery on the Art Blocks site. When an NFT is minted on the Art Blocks platform, that instance of the artist’s algorithm is cemented on the blockchain and can no longer be altered. The algorithms the artists submit to Art Blocks must create a unique NFT with every iteration of mint. The algorithms must also be capped so that a limited number of pieces of art can be minted.
After multiple unsuccessful prototypes, the first version of Art Blocks was created in November 2020 and became an official corporation in February 2021. The Art Blocks project was well-positioned to capitalize on the 2021 NFT craze, and by August 2021 Art Blocks saw nearly $600 million in sales across 51,000 transactions. Art Blocks highlights talented artists who combine the visual medium of art with the mechanical nature of coding, capturing the attention of classic art collectors as well as the crypto community.
Notable Art Blocks Projects?
Art blocks projects are separated into three different collections: Curated, Playground, and Factory. Art Blocks Curated showcases the top works of generative art. There is a curation board that determines if a project an artist submits will be a part of the Curated Collection. Once an artist has released a Curated project, they gain access to the playground. The Art Blocks Playground is a place for these well-known artists to experiment and take risks with their designs. The Art Blocks Factory was the most recent collection to be added to the platform. The Factory collection has a less rigorous vetting process than the Curated collection and allows for more artists to showcase their work.
I have outlined some of my favorite works from the Art Blocks Curated collection; each project highlighted has a historic part in the success of Art Blocks.
Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs
The Fidenza collection is a fantastic example of what talented artists can do with generative art technology. The Fidenza algorithm is incredibly versatile and can be configured to create beautiful and unique images. Fidenzas are likely the most well-known ArtBlocks projects, with some works selling for up to $3.3 million.
Fidenza #612 Owned by deafbeefvault
Fidenza #993 Owned by z__
Fidenza #8808 Owned by ScenicVault
Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro
No project describes ArtBlocks better than the Chromie Squiggle. This NFT collection was created by SnowFro, the founder of ArtBlocks, and was the first project to be listed on the ArtBlocks platform. The original intention of the Chromie Squiggle project was to showcase that even with thousands of outputs, generative minting could still produce unique images. Chromie Squiggles are the CryptoPunks of the ArtBlocks world and have a historic significance in the NFT space.
Chromie Squiggle #9086 Owned by cryptojacque
Chromie Squiggle #5816 Owned by johnk
Chromie Squiggle #1367 Owned by st3ve-g3n4rt-v4ult
Ringers by Dmitri Cherniak
The Ringers series comprises, 1,000 generative art NFTs made up of automatically generated “strings and pegs”. The Ringers project is the culmination of years of work by Dmitri Cherniak in the generative art space. This series was also a breakout success on the ArtBlocks platform, with secondary sales resulting in millions of dollars in transactions.
Ringers #12 Owned by jdh_Vault
Ringers #319 Owned by 566F19
Ringers #105 Owned by Dinosaur