Welcome to the World of Crypto Art
Art Blocks is an NFT crypto art marketplace running on the Ethereum blockchain. It hosts curated and selected collections of generative digital art, which are sold and delivered as non-fungible tokens—giving owners verifiable ownership of the art.
Art Blocks has become a leading platform in Web3 and, to date, has generated more than one billion dollars in NFT trading volume. But what is crypto art? What does generative mean, and why are people interested in digital art on the blockchain? This ultimate guide to Art Blocks will answer all these questions and more.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Never was this more true than in the world of art. Another, and vice versa, can hate one person’s favorite piece of art. There are fundamentals to consider, such as who the artist is, which blockchain it’s living on, and does it offer further benefits on top of owning the digital NFT artwork.
Another strong argument presented by naysayers is, “why would I want a digital piece of art? I can’t hang it on my wall?” Moreover, this statement is wrong on both counts. Firstly, nothing stops a buyer from printing a purchased image and hanging it up in their home. Secondly, as people gravitate toward more digital living and Metaverse existence – digital art will play a much more significant role in our everyday lives.
What is Art Blocks
The marketplace leads a new generation of artists and hosts art from today’s most innovative digital artists. The Web3 art platform combines creative coding with blockchain technology to establish a new paradigm for the creation and ownership of art.
Art Blocks is focused on programmable generative content stored immutably on the Ethereum Blockchain. Users pick a style they like, pay for the work, and a randomly generated version of the content is created by an algorithm and sent to your Ethereum account. The resulting piece might be a static image, a 3D model, or an interactive experience. Each output is different, and there are endless possibilities for the types of content that can be created on the platform.
How does Art Blocks marketplace work?
The Art Blocks platform hosts generative projects to produce outputs verifiably. For example, a productive script (using p5js) is stored immutably on the Ethereum blockchain for each project.
When users want to purchase an iteration of a project hosted on the platform, they buy an ERC721-compliant NFT, which is also stored on the Ethereum blockchain and contains a provably unique seed controls variable in the generative script. These variables, in turn, control the way the output looks and operates. As an example, let’s look at the Chromie Squiggle project.
Each seed, also known as a hash string, is a hexadecimal string generated pseudo-randomly when the token is minted. Each character (0-9, a-f) represents a value from 0-15, and each pair of characters (“aa,” or “f2”) represents a value from 0-255.
For example, the y-coordinate of each point in a squiggle is dictated by the value of a hex pair in the seed. Hex pairs in the seed also control the starting color, rate of change of the gradient, amount of points in each squiggle, plus some surprise features that make some squiggles rarer than others.
Every time a squiggle is drawn using a specific seed, the result will be identical. This means the project is deterministic. Art Blocks projects are required to have a deterministic initial state. Therefore your token, which represents a specific output of the algorithm stored for that particular project, is guaranteed to be unique.
The artist can tweak and modify the script and settings until comfortable, and they are ready to lock the project. Once a project is locked, it will permanently freeze attributes like max iterations (the maximum number of iterations allowed to be minted), scripts, project name, artist name, and the number of hashes generated.
The artist cannot alter the state of the project, and therefore you are guaranteed to get the same resulting output from your token’s stored seed. After a project is locked, an artist can still modify the description and price per iteration if they want to adjust the price of their artwork to accommodate Ethereum price movement.
What are Art Blocks curated projects?
Art Blocks established a curation board to select projects in the 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 Curated Collection best represents Art Blocks’ vision as a platform, and new collections launch regularly. Artists included in the Curated Collection can deploy subsequent projects in the Playground. Like all Art Blocks releases, these projects must meet a quality standard, but experimentation is encouraged in the Playground.
What is a factory project?
Art Blocks Factory was created for artists that do not wish to wait for approval by the curation board or are not selected. This allows artists to have a project on Art Blocks and join the community of curated generative artists. While the requirements are more relaxed than the Curated Collection, Factory projects still need to reflect the innovation, creativity, and artistic beauty typically associated with Art Blocks.
What are Art Blocks x Collaborations?
Art Blocks x Collaborations are co-branded collections with selected partners. Because partner projects live directly in the Art Blocks ecosystem, they will be subject to the same quality review and scheduling as any other Art Blocks project.
How do I get my project on Art Blocks?
You can apply using the application form, and applications remain open indefinitely. We expect that artists have a creative history and the ability to provide an original generative script. Art Blocks does not offer assistance with the coding of projects. Either you will code the project yourself or have somebody who can assist.
