A New Breed of DeGen(erative) Art is Born on Tezos
Is it just me or is art looking better every day? As technology continues to breed innovation in art, we’re seeing echoes of last year’s Art Blocks boom, this time on Tezos. Led by FXHash and the stable of can't-miss artists minting there (I’m looking at you zancan, ileiv oivm, Marcelo Soria-Rodriguez, ciphrd, and countless others) Tezos has become the home for crypto-art. The truth is, it has been for a long time. Let’s take a look at Generative, Trash, and Glitch art and how Tezos went from feeling like it had one foot in the grave, after Hic Et Nunc closed, to now being one of the preeminent spaces in the world to buy crypto-art.
So what’s really going on with Tezos? I’ll start with this, the attention it’s getting shouldn't be surprising. Early last year, during the spring Ethereum NFT run, Tezos was quietly building an army of art collectors thanks to the cheap Trash and Glitch art on Hic Et Nunc. While some of the biggest artists in the space today were selling NFTs for a few dollars (and often free from community events like HEN100 and Objkt4Objkt), collectors amassed massive collections of crypto-art.
Artists came with game, and brought the best of their “genres” ranging from Quasimondo’s bizarre A.I. creations to Shvembldr’s infinitely fascinating generative art. Haydiroket and his SUPER DOPE pixelated 80's kid collages showed how collectors and artists now connect through NFTs and demonstrated what makes the Tezos art community so unique. Simply put, Tezos had become a sketchbook for artists to share their latest ideas, maybe even a masterpiece here and there, minted as accessible and affordable NFTs. Ultimately, Tezos is where artists and collectors navigated web3 together, not entirely focused on profit, but instead aware that they were part of a punk rock art movement where floor prices and provenance are sort of an afterthought.
Tezos art continued to boom, until collectors woke up one morning in Summer 2021 to find Hic Et Nunc was offline. The site’s dev pulled the plug, and Hic Et Nunc was gone. There was concern that all of the art minted on Hic Et Nunc was lost, because let's be honest, many collectors were relatively new to blockchain. But soon enough, reassurance swept through, and people realized their art was safe in their wallet as promised by web3 technology. This was a moment for Tezos. Instead of collectors losing their assets and moving on from the young blockchain, they were reminded of what decentralization means and saw it in practice. Their art, in their wallet. Forever. If I had to pick the moment where Tezos was really born, this was that moment.
Like the entire NFT market, Tezos entered a long bear market in the Fall that mirrored Ethereum, but Tezos also suffered from no longer having Hic Et Nunc around. Make no mistake though, the Tezos community was still building. Objkt.com began to come into its own as it became the primary place to buy and sell NFTs on Tezos. OneOf also grew as they released NFTs from stars like Whitney Houston and The Game, and behind the scenes were working on major partnerships with Manchester United and Formula 1.
Big brands began legitimizing Tezos, and come the end of November 2021 into early December something else started bubbling up. A generative art platform called FXHash entered its beta and right out of the gates started selling high caliber generative art through an interface that felt familiar. Leaning into Hic Et Nunc’s simple display of newly minted art, FXHash was instantly accessible to collectors, and offered creator friendly tools to generative artists. With its fresh genre pushing generative art, collectors scrambled to mint NFTs, many with edition sizes under 100 (incredibly low by today’s standard). With sell-out after sell-out, it was clear that a new breed of de(generative) art was born, mixing the quality you would expect from high-end Art Blocks generative art, with the trading action and spectacle from today’s hottest ETH PFP projects.
From Spring 2022 until today, Tezos has demanded collectors’ attention thanks to a growing base of seasoned crypto-art collectors, now armed with a year worth of art and trading experience. And with sales volume continuing to reach new heights, collectors are becoming more willing to spend on premium art, evident by last month's $160,000 USD XCOPY REACHBACK sale and daily Zancan Garden Monolith, (kinder)Garden, and The LushTemples sales. In May, Art Basel Hong Kong featured 8 of FXHash’s top generative artists, where Yazid Azahari, Sarah Ridgley, Marcelo Soria-Rodriguez, Ryan Bell, Jinyao Lin, Aluan Wang, Max Oshima, and Aleksandra Jovanic gave the art world a taste of the cutting edge generative crypto-art being minted on Tezos.
One just needs to look at Art Blocks' 1.2 billion lifetime secondary sales to know the degree in which collectors value NFT art. As an NFT Strategist at CryptoSlam, I study sales and leaderboard positions, and have witnessed Tezos' rise, both as a collector and an analyst. Tezos seems primed to become an even bigger market share grabber as artists across the world, including established Ethereum artists, begin to create art on the energy-efficient Proof of Stake blockchain. Will their collectors follow? Will collectors value art, generative and non generative alike, on Tezos the way they value their Ethereum grails?
While these few questions remain, one thing is for certain. The world needs art, and thanks to crypto-art pioneers like 2017’s DADA (Creeps and Weirdos), 2021’s Art Blocks, and now 2022’s FXHash, we’re convinced that crypto-artists are going to bring it.
(Enjoy some generative art posted beneath the References and Artists links)