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May 11, 2022

After 3 painstaking years of development in stealth, we launched our Mainnet in January 2021. Our co-founders, Jeff Emanuel, Alexey Kireyev, and Anthony Georgiades had a vision stemming all the way back in 2018 of building a blockchain that was application-specific and purpose built for rare digital collectibles, a novel concept at the time. Rare digital collectibles, or NFTs, were brand new, but they saw that the current infrastructure — such as Ethereum and Bitcoin—were not built to handle the storage requirements and transaction sizes of this emerging ecosystem in order for it to thrive in the years to come.

Well, that dream came to fruition this year.

Pastel’s Preliminary Vision

We launched Pastel with the goal of building a marketplace so that creators, collectors, and builders could benefit from the world-class features and protocols that Pastel had to offer. At its core, it was to be a decentralized system that allowed for creators and collectors to trade NFTs in an entirely decentralized, peer-to-peer manner. A platform built purely to be the alternative to those running on Ethereum — offering a very intuitive interface, negligible fees, proven authentication of NFTs, and reliable storage.

With this objective in mind and our technical prowess already proven, we raised $5M in seed funding from Innovating Capital to continue refining the network and platform while simultaneously building out our marketing and business development program. We employed a less popular development model than most projects coming onto the market today. Unlike other projects who marketed their vision, raised capital, and then started building, we focused on perfecting the technology first.

Then the wheels started turning once again…

After a few months of developing the marketplace, we began to identify that certain gaps in the broader NFT ecosystem were growing larger and larger. We saw major issues not being solved but rather ignored. NFT scams and frauds were innumerable and asset loss due to antiquated and centralized storage solutions was dangerously high. But, again, nothing was being done about it.

We already built the protocols to solve these problems, but they were to be accessible only to those using the marketplace on our native blockchain. That did not sit well with our team because this ecosystem was built with collaboration, decentralization, and open-source in mind. The very nature of decentralization is that no one entity holds the keys to the castle. We had the tools to protect users from scams and asset loss with all the necessary infrastructure to work with layer-1 blockchains and layer-2 DApps.

Additionally, we had a number of layer-1 projects interested in utilizing our protocols on their own networks.

So, we opened our technology to the world.

Pastel Network: the World’s Preeminent Protocol Standard for the NFT Ecosystem

After this revelation, we focused all our efforts on becoming the infrastructure standard for the NFT space. We decoupled our protocols and features, modifying them to be standalone solutions easily capable of integrating across the ecosystem via open-APIs.

Core features are as follows:

Sense Near-Duplicate NFT Detection Protocol: Directly integrate Sense, a lightweight protocol on the Pastel Network, into any project to assess the relative rareness of a given NFT against near-duplicate metadata.

Cascade Protocol for Distributed Storage: Built for speed, scalability, and redundancy, Cascade is a fully distributed, permanent storage solution for on-chain NFT metadata.

Pastel Developer Modules: Develop on-chain marketplaces or third-party applications directly on the Pastel blockchain, supported by a series of protocols, well-documented APIs, and RPC functionality to help builders get started.

Agile Ticket Structure: Easily represent NFT data on the blockchain and add custom features or launch dedicated apps on Pastel using an innovative ticket schema built on intrinsic data integrity.

Sense and Cascade are Truly One-of-a-kind

Sense is a lightweight protocol on the Pastel Network, built to assess the relative rareness of a given NFT against near-duplicate data. Sense can recognize the most subtle similarities between two digital collectibles, even if one has been transformed. The protocol goes beyond the standard “digital fingerprint” approach to establishing the rareness of an NFT and actually looks at the rareness of the pixel patterns in data. While digital fingerprints do allow users to verify that an NFT was created by a particular creator, this is a fairly weak form of rareness. Sense solves this problem by assigning a ‘Relative Rareness Score’ to quantify how rare an NFT is relative to all NFTs in the underlying dataset.

How it works: The software leverages a number of deep learning models using Tensorflow with Keras Applications to transform each NFT into a fixed list of over 10,000 numbers (the ‘NFT fingerprint vector’). It then assesses the correlation between a given fingerprint and the database of all existing fingerprints on Pastel, other NFT marketplaces (e.g., Rarible, OpenSea), and open databases on the entire internet (e.g., Google) and outputs a relative rareness score — a number between 0% (i.e., the NFT is identical to a previously registered NFT) to 100% (i.e., the NFT is completely unique). The Sense Protocol “sees through” superficial changes in the same way as a human eye, and, like a human, can recognize even the most subtle change in an NFT.

