Education

A Guide to Minting on Art Blocks

by Art Blocks Editorial

Getting Started

Welcome to Art Blocks—where artists, collectors, and blockchain technology unite to create compelling works of generative art. This guide will serve as a general introduction and detail the process of getting started as an Art Blocks collector. We are so glad you are here.

On a high level, Art Blocks is a platform on which artists publish editions of unique generative artworks using creative code. Artists releasing on Art Blocks have been chosen through a highly-selective application process, and their projects represent new directions in this emergent art form. You can find a wide range of work at Art Blocks, representing a diverse line-up of some of (we believe) the most interesting artists working in this field today.

All Art Blocks projects are assigned one of two designations: either Presents or Curated. The Art Blocks Presents collection comprises those projects reviewed and selected by Art Blocks as embodying our standards for artistic creativity, concept, and technical achievement. Projects designated as Art Blocks Curated have also been recognized by Art Blocks’ Curation Board for significant accomplishment in aesthetics, conceptual rigor, technical quality, and innovation. The Curation Board is a group of individuals invited to evaluate projects based on their expertise, passion for on-chain generative art, and their industry leadership, and more about them can be found here. (Previously projects could be designated “Factory” or “Playground,” according to different criteria, but these categories have now been retired from use.)

A vital and distinctive feature of all the artwork released on Art Blocks is the unique collaboration between artist, collector, and blockchain technology. When an Art Blocks piece is purchased for the first time, the collector’s transaction automatically interacts with the artist’s code to generate a unique artwork on the Ethereum blockchain. This process, called “minting,” is the moment when each individual, unique piece is created. Prior to this, not even the artist has seen the final work. That’s why you, the collector, are essential–without your transaction, and the unique data it creates to set the artist’s code in motion–these individual artworks literally would not exist.

If you don’t yet have a crypto wallet set up (with MetaMask), but are eager to set one up, you may want to refer to this article first. If you have a wallet set up and funded, you are ready to learn more, and mint your first Art Blocks piece.

Minting

In this section, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of minting and what generally happens after a project release. If, as a place to start, you don’t want to mint a new piece, but would rather pick one out on the secondary market, you can scroll below to “Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market”, and peruse already minted artworks. New projects are released every few days, and the best way to learn about what is upcoming is to join our Discord community and check out the #upcoming-projects channel. This channel will also tell you exactly when projects will “drop,”  that is, when they will be open to mint.

Cost

The combination of two separate elements comprises the cost of minting: the price of the artwork itself, and, like all transactions on the Ethereum network, the network fee. 

The pricing of the artwork is set by each artist individually, whereas the network fee varies according to demand at any given time. All transactions on the blockchain require validation–including minting– and the fee for this validation is called “gas.” As the demand for validation changes, so too, does the price of gas. (You can always check current gas prices at blocknative.com/gas-estimator.)

At Art Blocks, releases are typically conducted in a Dutch Auction format. In this type of auction, the price of the artwork decreases over time: starting at an initial price (ceiling) and dropping by a fixed amount periodically (e.g. 0.1 ETH every 5 minutes) until it hits the lowest price it will go (the resting price). This means minting begins with an asking price that decreases over time until the project hits its resting price. Sometimes, projects sell out before they reach their resting price. Not all artists elect to use a Dutch Auction format, and, instead, choose to release their work with a fixed price.

Types of Dutch Auctions

There are two types of Dutch Auctions used on Art Blocks: Linear and Exponential.  Linear Dutch Auctions specify a starting price and starting time and an ending price and ending time, and, once the auction begins, the price will gradually decrease every fixed period of time throughout the auction until it reaches the ending price. Exponential Dutch Auctions function a little differently. Here artists specify the starting price and ending price, as well as the half-life for price drops. For example, in an exponential dutch auction starting at 1 ETH and lowering to 0.1 ETH over a period of 30 minutes would have a half-life of nine minutes, meaning that every nine minutes, the price would gradually be cut in half. So after the first nine minutes, the price will reach 0.5 ETH, while 18 minutes after the auction begins, the price will reach 0.25 ETH, and eventually rest at 0.1 ETH at 30 minutes. The price drops within those half-life steps will gradually lower every block.

Please note, in any case, if a transaction is submitted at a higher mint price, but the transaction is only confirmed after the mint price has declined to the next level, the difference is automatically refunded by the Art Blocks smart contract. That is, the buyer pays the mint price effective at the time of the transaction confirmation, not the mint price at the time the transaction was initiated.

Gas Price and Gas Limit

GWEI or Gas Price is a unit of measure that specifies the amount of ETH you are willing to pay for each unit of gas. The higher the number, the more likely your transaction will be prioritized. However, this can get expensive, so be mindful if you change this. As a rule of thumb, 200 GWEI costs around ~0.1 ETH.

Gas limit is the maximum amount of units of gas you’re willing to spend. DO NOT TOUCH GAS LIMIT. Increasing the gas limit will never help your transaction be processed more quickly, and decreasing the gas limit will make the transaction more likely to fail. In other words, touching the gas limit when minting can be a very expensive mistake.

Minting Process

Here is what the process of minting looks like:

1. Before the project drop, make sure your MetaMask wallet is connected to the Art Blocks website by clicking “Connect to MetaMask” in the top right of your browser window. Enter your password and click “Unlock.”

2. At the scheduled drop time, navigate to the project page on artblocks.io and click “Purchase.”

3. A pop up screen will appear with a disclaimer. Read this, and if you understand and wish to proceed, click “Purchase.”

4. Your MetaMask wallet will prompt you to confirm the transaction. At this point, you have two options:
A) accept the transaction as MetaMask offers it, and click confirm, or
B) adjust the gas price (GWEI). Increasing the gas price will prioritize your mint transaction over other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee higher. (Moving you “up the line”). Decreasing the gas fee will deprioritize your mint transaction relative to other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee lower. (Letting others “go in front of you”).

If you choose to change the gas price you wish to pay, click “Edit” to the right of “Gas Fee.”

5. On the Customized Gas screen, you can choose a preselected fee of low, medium, or high—or you can set your own Gas Price by clicking the “Advanced Options.

