NFTs: A World of Patrons & Speculators

JANUARY 16, 2022

I recently found an old folder with Processing sketches of geometric drawings I made over the past decade1. These virtual drawings are commonly included in the so-called generative art or drawing—due to being generated using parametrized, procedural algorithms—which have been included within the digital art category of the non-fungible token (NFT) and crypto world.

Creative coders and digital artists have been authoring and sharing these artifacts online for years for free, and it was only recently that they started offering unique digital copies of these creations for a fee. The claim of this paradigm? To put artists' art in the hands of their supporters—and potentially other creatives alike, who pursue similar endeavors—in hopes that art can be sustained by its making and minting, the act of creating a non-fungible token in a blockchain that embodies the ownership and uniqueness of an art piece, without need to manufacture and deliver a physical product to the buyer. More than that of a customer, the figure I've described is that of a patron, who wants to support the art of their favorite creators. Yet many in the NFT world utilize these digital art tokens like any other monetary asset, to speculate, in hopes that prices will go up in the near future. Others sell and buy to build a virtual art gallery with pieces they own and can display.

I'm a newbie on the matter. But I'd love to get involved as I continue to work on my artworks for the remote possibility of building a community around my pieces. I'm hand sketching daily and publishing one sketch a week, and I create physical, museum-quality, limited reproductions of my works. In this sense, it would make sense to accompany each digital token with a physical counterpart.

On a different plane, I'm investigating the role of machine intelligence to produce drawings mimicking my hand sketching style, which could be an augmentation of this project or a different one on its own. Machine learning models allow me to generate permutations of my works—to hallucinate sketches—as static or animated pieces. Email if you'd be interested in being amongst the first ones to know when I mint my first NFTs.

Comment on Hacker News.

Oh, and one more thing. If you're still learning, as I am, you may enjoy my conversation with Aziz Barbar on NFTs and digital art.

Happy Sunday!

  1. If you're curious, here's Fruit Flies, a little video I made out of one of my old Processing sketches. If you don't know about Processing, go ahead and give Processing 4 a try! I recorded an interview with Processing's co-creator Ben Fry, back in 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.