Sense protects creators and collectors from fraud, scammers, and outright theft. While we verify the authenticity and provenance using the creator’s digital signatures (like all NFT systems in use), we go much further and assess how rare the underlying pixel patterns of the NFT’s data are. If value is largely a function of rareness, we believe that this additional layer of rareness authentication will result in better valuations for NFT creators. After all, if another creator makes a similar NFT in the future, they will still be able to register it, but it won’t achieve anything close to the rareness score of the original NFT. Platforms are also able to guarantee that any nefarious activity to produce counterfeits in the future will be futile, as any attempts to list duplicate works will result in low rareness scores or possibly flagged for removal.

Now to storage —

Cascade is a purpose-built distributed storage protocol for NFT metadata that is fully redundant, decentralized, and permanent. Pay once, store forever.

The current approach of relying simply upon a TokenID and external hyperlinks to centralized storage servers or unreliable external dependencies like IPFS leaves users highly vulnerable to the loss of assets and requires ongoing external maintenance. Pastel is the first NFT platform to have its own completely integrated, decentralized storage layer based on the advanced technologies of RaptorQ and Kademlia. We ensure that the underlying digital asset itself is uploaded, verified, and registered on Pastel’s Cascade Protocol — rather than just the token with which it is minted. Through a series of smart tickets living on the Pastel Network, creators can store their masterpieces in a distributed fashion that is tightly coupled and indelible from the NFT itself.

How it works: Cascade Storage Protocol, leveraging the RaptorQ fountain code algorithm, begins by breaking each asset up in a series of redundant chunks. Every chunk contains certain random fragments of the combined file which is distributed redundantly across participating SuperNodes running on the network. Two parameters that control how the data is encoded into chunks: 1) the size of each chunk and 2) the desired redundancy factor. The sets of chunks are then randomly distributed across network nodes using the Kademlia DHT algorithm. No complex or centralized system for deciding which node is responsible for which chunk, no iteration through SuperNodes to find one with the relevant chunk, and no complicated logic for handling chunk re-allocation in the case of SuperNodes entering and leaving the network.

These protocols are truly game changers. Sense is the first of its kind in the ecosystem, and Cascade is the true alternative to centralized storage.

Marketing and Business Development Recalibration for Pastel as the Layer-1 NFT Infrastructure Standard

With this new focus, we went heads down shedding light on these pervasive problems plaguing the NFT ecosystem, while making known that the solutions we created for these problems were easily accessible.

Our team traveled the world speaking at conferences and meeting with different projects and platforms in order to educate this ever-growing community on what Pastel has to offer.

Our team conducted countless AMAs and interviews to spread the word as well as wrote educational articles to provide a clearer picture on what the issues were and how Pastel solves them.

And, our efforts bore fruit.

We closed out 2021 by partnering with TomoChain — a native layer-1 blockchain — to integrate Sense and Cascade across its NFT standard.

But, we are not stopping there. 2022 is poised to be even bigger.

2022 Roadmap

Pastel will carry the momentum from 2021 and continue providing our world-class infrastructure to the NFT ecosystem.

In 2022, we are focused on:

  • Expediting development releases for a number of our internal projects — such as with versions Cezanne, Monet, Van Gogh, and Kubo;
  • Building stronger blockchain bridges, specifically with Ethereum, Solana, Avalanche, Polkadot, and Polygon;
  • Expanding our network of partners with more native layer-1s, layer-2 DApps, and third-party enterprises;
  • Delivering more user incentive programs; and
  • Launching user-focused products.

Continuous Development Releases

Coming into 2022, we have revamped our entire development cycle to allow for faster, more frequent releases. Given that we are a native layer-1 application-specific blockchain, this is now more critical than ever. Each release cycle is well-planned, methodical, and heavily tested prior to a full Mainnet release.

We have been working on our largest upgrade, Cezanne, since our initial Mainnet release went live in January 2021. We anticipate that Cezanne will be fully deployed to Mainnet by the end of Q1. Subsequently, we will be following tight, quarterly release cycles. Each upgrade is composed of 4 distinct 2-week sprints resulting in a Testnet launch, and then subsequently 4 individual 1-week sprints for further development, de-bugging, and testing towards a Mainnet release.