6. To increase the priority of your transaction, change the Max Fee to a number you are comfortable paying and click “Save,” then “Confirm.” (AGAIN: DO NOT CHANGE GAS LIMIT).

7. You’re done! Now, you wait for MetaMask to confirm when your transaction has completed. You can always check the “Activity” tab in MetaMask to see the status of your transaction.

MUST-READ FOR BEGINNERS:
Mint Warnings

If you try to mint a piece and MetaMask presents a default gas fee that seems too high, this is a sign that something is wrong. You either do not have enough ETH in your wallet, the project is closed, or there is a restriction on how many mints each address can own. Here is an example of what a gas fee from a wallet with insufficient funds for a transaction looks like:


THIS IS A WARNING TO STOP and not continue with the transaction since it will fail, and you will lose money.

Failed Transactions

Just because you click purchase while there are mints available DOES NOT guarantee your mint. Your transaction must be confirmed on the network before the project sells out for the mint to successfully execute and your mint to arrive in your wallet. Since validators are incentivized to process the most expensive transactions first (that is, those approved by wallets willing to pay the highest amount for gas), sometimes transactions can fail in the time gap between clicking purchase and the transaction being approved on the network.

There is no set rule on an appropriate gas price. In the past, we have seen the price of gas drastically increase when a project is released. We have made significant changes to the platform to mitigate this (what some refer to as “gas wars”), but we have no control over the increase as the price is determined by events happening across the Ethereum network, which could be unrelated to Art Blocks. We suggest going into a drop knowing what you’re comfortable spending and staying within that limit. In some cases, there is no need to adjust gas for your transaction to process, and you can always speed up a transaction while it’s processing. Keep in mind that speeding up a transaction increases the total transaction cost regardless of your transaction being successfully processed or not.

Most important—if your transaction fails, the amount you spend on gas is still paid to validators. If you spend 4x on gas so your transaction is processed quickly, but a project is sold out before the transaction is completed, you still pay a portion of the gas to validators. You will pay the amount necessary to process the failed transaction, which is usually a portion of the anticipated cost. Transactions are processed on the Ethereum blockchain, completely independent from the Art Blocks platform. This money does not go to Art Blocks or artists.

It’s also important to note that you will only be charged the price for the artwork if your transaction is successful. If your transaction fails, the full price of the artwork is automatically returned to your wallet, although, as mentioned above, the Ethereum network fee will not be.  These steps above do not guarantee your transaction will be successful. It can still fail, and failed transactions still cost gas (i.e., money).

Your Collection and Secondary Markets

Minting an Art Blocks piece generates an ERC-721 standard non-fungible token (NFT) in your wallet. This process is not instant, however—in some cases, we are rendering thousands of pieces, so please be patient for it to appear. Once it has rendered, this token can be viewed on the Art Blocks website as well as on third-party sites, such as the secondary market OpenSea.

Even while your piece is rendering, you can see your collection by clicking on your wallet, then “My Profile” in the top right corner. The preview screen will show a Chromie Squiggle placeholder until your mint has rendered. However, you can still enjoy your piece while it’s rendering by clicking “live”—this gives you a live preview of your work while it’s being generated. Once complete, the rendered piece will replace the Chromie Squiggle placeholder.

The Chromie Squiggle placeholder will also show on third party sites like OpenSea until the project is rendered and the metadata updates across the network.

Art Blocks Collection

Once you’ve successfully minted the work, and it has rendered, you can view all Art Blocks pieces in your collection on the “My Profile” page. This page will show the project name, artist, description, and a preview of the work. Under the preview, you’ll see the mint number and links to the piece’s detail page, a full-resolution image, and a live generator that runs the script in your browser. 

Details

The details page will show you the traits of the piece you own. These traits are also viewable on OpenSea.

Image

This will show a full-resolution image of the art preview. Some pieces are interactive, and that will not be reflected in the preview. Think of this as a snapshot.

Live

For works that feature animation or interactive features, this live window is where you can see these. For example, if you explore Utopia by ge1doot, you can click and drag on the image to change your point of view and zoom in and out to appreciate the details and overall structure. Many projects released on Art Blocks are intended and realized as static images. What live view presents for these is a real-time rendering of your piece called from the blockchain itself. It is on-chain.

Viewing Your Collection on a Secondary Market

Because Art Blocks’ smart contract mints a standard compliant NFT, your work will automatically show up on secondary marketplaces. OpenSea is the world’s largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens, where already minted Art Blocks pieces can be viewed, purchased, and sold.

To view the Art Blocks artworks in your wallet on OpenSea, go to OpenSea.io, click the icon in the top right corner of your browser window, and sign in using MetaMask.

Once you’re signed in, OpenSea will show all compatible tokens in your wallet.

Clicking on an Art Blocks piece through the OpenSea interface will take you to the piece’s page, which includes a number of features on the left hand side, including Description (the same project description as displayed on the Art Blocks website), artwork Properties (drawn from the features listed on Art Blocks’ details page, and rarity of these), as well as a history of the Item Activity (which provides an overview of every interaction from the token’s minting from “NullAddress,” including offers, listing price, sales, and transfers).

It is also important to note that every Art Blocks piece will be on a verified page, which is denoted by the blue seal with white check icon next to the Project artist’s name. For example, this screenshot shows a Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro verified collection link at the top of the page:

Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market

For those who aren’t able, or don’t wish, to mint a piece on the Art Blocks website, OpenSea is one place to find secondary market listings of verified artwork from the Art Blocks collection. As noted above, every verified Art Blocks piece will have a checkmark above the piece’s title. For example:

Not all pieces are for sale, but typically some are, and you can easily browse the collections to find an individual piece you like–either to buy, or bid on, or simply to view. 

Summary

At this point, you should know how to navigate the Art Blocks platform, find upcoming projects, mint your first artwork, view your collection at Artblocks.io, and navigate OpenSea’s secondary marketplace. For more information on the diverse range of projects released to date on Art Blocks, you can learn more here. 

If you have any questions, we encourage you to join the Art Blocks official Discord and ask the community. The #block-talk channel is a great place to start, and you’ll find plenty of regulars there eager to welcome newcomers and answer questions.

Adapted from a text first published as Druid, “Art Blocks 101,” in The Link: Art Blocks, on April 24, 2021, which can be accessed here.

