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GEN.ART DAO: Shaping the Future of Generative Art Through A Community-Centric Membership Model

Sep 29, 2021 · 61 min media

By Tom Shaughnessy

The Delphi Podcast Host and GP of Delphi Ventures Tom Shaughnessy sits down with Notion, also known as Adam, Lead at GEN.ART, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) focused on shaping the future of generative art. The two discuss GEN.ART’s membership model, community involvement in projects, curating artists and much more!



Interview Transcript:

Tom (00:02):

Hey, everyone, welcome back to the podcast. Today, I’m thrilled to have on Notion, who’s also known as Adam of GEN.ART. How is it going, Adam?

Notion (00:10):

Hey, Tom. Yeah, all good. Thank you for having me. 

Tom (00:13):

Yeah. It’s the Friday after the crazy New York City blockchain week so I’m a little tired, but I’m very excited to host you on, man.

Notion (00:21):

Thank you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, no, you and me both, I guess end of the week, we should have actually been recording this on a Monday after we’ve had some rest and relaxation.

Tom (00:31):

I’m with you, man. Well, tell us a bit about yourself and GEN.ART, just the elevator pitch would be helpful before we get into the details.

Notion (00:39):

Sure. So GEN.ART, it’s generative art platform. We’re operating as a DAO, so we’re just getting that all put in place at the moment. We do frequent releases with world-renowned artists. We also do up and coming artists. We’re very keen to bridge the offline and the online world, so painters, sculptors, anyone. You don’t know necessarily have to know JavaScript, but that said, our focus is generative art. I guess that’s what I would say GEN.ART is.

Tom (01:14):

I love that. What about yourself? How did you get involved in crypto, and I guess more broadly just NFT and GEN.ART?

Notion (01:21):

Yeah, sure. So I have a background in a whole bunch of startups, specifically my background over the past few years has been within a startup focusing on disrupting traditional art, so all of the galleries and sales of art, and within there you obviously start to understand the difficulty and provenance, and making sure a piece of art is trustworthy. My natural tech tendency, I started getting interested in the blockchain, and all of that. Then whenever I discovered NFTs and generative art, and I came in via CryptoPunks, I was very, very interested because I knew that it would have long legs in the future to have that provenance that is a 100% provable. It’s something that you struggle with in terms of like a Picasso print, you can sit and analyze it, and see the signature style, and you can have an expert say, but you can only ever be 99.999% certain, whereas with blockchain and NFTs it’s pretty irrefutable.

Tom (02:38):

For those that understand, I guess, the value of NFT-based art, you have the transparency, you have the provenance, you have the structure where it’s easily sold person to person, you could bake in royalties, all these things, what is it about generative art that interests you so much? What about generative art specifically caught your attention and you said, “Hell, I want to do this?”

Notion (03:01):

Well, if you think, it’s sort of … I’m sorry if I start going off on a tangent, so just stop me because it’s [crosstalk 00:03:08].

Tom (03:01):

No, no, no, please do. It’s the fun part.

Notion (03:08):

You’ve got my passion area. If you think of a random person off the street and they’re getting into art, it is sort of a co-creation experiment with the artist. The artist has a message that they want to convey, they’ve got a specific art form they want to work on and have iterations of, but in terms of the actual creation of the collection, because a person who is hitting the mint button at a specific time, with a specific wallet, and all of the different variables that go into the hashing, and the PRNG that go through the script that generate your output, you’re very much a co-creator alongside that artist. I think generative art, rather than it just be, “Hey, I’ve created this condo,” You could easily do an NFT and release 200 of them, and it would be amazing, and it’d be very similar, they’d be the exact same, and you know it’s a 100% condo. But within generative art they’re all different even if the same person did it an hour apart or a minute after, it would be a different piece of art, a 100% different piece of art. 

I think being at that one place, at that one time, hitting that mint button and you co-creating alongside that artist, it’s your piece of art as much as it’s that artist. Getting me started on the technology side, the algorithm side, we’re only scratching surface. I’m glad that AI is starting to enter into NFTs and starting to … the technology is catching up to be able to put that onto the blockchain, and not have that many, that large of a byte size, et cetera. But if you think where we’re going to be in five or 10 years time, in terms of the machines and algorithms creating the art alongside the collector, alongside the artist, there’s just so much going on. I can’t wait to see what the future’s going to be, what’s going to be in store in the future.

Tom (05:24):

I’m with you. I think it’s incredible to have code displayed as artwork, to be able to press mint and have that generate on demand. To play devil’s advocate for you, for those that might be new to generative art, how do you convince the people on the outside? A lot of people, even crypto OGs, they look at generative art, they look at Squiggle or a Fidenza, or something like they’re like, “Ah, we’re not artists, we’re not collectors, we’re not curators, we’re DeFi people, we’re layer-one people.” How do you serve that market or convince them that there’s long-term value here? Or is that not your goal?

Notion (05:59):

So not really our goal, but whenever you start to think of the mechanics that can support it, so GEN.ART not specifically, but there’s been a lot of really interesting stuff, even over the … actually just over the past couple of weeks. The space moves incredibly, incredibly fast, but if you think of the projects that have launched over the past couple of weeks that have an art foundation, but then sort of a DeFi layer there’s … That’s the best thing, this whole space, it’s so large that it can accommodate to anyone’s interest, and it will scratch anyone’s itch. If you think of a specific niche art product that you would be interested in, there’s going to be a community that is already working on that, and already forming bonds, et cetera, et cetera. So I think in terms of the hardcore DeFi people, well, A, they need to have an interest, at least a minimal interest in art otherwise it’s going to be an uphill struggle, but it’s the one space. 