Our various release cycles are well-intended to lead to major on-chain Mainnet enhancements. Overall, the upgrades will result in improved performance, increased scalability, revamped reward / incentive mechanics, more paths to increase PSL burn, and numerous blockchain-level optimizations that will make the Pastel Network stronger than ever.

Core areas of focus include:

  • Sense and Cascade Open-API full Mainnet release
  • Sense Protocol upgrade to include sharding for increased performance and scalability
  • Cascade Protocol upgrade to include storage-challenges for enhanced incentive measures and security
  • NFT CDN and ‘hot file’ caching via SuperNodes
  • Upgrades to smart-ticket structure to add overall NFT functionality
  • Pastel Improvement Proposal #01 (PIP-01) resulting in SuperNode governance upgrades (bonded stake, slashed rewards)
  • Full release of Pastel Developer modules with well-documented APIs and gRPC functionality
  • PIP-02 resulting in an enhanced consensus mechanics
  • Security improvements to harden against attack vectors

More Bridges and Cross-Chain Integrations

Pastel Network was founded around the idea that multiple chains will thrive over time. As a result, our core infrastructure was designed in such a way that Pastel can interact with a variety of other crypto ecosystems in a seamless fashion.

Wrapped-Pastel on Ethereum is already enabled on the Pastel Network, allowing users to access native PSL and its diverse array of use-cases directly on Ethereum. This year, our community can expect to see many more integrations with other chains such as Solana, Avalanche, and Polkadot. As more networks are bridged to Pastel, users within other ecosystems (e.g., OpenSea), can directly benefit from the wide breadth of Pastel functionality such as storage and certification. This also will be to drive overall network acquisition growth.

Further Partnership Launches

We are intensifying our business developments effort in order to increase our footprint in the NFT ecosystem. Given the interoperability of the platform and the integrability of our protocols and solutions — including Sense, Cascade, and our Developer Modules — we can target all of the major verticals in the market: native layer-1 blockchains (e.g. Solana, Avalanche, and Flow), layer-2 marketplaces and DApps (e.g. OpenSea, Decentraland, and Metaplex), and third-party enterprises (e.g. DraftKings, Artsy, and WME).

We are positioned well to pursue these target verticals and build on our recent successes.

Ongoing Incentive Programs

In 2022, we are focused on increasing the overall network usage by further incentivizing and rewarding activity in a variety of formats. Initially, we will be launching an incentive campaign to catalyze staking interest and garner enthusiasm to operate SuperNodes. This campaign will be performance-driven and will include rewards, such as PSL airdrops and NFT giveaways.

User-Focused Products

Despite our strategic pivot to an infrastructure integration business model — servicing projects and platforms — we firmly believe that the individual user, or consumer, is a major priority. This year, we remain committed to launching various user-facing products. To start, we will be launching two products that will allow consumers to leverage the next-generation protocols and solutions we offer to our partners, but in easy-to-use and intuitive interfaces.

We are beyond excited to bring these products to market because they have the ability to carry the NFT ecosystem into a very prosperous future.

Closing Remarks

2021 was just a warmup. We expertly navigated this rapidly evolving environment making key strategic decisions for the betterment of the project and the market as a whole. And, now, we are positioned to make a very big splash.

We have never been more focused and inspired to make 2022 legendary. We will continue to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity in order to usher Pastel to the forefront of the ecosystem as the preeminent NFT protocol standard for NFTs.

We have no doubts this will happen, so come join us for the ride of a lifetime!

About Pastel Network

Pastel is the world’s preeminent protocol standard for NFT technology. Pastel also allows for the development of third-party applications to sit on top of its Network, enabling developers to enjoy the scalable registration features, storage processes and security of the broader ecosystem. Lightweight protocols such as Sense — which was built to assess the relative rareness of a given NFT against near-duplicate metadata — and Cascade — which conducts permanent, distributed storage of underlying NFT data — can be integrated across any native L1 blockchains or L2 marketplaces.

Pastel is an entirely native blockchain supported by SuperNodes, which provides computational resources to the network to support asset registration, distribution, and permanent storage. Pastel is managed by world-class developers, cryptographers, and technologists, supported alongside an experienced and extensive network of marketers, influencers, and third-party agencies. Pastel is backed by key stakeholders including Innovating Capital, a prominent venture fund.

