Unlike other NFT collections, Art Blocks is a platform. Its focus is generative or algorithmic artworks. The artists create the style of the collection, the colors and forms, or the “blocks” if you will. Each mint sorts through endless possibilities to create a unique piece. At minting time, the customer interacts with a generative script and the result is a randomly generated, unpredictable work of art. Depending on the collection, the resulting NFT can go from a static image to a multimedia experience.
In most of the other Blue Chip collections, like World Of Women or Doodles, an artist or a group of artists create the art and its different traits. In contrast, multiple artists constantly build Art Blocks collections. As you might imagine, some of them are more valuable than others. The platform’s creator is Erick Calderon, better known as Snowfro. He’s the artist and coder behind Art Block’s first and flagship collection, Chromie Squiggle. You’ve probably seen them around, and one of the squiggles serves as the logo for the whole platform.
Other iconic and multi-million dollar collections launched through the platform are Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs and Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers. Of course, those are the stand-out, incredibly successful ones. New collections and projects launch through Art Blocks every week, as you can see in this very busy calendar. To avoid gas wars at minting time, the platform uses the Dutch Auction method. That is, the sale starts at a high price that lowers as time goes by. The clients wait for their ideal price, if it ever gets there.
How Does Art Blocks Work?
So far, the platform has generated $277M in primary sales and a whopping $1320M in secondary ones. The platform royalties are 10% for primary and 2.5% for secondary market sales. From primaries, there’s a mandatory 25% donation to the artist’s favorite charity. Which is interesting, but wow, 25%! The artist receives a fair 5% for each secondary resale.
According to Art Block’s website, they offer “genuinely programmable on demand generative content that is stored immutably on the Ethereum Blockchain.” That’s not entirely true. The script and the NFTs are there, presumably forever, but the art is too complex to be stored on-chain. The files are in IPFS or other storage solutions.
Art Blocks also claims that “collectors actively participate in realizing an artist’s vision by generating unique algorithmic artworks,” which is debatable. The mind-blowing thing is that an Art Blocks holder with access to the script and Ethereum’s ledger could theoretically reproduce the NFT. So, technically, everything they claim is true.
Even though Art Blocks is a platform, it’s not open to everyone. A team curates the collections and selects the artists worthy of participating. They offer three tiers of collections, each with different characteristics. Let’s look into them.
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The Different Collections
- The Curated Collection: This is the main one, Art Blocks releases it “on a regular schedule.” Only a few selected artists have made it to the seven quarterly series so far. According to their website, “Art Blocks established a curation board to carefully select projects for inclusion in our Curated Collection. The Curated Collection is a group of projects that push the boundaries of Generative Art in their technical innovation and aesthetic beauty.”
The company’s account executive, Druid, expanded on the collections’ characteristics in a Medium post. “Since we launched Art Blocks in November of 2020, our first official set includes all Curated drops in 2020, with full quarterly sets beginning in 2021. Artists have a six-month cooldown between deploying projects in the Curated Collection.”
- Playground Collection: This one is less formal, “Art Blocks artists who have been previously included in the Curated Collection” can play around and do what they want. Druid expands, “It’s important to note the Playground’s limitations: first, an artist can only launch a Playground project after a Curated project. Second, only one project per artist can be active in the Playground at once, and it must be completed before another can be launched on the Playground.” Also, there’s “a two-month cooldown between deploying projects in the Playground Collection.”
- Art Blocks Factory: This is more general and it’s for artists that don’t necessarily have participated in The Curated Collection. According to the website, “The Factory Collection includes projects selected directly by Art Blocks and highlights our standards for technical quality and artistic beauty.” And according to Druid, “Factory artists will be required to sell out their entire project before releasing anything else on the platform. They also will have a two-month cool down between projects on the platform.”
Powered by Art Blocks (PBAB)
Last but not least, the company offers this very interesting product. “Powered by Art Blocks (PBAB) is a custom branded solution from Art Blocks. It allows the generative NFT minting technology used by artists at Art Blocks to be integrated with third-party sites”. That means that organizations can use Art Blocks’ “smart contracts and rendering infrastructure” to generate “branded generative projects.”
PBAB could be huge in the future. Keep your eye on it.