Getting Started

Welcome to Art Blocks—where artists, collectors, and blockchain technology unite to create compelling works of generative art. This guide will serve as a general introduction and detail the process of getting started as an Art Blocks collector. We are so glad you are here.

On a high level, Art Blocks is a platform on which artists publish editions of unique generative artworks using creative code. Artists releasing on Art Blocks have been chosen through a highly-selective application process, and their projects represent new directions in this emergent art form. You can find a wide range of work at Art Blocks, representing a diverse line-up of some of (we believe) the most interesting artists working in this field today.

All Art Blocks projects are assigned one of two designations: either Presents or Curated. The Art Blocks Presents collection comprises those projects reviewed and selected by Art Blocks as embodying our standards for artistic creativity, concept, and technical achievement. Projects designated as Art Blocks Curated have also been recognized by Art Blocks’ Curation Board for significant accomplishment in aesthetics, conceptual rigor, technical quality, and innovation. The Curation Board is a group of individuals invited to evaluate projects based on their expertise, passion for on-chain generative art, and their industry leadership, and more about them can be found here. (Previously projects could be designated “Factory” or “Playground,” according to different criteria, but these categories have now been retired from use.)

A vital and distinctive feature of all the artwork released on Art Blocks is the unique collaboration between artist, collector, and blockchain technology. When an Art Blocks piece is purchased for the first time, the collector’s transaction automatically interacts with the artist’s code to generate a unique artwork on the Ethereum blockchain. This process, called “minting,” is the moment when each individual, unique piece is created. Prior to this, not even the artist has seen the final work. That’s why you, the collector, are essential–without your transaction, and the unique data it creates to set the artist’s code in motion–these individual artworks literally would not exist.

If you don’t yet have a crypto wallet set up (with MetaMask), but are eager to set one up, you may want to refer to this article first. If you have a wallet set up and funded, you are ready to learn more, and mint your first Art Blocks piece.

Minting

In this section, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of minting and what generally happens after a project release. If, as a place to start, you don’t want to mint a new piece, but would rather pick one out on the secondary market, you can scroll below to “Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market”, and peruse already minted artworks. New projects are released every few days, and the best way to learn about what is upcoming is to join our Discord community and check out the #upcoming-projects channel. This channel will also tell you exactly when projects will “drop,”  that is, when they will be open to mint.

Cost

The combination of two separate elements comprises the cost of minting: the price of the artwork itself, and, like all transactions on the Ethereum network, the network fee. 

The pricing of the artwork is set by each artist individually, whereas the network fee varies according to demand at any given time. All transactions on the blockchain require validation–including minting– and the fee for this validation is called “gas.” As the demand for validation changes, so too, does the price of gas. (You can always check current gas prices at blocknative.com/gas-estimator.)

At Art Blocks, releases are typically conducted in a Dutch Auction format. In this type of auction, the price of the artwork decreases over time: starting at an initial price (ceiling) and dropping by a fixed amount periodically (e.g. 0.1 ETH every 5 minutes) until it hits the lowest price it will go (the resting price). This means minting begins with an asking price that decreases over time until the project hits its resting price. Sometimes, projects sell out before they reach their resting price. Not all artists elect to use a Dutch Auction format, and, instead, choose to release their work with a fixed price.

Types of Dutch Auctions

There are two types of Dutch Auctions used on Art Blocks: Linear and Exponential.  Linear Dutch Auctions specify a starting price and starting time and an ending price and ending time, and, once the auction begins, the price will gradually decrease every fixed period of time throughout the auction until it reaches the ending price. Exponential Dutch Auctions function a little differently. Here artists specify the starting price and ending price, as well as the half-life for price drops. For example, in an exponential dutch auction starting at 1 ETH and lowering to 0.1 ETH over a period of 30 minutes would have a half-life of nine minutes, meaning that every nine minutes, the price would gradually be cut in half. So after the first nine minutes, the price will reach 0.5 ETH, while 18 minutes after the auction begins, the price will reach 0.25 ETH, and eventually rest at 0.1 ETH at 30 minutes. The price drops within those half-life steps will gradually lower every block.

Please note, in any case, if a transaction is submitted at a higher mint price, but the transaction is only confirmed after the mint price has declined to the next level, the difference is automatically refunded by the Art Blocks smart contract. That is, the buyer pays the mint price effective at the time of the transaction confirmation, not the mint price at the time the transaction was initiated.

Gas Price and Gas Limit

GWEI or Gas Price is a unit of measure that specifies the amount of ETH you are willing to pay for each unit of gas. The higher the number, the more likely your transaction will be prioritized. However, this can get expensive, so be mindful if you change this. As a rule of thumb, 200 GWEI costs around ~0.1 ETH.

Gas limit is the maximum amount of units of gas you’re willing to spend. DO NOT TOUCH GAS LIMIT. Increasing the gas limit will never help your transaction be processed more quickly, and decreasing the gas limit will make the transaction more likely to fail. In other words, touching the gas limit when minting can be a very expensive mistake.

Minting Process

Here is what the process of minting looks like:

1. Before the project drop, make sure your MetaMask wallet is connected to the Art Blocks website by clicking “Connect to MetaMask” in the top right of your browser window. Enter your password and click “Unlock.”

2. At the scheduled drop time, navigate to the project page on artblocks.io and click “Purchase.”

3. A pop up screen will appear with a disclaimer. Read this, and if you understand and wish to proceed, click “Purchase.”

4. Your MetaMask wallet will prompt you to confirm the transaction. At this point, you have two options:
A) accept the transaction as MetaMask offers it, and click confirm, or
B) adjust the gas price (GWEI). Increasing the gas price will prioritize your mint transaction over other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee higher. (Moving you “up the line”). Decreasing the gas fee will deprioritize your mint transaction relative to other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee lower. (Letting others “go in front of you”).

If you choose to change the gas price you wish to pay, click “Edit” to the right of “Gas Fee.”

5. On the Customized Gas screen, you can choose a preselected fee of low, medium, or high—or you can set your own Gas Price by clicking the “Advanced Options.

6. To increase the priority of your transaction, change the Max Fee to a number you are comfortable paying and click “Save,” then “Confirm.” (AGAIN: DO NOT CHANGE GAS LIMIT).