“This article was first published by our team here: https://medium.com/pastelnetwork/pastel-2021-in-review-whats-to-come-in-2022-70032b6a75dd

admin
August 2, 2022

The “Floydies” NFTs have sparked a contentious debate over intellectual property within the NFT world after an NFT collection of George Floyd caricatures in diverse costumes and settings emerged. 

George Floyd was an African-American man who was wrongly murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in May 2020. The police officer behind the crime was sentenced to 22 and a half years in jail for killing the father of five by kneeling on his throat for more than nine minutes. 

The tragic event triggered the United States’ largest racial justice protests since the Civil Rights Movement, spearheaded by the“Black Lives Matter” (BLM) organization. Interestingly, BLM  went far beyond the nation, inspiring a global reckoning with racism across the globe. 

Nonetheless, the initial collection of Floydies NFTs was released by anon curators on OpenSea starting on December 7—a week after the police officer who killed Floyd plead not guilty. OpenSea took the collection of NFTs down following backlash from those concerned about equality and human rights

Some believe digital art is “overtly racist caricatures.” The project attracted labels such as “horrible,” and many campaigned for their reporting and removal from marketplaces like OpenSea. Others claimed to perceive the digital assets as a “commemoration” of the life of George Floyd. 

Please note that this article isn’t intended to be a commentary on the social issues surrounding George Floyd’s murder, but an exploration of the debacle surrounding the “Floydies.” 

The History of Floydies 

The original Floydies weren’t very financially successful on OpenSea before being pulled down, but were the target of much criticism on Twitter. The highest-priced NFT costs 0.05 ETH ($97.39). The lowest-priced cost 0.007 ETH ($13.72).

The curator of the first drop of Floydies used Twitter to announce the drop and link to the collection on OpenSea. The post gained over 3,000 likes and 4,100 retweets in just three weeks.

Many dubbed versions of Floydies NFTs followed. The highest bid for one of the non-fungible tokens was $12k. Others sold for significantly less. 

Despite OpenSea kicking off many versions of Floydies, anon curators continue dropping other versions—“George Floyd Defender of Ukraine”, “George Floyd on the Moon”, “George Floyd Explore the Sea”, “In Memory of George Floyd 108” and “George Floyd on the Moon Shining”. 

Following the popularity of Floydies, another marketplace, Scatter Art, continued selling NFTs of George Flloyd. Although, it recently erased the collection regarding copyright issues:

Unlike OpenSea, the project removal had nothing to do with racial scrutinization. 

Floydies Digital Art – Yay or Nay? 

Many NFT projects write descriptions regarding the reasons behind their project to entice buyers. The description on OpenSea for the original collection of Floydies NFTs stated: “Owning a Floydie is a great way to express yourself and your beliefs! Floydies are a unique and progressive way to celebrate the monumental life of George Floyd”.

Although the blockchain applies human rights activism in numerous ways, many find this hard to believe concerning Floydies. 

The main issue with these NFTs is that there’s no sign of the proceeds going towards good causes, like Floyd’s family, Black Lives Matter, and the George Floyd Memorial Foundation. Further, the creators were anon. 

There’s no excuse for the proceeds not being donated. One of the most significant benefits of NFTs is that curators can easily donate auction proceeds using marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible. All curators need to do is set a payout address to their given organization’s cryptocurrency wallet address in advance. 

Thus, people have turned to Twitter to voice their outrage over the anon curators behind Floydies using the homicide for financial gain:

Another concern regarding Floydies is what the imagery manifests. Many different types of Floydies have circled the Web3 space. The digital assets showcase tasteless designs, such as Floyd dressed as a police officer, angel, astronaut, minion, standing in front of a trans flag, and much more. 

It’s important to note that buyers also needed an “N word” pass to access the first collection of Floydies NFTs after purchase.

Nevertheless, the repercussions haven’t prevented other crypto collectors from being drawn to the collection and showing off their purchases on the social media site: 

As you can see, Floydies NFTs and other George Floyd derived and inspired works of art draw much criticism. 

Using NFTs to Fight for Racial Equality

Following Floydies and the many dubbed versions, George Floyd’s brother, Terrance Floyd, created his own much more tasteful collection. 

There are 9,000  “SEENINJUSTICE” NFTs in collaboration with Confront Art on the Flow blockchain. The digital assets feature George Floyd sculptures alongside Breonna Taylor ones. 

