Grails’ lucky dip of famous NFT artists, new hope for PFP holders: NFT Collector

Grails by PROOF Season IV

Collecting art is historically not just about the art itself but who the artist is and the story behind the piece. The emergence of NFTs as a way to attribute provenance to digital objects has seen an explosion of interest in the past few years, even if that’s currently seeing something of a lull.

The work of artists like Alotta Money, Josie Bellini, Trevor Jones, Coldie, Snowfro, Beeple, and collections such as Fidenzas and Ringers, show that digital art is here to stay, even as many pockets of the NFT space are reportedly down 95% from all-time highs.

But with the artists playing such an important role in the market, it’s been intriguing to see Grails by PROOF flip this paradigm on its head by abstracting away who the artist is. A gamification mechanic reveals between 20–25 pieces of art to 1,000 whitelisted collectors prior to a minting window — but the catch is no one knows who the artists are behind each respective piece.

This creates a special dynamic that introduces a different type of speculation about who the artist could be behind each work. Some collectors mint a piece they like purely based on their assessment of the art itself, while others take a punt on their ability to guess who the artist might be behind.

<em>Protoglyph by Larva Labs from Season 1 Grails. (OpenSea) </em>

Grails was the brainchild of PROOF co-founder Kevin Rose, with the inaugural season launched in February 2022 and the first-ever reveal on March 6, 2022. Eli Scheinman, head of art at PROOF, explains the concept aims:

“To engage collectors in a way that abstracted away some of the financialization of collecting NFTs that was, and still is, in many ways so rampant. By taking away an artist’s name, it really demanded or challenged all of the collectors to really go deep and spend a lot of time with each of these artworks.”

The three seasons so far have attracted some of the biggest names in NFT land, including Snowfro, Larva Labs, Tyler Hobbs, Claire Silver, Dmitri Cherniak, Deafbeef, Emily Xie, Justin Aversano, Alpha Centauri Kid, Josie Bellini and Matt Kane. Plus, names that are lesser known for their art but have celebrity status and are involved with the NFT space, like Gary Vaynerchuk, Alexis Ohanian and Tim Ferriss.

Her by Josie Bellini (Source: OpenSea)
<em>Her by Josie Bellini (OpenSea) </em>

Curtain coming up on Season IV

Season IV (4) of Grails is set for reveal on Aug. 11, with Scheinman continuing to experiment with the mechanics and double down on the storytelling and production value of the reveal.

“We try to maintain that sense of it being special and unique, so that means we’re constantly trying to iterate and improve the experience in new ways,” Scheinman says, explaining that season three had introduced the notion of a series, enabling a single artist to contribute multiple unique pieces as part of a collection.

“In season four, we’re taking that a step further in that three of the five series that are in this exhibition are true long-form generative projects using the Art Blocks engine. Those outputs, when minted, are really generated live in that moment. Whereas in the past, these were pre-curated outputs, meaning an artist would provide us with the files ahead of time, and then we would distribute those on mint.”

“I think storytelling is fundamental to connecting through a piece of artwork, and the way that we do Grails, for example, is really this fun way of playing with that notion in that you go from zero context to 100% context.”

Watch previous Grails reveals: Season 1 / Season 2 / Season 3 

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What’s hot in NFT art markets

Notable sales came from Autoglyphs, Alpha Centauri Kid and Drifter Shoots.

We also saw Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun release his first NFT collection titled ‘Kingdom of the Laughing Man. The 999 pieces minted for between 0.35–0.39 ETH and now sit at a 0.55 ETH floor on OpenSea.

Creation by Alpha Centauri Kid
<em>Creation by Alpha Centauri Kid sold for 23.69 ETH ($44,400). (OpenSea) </em>

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Luca Netz claps back at idea PFP holders are doomed

Deep into an NFT bear market where volumes have tested new 12-month lows, the question that persistently gets asked by PFP collections holders is, “How does this drive value back to holders?”

Luca Netz, CEO of Pudgy Penguins, clapped back at a tweet suggesting PFP holders have no stake in the enterprise and outlined why he believes PFP holders are not doomed if they pick the right project. Netz explained that “building a globally recognized brand is the best path to accruing value for the NFT holder.”

NFT Value Accrual Funnel
<em>NFT value accrual funnel laid out by Luca Netz (X (Twitter)) </em>

Brands that are striving to build household IP, such as Pudgy Penguins, VeeFriends and Doodles, all are diversifying their brand offerings, including real-world offerings, ensuring their IP has many more touch points outside of the NFT ecosystem.

Comic Con
Pudgy Penguins at Comic Con (X)

From VeeFriends physical collector cards and multiple collaborations, including their recent announcement with Reebok for physical sneakers, to Doodles last week announcing its partnership with Crocs, to Pudgy Penguins showing up at Comic Con in San Diego in July.

Having holders to appease can be both a gift and a curse, but some founders are navigating this terrain better than others; Netz is one of those. The serial entrepreneur, who has done over $500 million in consumer packaged goods sales, took over the Pudgy project after issues with the original founding team and has arguably threaded the needle better than others.

It still remains to be seen how Netz’s masterplan plays out, but this well-thought-out thread articulates a future that many NFT collectors could get behind, validated by the 1,000+ bookmarks the thread already has.

Amazon Prime dips its toe into the Web3 gaming waters with Mojo Melee

In a small preview of what is to come, Amazon Prime has partnered with Mojo Melee to give away NFTs for its Prime subscribers.

The auto battler game is built on Polygon and played via web browsers and Android devices. The offer for Prime subscribers is set to expire in just under three weeks.

Tweet of the week

Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford

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.