7. You’re done! Now, you wait for MetaMask to confirm when your transaction has completed. You can always check the “Activity” tab in MetaMask to see the status of your transaction.

MUST-READ FOR BEGINNERS:
Mint Warnings

If you try to mint a piece and MetaMask presents a default gas fee that seems too high, this is a sign that something is wrong. You either do not have enough ETH in your wallet, the project is closed, or there is a restriction on how many mints each address can own. Here is an example of what a gas fee from a wallet with insufficient funds for a transaction looks like:


THIS IS A WARNING TO STOP and not continue with the transaction since it will fail, and you will lose money.

Failed Transactions

Just because you click purchase while there are mints available DOES NOT guarantee your mint. Your transaction must be confirmed on the network before the project sells out for the mint to successfully execute and your mint to arrive in your wallet. Since validators are incentivized to process the most expensive transactions first (that is, those approved by wallets willing to pay the highest amount for gas), sometimes transactions can fail in the time gap between clicking purchase and the transaction being approved on the network.

There is no set rule on an appropriate gas price. In the past, we have seen the price of gas drastically increase when a project is released. We have made significant changes to the platform to mitigate this (what some refer to as “gas wars”), but we have no control over the increase as the price is determined by events happening across the Ethereum network, which could be unrelated to Art Blocks. We suggest going into a drop knowing what you’re comfortable spending and staying within that limit. In some cases, there is no need to adjust gas for your transaction to process, and you can always speed up a transaction while it’s processing. Keep in mind that speeding up a transaction increases the total transaction cost regardless of your transaction being successfully processed or not.

Most important—if your transaction fails, the amount you spend on gas is still paid to validators. If you spend 4x on gas so your transaction is processed quickly, but a project is sold out before the transaction is completed, you still pay a portion of the gas to validators. You will pay the amount necessary to process the failed transaction, which is usually a portion of the anticipated cost. Transactions are processed on the Ethereum blockchain, completely independent from the Art Blocks platform. This money does not go to Art Blocks or artists.

It’s also important to note that you will only be charged the price for the artwork if your transaction is successful. If your transaction fails, the full price of the artwork is automatically returned to your wallet, although, as mentioned above, the Ethereum network fee will not be.  These steps above do not guarantee your transaction will be successful. It can still fail, and failed transactions still cost gas (i.e., money).

Your Collection and Secondary Markets

Minting an Art Blocks piece generates an ERC-721 standard non-fungible token (NFT) in your wallet. This process is not instant, however—in some cases, we are rendering thousands of pieces, so please be patient for it to appear. Once it has rendered, this token can be viewed on the Art Blocks website as well as on third-party sites, such as the secondary market OpenSea.

Even while your piece is rendering, you can see your collection by clicking on your wallet, then “My Profile” in the top right corner. The preview screen will show a Chromie Squiggle placeholder until your mint has rendered. However, you can still enjoy your piece while it’s rendering by clicking “live”—this gives you a live preview of your work while it’s being generated. Once complete, the rendered piece will replace the Chromie Squiggle placeholder.

The Chromie Squiggle placeholder will also show on third party sites like OpenSea until the project is rendered and the metadata updates across the network.

Art Blocks Collection

Once you’ve successfully minted the work, and it has rendered, you can view all Art Blocks pieces in your collection on the “My Profile” page. This page will show the project name, artist, description, and a preview of the work. Under the preview, you’ll see the mint number and links to the piece’s detail page, a full-resolution image, and a live generator that runs the script in your browser. 

Details

The details page will show you the traits of the piece you own. These traits are also viewable on OpenSea.

Image

This will show a full-resolution image of the art preview. Some pieces are interactive, and that will not be reflected in the preview. Think of this as a snapshot.

Live

For works that feature animation or interactive features, this live window is where you can see these. For example, if you explore Utopia by ge1doot, you can click and drag on the image to change your point of view and zoom in and out to appreciate the details and overall structure. Many projects released on Art Blocks are intended and realized as static images. What live view presents for these is a real-time rendering of your piece called from the blockchain itself. It is on-chain.

Viewing Your Collection on a Secondary Market

Because Art Blocks’ smart contract mints a standard compliant NFT, your work will automatically show up on secondary marketplaces. OpenSea is the world’s largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens, where already minted Art Blocks pieces can be viewed, purchased, and sold.

To view the Art Blocks artworks in your wallet on OpenSea, go to OpenSea.io, click the icon in the top right corner of your browser window, and sign in using MetaMask.

Once you’re signed in, OpenSea will show all compatible tokens in your wallet.

Clicking on an Art Blocks piece through the OpenSea interface will take you to the piece’s page, which includes a number of features on the left hand side, including Description (the same project description as displayed on the Art Blocks website), artwork Properties (drawn from the features listed on Art Blocks’ details page, and rarity of these), as well as a history of the Item Activity (which provides an overview of every interaction from the token’s minting from “NullAddress,” including offers, listing price, sales, and transfers).

It is also important to note that every Art Blocks piece will be on a verified page, which is denoted by the blue seal with white check icon next to the Project artist’s name. For example, this screenshot shows a Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro verified collection link at the top of the page:

Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market

For those who aren’t able, or don’t wish, to mint a piece on the Art Blocks website, OpenSea is one place to find secondary market listings of verified artwork from the Art Blocks collection. As noted above, every verified Art Blocks piece will have a checkmark above the piece’s title. For example:

Not all pieces are for sale, but typically some are, and you can easily browse the collections to find an individual piece you like–either to buy, or bid on, or simply to view. 

Summary

At this point, you should know how to navigate the Art Blocks platform, find upcoming projects, mint your first artwork, view your collection at Artblocks.io, and navigate OpenSea’s secondary marketplace. For more information on the diverse range of projects released to date on Art Blocks, you can learn more here. 

If you have any questions, we encourage you to join the Art Blocks official Discord and ask the community. The #block-talk channel is a great place to start, and you’ll find plenty of regulars there eager to welcome newcomers and answer questions.

Adapted from a text first published as Druid, “Art Blocks 101,” in The Link: Art Blocks, on April 24, 2021, which can be accessed here.

