CryptoPunks, for better or worse, opened the floodgates. To the uninformed, the message was: If you want to make a big gobbly-guck of crypto cash – all you have to do is crank out some childish-looking pixelated art under a specific formula.

Because in January 2021 – CryptoPunk #2890 sold for $761,889 (605 ETH).

Yet, CryptoPunks was a first – 10,000 were generated; and each one had a unique attribute. Creators, Larva Labs, built a generative algorithmic engine that randomly assigned each punk its unique characteristic. And the reason why CryptoPunk #2890 sold for so much; it exemplified early crypto art—significant in the history of NFTs – and that’s why, as an investment, it could keep increasing in value.

But thus spoke Zarathustra: Now there’s a rise of 10,000 Generative Projects. Typically themed around a single character, we’ve seen various NFT collections of aliens, robots, penguins, and cats; usually following the CryptoPunk formula: 10,000 pieces are programmatically generated through a set of premade components – to give each NFT a different characteristic – and then formatted as a headshot which can be used as a profile pic.

From that we get: Bears Deluxe (from the team that brought you the pixelated Honey Hive Deluxe and Bees Deluxe), CrypToadz, and Punk Cats (not to be out-done by Moon Cats). 

And the derivative list goes on and on…

If you look on YouTube, there’s an entire niche genre of videos giving tutorials on how to create a 10,000 Generative Project – usually presented by someone with the panache of a pyramid scheme salesman, stating how you can make big $$$ simply by creating a 10,000 Generative Project – with no art skills required!

“You can do this in a day and easily put out 10,000 units,” explains one soothsayer.

Within this paradigm, the theory is, all someone (or a company) has to do is create a knockoff version of CryptoPunks or the Bored Ape Yacht Club – and then they’ll soon be eating hot fudge sundaes and frolicking on their newly purchased luxury island. It’s so easy, in fact, a 12-year old did - and made $5 million in three weeks! (Are you going to let a 12-year old make more NFT money than you!?) 

But really, what these videos are, is a paint-by-numbers version for the NFT world. Imitation is the best form of flattery - and there are a hell of a lot of flatterers out there in the NFT world.

Some (the optimists) might say this is a creative Renaissance. Others (the pessimists) would look at these imitative projects as nothing more than a soulless money grab.

Though, it’s not to say there aren't interesting 10,000 Generative Projects; it’s all about pushing the genre forward – rather than doing a hackneyed version of what has proven to be successful. Individual artists lean towards creating more intriguing projects - than teams. 

SuperlativeSS #9284

Superlative Secret Society is an example of ‘the good.’ It’s the work of artist Arief Witjaksana – who is based in Tangerang, Indonesia.

SuperlativeSS, a collection of 11k programmatically generated art avatars, made using more than 220 pieces of aesthetic, hand drawn artwork - has an abstract impressionist look. If Miro and Picasso had a generative art NFT baby – it would be SuperlativeSS.

Rather just pixelating an animal – or creating a stoner version of a cat – Witjaksana came to the project with a larger idea; finding inspiration from the history of secret societies and medieval guilds.

As the manifesto states; “The SuperlativeSS are not human, robot, animal or alien; they are metaphysical beings that inhabit the Superlative Multiverse and appear to us as pieces of art.”

SuperlativeSS might be inspired by, say, the CryptoPunk portrait NFTs – but it takes the time and thought -  to push the genre forward.

GOGO #2645

Other artists to look towards: Gogos on Tez – puts a smile on my face. Each portrait seems to tell a horrific story that looks like Rick and Morty’s demonic cousin. Background details are mysterious: Artist Arya Mularama, who is based in Jakarta, Indonesia, takes his influences from comic books and skateboard culture and the movies and video games of the ‘90s.


Fvckrender is also doing some innovative stuff. The self-taught Vancouver based artist has an affinity for sharp architectural geometry, beaming future landscapes and brilliant crystalline arrangements. And Fvckrender’s work is insane. It looks like a futuristic crystallized world or, as Fvckrender puts it,‘his renders pay a dark homage to what may eventually reflect our very existence.’  

Fvckrender is one of the digital artists who has pushed through and is selling his work via old-school arthouse Sotheby’s.


And holy fuckballs, you got to check out Skeles by jjjjjohn– the digital artist based in Philly. There’s a lot to unpack in each frame of these randomly generated skeletons; chock full of great humor – within a dance of visual juxtapositions. I mean, who doesn’t like seeing a skeleton wearing overalls,  holding a TV – with falling broccoli behind him.

You won't find a sea of instructional YouTube videos - on how to create derivative work in the style of these artists - because they are truly unique. 

So, there’s usually a difference when a 10,000 Generative Projects is done by a team – than when it’s done by an individual artist. (And the irony is – that teams rely on the artist but rarely does it benefit the artist.)


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