If you think of traditional art world you have to like a specific artist, you have to like a specific style, and you are there just simply for the art. But within our space, and the NFTs overall, you can actually start to layer in DeFi elements within art, which is just completely mind boggling, where you have an art piece that’s generating you yield, and that you can stake, and there’s all of these different intellectual elements that it’s not just you owning an art piece, there’s all of these different layers. If it’s the different layers that you’re interested in at least that will interest you, but there is some art within the foundations of it. I think it’s the one space within the art world where somebody who isn’t that interested in art can actually, and if they’re interested in DeFi, that there’s a lot of rewards in that place, in that space, but there’s a lot of intellectual thought where you can start to think through stuff that wouldn’t happen in the art world.

Tom (08:11):

That’s a really fair take. I mean, while I have you, just out of pure interest, I’ll push back again here. When you’re thinking through the generative art drops, the releases, what artists are creating, are you seeing a world where there’s a use for the art or the NFTs themselves beyond just collecting or curating? Obviously I love GEN.ART, I love Art Blocks, I own a bunch, but I’m just wondering do you foresee something beyond just the art with the NFTs that are created or dropped on GEN.ART?

Notion (08:40):

Yeah, so the sky’s the limit. There’s so many people working on so many innovative things like … even some prominent artists where they’re doing, like you have to collect a whole series and it unlocks a special piece. There’s so much stuff around loyalty. There’s so much stuff around access. There’s so much … If you’ve got a specific goal that you want to achieve with an audience, you’ll be able to achieve it through releasing collections with very specific coding within the contract. 

So if you want to reward loyalty, and you’re an artist and you release a piece every year, fast forward 20 years, if there’s somebody that’s collected all of those religiously for the past 20 years, you can have a really ultra special piece for. You can even actually have a meet up. There’s honestly no limit to what you can achieve in terms of coding in rules, and what you want to get out of a community, which just wouldn’t be possible in offline world. It would be possible, but it would be a lot of organization and a lot of work, but to answer your question succinctly I would say it’s one of the key areas in terms of there’s so much beyond.

Tom (10:04):

Yeah, there’s definitely a new world to unlock there, kind of excited to see what pans out, and frankly what doesn’t. Full disclosure, I should have mentioned this at the beginning of the podcast, but we are holders of a few of your memberships on the gold side, and some of your drops, and we’re excited to be, but I have to give that shoutout. Just switching gears a bit to GEN.ART itself, there’s a lot of, I guess, issues with generative art drops, one of the main ones is just paying thousands of dollars to compete with others to [inaudible 00:10:32] to a drop with gas fees, right?

Notion (10:34):

Yup, yup, yup.

Tom (10:34):

Tell me a bit about the GEN.ART model.

Notion (10:37):

Yeah. So, well, we kicked off thinking, “Okay, well, if we were going to create a platform from scratch how would we do that?” Having learned obviously Snowfro and Art Blocks, they paved the way, we pay them. Hype is an advisor to us, I know that Hype works alongside Art Blocks as well, so we do have that sort of line of communication. We thought there’s a ton of differentiated factors, which I can jump into, but for our genesis we were thinking, “Okay, well, if we were to start from scratch,” and now we have the luxury of learning from the past year what we need to really focus in on, we wanted to focus in on making minting a pleasurable experience where the collector can do it on their own time, where they can learn about the artist, they can hear the dialogue, they can learn about the message, really get into their psyche, and then, as I said, the mint process is a co-creation exercise.

So rather than having to throw a whole bunch of dollars unnecessarily, in terms of just making sure that you secure a piece in terms of gas, we wanted to really make it that you take your time, click the mint button, and you get your piece. Whenever we did one of our first airdrops I saw on Discord a couple of people were going camping for the weekend, because they’re so conditioned to throwing all of these dollars to the gas, and making sure that they can just get in and get a piece in terms of access. They were scarred, they were like, “Will there be a piece for me at the end of the weekend?” It seemed like you really had to try and break that, that sort of inner conditioning they knew that for any good art release, NFT generative art, that you would have to just be there at the right time, regardless of timezone be ready to click edit, put your gas fee up high, and make sure that you get a piece.

We thought “Let’s try a different approach. Let’s make a membership model where you can really focus in on creating that connection or building that connection between collector and artist, where you don’t have to be at the right place at the right time.” So we kicked off standard membership at 0.1E, and a gold membership at 0.5E. We didn’t want it to be a wall garden, ultimately we can’t control the economics in terms of demand and supply. We didn’t want it to be a rich person’s playground. All of the future art will be very, very affordable. It’s never going to be super expensive. We wanted to kick off with the membership model because we thought that would be key to reduce the gas wars, but then it would also … because it’s such a complex ecosystem. I sometimes to talk to artists, and I sometimes get hate online in terms of people saying, “Well, why don’t you just do an open release?” Or, “Why do you restrict it to just your members?” 