Getting Started

Welcome to Art Blocks—where artists, collectors, and blockchain technology unite to create compelling works of generative art. This guide will serve as a general introduction and detail the process of getting started as an Art Blocks collector. We are so glad you are here.

On a high level, Art Blocks is a platform on which artists publish editions of unique generative artworks using creative code. Artists releasing on Art Blocks have been chosen through a highly-selective application process, and their projects represent new directions in this emergent art form. You can find a wide range of work at Art Blocks, representing a diverse line-up of some of (we believe) the most interesting artists working in this field today.

All Art Blocks projects are assigned one of two designations: either Presents or Curated. The Art Blocks Presents collection comprises those projects reviewed and selected by Art Blocks as embodying our standards for artistic creativity, concept, and technical achievement. Projects designated as Art Blocks Curated have also been recognized by Art Blocks’ Curation Board for significant accomplishment in aesthetics, conceptual rigor, technical quality, and innovation. The Curation Board is a group of individuals invited to evaluate projects based on their expertise, passion for on-chain generative art, and their industry leadership, and more about them can be found here. (Previously projects could be designated “Factory” or “Playground,” according to different criteria, but these categories have now been retired from use.)

A vital and distinctive feature of all the artwork released on Art Blocks is the unique collaboration between artist, collector, and blockchain technology. When an Art Blocks piece is purchased for the first time, the collector’s transaction automatically interacts with the artist’s code to generate a unique artwork on the Ethereum blockchain. This process, called “minting,” is the moment when each individual, unique piece is created. Prior to this, not even the artist has seen the final work. That’s why you, the collector, are essential–without your transaction, and the unique data it creates to set the artist’s code in motion–these individual artworks literally would not exist.

If you don’t yet have a crypto wallet set up (with MetaMask), but are eager to set one up, you may want to refer to this article first. If you have a wallet set up and funded, you are ready to learn more, and mint your first Art Blocks piece.

Minting

In this section, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of minting and what generally happens after a project release. If, as a place to start, you don’t want to mint a new piece, but would rather pick one out on the secondary market, you can scroll below to “Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market”, and peruse already minted artworks. New projects are released every few days, and the best way to learn about what is upcoming is to join our Discord community and check out the #upcoming-projects channel. This channel will also tell you exactly when projects will “drop,”  that is, when they will be open to mint.

Cost

The combination of two separate elements comprises the cost of minting: the price of the artwork itself, and, like all transactions on the Ethereum network, the network fee. 

The pricing of the artwork is set by each artist individually, whereas the network fee varies according to demand at any given time. All transactions on the blockchain require validation–including minting– and the fee for this validation is called “gas.” As the demand for validation changes, so too, does the price of gas. (You can always check current gas prices at blocknative.com/gas-estimator.)

At Art Blocks, releases are typically conducted in a Dutch Auction format. In this type of auction, the price of the artwork decreases over time: starting at an initial price (ceiling) and dropping by a fixed amount periodically (e.g. 0.1 ETH every 5 minutes) until it hits the lowest price it will go (the resting price). This means minting begins with an asking price that decreases over time until the project hits its resting price. Sometimes, projects sell out before they reach their resting price. Not all artists elect to use a Dutch Auction format, and, instead, choose to release their work with a fixed price.

Types of Dutch Auctions

There are two types of Dutch Auctions used on Art Blocks: Linear and Exponential.  Linear Dutch Auctions specify a starting price and starting time and an ending price and ending time, and, once the auction begins, the price will gradually decrease every fixed period of time throughout the auction until it reaches the ending price. Exponential Dutch Auctions function a little differently. Here artists specify the starting price and ending price, as well as the half-life for price drops. For example, in an exponential dutch auction starting at 1 ETH and lowering to 0.1 ETH over a period of 30 minutes would have a half-life of nine minutes, meaning that every nine minutes, the price would gradually be cut in half. So after the first nine minutes, the price will reach 0.5 ETH, while 18 minutes after the auction begins, the price will reach 0.25 ETH, and eventually rest at 0.1 ETH at 30 minutes. The price drops within those half-life steps will gradually lower every block.

Please note, in any case, if a transaction is submitted at a higher mint price, but the transaction is only confirmed after the mint price has declined to the next level, the difference is automatically refunded by the Art Blocks smart contract. That is, the buyer pays the mint price effective at the time of the transaction confirmation, not the mint price at the time the transaction was initiated.

Gas Price and Gas Limit

GWEI or Gas Price is a unit of measure that specifies the amount of ETH you are willing to pay for each unit of gas. The higher the number, the more likely your transaction will be prioritized. However, this can get expensive, so be mindful if you change this. As a rule of thumb, 200 GWEI costs around ~0.1 ETH.

Gas limit is the maximum amount of units of gas you’re willing to spend. DO NOT TOUCH GAS LIMIT. Increasing the gas limit will never help your transaction be processed more quickly, and decreasing the gas limit will make the transaction more likely to fail. In other words, touching the gas limit when minting can be a very expensive mistake.

Minting Process

Here is what the process of minting looks like:

1. Before the project drop, make sure your MetaMask wallet is connected to the Art Blocks website by clicking “Connect to MetaMask” in the top right of your browser window. Enter your password and click “Unlock.”

2. At the scheduled drop time, navigate to the project page on artblocks.io and click “Purchase.”

3. A pop up screen will appear with a disclaimer. Read this, and if you understand and wish to proceed, click “Purchase.”

4. Your MetaMask wallet will prompt you to confirm the transaction. At this point, you have two options:
A) accept the transaction as MetaMask offers it, and click confirm, or
B) adjust the gas price (GWEI). Increasing the gas price will prioritize your mint transaction over other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee higher. (Moving you “up the line”). Decreasing the gas fee will deprioritize your mint transaction relative to other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee lower. (Letting others “go in front of you”).

If you choose to change the gas price you wish to pay, click “Edit” to the right of “Gas Fee.”

5. On the Customized Gas screen, you can choose a preselected fee of low, medium, or high—or you can set your own Gas Price by clicking the “Advanced Options.

6. To increase the priority of your transaction, change the Max Fee to a number you are comfortable paying and click “Save,” then “Confirm.” (AGAIN: DO NOT CHANGE GAS LIMIT).