Sadly, Taylor was also killed in America by the police in 2020. She was shot by one of the seven police officers who broke into her apartment in Kentucky to investigate a drug dealing operation. 

Unlike the above collections, these NFTs highlight the need to fight for justice whilst raising money for relevant charities—The Breonna Taylor Foundation, the John and Lillian Miles Lewis Foundation, and We Are Floyd Org.

Additionally, the NFT charity campaign also partners with the families of the late Rep. John Lewis, alongside participation from the TV host and Grammy Award-winning singer, Dionne Warwick: 

Final Thoughts

Many Floyd NFTs that degrade the African-American wrongly murdered by a policeman in the States are circling. The project scorns not only George Floyd and his beloved family but also progressivism, equality, and other politics behind the black culture. 

If you are interested in holding a mini George Floyd in your wallet, you can purchase a “SEENINJUSTICE” NFT, the collection launched by the Floyd family, donating to relevant charities.

The Floydies collection has since been removed from Opensea

Anyone disheartened by some of the characters of Floyd continuously swirling around the sphere can do their part by reporting the projects’ Twitter and Openseas accounts. Many of these projects are money grabs by anons seeking to exploit what was a nationally painful moment. 
If you want to show support without purchasing a “SEENINJUSTICE” NFT, you can pledge directly to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation. Donations support critical work to inform, unite, engage communities and fight for justice.

Andrew Amarosa
July 20, 2022

More blockchain platforms are coming into existence, continuously evolving the Web3 world. Of course, each claims to be the best of its kind. But, unlike some, Solana’s blockchain network has much to boast about—particularly its NFT marketplace, Solsea. 

Solana addresses common Web3 challenges, making the blockchain’s secondary marketplace all the more appealing. For example, Ethereum faces high gas fees due to the prices of gas fluctuating concerning network congestion. Contrastingly, Solana is arguably the fastest moving blockchain. It has the tech to roll out more than 20,000 transactions per second (TPS) at peak load, eliminating congestion issues entirely. 

Thus, purchasing Solana NFTs on its very own marketplace is the way forward for cheaper mints and purchases. 

But what other perks does Solsea have, and how can the secondary marketplace benefit you? 

What is Solsea? NFT and Secondary Marketplace Perks 

To better understand Solsea, grasping the concepts behind NFT marketplaces is vital. Like an art exhibition in the physical world, NFT marketplaces are galleries in the digital world. But instead, each marketplace is a hub for people to auction or buy their favourite digitized content. 

Thus, creators can make money directly from their work, and collectors can own a rare piece of content that they solely own.

Think of it like an art gallery that doubles as a 24/7/365 marketplace for art. 

The use cases of NFTs showcased on the marketplace are endless. Some include crypto domain name ownership, real estate, identification and documentation, and even real-world assets. You can find anything you want in a digital asset on such marketplaces at contrasting prices. Your most-loved celebrity may even own the NFT collection you have your eye on. 

But what makes Solsea unique compared to others?

In contrast to OpenSea, which accepts the cryptocurrencies Ethereum (ETH), Klatyn (KLAY), Polygon (MATIC), and Solana (SOL), Solsea only accepts SOL and a few FIAT currencies (USDC and USDT) for transactions. 

Minting costs also change depending on which marketplace you use. As you may have experienced firsthand, an ETH-based marketplace like OpenSea charges an arm and a leg to mint NFTs.

Solsea is hailed for its cheap experience, but again, the only NFTs available here are based on SOL. 

On top of fees during the minting process, OpenSea also takes a 2.5% profit once an NFT sells, whereas Solsea charges a 2% fee after each successful purchase. 

Other advantages of Solsea include: 

  • Airdrops for upcoming projects
  • Participants can schedule NFT drops ahead of time to avoid missing project launches
  • The first-ever NFT marketplace that enables curators to select and incorporate their licenses while minting NFTs
  • Ahead of the chain for embedding copyright-licenses into NFTs during the minting process
  • A straightforward and easy-to-use interface for uploading NFT collections 
  • Each fully verified and minted Solsea NFT highlights trait statistics and rarity ranks
  • Curators can list their NFTs for sale to the public or privately for more exclusive or more comprehensive purchases

Another plus is that Solsea handles creators’ royalties. When minting an NFT on Solsea, curators can set the percentage of royalties they want to receive (e.g., 10%). Therefore, each time an NFT sells on the secondary marketplace, you can receive a percentage of the royalties set by the current owner. 