There are some artists that think, “Okay, well, you are restricting it to these 2,400 people that hold 5,100 memberships.” They seem to take issue with the fact that it’s such a small community, and they don’t want there to be sort of just an access piece to their art, so we say, “Well, if you could OpenSea just do an open release, and release as many as you want.” But the fundamental flaw with that is there’s so many particular actors in this space, with their own particular goal that you have to please all of them to make that ecosystem work. If you did a unlimited release, fast forward two or three years, and maybe secondary would fall apart, and then that means you’ve got some very interested people who … you’ve got a community of people that you’re going to alienate, and then that means that it all falls down.

We’re always trying to think of, there’s maybe like four or five key actors, what are their drivers? What are their motivations? How do you please all of them? How do you make them sort of be a snow … How do you make it a perpetual cycle between all of them, where they all sort of self-reinforce, and the whole collective grows? Whenever we did all of the sounds, whenever we did all of the scenario analysis, whenever we started thinking about what variables impact which participant, et cetera, the community model worked because it’s from a behavioral standpoint, and from an economic standpoint the membership model stood test of time and seemed to … We built GEN.ART with the goal of how do we make sure we are here in five to 10 years time. We are so, maybe to our detriment, we are very, very focused on the long-term. So that’s a little bit of an intro into our thinking behind membership model, and sort of why we’ve made some key decisions in our finding.

But then, whenever you start to think about the five to 10 year element that I just spoke about, that’s why we actually made it from day one, we knew we would want to be a DAO, where we put the power in all of our communities’ hands. We’re very keen to take a step back within the next few months where we build up a DAO platform, we give the tools needed to the community whereby anyone can raise motion, or raise a [inaudible 00:16:21], as we call them, and can point the community in whatever direction they want. If they get enough support, which you have to do through politicking, through storytelling, through persuading any of the people that want to, or any of the people that … and the community members who feel like they have a strong viewpoint on anything from, whether where the images, like our caching algorithm or what’s emerging artists do we support, or what commission gets paid, it’s literally anything, what should the treasury spend its thumbs on, any of that stuff gets pushed through the DAO platform, and the community votes on it.

Whenever you’ve got 2,400 members holding 5,100 passes that’s an insanely … there are so many smart people in there that will grow to be something that we could never have built ourselves in terms of a founding team of two, three, or four people. So that’s sort of a little bit of the genesis story. We wanted to really focus in on the gas wars. We wanted to make the minting process non-pressured and pleasurable, and where the collector learns as much as possible about the artist. We wanted to put the power in the community’s hands in terms of the future direction of the project. That’s really a few of the headline, finding beliefs, and we should also say that to make … So you’ve got your membership, then you’ve got the DAO, which is made up of the members, and then how do they all communicate and interact with one of another, that’s where you get your third dimension in terms of the governance token.

We also thought, “Okay, looking back at all of the PFP drops in the past year that we’ve had with that, it was only a matter of time before that became a little bit exhausted.” Because, yes, for sure it’s fun to take the gamble, take a mint and see if you get a rare mint, and a rare character that you can then flip and make a little bit of cash on, but if you think about, “Okay, well, what’s going to have longevity?”  It’s going to be the OGs. It’s going to be the ones that have a little bit like the Blue Chips. It’s going to be CryptoPunks. It’s going to be Bored Apes, but in terms of one that launched last week, it’s very much going to be how long that specific PFP drop has attention, of course it’s great to have the rarest one, but there needs to be utility.

There needs to be something on top of it, and I think that’s also why you’ve seen, over the past few weeks you’ve seen Loot. You’ve seen all of these different … you’ve seen obviously Kongz with bananas, so you need that utility element, I think, going forward, and that’s what we very much wanted to do with GEN.ART in terms of having our governance token. The governance token allows us to really start to play with incentives, and behavioral economics, like how do you … you can do some special stuff in terms of how you get two people to interact in a specific way, or two different participants to act in a specific way. Having the governance token gives you a bit of leverage and a bit of control, and a bit of experimentation, which a pure NFT or pure play, sort of PFP, you wouldn’t be able to do.

Tom (19:55):

Adam, you went through half of my question list with that one answer.

Notion (19:59):


Tom (19:59):

No, no, I love the context. To drill down on one point, you brought up how the membership model has potential concerns, but also addresses the fact that you’re not competing on gas wars, which I think is really important. You also get, obviously an ingrained community of membership holders who can interact, help curate artists and art, and help promote things, but I guess the question for you is, I guess, how do you think about, let’s say a billionaire wakes up tomorrow,  this is a fantastic problem to have for you, I guess, but, I mean, maybe half and half, but they start buying up all the membership. Let’s say they own 10%, 20%, 50% of the memberships out there, does that fracture your community, or does that hurt the model here? How do you think about that side of things?

Notion (20:42):

Yeah, no, it’s an interesting one. I guess I’ve always sort of put there’s no problem that we can’t sit and think about. Well, billionaires came and purchase half the memberships, so us as a community, a billionaire can be participating, or not in that conversation, it’s like, “What is the root cause or what is the problem that this may create for the community? Then, how does that diverge from the outcome that we want?” For that person, whether or not they’re an active participant or not, I’m sure it’s within their interest to go along with the community and build alongside them. So by the pure fact that they might have a disproportionate number of the membership, I don’t know, maybe that means that there’s less drops available, maybe that pushes up the price of the membership, maybe that means that some of the community can’t get some of the best pieces. It would really depend upon the problem that was caused by that person owning a disproportionate number. 