7. You’re done! Now, you wait for MetaMask to confirm when your transaction has completed. You can always check the “Activity” tab in MetaMask to see the status of your transaction.

MUST-READ FOR BEGINNERS:
Mint Warnings

If you try to mint a piece and MetaMask presents a default gas fee that seems too high, this is a sign that something is wrong. You either do not have enough ETH in your wallet, the project is closed, or there is a restriction on how many mints each address can own. Here is an example of what a gas fee from a wallet with insufficient funds for a transaction looks like:


THIS IS A WARNING TO STOP and not continue with the transaction since it will fail, and you will lose money.

Failed Transactions

Just because you click purchase while there are mints available DOES NOT guarantee your mint. Your transaction must be confirmed on the network before the project sells out for the mint to successfully execute and your mint to arrive in your wallet. Since validators are incentivized to process the most expensive transactions first (that is, those approved by wallets willing to pay the highest amount for gas), sometimes transactions can fail in the time gap between clicking purchase and the transaction being approved on the network.

There is no set rule on an appropriate gas price. In the past, we have seen the price of gas drastically increase when a project is released. We have made significant changes to the platform to mitigate this (what some refer to as “gas wars”), but we have no control over the increase as the price is determined by events happening across the Ethereum network, which could be unrelated to Art Blocks. We suggest going into a drop knowing what you’re comfortable spending and staying within that limit. In some cases, there is no need to adjust gas for your transaction to process, and you can always speed up a transaction while it’s processing. Keep in mind that speeding up a transaction increases the total transaction cost regardless of your transaction being successfully processed or not.

Most important—if your transaction fails, the amount you spend on gas is still paid to validators. If you spend 4x on gas so your transaction is processed quickly, but a project is sold out before the transaction is completed, you still pay a portion of the gas to validators. You will pay the amount necessary to process the failed transaction, which is usually a portion of the anticipated cost. Transactions are processed on the Ethereum blockchain, completely independent from the Art Blocks platform. This money does not go to Art Blocks or artists.

It’s also important to note that you will only be charged the price for the artwork if your transaction is successful. If your transaction fails, the full price of the artwork is automatically returned to your wallet, although, as mentioned above, the Ethereum network fee will not be.  These steps above do not guarantee your transaction will be successful. It can still fail, and failed transactions still cost gas (i.e., money).

Your Collection and Secondary Markets

Minting an Art Blocks piece generates an ERC-721 standard non-fungible token (NFT) in your wallet. This process is not instant, however—in some cases, we are rendering thousands of pieces, so please be patient for it to appear. Once it has rendered, this token can be viewed on the Art Blocks website as well as on third-party sites, such as the secondary market OpenSea.

Even while your piece is rendering, you can see your collection by clicking on your wallet, then “My Profile” in the top right corner. The preview screen will show a Chromie Squiggle placeholder until your mint has rendered. However, you can still enjoy your piece while it’s rendering by clicking “live”—this gives you a live preview of your work while it’s being generated. Once complete, the rendered piece will replace the Chromie Squiggle placeholder.

The Chromie Squiggle placeholder will also show on third party sites like OpenSea until the project is rendered and the metadata updates across the network.

Art Blocks Collection

Once you’ve successfully minted the work, and it has rendered, you can view all Art Blocks pieces in your collection on the “My Profile” page. This page will show the project name, artist, description, and a preview of the work. Under the preview, you’ll see the mint number and links to the piece’s detail page, a full-resolution image, and a live generator that runs the script in your browser. 

Details

The details page will show you the traits of the piece you own. These traits are also viewable on OpenSea.

Image

This will show a full-resolution image of the art preview. Some pieces are interactive, and that will not be reflected in the preview. Think of this as a snapshot.

Live

For works that feature animation or interactive features, this live window is where you can see these. For example, if you explore Utopia by ge1doot, you can click and drag on the image to change your point of view and zoom in and out to appreciate the details and overall structure. Many projects released on Art Blocks are intended and realized as static images. What live view presents for these is a real-time rendering of your piece called from the blockchain itself. It is on-chain.

Viewing Your Collection on a Secondary Market

Because Art Blocks’ smart contract mints a standard compliant NFT, your work will automatically show up on secondary marketplaces. OpenSea is the world’s largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens, where already minted Art Blocks pieces can be viewed, purchased, and sold.

To view the Art Blocks artworks in your wallet on OpenSea, go to OpenSea.io, click the icon in the top right corner of your browser window, and sign in using MetaMask.

Once you’re signed in, OpenSea will show all compatible tokens in your wallet.

Clicking on an Art Blocks piece through the OpenSea interface will take you to the piece’s page, which includes a number of features on the left hand side, including Description (the same project description as displayed on the Art Blocks website), artwork Properties (drawn from the features listed on Art Blocks’ details page, and rarity of these), as well as a history of the Item Activity (which provides an overview of every interaction from the token’s minting from “NullAddress,” including offers, listing price, sales, and transfers).

It is also important to note that every Art Blocks piece will be on a verified page, which is denoted by the blue seal with white check icon next to the Project artist’s name. For example, this screenshot shows a Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro verified collection link at the top of the page:

Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market

For those who aren’t able, or don’t wish, to mint a piece on the Art Blocks website, OpenSea is one place to find secondary market listings of verified artwork from the Art Blocks collection. As noted above, every verified Art Blocks piece will have a checkmark above the piece’s title. For example:

Not all pieces are for sale, but typically some are, and you can easily browse the collections to find an individual piece you like–either to buy, or bid on, or simply to view. 

Summary

At this point, you should know how to navigate the Art Blocks platform, find upcoming projects, mint your first artwork, view your collection at Artblocks.io, and navigate OpenSea’s secondary marketplace. For more information on the diverse range of projects released to date on Art Blocks, you can learn more here. 

If you have any questions, we encourage you to join the Art Blocks official Discord and ask the community. The #block-talk channel is a great place to start, and you’ll find plenty of regulars there eager to welcome newcomers and answer questions.

Adapted from a text first published as Druid, “Art Blocks 101,” in The Link: Art Blocks, on April 24, 2021, which can be accessed here.

Getting Started

Welcome to Art Blocks—where artists, collectors, and blockchain technology unite to create compelling works of generative art. This guide will serve as a general introduction and detail the process of getting started as an Art Blocks collector. We are so glad you are here.