Deploying an Art Blocks project is complex, so be honest about your technical ability. If you plan to work collaboratively, provide complete information for all the contributors. All submitted work must be original. Art Blocks will not release projects that use licensed, purchased, or recycled content. Most importantly, the platform wants to bring a unique project to Art Blocks.
What’s the application process for creators?
Art Blocks started as an open platform but has since morphed into a curated home for some of the best generative art in the world. As a result, Art Blocks has become increasingly selective, accepting around 15% of applications.
Submissions are worked through at a rate of around 20 applications a week in chronological order, prioritizing applications with prototypes first. It can take several months for Art Blocks to reach and review new applications, so patience is vital.
Once an application is reviewed, an Artistic Coordinator will reach out to check for further information and ensure that a project is ready to move onto the screening stage. It’s best to submit a prototype script as close as finished. After a project is submitted, it will pass through two screenings.
The first screening determines if a work is accepted onto the platform. This screening is conducted by a committee of Art Blocks’ staff and generative art experts. This review focuses on overall aesthetics, mint variety, and the degree to which a project explores new territory technically, visually, and conceptually.
Art Blocks’ mission is to highlight the best of the best, meaning that a project could be a fantastic example of digital work using the generative art medium and still not make it. Art Blocks looks for innovation in common generative styles and classes to provide collectors with the maximum variety.
The second screening occurs for projects accepted to launch on Art Blocks. This screening is completed by an appointed curation board of international art community members. The curation board will decide if a project will be released as an Art Blocks Curated release, which demonstrates the highest level of technical proficiency, innovation, variety, and long-term value.
For more questions and requirements, please check Art Blocks Docs: Art Blocks 101 for Creators.
How to buy art on Art Blocks
Linear Dutch Auctions specify starting price, starting time, ending time, and ending price, and the price will linearly decrease over that time for each block. In Exponential Dutch Auctions, artists specify the starting price, ending price, and the half-life for price drops.
For example, say that an exponential dutch auction was starting at 1 ETH and lowering to 0.1 ETH over 30 minutes. In this case, the half-life is 9 minutes meaning that every 9 minutes, the price would gradually be cut in half. So after 9 minutes, the DA will reach 0.5, and after 18 minutes, the dutch auction will reach 0.25. The price drops within those half-life steps will gradually lower every block.
Are there platform fees?
The Art Blocks platform charges a 10% fee for projects listed on the platform. When art is purchased, 10% of the purchase price is transferred to Art Blocks, with the rest immediately transferred to the project creator.
This efficient process is why many artists gravitate toward NFT art. Creators can remove intermediaries and get paid almost instantly without having to wait.
How do you mint an NFT on Art Blocks?
You can mint a unique iteration if you find something you like on Art Blocks. The work is minted, which means it’s generated, on-demand, so you don’t know what the specific piece will be.
To mint, visit a project while you are connected to Art Blocks using a blockchain wallet such as Metamask. If you don’t already have Metamask installed, you’ll need to visit https://metamask.io/ to install the extension in your browser. Check out the video below for a step-by-step guide.
Once your wallet is connected, you’ll see a purchase button in the description area for each project. Note that each project has a set maximum iteration limit; if that limit is reached, you will be unable to mint a new work.
When you click the purchase button, you’ll be presented with a Metamask window for confirming the purchase. It will show the price for the mint and the gas cost for executing the purchase. Click Confirm to initiate the purchase.
After confirming the purchase, you are presented with your generative crypto art content. This is a one-of-a-kind iteration generated by the project’s algorithm. The resulting work is represented on the Ethereum network by a token which is an ERC721-compatible NFT token. You can instantly see it in your account on various marketplace platforms like OpenSea. You will also see it in your Portfolio on DappRadar.
As soon as a mint is completed and synced to the decentralized indexing network, you will be able to see your mint in live view using the generator.artblocks.io API or live view within the Art Blocks site.
For static images, the rendering pipeline snapshots this same live view experience at high resolution and with a delay specified by artists to ensure that the piece has been rendered. Some pieces have a long rendering time associated with them until they reach the point of being ready for the snapshot, so render times vary from project to project.
Do I own the intellectual property of the art?
Purchasing art on Art Blocks does not give collectors intellectual property rights to the underlying code stored on-chain. An artist’s project license is the license for the associated project outputs.
If you have questions about the appropriate use of an art piece, it is best to contact the artist directly for permission or clarification. So far, all project outputs on Art Blocks have been covered under either NFT License 2.0 or CCBY-NC 4.0.