But then, the beauty is, that everything’s editable in terms of … then the community can just pivot and build, and solve for the problem that that would cause, maybe they just want to … For example, we had DAO come in and purchase a good amount of memberships, but at the start there was a little bit of worry, but then we jumped into gold chat, and it actually turned out that a lot of people thought it would be beneficial. At first thought they were actually focusing in on the specific art pieces, that it wasn’t actually the membership. So I don’t know for that specific problem, in terms of somebody purchasing a lot of memberships you just have to think about what problem would that cause, and the great thing is, the community will rally together.

Also, the great thing is, typically when we see these whales, or big players come in, they’re coming in with their best intentions at heart, and if they see that they’re causing some problem they will want to be part of that … they’ll want to be part of trying to find a solution. So I don’t know if I’ve answered your question, so [crosstalk 00:22:59]. 

Tom (22:58):

Yeah, maybe not a billionaire coming in, but a millionaire given they’re absolutely younger. 

Notion (23:03):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tom (23:05):

Yeah, it makes sense. I guess the key is that these things are potentially solvable if you are able to maintain the community. I think what we’ve seen in the past is having the community is so important, having them navigated is more important than having all the answers from the get go, especially given how fast the space moves. 

Notion (23:22):

Yeah, exactly, exactly. Now you’ve got my mind focused on that one specific thing, maybe they just want the memberships, and maybe they’ve got so much art, maybe they flood the market with the art, maybe they … It would really depend on why they’re coming in. 

Tom (23:40):

Yeah, to your point, there is kind of indirect incentives here, right? If they were to buy up all the memberships, and have all of the drops, the drops might not be that valuable because there’s no community ownership around them. There’s no [crosstalk 00:23:51].

Notion (23:50):

So it’s this one thing, and I wish … it’s like the matrix, I wish I could draw all of these points between one another. I’ve got a little bit of a feel, and I can definitely understand how specific participants interact with one another, but there’s this very fragile, like equilibrium, where everyone’s getting their goal, and they’re incentivized, and it’s a very delicate place to be. I think that we sort of understand it, and I think that we can create these flywheels were the likes of a flipper, they can come in, they can buy a piece of art, they can make a bit of cash on it.We’ve got the real serious art collectors. We’ve got the people that are really interested in DeFi. We’ve got the artists. We’ve got all of these different participants. 

I think we understand enough about each one of them, and how they interact with one and the other where we can really focus in on each of those individual relationships like the flipper to the art collector, the flipper to the artist, the artist to the art, the serious art collect, the artist to the DeFi person, the artist to the general public, all of those different things, there’s a really interesting dynamics happening in each of them. I think the membership model, and what we’re doing at GEN.ART, it does give us a decent enough oversight to see all of these, to give each of those participants what they want from the community, and all of us grow together, and then the public start to really take note and so on and so forth.

Tom (25:30):

That’s a fair answer. Before we switch to the other side of this, the artist’s side, what are your thoughts on, I mean, you have DAO membership model here that underpins every artist and drop on your launch. You have clients. You have the Caesiums, I’m probably saying that wrong, but a lot of other projects have their own DAO on a per art basis, like there’s Squiggle DAO for Squiggles which was launched on Art Blocks. You have a DAO that underpins every single drop, is there … I’m not sure what my question is here, but it seems like it’s kind of just a different model that’s kind of interesting. How has that panned for you so far? Do you think eventually these artists may fracture and have their own communities on a per collection basis? Or do you think that GEN.ART as a group will underpin all of the collections themselves?

Notion (26:18):

That’s a good question, and I could never forecast what’s going to happen in the future otherwise I’d be a very rich person, which I’m not.

Tom (26:27):

If not we stop hitting record, and we just talk [inaudible 00:26:30]. 

Notion (26:30):

Exactly. No, I think the beauty is in gen art as a collective. I think its brand will attract, and continue to attract absolutely incredible artists. I think it just doesn’t seem fitting with the community that we’ve got at the moment for it to become fractured in terms of creating a specific interest group around one specific piece. I think given time, the sum will be greater than the individual pieces, for sure, every single drop has been amazing, the clients, Caesiums, or Caesiums, however you want to pronounce it, I think … I don’t know. Let’s see whenever there’s maybe a limited drop that just goes off the charts, what happens in that instance, but in my mind, fast forward three or four years time, and it’s going to be the gen art DAO with such an incredible library of amazing artists, bridging offline and offline, bridging emerging artists, physical artists, established generative artists.

I think people will be proud to be part of a community that has many multitudes of, and so many strands and nodes, and interests rather than become that fractured per drop interest. But that said, economics, both behavioral and financial, anything is possible. So I wouldn’t discount it, but I would like to think that the foundations that we’ve put in place, and judging by the community and how they’re interacting now, I think gen art as a DAO, as a collective across all collections will just continue to strengthen. I imagine this is all so fresh, we’re already seeing friendships within Discord, and those friendships are just going to become more like … We’re already knowing the individual attributes of like Maverick, our moderator. I know down to the T how he interacts, and his mannerisms, and so on and so forth, so fast forward three years, and that’s just going to be such a deeper friendship and a deeper understanding. So I couldn’t see it becoming fractured.  I think these friendships as a whole will just continue to strengthen. I hope I’ve answered your question there. Sorry-

Tom (29:15):

No, no, you have. I like … No, trust me, I like your answer. I like the context, it’s super helpful. The artist side is another interesting piece, like artists love being on Art Blocks. I love what Snowfro and the team have built, but why do artists come to GEN.ART? What’s the sell for them?