How to Join Solsea 

If the above perks appeal to you, take a look through Solsea for yourself.

First, create a Solana wallet on Phantom–buying, storing, or trading NFTs on Solsea is impossible unless creating one. 

Upon following the straightforward guidelines shown on the site to create your wallet, you can deposit your Solana tokens. Make sure you have at least 0.2 worth of SOL in your account; otherwise your wallet will show as being invalid. 

Whether you want to be an NFT curator or to join the marketplace for buying and selling purposes, you must create a Solsea account using a valid email address and private password. 

Write down your login information and tuck it away out of reach of hackers.   

Solsea Minting Tips

Hurrah, you now know the basics for creating a Solsea account. Now it’s time to create your own personal NFT collection held on the Solana blockchain

Solsea can be a bit challenging for crypto novices and first-time curators; but don’t get overwhelmed by the buzzwords or confusing features. Here is some advice and potential hurdles you may face while minting your NFT collection: 

  • Be prepared to connect your Phantom wallet to your Solsea account due to being locked on for security purposes. Keep your login information within reach to save time
  • Describe your collection of NFTs as thoroughly as possible while using few words due to the description section having a tight word limit 
  • Be aware of no bulk option if wanting to create multiple NFTs in one collection. Mint each NFT individually if wishing to switch up the artwork
  • Patience while minting your NFT is necessary. The process takes a hot second, especially if your computer power and Wi-Fi signal isn’t the speediest
  • Be prepared to lose a little bit of SOL if uploads fail. But fear not, each transaction roughly costs around $0.075
  • Free up some time over the platform requiring 3 transactions—2 for minting (approve, wait, approve), and 1 for setting the price. Each transaction is nonsensical regarding Phantom’s approval system. You will also be unsure how much the transaction fee will be until the minting process is complete. Although, don’t let this put you off—minting charges are never too steep 
  • You cannot set the price during the minting process. Instead, once successfully minting your NFT, go to your Phantom wallet, click the second tab not in focus by default that shows your NFTs, then click the list button
  • The combination of the three transactions costs approximately $2 total per NFT. Reasonable prices compared to Ethereum, which typically charges around $70-$100 when minting for the first time 

As you can see, Solsea has a few kinks that need ironing out. However, now that you have the know-how to mint your very own collection and overcome potential issues, the process should be relatively straightforward. 

Buying and Trading Advice—Happy NFT Hunting

So, let’s figure out how to use the secondary marketplace wisely to get the most bang for your buck.

On the main page of the Solsea platform, you can see important information about the platform and featured collections. You can easily filter out projects to find a collection that best suits you. You can find it all when looking for music, art, photography, gaming, virtual, or utility NFTs. Other filters include price, rank, likes, views, categories, licenses, and rarity ranks.

With that said, once finding an NFT you desire, you can check out the history of the digital assets, including its sales history and price, before deciding whether or not it is a good investment or a reasonable sale. 

Once reviewing all information, click “Buy NFT” and confirm the transaction in your Phantom wallet. You will now own an NFT, which is viewable in your profile and the “Collections” section of your wallet. Although, it’s critical to note that Solsea is not 100% clear of imposter collections. It’s wise to join project community channels on Discord, Twitter, and Telegram to help notice suspicious activities. You can also voice concerns to other community members and project management on such sites.

Andrew Amarosa
July 20, 2022

NFT sales have come a long way since the first-ever mint in 2014. The digital assets mostly began taking the Internet by storm in the midst of the pandemic; people had more time to see what this Web3 malarkey is all about, and more NFT artists began flooding the space. 

Digital artists like Beeple, Pak and Tyler Hobbs regularly sell their NFT artwork for more than six figures. 

What makes their NFT projects stand out compared to others? Check out these top 10 historic NFT artists and what they brought to the blockchain: 

Pak (Murat Pak)

The anonymous NFT curator Pak, known as Murat Pak, is top of the NFT ladder. One of his Merge NFTs sold for a whopping $91.8 million, making it the most expensive sale to date. Buyers with the most significant stakes can trade and buy shares in other markets for higher prices. 