On a high level, Art Blocks is a platform on which artists publish editions of unique generative artworks using creative code. Artists releasing on Art Blocks have been chosen through a highly-selective application process, and their projects represent new directions in this emergent art form. You can find a wide range of work at Art Blocks, representing a diverse line-up of some of (we believe) the most interesting artists working in this field today.

All Art Blocks projects are assigned one of two designations: either Presents or Curated. The Art Blocks Presents collection comprises those projects reviewed and selected by Art Blocks as embodying our standards for artistic creativity, concept, and technical achievement. Projects designated as Art Blocks Curated have also been recognized by Art Blocks’ Curation Board for significant accomplishment in aesthetics, conceptual rigor, technical quality, and innovation. The Curation Board is a group of individuals invited to evaluate projects based on their expertise, passion for on-chain generative art, and their industry leadership, and more about them can be found here. (Previously projects could be designated “Factory” or “Playground,” according to different criteria, but these categories have now been retired from use.)

A vital and distinctive feature of all the artwork released on Art Blocks is the unique collaboration between artist, collector, and blockchain technology. When an Art Blocks piece is purchased for the first time, the collector’s transaction automatically interacts with the artist’s code to generate a unique artwork on the Ethereum blockchain. This process, called “minting,” is the moment when each individual, unique piece is created. Prior to this, not even the artist has seen the final work. That’s why you, the collector, are essential–without your transaction, and the unique data it creates to set the artist’s code in motion–these individual artworks literally would not exist.

If you don’t yet have a crypto wallet set up (with MetaMask), but are eager to set one up, you may want to refer to this article first. If you have a wallet set up and funded, you are ready to learn more, and mint your first Art Blocks piece.

Minting

In this section, we’ll walk you through the mechanics of minting and what generally happens after a project release. If, as a place to start, you don’t want to mint a new piece, but would rather pick one out on the secondary market, you can scroll below to “Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market”, and peruse already minted artworks. New projects are released every few days, and the best way to learn about what is upcoming is to join our Discord community and check out the #upcoming-projects channel. This channel will also tell you exactly when projects will “drop,”  that is, when they will be open to mint.

Cost

The combination of two separate elements comprises the cost of minting: the price of the artwork itself, and, like all transactions on the Ethereum network, the network fee. 

The pricing of the artwork is set by each artist individually, whereas the network fee varies according to demand at any given time. All transactions on the blockchain require validation–including minting– and the fee for this validation is called “gas.” As the demand for validation changes, so too, does the price of gas. (You can always check current gas prices at blocknative.com/gas-estimator.)

At Art Blocks, releases are typically conducted in a Dutch Auction format. In this type of auction, the price of the artwork decreases over time: starting at an initial price (ceiling) and dropping by a fixed amount periodically (e.g. 0.1 ETH every 5 minutes) until it hits the lowest price it will go (the resting price). This means minting begins with an asking price that decreases over time until the project hits its resting price. Sometimes, projects sell out before they reach their resting price. Not all artists elect to use a Dutch Auction format, and, instead, choose to release their work with a fixed price.

Types of Dutch Auctions

There are two types of Dutch Auctions used on Art Blocks: Linear and Exponential.  Linear Dutch Auctions specify a starting price and starting time and an ending price and ending time, and, once the auction begins, the price will gradually decrease every fixed period of time throughout the auction until it reaches the ending price. Exponential Dutch Auctions function a little differently. Here artists specify the starting price and ending price, as well as the half-life for price drops. For example, in an exponential dutch auction starting at 1 ETH and lowering to 0.1 ETH over a period of 30 minutes would have a half-life of nine minutes, meaning that every nine minutes, the price would gradually be cut in half. So after the first nine minutes, the price will reach 0.5 ETH, while 18 minutes after the auction begins, the price will reach 0.25 ETH, and eventually rest at 0.1 ETH at 30 minutes. The price drops within those half-life steps will gradually lower every block.

Please note, in any case, if a transaction is submitted at a higher mint price, but the transaction is only confirmed after the mint price has declined to the next level, the difference is automatically refunded by the Art Blocks smart contract. That is, the buyer pays the mint price effective at the time of the transaction confirmation, not the mint price at the time the transaction was initiated.

Gas Price and Gas Limit

GWEI or Gas Price is a unit of measure that specifies the amount of ETH you are willing to pay for each unit of gas. The higher the number, the more likely your transaction will be prioritized. However, this can get expensive, so be mindful if you change this. As a rule of thumb, 200 GWEI costs around ~0.1 ETH.

Gas limit is the maximum amount of units of gas you’re willing to spend. DO NOT TOUCH GAS LIMIT. Increasing the gas limit will never help your transaction be processed more quickly, and decreasing the gas limit will make the transaction more likely to fail. In other words, touching the gas limit when minting can be a very expensive mistake.

Minting Process

Here is what the process of minting looks like:

1. Before the project drop, make sure your MetaMask wallet is connected to the Art Blocks website by clicking “Connect to MetaMask” in the top right of your browser window. Enter your password and click “Unlock.”

2. At the scheduled drop time, navigate to the project page on artblocks.io and click “Purchase.”

3. A pop up screen will appear with a disclaimer. Read this, and if you understand and wish to proceed, click “Purchase.”

4. Your MetaMask wallet will prompt you to confirm the transaction. At this point, you have two options:
A) accept the transaction as MetaMask offers it, and click confirm, or
B) adjust the gas price (GWEI). Increasing the gas price will prioritize your mint transaction over other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee higher. (Moving you “up the line”). Decreasing the gas fee will deprioritize your mint transaction relative to other transactions on the network, and will make the transaction network fee lower. (Letting others “go in front of you”).

If you choose to change the gas price you wish to pay, click “Edit” to the right of “Gas Fee.”

5. On the Customized Gas screen, you can choose a preselected fee of low, medium, or high—or you can set your own Gas Price by clicking the “Advanced Options.

6. To increase the priority of your transaction, change the Max Fee to a number you are comfortable paying and click “Save,” then “Confirm.” (AGAIN: DO NOT CHANGE GAS LIMIT).