Notion (29:32):

Well, it’s just another platform, like there’s going to be elements of how we approach that they enjoy, and naturally … I would say it’s just naturally another platform where people know that they’re going to have a well-receiving 5,100 memberships. They know that we want to focus on their story. They know that we spend a lot of time focusing in on their microsite, where you get a little bit of an insight into their psyche, into their messaging, into the code that they’ve created, we really, really … I can’t emphasize enough we spend so much time thinking about how do we make the collector connect to the artist, and understand the thinking behind this piece. It’s not just, “Cool, let’s go to this page. Let’s mint. Let’s try and get a piece, and do a massive of gas wars, et cetera, et cetera.” I think given time that people will … that artists will really start to come to use because of that piece.

Then also, I didn’t say at the start, another thing that’s a massive interest or a massive focus of ours is I really want all of our members to end their year with physical art in their house. We’ve sort of seen it with Heni and Hirst currency, but there is that burn mechanism where you can keep the NFT, or you can keep the physical. That’s a super interesting dynamic, and it’s going to be amazing to see how it plays out. But what I’m interested in seeing is, or what I want gen art to do is give our members the opportunity for them to end their year with physical art in their house, because again, it comes back to that relationship with the artist. If you are walking to the kitchen, and you walk past a piece of art, it’s physical, you can touch the paper, you can see it, and you can think back to hearing the artist’s voice in the little intros that we do on those microsites, and you can think back to the message that they were trying to convey. 

I really want all of our members to end their year with as much art, physical art in their household as possible. It’s not attached to the NFT so feel free to go sell the NFT on secondary if they want, but at least they’ll have some physical connection to that artist. Then also, something else that’s a little bit of a differentiator for us is, I alluded to it at the start, there’s all of these incredibly talented, real-world artists in terms of painters, sculptors, clay makers, et cetera, et cetera. So just because they haven’t focused in on learning JavaScript, or even if they did start to take it up it would take them a long time to get up to speed, so we’ve also got this little studio model, where we’ve got a team, our team of developers in-house, we lend them. They work as assistants to these well-known offline artists, and they act as head of a studio. 

We’re already working on a few pieces with a few artists on a few collections, and their approach, and the stuff that they come up with, it just brings a whole different light and a whole different angle. They come up with such amazing stuff, so to have that inclusivity for the painter sculptors to get involved in the generative art space, and to get into NFTs has been very rewarding as well.

So back to your original question as to why would an artist come to us, A, inclusivity, in terms of we accommodate you from whatever background, emerging generative artists, established generative artists, offline painter, sculptor, et cetera, et cetera. We’ve got an audience of 5,100 membership passes owned by [inaudible 00:33:27] 2,500 people, of people that are just eager to learn about an artist’s story. They just can’t wait to experience that person’s art, and what better place for an artist to have such … Being an artist is quite an insecure and vulnerable place, you’re really exposing your inner psyche. You’re working on a piece for weeks and weeks and weeks, you don’t know if it’s going to be well-received, and you’ve got such a … with GEN.ART I’m a 100% confident that our community just can’t wait to consume and enjoy. 

On the artist’s side that would just be … it would give me that warm feeling, it would make me feel like, “Ah, this was really, really, really worth it.” It will grow, and it will evolve, but at the moment the space is huge, there’s platform spinning up everyday, it will continue, new platforms will continue to spin up. I guess our differentiated factor, as I said, is that membership model. We’re focusing on the story, the no gas, and the collection of all of those different artists from all different walks of life in terms of online, offline. I guess that’s our selling point.

Tom (34:51):

That’s interesting, [inaudible 00:34:53]. One, I guess, rapid fire question for you on that, does the community offer the artist something that they can’t get elsewhere? Obviously you have the artist on your Discord, and your community’s able to easily talk with them very seamlessly, that’s a thing but what … I guess how engaged are the community members with the artists? Are they out here reviewing the code, or just sourcing them, or just being a dedicated buyer? What role does the community play for the artists?

Notion (35:21):

Everything, all of the above. The best thing is it’s going to continue to evolve, so it’s like whatever mechanisms we put in place, if we opened up a Discord channel or opened up a specific announcement where we were looking for people to look through the efficiency of code, of an artist’s code, or look through XY, people would want to do it. It’s really about us trying to find what values matter, what aligns or what connections we need between the artist and the community, but in terms of the community at the moment, as I said before, there’s no limit. We will very much have an emerging artist’s curation, which is done via the DAO so people can discover artists, they can submit the artists, everyone else can say yes or no, or vote, or whatever. 

Then also, in terms of the code, et cetera, all of our code, all of the artist’s code is accessible. We’re working on our GitHub where people can look through it, so the community can be as involved as they want on any aspect of onboarding the artists, or interacting with the artists. Our goal is always to make ourselves redundant from an operational and administrative perspective. So if you think of all of the stuff that we’re doing at the moment, we would hope that the community can replace this at some point.

Tom (36:56):

That’s fair. I think it’s an interesting model because you have these NFTs out there from each collection, you have thousands [inaudible 00:37:03] that there’s a certain buyer for, a certain collector. Then you have the membership model, then you have the token, so it’s three very different aspects of how you can get involved, and then within the membership model you have basic and then gold, which is interesting. You mentioned earlier on incentives, with the token itself, I guess the most important thing for me would be incentives to keep and maintain the best artists, and also reward your community members. How are you thinking through using, I guess, your token to maybe achieve the incentives that you’re looking for?

