All About Art Blocks: Avant-Garde Generative Art NFTs for all
by Justin Perri
If you’re involved in the NFT community you’ve likely heard of Art Blocks, how much Squiggles cost, or maybe the insane gas wars that have now been replaced with a dutch auction system. Regardless of your familiarity, what you need to know is that Art Blocks is changing the world of generative art with a revolutionary style of its own.
Simultaneously, the platform is introducing a way for a new generation of artists to connect with their collectors and shedding light on the beauty of artwork that can be created through generative algorithms. Along the way, they’ve sold out over 100 generative art projects created by artists around the globe.
What is Generative Art?
To fully understand and respect the art you find on ArtBlocks.io, you need to dive into how the process works and the generative algorithms that create the art a collector receives upon minting. What makes these collections so special is that the artist has not seen the final images before the mint occurs; same as the collector.
Instead, the artist has worked tirelessly on the code that constructs and allocates each attribute of the art at random and fine-tunes the aesthetics. They ensure that over hundreds of attempts before public minting that no two results will be the same and that they all have visual appeal.
These generative art projects are an impressive feat of creative and technical prowess, to say the least — something that few artists in the world can truly master.
Art Blocks: Creating Avant-Garde Generative Art
Before CryptoPunks from LarvaLabs in 2017, generative art was an art form that had never been seen before. Erick Calderon a.k.a. Snowfro, is the founder of Art Blocks and artist behind the first collection on the site, Chromie Squiggles.
It took two years to perfect the algorithm that created the signature image now featured as the face of Art Blocks (seen below). That rainbow squiggle is one of 10,000 squiggles that were generated from the script.
However, when the work was complete and minting started nobody knew exactly what the final minted images would actually be — just like every artist to create an Art Blocks project after him. How the algorithm randomly compiles the possible traits and features is done in the instant of creation through use of smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain and then locked in forever, immutable and non-fungible, never to be changed and always able to be verified as an original.
Each piece of art born through the generative process is verified unique, but also a part of something much bigger. It is almost as though the heart of the collection is the mother algorithm, and each collector adopts a child from it.
The relationship of each piece to the entire collection is unique to this avant-garde method and is why certain bodies of work have seen their value recently rise drastically. These works are about more than just the image and its object beauty or complexity, and are being valued as a piece of generative art history.
The ability of an artist to craft algorithm code that manufactures an array of artwork so flawlessly is akin to sculpting in modern marble. However, in this scenario, the sculpting is done by code that is left to create autonomously on its own and immortalized on the blockchain by its own creator.
It’s experimental and chaotic in its beauty; there’s truly been nothing like this before and NFT technology allows it all to come together seamlessly by ensuring authenticity.
The Growth of Art Blocks Curated: Fidenza
Look no further than Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs for proof of the respect that this avante-garde genre is beginning to command. Hobbs describes Fidenza as his “most versatile algorithm to date,” and the results of it are gorgeous and awesomely impressive. And there’s only 999 that will ever exist — a limited run compared to the current state of 10,000 mint generative projects.
The sizing, spacing and color of Fidenzas are all finely coded. Each result of essentially rolling the dice at the time of mint creates something that’s never been seen before and will never be made again. The complexity of what Fidenza manufactures is what makes them among the most revered Art Blocks projects.
Currently a Fidenza commands a minimum of 42.88 ETH ($137,000 at time of writing) on secondary marketplace OpenSea, and many have been sold for much more.
This wasn’t always the case though; just two months ago, you could buy a Fidenza for 0.3 ETH on OpenSea. The mint price on this project was not exorbitant, and the project did not instantly sell out. However, as people began to understand how special these collections were and prices began to climb, people quickly lined up to buy the next high profile release from ArtBlocks.
Solving the Art Blocks Gas Wars
As a result of the exponential growth, hopeful collectors were pitted against one another in gas wars — or paying exorbitant prices to the ethereum miners in order to secure a mint before others who also tried to mint. These gas wars got so bad that collectors would pay five times the art price in gas fees, which drastically hurt small collectors (who wanted to mint one or two) more than large ones, who could afford to mint ten or more in one transaction.
Art Blocks recently stepped in and has changed their format to a dutch auction system. This allows for more accurate price discovery and helps to get more of the profits from sales into the hands of the artist. Just as importantly, it also helps adhere to the ethos of Art Blocks, which is geared towards getting a new generation of collectors involved in owning art.
You no longer need to be a millionaire to get your hands on something that could one day be a coveted and rare work of art. Drops are openly scheduled and you can easily see a sample upcoming projects on their site or Discord.
Art Blocks: What you need to know
If you are interested in buying Art Blocks, there are a few things you should know. The Art Blocks umbrella embodies over 100 generative art projects to-date. There are three different labels to these Art Blocks projects: Curated, Playground and Factory. Each label has projects that are created under them.
Curated consists of the most prestigious and carefully selected projects; there’s currently a two-year waitlist for new projects here and releases here are meant to fully embody the vision of Art Blocks. These are the most coveted Art Blocks, including Fidenza and Chromie Squiggles. The floor price for any Art Blocks Curated project is currently .52 Ethereum for a Cryptoblot.
Once an artist launches on Curated, they are free to release a Playground project every once in a while; these are not curated in the same manner and are not viewed as official Art Blocks drops according to the Art Blocks information page. Playground is a way to continue to collect from artists who have already been featured.
Finally there is Factory, which is a way for artists to launch projects that might not achieve Curated status, but still showcase innovation and creativity. The floor price for an Art Blocks Factory piece is .068 Ethereum as of writing.
All of these projects are generated using algorithms that allow collectors the enjoyment of finding out what unique image is going to be in their possession. There’s an addictive excitement to seeing what the forces of randomness combined with the artist’s code is going make.
Not only are Art Blocks fun and quite stunning, but the art also connects collectors to the artist in a way that was not possible through traditional mediums and helps to support smaller creators. NFTs allow for everyday people to be both creators and collectors of fine art, and Art Blocks looks to be here to stay as the leader of this new generative movement.