State of Art Blocks: an update from Snowfro

Erick Calderon (Snowfro) recently shared what Art Blocks has been up to behind the scenes. That message is copied below, and there is a TL;DR at the end.

Hey everyone! It’s been mentioned a few times that people want to hear more about what’s going on with Art Blocks in the background! I take for granted that things are often communicated on our Discord ‘Events’ or Twitter, but that does not reach everyone.

Also, I haven’t shared a proper update in a really long time with an announcement, and I was feeling a little out of touch, so I’m barging in [Discord] with [an update]. Look for future ones here, and please make sure you subscribe to our amazing newsletter that Dan (Druid) painstakingly assembles for you every week because I don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to ping the whole Discord server for every single one of my travel experiences 🙂.

I’m going to rewind a bit to February 12th in New York City. Adam Lindemann and his amazing team at Venus Over Manhattan gallery in the Upper East Side gave me my very first solo show. This was a very special moment for me because I spent many, many years approaching galleries with my crazy and colorful art concepts and ideas, and was often told that my work was more “craft” and not “art” in and of itself. I have always been a little discouraged because I felt that the creative stuff I was putting out was meant to deliver a message, and like many artists in this world, I was never given a voice to broadcast that message.

Well, thanks to the incredible last 14 months, and the support of this incredible community, my artwork has caught the attention of a very formal art gallery, and I’m proud to say that I’m being represented by an art dealer in the traditional art world. Adam Lindemann has, in fact, gone full degen into our space, so it’s been super fun not only learning about the traditional art world from him, but also sharing my journey and experiences in the Web3. We have some interesting things that we’re working on for the future and we are super excited to share with you as they are ironed out.

Anyway, on Feburary 12th, I was humbled to see a line out the door for the cozy Venus Over Manhattan gallery. The amazing folks at Infinite Objects went above and beyond to help communicate the Squiggle, including facilitating the display of 51 different iterations! They also built some beautifuly cabinets and designed a perfect layout for them to be enjoyed. PLUS they let me stick a chunk of code on the wall, which I found myself in front of throughout the night — pointing at the progression of if/else functions that lead to the various types of Squiggles. There was a great mix of our Web3/NFT community there as well as some folks from the traditional art world. And 12 Chromie Squiggles ended up in the hands of new buyers from all walks of life, including some super high-profile people that I’m really excited knowing own a squiggle.

I’ll quickly rewind a little further to note that in the days leading up to the show, Jeff and I had the privilege of being shown around three incredible studios from amazing established artists as well as a private tour of MoMA PS1 in Queens. We are forging a cool relationship with them, and other fine art organizations around the country, as they start to appreciate the value of what we’re doing here at Art Blocks specifically, along with the potential of the entire NFT space as a whole.

OK, so from New York, I got to spend a night at home and then head to Denver for a combo of an Art Blocks Engineering retreat and some ETH Denver activities. It was truly enjoyable to meet most of the Art Blocks engineering team in-person for the first time. Working in a decentralized environment is super tough, and growing a team quickly is even tougher. Yes, we’re on calls all day (literally lol), but the in-person thing is super refreshing and makes for significantly more context in interactions. We got to enjoy some superb meals and drinks together, and we learned a lot about each other. In the retreat, the engineering team presented a bunch of solid ideas to make Art Blocks better, and it was cool to listen to these initiatives in-person and within the group of people IRL. Huge thanks to Jake, Aaron, Kate, and Heather for organizing and facilitating the event and the engineers for attending (even virtually, which must have been brutal to stay tuned like that).

That Thursday was super cool because I got to meet artist PERSUE, who was commissioned by the wonderful folks at FrensHouse and SquiggleDAO to create a mural of a Squiggle in Denver. I even got to spray the last finishing touches, which was my first time spraying paint on a wall. PERSUE’s ability to meticulously recreate gradients with spray paint and achieve such intense color saturation is pretty spectacular. I hope we can collaborate more with these beautiful people in the future. Seeing Art Blocks artworks interpreted on a wall was meaningful to me, and I think we should look for (and support) further opportunities to do more!

From there, I headed over to Walker Fine Art Gallery where Massoud (Ponyo) and Patrick (pcnuge) were setting up our first ever “in-person” After Dinner Mints episode, which included projected artwork by Alida Sun and framed works from Generative Artworks, Aaron Penne, and Jake Rockland (purplehat.eth). The ADM topic was DAOs, and we were graced with the company of wonderful representatives from various DAOs in the ecosystem. It was a great conversation followed by some good times catching up with artists, collectors, and newcomers alike. These in-person experiences are just so cool! Thanks so much for all those who came and our new community mod bygbyrd that helped with greeting folks coming through the door.