Notion (37:35):

Well, it’s just all of those sort of third dimension layers, so everything that you just said. We’re even thinking through like, “How do we achieve giving community members yield in the future?” We’re just about to do a physical gallery show in Europe, and we’re thinking, “Okay, well, if there’s a community member, or a collection of community member that have some really interesting pieces, could they be paid or could they be remunerated for lending us, and lending the gallery their specific pieces?” So having this governance token, and having this tokenomics just gives you so many possibilities in terms of, as I keep saying, in terms of the incentives, and how parties interact with one another. There’s so many examples. Hopefully I answered your question.

Tom (38:32):

No, no, it is. It’s also kind of an evolving thing, given you just launch your token so it’s interesting to see where that goes. The other side of this is just on multi-chain future, do you ever foresee GEN.ART expanding to other chains or staying on Ethereum?

Notion (38:46):

We’re currently investigating. We know … A lot of the big names that we talked to there’s always a little bit of apprehension in terms of the environmental aspect, so we are working, and we will show, or release very shortly a whole sort of carbon neutral aspect. But whenever you’re talking to a big name, like musician, it will definitely attract press, the first thing that I think a few artists have been stung on is that sort of environmental impact. If you look at, and I think that probably played well into why Damien Hirst went to Heni, and went on to L2 because of that environmental aspect. Although most of the community ended up sort of bridging it over to Ethereum or to Mainnet. 

So we are definitely investigating, and ultimately if the community has any strong viewpoints we would encourage them to share them, and obviously whenever the DAO is fully up and functioning, but we’re investigating a couple of L2s to think about potentially launching into. But, at the moment we really just want to focus in on getting GEN.ART in its current sort of incarnation, making it as strong as possible, and attracting as many great artists as possible, and getting as many good drops and collections released. But, yes, to answer your question, 100% we are looking into it. 

Tom (40:30):

That’s fair. It’s definitely, I mean, Ethereum is definitely the place for NFTs right now. I’m definitely seeing Solana, and other chains have some launches. Just to go back a bit, one thing I forgot to talk to you about in detail was, I guess one of the most important things for a GEN.ART, or just a community in general, and that’s curation, right? Choosing the artists that people like, choosing them in a way that it’s your audience deciding, it’s the membership holders deciding or the steering committee, and having people’s wider views known. But then on the flip side, there’s only so many generative art experts, there’s only so many art experts, right?

Notion (41:06):


Tom (41:07):

I guess, how are you handling curation of the artist, and of the artwork that they release on GEN.ART?

Notion (41:12):

Yeah, sure. Good question. Well, to start with we always thought the first, I don’t know, maybe 20, 30, 40 releases, we, as a founding team wanted to give a little bit of a stamp, and a little bit of a first direction to the community. So with that we wanted a lot of variability, we didn’t want to be too homogenous in terms of the types of artists. So you can see in terms of offline, online, emerging, established, et cetera, so variability is very key to us so that we don’t become too samey. Then, also in terms of the different mediums, like we are doing interactive, we’re doing solid, really beautiful pieces that are well-suited to prints. We’re doing video. We’re doing audio. We’re doing … I think at the start is just aim for as high quality as you can and as much variability as you can, and then following that … I think that’s a good guiding post to the community. 

I couldn’t see or I couldn’t envisage a community that wants to focus in on one specific. You want that surprise and delight. I always come back to this in the Discord, if our community is consistently being surprised and delighted, the sky’s the limit. This community will grow and grow, and grow, and become just one of the best, they’ll become one of the best communities in the world. So having that variability, making sure that people are getting surprised and delighted, making sure that it’s obviously high quality, making sure that it’s aesthetically pleasing, making sure that there’s really good messages coming, making sure that we understand what the artist wants to say when they started creating their collection, so all of those things, I think, if we execute or continue to execute upon them GEN.ART will continue to grow and grow and grow. 

To start off with, we obviously focused in on getting as high quality talent as possible. Whenever you’re talking what … NFT space is, it’s crazy, the amount of capital changing hands means that you’re able to attract world-renowned artists because there’s just so much economic activity, which we’re using to our advantage to build up GEN.ART to become one of the, if not the destination for gen art for the next five to 10 years, and hopefully longer. The great thing is, it’s all owned by the DAO, it’s not just some random corporation. Hopefully all of these different ingredients will create a great recipe, and it will thrive and continue as it has over the past few weeks. 

Tom (44:18):

Do you ever foresee drops beyond art, like generative NFTs that have utility in games or in other DAOs or with [crosstalk 00:44:29] projects?

Notion (44:29):

Yup, yup, yup, 100%. Yes. 

Tom (44:32):

That would be fun. I guess somebody would have to. I guess it would be a good partnership opportunity, drop with a game attached, or something of that respect, it probably [inaudible 00:44:40].

Notion (44:40):

We’re already pushing the boundaries in terms of music 3D video, to be able to get the hashing algorithm, to interact from a script perspective through all of these different mediums is challenging, because it’s very rarely been done before, and it’s very rarely been done well before. So we’re always keen for new challenges, new innovations, and we’ve had a heap of fun doing the generative music, generative videos, generative 3D using Houdini. We’ve had a lot of fun over the past few weeks working with some incredibly creative people. I’m actually just blown away by the creativity and talent of people, and whenever we introduce some constraints they just get even more creative. As I’ve said in the Discord, the next few weeks, the next month, next two months is going to be a lot of fun whenever people start to see they didn’t even know that was possible, or whenever they start to ask themselves they’re like, “Wow.”

