Cover photo Conversations: Heeey

One Ring by Heeey will be live for minting starting on May 16, 2024 at 1pm EDT / 7pm CEST. This is one of a series of conversations with artists releasing their work on You can visit and explore One Ring now. Banner: One Ring #0.

Phil Smith: Like many of us in the generative art world, I know you have a varied background, studying architecture and working as a web developer. What are some of the other outlets you’ve found in the past to bring together your technical and creative interests? What led you to generative art?

Heeey: In my career I always struggled to combine my technical and creative interests. It was always one or the other, with creative interests usually not paying the bills, and web development becoming too monotonous. As a web developer, working for a digital agency and when clients allowed, I was always trying to think out of the box by creating quirky unusual websites, but I was unaware that art and code was even a thing. Discovering generative art was a blessing for me. From the moment I found out about ArtBlocks in 2020 I was hooked and never looked back.

Bright #187 by Heeey

PS: We both shared an early interest and appreciation for EthBlockArt, which allowed collectors to customize parameters of an artist algorithm before minting artwork. You’ve also spent a lot of time exploring seeds from QQL by Tyler Hobbs and Indigo. They each used terms to elevate the role of the end user, either as a “Creator” using artist “BlockStyles”, or as a “Parametric Artist”. How do you view the relationship between the algorithmic artist and the collector?

H: At the time I released Starry Nights on EthBlockArt in 2021, I was really interested in portraying blockchain data and sought to give creators an exploring visual experience through blocks and transactions. I didn’t have expectations and let the collection emerge at the whim of the collectors but from a very constrained set of traits that I obsessively controlled. It was a really interesting experiment.

Creating with the Starry Night style by Heeey on EthBlockArt

With QQL, I’ve found myself passionately on the other side of co-creation and learned a lot as well. It’s an algorithm that allows the “parametric artist” to find their own voice, to express themselves. There’s so much freedom, emergence and discovery that a collector, like myself in this case, can take years and millions of outputs to find completion in their relationship with the algorithm.

The QQL seed generator UI

PS: What are some ways that generative artists need to think differently when creating an algorithm that allows for collector curation and customization, as opposed to traditional long-form generative collections?

H: In my opinion, there are two main aspects to take into account when creating a curatable artwork.

One is the amount of freedom you are willing to give to the algorithm explorers. The more constrained your algorithm is the less appealing exploring it becomes, as outputs are more seemingly random than curated. The more variance is introduced on the other hand, the more the artist has to be prepared to forfeit control of the visual space.

The other is about crafting the curation path. You need to ask yourself, how and why you want collectors to interact with your art, what the user experience through your artwork is going to be like for them, as an enhanced experience compared to blind minting. Interactivity is not for every artist and not for every artwork.

The One Ring minting interface on

PS: How did you apply this thinking as you were developing One Ring?  

H: In One Ring I was hoping that QQL enthusiasts like myself as well as art appreciators could have the opportunity to craft their own “simple” ring with a composition that excited them, with a color combination that they felt represented in. It’s not as much about what you discover or what’s the best possible ring, but more about what you feel attracted or connected to.

PS: What were some of the challenges you faced?

H: The biggest challenge was in finding the right balance to make it easy for collectors to explore the visual space of the collection through color while giving them as much variance as possible. To give them all “good” color combinations and no “bad” ones in the simplest possible way.

PS: You’ve created and studied MANY seeds from QQL, and compiled them into some fascinating themes at Exploring QQL. Why do you think the ring shape inspired you to develop One Ring?

H: One of the things that’s fascinated me the most about QQL is its unfathomable complexity through combining relatively simple elements. All QQLs are made of “simple” rings. But when you have a closer look, discover that there’s nothing simple about them. Rings have this human-made quality to them. Color changes slightly from one to another. Variable thickness, quantity of bands, ring juxtaposition…

I thought, “what if I could take these rings a little further?” Adding more color variation from band to band, within a band and through the artwork itself, more bands, wilder stacking or rotation at variable speed. Taking the ring as far as I could dare.  

Clockwise from top left: James Turrell, Aten Reign (2013); Kenneth Noland, Mysteries: Aglow (2002); Robert Delaunay, Le Premier Disque (1912–13); Thomas Sayre, Gyre (1999); Aaron Penne, Return #83 (2021); Jasper Johns, Target with Four Faces (1955)

PS: There's a long history of artists incorporating ring motifs into their work. It really is a timeless and inescapable image. Are there any artists from the past or present that have inspired you in your work today? 

H: I’ve always felt a deep connection to abstract expressionism and minimalism. I get really emotional with Mark Rothko’s work for instance. I had the chance to see his retrospective in Paris earlier this year and it was cathartic. Lately, I’ve been very obsessed with the op art of Victor Vasarely.

Of the 2020s longform generative art movement, I’m deeply inspired by artists like Zach Lieberman, Martin Grasser or Ippsketch who so successfully craft minimalistic geometric art. 

PS: Where do you see generative creativity heading in the next couple of years, and what do you see yourself doing? 

H: Since 2020, generative art has been a monolithic space of longform, blind-minting collections. In the past year, we’ve seen many artists going back to curated releases, as well as others exploring co-creation as a way to express themselves. I see more of this happening.

As for myself, while I’ve been consistently working on simple geometries through color theory, I’d also like to find my voice and expand my practice as an artist by connecting art and architecture.

PS: I can't wait to see the One Ring outputs that people choose as their expression, and looking forward to seeing what you do next! Thanks for your time!

H: Thank you!

You can read more about One Ring by Heeey in his essay on Paragraph.

Learn more about by reading our introductory article, or by visiting our website.

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