On Curation

Art Blocks Curation Board

We recently surveyed the community to get a pulse on how others see Art Blocks, what needs to improve, and how we can get that done. Kate Hannah and Aaron Penne spent hours in live listening sessions with GrailersDAO and collected a small book worth of feedback (Kate and Aaron’s attention to detail was on full display). Kate also hosted 1-on-1 listening sessions with collectors to get their feedback. One of the cornerstone topics focused on Curation. What is it? Who’s involved? How are decisions made? How are we planning to improve Curation and make it more transparent?

While we aren’t ready to share a full summary, we thought it’d be helpful to centralize the list of curators into a single article and share a few thoughts on Curation. Please keep in mind that Curation is top of mind at Art Blocks, and we are constantly striving to improve our process.

First, let’s get some cards on the table. Here is a list of the curators we’ve spotlighted in the past.

It’s important to note that during Jeff Davis’ recent AMA in Discord, he said his team is focused on revisiting how the curation board works, so the above list will likely change in the future.

The Value of Curation

If this is your first time seeing the list of curators above, I strongly urge you to stop reading this article and read those interviews instead.

Done? Good.

Now, there are two levels of curation — platform curation and collection curation.

Platform Curation

As a platform, we’re becoming increasingly selective about who can deploy a project on Art Blocks. When Snowfro first launched in late 2020, he had a few scripts ready to deploy after Chromie Squiggles, just in case no artists were interested in releasing on the platform. As you can imagine, those reserves were never tapped, and we have a roster of world-class creative coders with hundreds of applications to work through that’ll keep Art Blocks busy for the foreseeable future.

We currently have a ~50% acceptance rate on Art Blocks. As the level of talent increases, so do platform standards.

Compare that to platforms without Curation. The average project quality on open platforms tends to be much lower. That’s not to say there isn’t world-class work elsewhere — in fact, a ton of Art Blocks artists have a strong presence on other platforms and continue putting out high-quality work off of AB. But, Art Blocks does the heavy lifting on the front-end to filter out projects that don’t meet a quality and originality standard. As hard as we try, we aren’t perfect, but we put in a mind-boggling effort to bring our collectors the best possible projects.

Collection Curation

The Art Blocks Curation Board is a healthy mix of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. There are names from the traditional art world with years of experience as champions of generative art before web3. We have members that are themselves practicing artists. We also have working academics steeped in art history and can situate Art Blocks within a historical context. And for good measure, we even have web3 natives that saw and participated in Art Blocks very early on (not to mention NFTs before they were cool). I’m sure someone reading this can come up with a “What about X,” and yes, I agree. But we have an incredible list of talent spending their time sifting through projects to see what substantially adds something to the Curated Collection.

“But what about X project that [did or didn’t] deserved to be Curated.”

Everyone has a project they believe should or shouldn’t have been included in the Curated Collection, and that’s ok. Art is subjective, and some projects will speak to some people and not others. But I urge you to pay less attention to the collection a project is in and more attention to why you enjoy the art. As the platform grows and the quality of art increases, the line between collections will continue to be blurred. The Curated Collection is telling Art Blocks’ story.

We encourage you to curate your collection and build a narrative around why you believe it’s the best generative collection. For examples of meaningful collection storytelling, see Dandelion or GalaxyRTK talk about their collections. It isn’t only about Art Blocks’ Curation status. It’s about building deep connections with art.

Let’s Continue the Conversation

Curation has become a contentious topic that brings out strong opinions, so I’m sure this will get pushback. But, let’s continue the conversation. Feel free to share this article with people in the community asking about the Curation Board, respond in your own article, or write me directly (either comment below or tag me in Discord).

Ultimately, the topic of Curation is the beginning of deeper critical conversations that we need to have.

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