Tom (45:51):

Yeah, I know, it’s exciting. I’m pretty amped for the next couple of weeks. I guess my other question for you is, I guess I’ve always been a little too binary on competition, probably my finance background here, but we’re clearly in a multi-chain world. We’re clearly in a space where we’re focused on growing the pie more than we are competing with one other, but how do you think you’ll attract, or do you have to attract the artists that are on our blockchain? I know you’ve already had one, the first one, but the giant collectors who own Fidenzas, and the Squiggles, and the Fragments, how do you get those guys interested in GEN.ART?

Notion (46:29):

Very easy, just continue to focus in, you can never go wrong by focusing in on talent, focusing in on art, and focusing in on the story, through that you’re going to find all of the next best collections. I’m super relaxed about that aspect because I know it’s just naturally going to happen, from the double digit artists that I have worked alongside for the past few weeks along with the team, my mind’s been blown multiple times. I’ve collected, and collected Art Blocks many months ago before it was the trendy thing, so for my mind to be blown so consistently I don’t think it’s a matter of attracting collectors from other platforms. As you say, we’re still in the infancy, there’s going to be many, many, many players, there’s going to be an Art Blocks further down the line that is even bigger than anyone could ever imagine. There’s going to be other people into the space that grow to be much larger than GEN.ART, that grow to be much larger than any incumbent.

I think as long as we just hold true to our values in terms of finding the best talent, the most creative talent, focus in on the art, focus in on the story, all of the rest of it will take care of itself. I know that I haven’t even really thought about that question, and my mind’s been blown multiple, multiple times, and I’m super passionate about art, and I’m very fussy, and the stuff that we’ve got coming out is pretty impressive. Again, hopefully I’ve answered your question, but I think just focusing in on art, and focusing in on the story and the message from the artist should be enough to give us our edge.

Tom (48:32):

No, that’s fair. You want to attract the right people, and you can do that by continuing just to crush what you guys are doing, and your focus on the membership community model here. The other side of this is, I guess where, just to close out our conversation here, it’s just like where GEN.ART is going. There’s so many, I guess, missing pieces or issues in the NFT space today, like OpenSea is a giant, but there’s so many issues with the platform. They just seem a little disconnected from the community. There’s-

Notion (48:58):

It’s certainly a little bit buggy. We’ve had our fair share of trying to get all of the metadata to refresh, or it’s been down 10 minutes after we do a draw, for sure. I think they’re a small team, obviously they’ve raised an incredible amount of capital. They’ve, they’ve been fast moving. I think it’s just been especially crazy for them. I think they will eventually settle, and they’ll find their feed, and some of the problems that we’ve come across they’ll start to subside, but that’s it. If they do continue the space has, it moves incredibly fast, and people are incredibly smart, and somebody will come in, and give the end consumer what they want at a better price.

Tom (49:42):

Yeah, I know. I have a lot of respect for that institution, they’re a big team, but people in crypto, they want their feedback answered with a new product in 24 hours, you know? 

Notion (49:51):

Yeah, we [crosstalk 00:49:52] know that. Actually I was talking to a friend and I think, “Yeah, having a Discord is like a direct line of communication to the CEO.” You as sort of CEO, and you as founder, you’ve got so much love for your brand and your company that you just feel obliged to live in there, because you just want to put the best. You are sort of always answerable to thousands of shareholders, and you have to go and jump in, and try and answer as many questions as possible, and I think that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

I think somebody put up some crazy statistic. I think I’ve done an average of 160 messages per day or something on our Discord, so that’s getting back to the fast moving environment of crypto. What other environment do founders have such a dialogue, and such a quick feedback loop with enthusiastic community members, which is why I think it’s maybe one of the secret elements as to why the space innovates so quick, because you got those fast feedback loops, and because you hear from the people that are in your community, and you hear what they want. If you’re talented, if you’re a good team of people, you’ve got good developers, you’ve got good [inaudible 00:51:11], you’ve got good front and backend, et cetera, and you can execute as we’ve been doing over the past while, then you can move fast, and you can really please people. But for your question about us, and where you think the future of GEN.ART, if I’m … Did I guess your question correct? 

Tom (51:31):

No, no, you did. The reason I was asking on the OpenSea side was, I guess I was wondering whether you thought, or you foresee GEN.ART going in the direction of building external things like marketplaces or galleries, or things like that, or more internal, like making it easier for people to code up gen art and stuff like that?

Notion (51:50):

So we’re working on an academy, where we’re getting some of our foundation artists to work on a basic intro, or generative art 101, so what software you need to download, how do you get a Squiggle to go across your screen, and get people interested, and proof, get them actually making something in a practical sense. Then we’ve also got, not just our DAO, but we’re really focusing in on building out all of the different elements of the community. Just really building as fast as we can. 

There was two other elements that we had actually already built a marketplace. We’ve got our marketplace that we’re already building, already half done. We want to make it, leveraging on the Larva Labs sort of precedent, we want to make it very fluid between our members to be able to trade art at a low cost. In terms of gallery, just Chris and I, we’re talking earlier, and we’re going to have, or gallery/Adam, and you straightaway get put into an immersive on cyber experience where you’ve got all of your pieces. You can have that in your Twitter bio, or you can have that wherever, and you can instantly get this. 