On Friday morning, I woke up at 5 am and flew to LA to meet up with Jeff Davis and explore one of the most important art fairs in the country called Frieze LA. Given this was my 6th city in 8 days, I would have gladly dropped off here to get some rest. But honestly, the fact that an Art Blocks artwork was being prominently displayed at one of the world’s leading art galleries was not something I could miss. We met up at the airport and went straight to the fair, where we met Ariel from Pace’s NFT division Pace Verso. She told us all about the hugely successful introduction of Leo Villareal’s “Cosmic Reef” piece at the fair. The Pace team spent time with traditional art collectors explaining the process, the medium, and the experience of owning one of these NFTs. They event went as far as offering the entire package with a screen and other hardware to buyers of the NFT. Seven of the eight Cosmic Reefs they had in inventory for the fair were sold out on opening day. This was a really special moment for Jeff and I because it offered an incredible amount of validation in that what we’re working on is something that not only NFT collectors can appreciate, but newcomers from the traditional art world are interested in owning as well.

The idea that artworks generated on Art Blocks have been invited to be shown like this is pretty unprecedented. When people ask what we’re doing for our collectors, it may seem that we’re just sitting around and twiddling our thumbs, but we are out there traveling like crazy spreading the word of what we’re doing. Not because we want to cause FOMO or speculation, but because we’re freaking proud of what we’re doing and what we’ve accomplished. And we think that it’s worth our time as well as the people we’re meeting to explain this medium of expression that has been granted a broader level of appreciation and understanding through the technology offered by the blockchain. The synergy between the phenomenal talent from artists and breadth of artwork deployed on Art Blocks and the support and appreciation from the crypto + traditional art worlds essentially validating the years of love and attention that artists have put into this craft is bringing value to each and every piece that is released on the platform. It may not be happening at a rate that people would like, but this sort of thing can’t be rushed. It requires a genuine interest to elevate the medium on both sides of the equation.

The last thing I’d like to point out is a short excerpt written in an art magazine called “The Canvas” that pointed out that one of the most prominent traditional art collectors in the country purchased her first NFT, a Cosmic Reef by @Leo Villareal Studio, at the same fair where the founder of a prominent blockchain-based generative art company (yours truly 😉 ) purchased a photograph from the incredible artist/photographer JR.

Take a moment and consider the implication here. The traditional art world can actually get excited about our movement, the revolution that’s happening under our eyes with regards to the way art is consumed, shared, and transacted, by simply catching the attention of people in our world that just LOVE art and relish in the idea of owning artwork that is impactful and meaningful to them. This is why I buy Art Blocks artworks, and this is why I buy physical works as well. I still struggle with the correlation between a physical artwork and an NFT combo (with the exception of signed prints by the artist which brings humanity to the pieces hanging on our walls) and I find that I’m personally excited to participate in what our community refers to as “tradArt” in the purview of physical objects that are sort of incompatible with NFT tech. And that for the things that are digitally native, particularly on chain generative art but also digital art and even photography, I can rely on this new and innovative technology that brings us together to collect beautiful things that enrich my soul.

What’s next? Last week we had three days of in person leadership planning in Houston. Next week, I’m going to participate and speak Ethereal Summit in Jackson Hole, followed immediately by a few days in Austin for SXSW, two days of vacation with my family in San Antonio, then straight to Napa for a True Ventures Founders camp, and back home for a night before heading to Santa Fe for our Art Blocks in-person work week.

I will be home a combined total of 5 weekdays in March. It’s legit brutal, but essential to spreading the word of what we’re working on here at Art Blocks and demonstrates the efforts we are putting into supporting our platform well beyond the initial mint.

Much love y’all.

Erick + the AB Team

TL;DR

• Adam Lindemann hosted a special event for Chromie Squiggles at Venus over Manhattan. It was amazing.

• We are building relationships with fine art organizations that see the importance of Art Blocks.

• We are growing our team with the best talent in the world (and always looking for more world-class talent https://jobs.lever.co/ArtBlocks/).

• We are connecting with our community in a meaningful (and sometimes offline) way.

• We are participating in some of the world’s most important/influential fine art events (Frieze LA, Art Basel Miami).

• We are championing code-based generative art to the traditional art world.

• Art Blocks pieces are joining the permanent collections of some of the biggest ‘traditional art’ collectors.

• We are still working towards our long-term vision to elevate generative art.

• What’s next? More growing. More events. More building. More ART!

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