Stay safe on Art Blocks
- Make sure you buy a piece from an authentic Art Blocks smart contract address.
- Do not answer unsolicited direct messages
- Do not engage in trust-based/P2P trades
- Use common sense. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
If you’re unsure about the authenticity of a collection, we suggest checking the contract address in the OpenSea URL. All Art Blocks projects are connected to one of the following smart contract addresses:
- 0x059edd72cd353df5106d2b9cc5ab83a52287ac3a (Chromie Squiggles, Genesis, and Construction Token)
- 0xa7d8d9ef8d8ce8992df33d8b8cf4aebabd5bd270 (all other Art Blocks projects)
OpenSea URLs use the following format: https://opensea.io/assets/<contract-address>/<token_id>
If you’ve spent time in Discord or Telegram, you’ve probably had a stranger reach out through a direct message. It’s typically harmless, but any unsolicited message should be met with skepticism.
To avoid these types of attacks, we recommend two options:
- Turn off direct messages from strangers.
- Do not click links from untrusted sources. If someone is sharing something with you, we recommend performing a Google search first to find it yourself. Bad actors can create persuasive phishing websites that look identical to the real.
One way to ensure you visit and connect to the official site is to use DappRadar dapp pages. The dapps provide these links; they are checked regularly and specific to DappRadar.
The crypto ecosystem is designed to remove trust from the transaction process. The blockchain’s rules are structured, so intermediaries are mostly taken out of the equation, and people have ultimate control over their assets. However, private trade agreements between two people inject trust into the process, increasing the likelihood of being scammed.
To avoid being a victim during a trade, we recommend never sending a piece and expecting to get something in return. Instead, use a swapping website. Three sites that members of the Art Blocks community have used are:
Moreover, the best defense against online scams is to use common sense and assume anyone reaching out privately has an agenda. Of course, scammers evolve their tactics, but approaching every online interaction with skepticism will reduce your exposure, and remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.
What digital artists are on Art Blocks?
There is a dedicated page on Art Blocks to explore artists’ projects. There are many to go through; each is shown alongside a piece of art, giving viewers a strong indication of the artist’s style. If you like what you see, click on it and dive into the artist’s portfolio and works.
As mentioned at the start, art is subjective, and additionally, those not deeply into the digital art world may never have heard of any artists. Due to high demand and floor prices, the most prominent collections are arguably Ringers by Dmitri Cherniak, Fidenza by Tyler Hobbs, and Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro. More collections launch, and new stars are born every week, so staying up to date with minting dates and collection releases is essential.
Using the DappRadar NFT Explorer, we can zoom in on landmark sales since the birth of the Art Blocks platform. The highest-ever sale at writing was for Ringers #109, which sold for 2100 ETH, or about $6.9 million.
Behind that sale, we see more deals north of $2 million. Interestingly we can also see that three of the top five sales belong to the same wallet address ending a92d.
Diving further into that wallet reveals a bulging collection of 475 NFTs worth more than $17.5 million at writing. 145 NFTs are pieces of crypto art from Art Blocks, which also make up the lion’s share of the estimated value.
It’s worth mentioning that the landmark sales above occurred in 2021, at the height of the bull run and as NFT mania was at its peak. Looking more recently at the data, we can see that pieces from the Fidenza collection are changing hands in 2022 for around 110 ETH, or about $150,000.
It’s also important to note that these are not minting prices. These are market values now the collection has already been minted and traded on secondary markets like OpenSea. Mint prices vary, but they are typically around 1ETH.
Suppose you already own a digital work of art from Art Blocks or are interested in purchasing one on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea, or Gem. In that case, you can get an estimated NFT value on DappRadar by entering the ID.
Art Blocks in summary
It’s recommended to explore the marketplace and then use DappRadar to look through NFT sales and price estimations to get a better feel for a collection. One important thing to check is the trading history of a piece as it gives a snapshot of the item’s previous trading activity and a way to view any suspicious trading activity that may have inflated the value.
To many people, Modern art (1870 – now), for example, is inaccessible due to prices being way outside the average person’s budget. Often, the more expensive a piece of art is, the more historically significant it is. Consider the lost Da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi: which sold for $450 million in 2017.
The painting broke records because it was both a Da Vinci and newly discovered. Digital art is a fresh start and a chance for the next generation looking to build personal wealth in Web3 to get involved.