Even in fast-paced, resilient industries like NFTs, some things are consistent.
Art Blocks is one of them. Launched in 2020 by Erick “Snowfro” Calderon, the generative art platform hosts over 400 collections that have amassed more than $1.4 billion in volume combined.
As someone who had dabbled with creative code in his free time since early 2010’s, Snowfro was so excited about building a platform for generative artists that he had to sell his free claimed zombie Crypto Punks long before the bull cycle (just $200 each—the current floor is 425 ETH) to fund its development.
Now, with collections like Snowfro’s Chromie Squiggles, Tyler Hobbs’ Fidenza, and Dmitri Cherniak’s Ringers— you’ve likely seen them on Crypto Twitter, at Sotheby’s, or even as part of permanent collections at LACMA and Centre Pompidou—Art Blocks is the generative NFT art powerhouse that was definitely worth sacrificing a couple of zombie Punks for.
How does Art Blocks work?
The idea is simple. Essentially, Art Blocks is a publishing platform. Any artist who has written a generative script can go to the website and submit their project for consideration.
All projects then go through two screenings: first by an internal screening committee, and second by the Art Blocks Curation Board.
“Projects are reviewed based on aesthetics, innovation, technical quality, and concept,” Sarah Rossien, Associate Artistic Director at Art Blocks, told Rarible.
“We connect artists, blockchain technology, and creative coding into one experience”.
Today, Art Blocks accepts approximately 15% of submitted projects. About 3% of submitted projects are accepted into the Curated Collection.
What makes Art Blocks stand out in this market?
One of the things that stand out about Art Blocks is that despite the turbulence on the market and the underlying bearish trend, the demand for Art Blocks collections has remained consistent—something that most PFP collections have recently been struggling with.
Rossien largely attributes Art Blocks’ popularity to the relationship between their collectors and artists, and the expectations the former have from their NFTs.
“Ultimately artists releasing on Art Blocks are creating beautiful pieces of art that are seen as such, not only as a potential speculative upside,” she elaborated. “We always say, ‘buy what you like at a price you'd like to pay’”.
According to Rossien, Art Blocks’ mission is to host a new generation of artists, one that will expand the definition of contemporary art by taking generative art on-chain.
When asked about the future of the platform, Rossien replied: “We will certainly expand forever”.
After a recent Rarible Protocol update, you can now easily navigate each of the many Art Blocks collections on Rarible.com—just start typing the name you need into the search bar, and it will pop up as a separate collection. If you don’t know where to start, the list below will help you.
Date minted: 27 November, 2020
“Simple and easily identifiable, each squiggle embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform.”
Created by the Art Blocks founder, these lively figures have become synonymous with NFT gen art—so much that holders even shave their squiggles in their heads before going to a conference.
Some Squiggles are more rare than others, as a lot depends on the colors and lines.
Date minted: 11 June, 2021
“Fidenza is by far my most versatile algorithm to date,” as Hobbs describes his most popular collection to date. “Although the program stays focused on structured curves and blocks, the varieties of scale, organization, texture, and color usage it can employ create a wide array of generative possibilities.”
To understand why Fidenza has been so successful, you have to see The Tulip, collected by punk6529 for 1,000 ETH.
Date minted: 31 January, 2021
“There are an almost infinite number of ways to wrap a string around a set of pegs,” says Cherniak. “On the surface it may seem like a simple concept but prepare to be surprised and delighted at the variety of combinations the algorithm can produce”.
Date minted: 28 September, 2021
“Stratified landforms constructed from many small strokes of colour. The hash of each token describes a coordinate within a multidimensional generative space, locating a unique composition that lies along one of many possible longitudes.”
Earlier this year, notorious NFT collector Cozomo de’ Medici gifted Meridian #547 to The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).
Date minted: 13 September, 2021
When creating this collection, Rizzolli’s goal was to create parameters that resemble a living organism's growth. As a result, she coded “a compositional system in which an idealized plant species is generated and arranged in a potentially infinite field of foliage”.
Date minted: 21 March, 2022
Inspired by traditional East Asian art and resembling movement of brushwork through its code, the series “explores elements of folklore, evoking the mythological imagery of dragons, phoenixes, flowers, and mountains”.
Date minted: 24 May, 2023
A project on the intersection of choreography, code, blockchain, generative art, and cryptography created by an award-winning experiential artist duo, Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti (Human Unreadable). They are currently shortlisted for the Lumen Prize in generative art.
Date minted: 18 January, 2023
Depicting “worlds that exist in eternal symbiosis with the Caretaker”. According to the artist, each beam has a “position, color, reach and yield that is calculated and procedurally drawn over time”.
Date minted: 29 April, 2022
“High pressure, rotation, air flow… The "Anticyclone" series is an artistic exploration and interpretation of those concepts.”
Date minted: 10 August, 2022
Quite different from the rest of the list in terms of aesthetics and visual format, this project boldly aims to “scrutinize the promotion of wellness, self-care, and confidence on social media”. It is also currently shortlisted for the Lumen Prize in generative art.