If you see all of the work that Facebook is doing with VR and Oculus, et cetera, it’s only a matter of time before that becomes the norm, so you have your headset and you jump into the gallery, and you can walk around it, and you can see it. So we’re working on all of that stuff, and a lot, lot more, but the marketplace very soon, and the gallery, the digital gallery for Oculus very, very soon. So a lot of stuff in the pipeline, it’s just a matter of prioritizing, but we’re moving pretty fast.

Tom (53:55):

That’s totally fair. Have you been able to get your community members to transition from being on Discord buying the drops to, say helping you build the marketplace, the gallery? Are you seeing a transition [crosstalk 00:54:08]?

Notion (54:09):

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Good question. Again, Chris and I were just talking about this today, and I think it was actually … our conversation was the catalyst for, it was Sillytuna speaking on Discord, and he was like, “Oh, we’ve got sort of Discord overload. It’s hard to keep on up. We should move this to GitHub, and we can comment on specific lines of code, and we can make it a little bit more constructive.” We, 100% know that whenever we go that avenue, and whenever we start pushing some of the community that way, that there’s incredibly smart people that will be there helping us and working, and trying to solve problems not just from a hypothetical debate in Discord, an intelligent debate, but from actually nuts and bolts, “Hey, if you move this line of code here, if you change this variable here you’ll be able to.” We are very confident that a lot of the community members will want to take a little bit more of a practical hands-on.

I think our first board call for that is going to be having a little bit more of a conversation and community around the builders, and potentially around that GitHub element where people can contribute. Obviously over time, I presume, I don’t know, the DAO, our whole code base will be open, whether that’s open source or not, I don’t know, TBD. But, I think given enough time, and looking at what’s happened in the past in terms of some element, I think Ghost is a pretty good example in terms of both private corporation and open source public software. I think taking a leaf out of their book from, and I’m speaking here as a DAO member because I’m not thinking of it as, “Oh, GEN.ART founder.” I’m thinking of it in four or five years time what’s going to serve the GEN.ART DAO best, and I think having a mix of those two worlds will push the DAO maybe a bit further, and a bit quicker, but all TBD, but a lot of really interesting stuff, and I’m a 100% certain.

We’ve already seen it, we’ve already got messaged. We had community members already. We had the community come up with the term, the Virgin memberships where’s no mints that happen, and people just keep holding them, and they can sell them on secondary, and give the purchaser the option and the right to go and mint their art. Because obviously what they mint is going to be different had that person who was selling it mint it because of the time, the block number, the wallet, et cetera. We had one of the community members actually build a tool to find where you find these Virgin memberships, and what is the floor price for them. 

You know you’re doing well for the community, or you know you’ve built or introduced the right people to the community when you’ve got this really active builder community, because people don’t build stuff for something that they don’t like. It means that people are engaged, people are really wanting to further, and to pitch in so I’m very excited because they will create something that I can’t even think of, or that the team can’t even think of. That’s where it gets really exciting, because that’s where some creative sparks come, where it’s just two random thoughts that you never thought would collide creates something that’s … create something mind-boggling. 

Tom (57:49):

That’s awesome. Adam, we covered a lot. I really like the community you’re building, we’re obviously holders, but it’s really cool to see a membership model to solve the gas wars, but also in a new space like generative art, where you can have a membership that’s a call option on a community-curated release of art so it’s interesting, but thank you so much for coming on. Where could people get involved in GEN.ART, whether they’re a collector or artist?

Notion (58:15):

So just head to, we really focused in on getting an easy to remember domain, and everything is linked from Over the top right you’ll see Discord for the artists. We’re actually just about to push out an artist page where it makes it really clear that we put you in control of everything in terms of drop size, drop price, the medium, literally everything the artist controls, it’s up to you. So, head there whether you’re an artist or a collector. If you’re a collector … We obviously, our first day went a bit quicker than we thought and all of the membership sold out, so at the moment … for all of eternity there’s never going to be any more memberships, so you got to head over to OpenSea to pick up a membership there. 

Tom (59:03):

That’s awesome, Adam. Thank you so much for coming on, man, really appreciate your time. 

Notion (59:06):

Tom, thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure. 

Show Notes:

(00:00:00) – Introduction.

(00:02:31) – Elevator pitch for GEN.ART.

(00:03:15) – Adam’s background. 

(00:04:40) – Why Adam is passionate about generative art. 

(00:07:31) – Why people should be interested in generative art. 

(00:10:10) – Use cases for NFTs beyond the art. 

(00:12:10) – GEN.ART’s membership model for drops.

(00:17:33) – Why GEN.ART is a DAO.

(00:21:48) – Effects of a few owning a large percentage of memberships.

(00:27:18) – GEN.ART as a collective DAO across collections.

(00:31:03) – Why artists choose GEN.ART.

(00:36:30) – The relationship between the community and the artists.

(00:38:28) – How the $GENART token is being used. 

(00:40:08) – Exploring GEN.ART on other chains. 

(00:42:02) – Curating artists and art. 

(00:45:39) – Drops beyond generative art.

(00:47:14) – Attracting big names in the space.

(00:49:53) – The future of GEN.ART.

(00:55:00) – Getting the community involved in building.

(00:58:48) – Where people can get involved in GEN.ART.