Greg Oakford, co-founder of NFT Fest Australia, is your guide to the world of NFTs from a collector and fan’s perspective.
Seventeen years ago, Pindar Van Arman built a robot that, like him, painted with a brush on canvas.
He has built several robots since, with each iteration possessing a more sophisticated artificial intelligence that tried to paint “more like I painted.”
The term OG can be thrown around often undeservedly, but Van Arman is truly that when it comes to AI art.
He created his first crypto art project in 2015 — titled bitPaintr — and minted his first Ethereum nonfungible token (NFT) in 2018 titled “AI Imagined Portrait Painted by a Robot” on SuperRare.
“It was really hard in 2015 because I had the challenge of trying to explain the tech in an emotional way. It triggered a visceral reaction where people would say, ‘Well, wait, these are robots that can’t be emotional,’” says Van Arman.
“I’d got hate mail back then when people would say it’s hard enough for artists to make a living. Now, we have to compete with robots. There were a lot of barriers back then.”Pindar’s robot painting (Cloud Painter)
Validity of AI art
For the cynics that question the validity of AI art, Van Arman agrees with them to a degree but makes a distinction between AI being labeled as an artist versus being creative.byteGANs collection by Pindar Van Arman. (SuperRare)
“The thing I agree with them on is that AI can’t make art. But AI is a tool that can be used to make art by an artist. When you put it in those terms, no one can really disagree with you. They may not like it, but it’s hard for them to disagree,” Van Arman says.
“Here’s where it gets controversial though, here’s the middle ground that I claim which I know is true because I see it and I program it; AI cannot be an artist. AI can be creative. Creative in a very similar way that humans are creative.”
Van Arman is no stranger to having people’s eyes glaze over when explaining his work.
“All the questioning and doubt over the years told me I was on to the right thing because when you have artists in the art world saying that your stuff is too weird, you sort of know you’re on to something. I mean, artists are the most avant-garde, forward thinking group of people there are,” says Van Arman.
“For artists and art curators not to get something that you know is true and for them to say something’s impossible, you just know the time hasn’t come yet and just keep on pursuing that.”The Fates by Pindar Van Arman. (SuperRare)
Freedom to transact
Van Arman has frequently spoke in favor of royalties, supporting the current writer’s strike in the United States.
“I’m always in the middle of the royalty debate because I 100% support them and I support them because they exist in the writing world, they exist absolutely in the recording world. Hollywood’s on strike right now because the writers stopped getting royalties on streaming services. This has significantly impacted their lives and now they’re being taken advantage of again. The whole Hollywood strike is about royalties on streaming services like Netflix and others,” Van Arman says.
Van Arman notes the difficult of keeping track of royalties, claiming that the Ethereum network has provided a better means to guarantee the “Freedom to Transact.”
“It’s a new philosophy that the asset has to be 100% sovereign. If you own something, you have total control over it, you should not be forced to pay royalties. I went hard early on against people that were saying royalties are like tips,” Van Arman says.
“I agree with freedom to transact and that means that artists have the right to say, there are royalties on my artwork and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. No one’s forcing you to buy it and it makes perfect sense to me. But for some reason I have a hard time explaining that to people. They say no, no, no, the asset is worthless unless it has no encumbrance. They might think it’s worthless, but it might be worth something to someone else.”
Notable salesAI Imagined Portrait Painted by a Robot by Pindar Van Arman sold for 80 Ether (ETH) ($342,100). (SuperRare)
The Cryptographer 10,101 by Pindar Van Arman sold for 21.8 ETH ($93,800). (SuperRare)
Bonni3 by Pindar Van Arman sold for 20 ETH ($68,900). (SuperRare)
When someone looks at your art, are there any particular emotions you hope that they’re experiencing?
“The goal for me of making AI art and the emotion I’m after is for people to not know it was AI art. To feel something and observe something and not know that the image was painted by a robot. And then only afterwards they realized it was painted by a robot, then that becomes part of the narrative. They can do a double take, they learn the story through that.”
Who are the influences on your art career to date?
“I don’t want to answer here. I don’t want to answer because I’m friends with some of them now and I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that they were my influencers haha.
If they found out, they’d become intolerable which is absolutely true. This is what I love about this space, I am hanging out with my big influencers and it’s really fun. Love it.”
Who is a notable collector of yours that makes you smile knowing they own one of your pieces?
“There’s one collector I have and that’s unusual and I really enjoy how unusual this collector is because this collector is silent and has possibly the largest AI art collection in the crypto space but has no social media presence. Zero.
This collector is ironically named Blur, not the platform. Why Blur really brings a smile to my face is they are so conscientious about their collecting that they don’t want to influence other people, they don’t want to ape into something and then have other people ape into it because they aped into it. I think that’s really noble, the collecting is coming from the heart and they never advertise their bags yet collect like mad.”
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What’s your favorite NFT in your wallet that’s not your own NFT?
“The one that gives me the most joy is my CryptoPunk. I own punk 7627. That’s actually a really obvious choice when I think of my collection.”
What does Pindar listen to when creating art:
“A lot of EDM music. Also Pink Floyd once in a while.”
What’s hot elsewhere in NFT art markets
Winds of Yawanawa, a co-creation between the Brazilian Indigenous Yawanawa and Refik Anadol collection, is on fire. The floor ripped through a 10 ETH floor earlier in the week and has more than doubled in the last two weeks.
Other big sales include:The Monument Game 1 of 1 by Sam Spratt sold for 420.69 ETH ($700,000). (Nifty Gateway)
Ringers #195 by Dmitri Cherniak sold for 35 ETH ($57,184). (OpenSea)
Ethereal by Nude Yoga Girl sold for 33 ETH ($54,259). (X)
Only two fresh Squiggle mints remain
The iconic Chromie Squiggles collection has nearly finished minting. On August 30, founder Erick “Snowfro” Calderon tweeted that 66 fresh Squiggles would be out into the world, leaving only two Squiggles remaining for the 10,000 collection.
Snowfro distributed the 66 to a selection of family, artists, collectors, institutions and friends while announcing Squiggle #9998 will be a special commemorative mint with further details soon and #9999 headed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.Selection of the new 66 fresh Squiggles minted (Proof)
Day 0 Squiggles occurred on November 28, 2020 with approximately 9,000 of the total collection being minted in the first two months after the initial mint. Snowfro decided to keep the remaining mints up his sleeve and has been releasing those at various stages over the last few years as the popularity of his artwork continues to skyrocket.
Tomorrowland surpasses $2 million in NFT sales
World-renowned EDM festival Tomorrowland generated over $2 million in NFT sales on Solana.
Tomorrowland superfans were able to secure pre-sale tickets, access secret gigs, become eligible for giveaways, and be treated to exclusive tours of the festival ground.Tomorrowland 2023 (Tomorrowland).
Tweet of the week:
The tweet of the week goes to Justin Trimble commenting on Refik Anadol’s work being spectacularly displayed on the new Vegas Sphere. The Sphere was first covered in this article of NFT Collector.
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Greg Oakford is the co-founder of NFT Fest Australia. A former marketing and communications specialist in the sports world, Greg now focuses his time on running events, creating content and consulting in web3. He is an avid NFT collector and hosts a weekly podcast covering all things NFTs.Follow the author @GregOakford