7. You’re done! Now, you wait for MetaMask to confirm when your transaction has completed. You can always check the “Activity” tab in MetaMask to see the status of your transaction.

MUST-READ FOR BEGINNERS:
Mint Warnings

If you try to mint a piece and MetaMask presents a default gas fee that seems too high, this is a sign that something is wrong. You either do not have enough ETH in your wallet, the project is closed, or there is a restriction on how many mints each address can own. Here is an example of what a gas fee from a wallet with insufficient funds for a transaction looks like:


THIS IS A WARNING TO STOP and not continue with the transaction since it will fail, and you will lose money.

Failed Transactions

Just because you click purchase while there are mints available DOES NOT guarantee your mint. Your transaction must be confirmed on the network before the project sells out for the mint to successfully execute and your mint to arrive in your wallet. Since validators are incentivized to process the most expensive transactions first (that is, those approved by wallets willing to pay the highest amount for gas), sometimes transactions can fail in the time gap between clicking purchase and the transaction being approved on the network.

There is no set rule on an appropriate gas price. In the past, we have seen the price of gas drastically increase when a project is released. We have made significant changes to the platform to mitigate this (what some refer to as “gas wars”), but we have no control over the increase as the price is determined by events happening across the Ethereum network, which could be unrelated to Art Blocks. We suggest going into a drop knowing what you’re comfortable spending and staying within that limit. In some cases, there is no need to adjust gas for your transaction to process, and you can always speed up a transaction while it’s processing. Keep in mind that speeding up a transaction increases the total transaction cost regardless of your transaction being successfully processed or not.

Most important—if your transaction fails, the amount you spend on gas is still paid to validators. If you spend 4x on gas so your transaction is processed quickly, but a project is sold out before the transaction is completed, you still pay a portion of the gas to validators. You will pay the amount necessary to process the failed transaction, which is usually a portion of the anticipated cost. Transactions are processed on the Ethereum blockchain, completely independent from the Art Blocks platform. This money does not go to Art Blocks or artists.

It’s also important to note that you will only be charged the price for the artwork if your transaction is successful. If your transaction fails, the full price of the artwork is automatically returned to your wallet, although, as mentioned above, the Ethereum network fee will not be.  These steps above do not guarantee your transaction will be successful. It can still fail, and failed transactions still cost gas (i.e., money).

Your Collection and Secondary Markets

Minting an Art Blocks piece generates an ERC-721 standard non-fungible token (NFT) in your wallet. This process is not instant, however—in some cases, we are rendering thousands of pieces, so please be patient for it to appear. Once it has rendered, this token can be viewed on the Art Blocks website as well as on third-party sites, such as the secondary market OpenSea.

Even while your piece is rendering, you can see your collection by clicking on your wallet, then “My Profile” in the top right corner. The preview screen will show a Chromie Squiggle placeholder until your mint has rendered. However, you can still enjoy your piece while it’s rendering by clicking “live”—this gives you a live preview of your work while it’s being generated. Once complete, the rendered piece will replace the Chromie Squiggle placeholder.

The Chromie Squiggle placeholder will also show on third party sites like OpenSea until the project is rendered and the metadata updates across the network.

Art Blocks Collection

Once you’ve successfully minted the work, and it has rendered, you can view all Art Blocks pieces in your collection on the “My Profile” page. This page will show the project name, artist, description, and a preview of the work. Under the preview, you’ll see the mint number and links to the piece’s detail page, a full-resolution image, and a live generator that runs the script in your browser. 

Details

The details page will show you the traits of the piece you own. These traits are also viewable on OpenSea.

Image

This will show a full-resolution image of the art preview. Some pieces are interactive, and that will not be reflected in the preview. Think of this as a snapshot.

Live

For works that feature animation or interactive features, this live window is where you can see these. For example, if you explore Utopia by ge1doot, you can click and drag on the image to change your point of view and zoom in and out to appreciate the details and overall structure. Many projects released on Art Blocks are intended and realized as static images. What live view presents for these is a real-time rendering of your piece called from the blockchain itself. It is on-chain.

Viewing Your Collection on a Secondary Market

Because Art Blocks’ smart contract mints a standard compliant NFT, your work will automatically show up on secondary marketplaces. OpenSea is the world’s largest marketplace for non-fungible tokens, where already minted Art Blocks pieces can be viewed, purchased, and sold.

To view the Art Blocks artworks in your wallet on OpenSea, go to OpenSea.io, click the icon in the top right corner of your browser window, and sign in using MetaMask.

Once you’re signed in, OpenSea will show all compatible tokens in your wallet.

Clicking on an Art Blocks piece through the OpenSea interface will take you to the piece’s page, which includes a number of features on the left hand side, including Description (the same project description as displayed on the Art Blocks website), artwork Properties (drawn from the features listed on Art Blocks’ details page, and rarity of these), as well as a history of the Item Activity (which provides an overview of every interaction from the token’s minting from “NullAddress,” including offers, listing price, sales, and transfers).

It is also important to note that every Art Blocks piece will be on a verified page, which is denoted by the blue seal with white check icon next to the Project artist’s name. For example, this screenshot shows a Chromie Squiggle by Snowfro verified collection link at the top of the page:

Buying an Art Blocks Piece on the Secondary Market

For those who aren’t able, or don’t wish, to mint a piece on the Art Blocks website, OpenSea is one place to find secondary market listings of verified artwork from the Art Blocks collection. As noted above, every verified Art Blocks piece will have a checkmark above the piece’s title. For example:

Not all pieces are for sale, but typically some are, and you can easily browse the collections to find an individual piece you like–either to buy, or bid on, or simply to view. 

Summary

At this point, you should know how to navigate the Art Blocks platform, find upcoming projects, mint your first artwork, view your collection at Artblocks.io, and navigate OpenSea’s secondary marketplace. For more information on the diverse range of projects released to date on Art Blocks, you can learn more here. 

If you have any questions, we encourage you to join the Art Blocks official Discord and ask the community. The #block-talk channel is a great place to start, and you’ll find plenty of regulars there eager to welcome newcomers and answer questions.

Adapted from a text first published as Druid, “Art Blocks 101,” in The Link: Art Blocks, on April 24, 2021, which can be accessed here.

Latest from Spectrum