Pak is also well-known for creating NFTs with unique use cases. For example, his Clock Censored* collection consists of a timer that counts the number of days Assange has spent in prison. The former WikiLeaks publisher faces 175 years in jail over extradition to the US. 

Interestingly, a DAO fighting for Assange’s rights—AssangeDAO—won the NFT bid for approximately $52.7 million. The cypherpunks gave 100% of the proceeds to the Wau Holland Foundation, which supports Assange’s defense. 

It’s challenging to know precisely how much Pak is worth, seeing as the anon artist is a mystery in the sphere. However, between February 2020 and April 2022, the curator sold more than 180,300 NFTs. The total NFT market cap for the digital assets currently stands at around $430 million. 

Murat Pak’s works typically sell for $6.5k on average. 

Beeple

Mike Winkelmann, “Beeple”, shocked the world when his NFT collection Everydays: The First 5000 Days was sold for $69.3 million (38535 ETH). The event created an NFT hype and hit the headlines in mainstream media in 2021. 

Beeple’s digital work comes down to other valuable factors: he accumulated a vast fan base, with more than 2.5 million followers across social channels. His projects are often described as prolific. For example, his “Everydays” art piece is a collage of his digital artwork of the first 5000 days he began creating digital art from start to finish. Although not only does the digital art present a glimpse into Beeple’s artistic journey, but also a timeline of the United States history in real-time. 

Beeple has sold 1,351 NFTs in total that cost an entire value of $176,201,356. 

His average sale price for an NFT is $130,422.91.

Tyler Hobbs (Art Blocks)

Since joining Art Blocks in June 2021, computer scientist and generative artist, Tyler Hobbs, has caused a storm among NFTs. His most famous collection, Fidenza, made more than $177 million in secondary sales, turning him into a crypto multi-millionaire. 

Fidenza #946

Like other Art Blocks curators, he creates his now-viral art entirely from raw lines of code rather than using Photoshop and other popular photo editing tools. Although, differently, Hobbs is most famous for incorporating different hues and creating unique textures through algorithms, making his work one of the most versatile generative art styles to date. 

Tyler Hobbs has sold 1012 NFT masterpieces, making his total NFT value stand at nearly $120 million. 

On average, one of his NFTs costs around $115k. 

Dmitri Cherniak 

Dmitri Cherniak has been a long-time crypto aficionado but didn’t mint his own NFTs until 2019. 

Since then, Cherniak joined Art Blocks, creating his own generative art pieces through algorithms, similar to Hobbs. Despite only selling 875 NFTs in total, he stays ahead of the game over his Ringers collection, accumulating enough financial gain. 

Cherniak’s artwork focuses on geometric shapes and vibrant colors. Although, some of his artwork is in black and white. 

Ringers #463

Thanks to his Ringers collection, his current NFT value is close to the billion mark, standing at around $99 million. 

Cherniak’s highest sale for one Ringers NFTs is $2,682,000. 

Although, these digital assets usually sell for $112,365.58.

XCopy 

Hitting the top five is the anonymous artist XCopy, who also showcases his collection on Art Blocks.

Unlike the above Art Blocks artists mentioned, XCopy’s artwork is not generative. Instead, the anonymous NFT creator mints various collections on multiple platforms, including SuperRare, KnownOrigin, NiftyGateway and Async. 

The digital artist’s work typically consists of spooky-looking themes, featuring skulls and dramatic lighting that explore “death, dystopia and apathy through distorted visual loops”. However, like all art, collectors can perceive his work however they wish. 

XCOPY – “All Time High in the City”

XCopy has sold 9,543 NFTs, with his highest sale being $6.2 million—thanks to his All Time High in the City collection. 

His total NFT value is around $90 million, with his most famous ones typically selling for more than $9k each.

Matt DesLauriers

Like Tyler Hobbs and Dmitri Cherniak, Matt DesLauriers is another creative coder representing some of the most famous generative art on the Art Blocks platform.

Unlike other abstract pieces found on the platform, DesLauriers’ artwork is representational at first glance. His NFTs similarly showcase contrasting strokes of colour, giving an abstract effect. But, differently, you can notice 2D and 3D landscapes of high peak mountains. 

Matt DesLauriers has sold 2,070 NFTs. 

Meridian #327

DesLauriers’ most expensive digital asset, Meridian #327, sold for $36,963.58. In total, his digital assets are worth $55 million. 

Hackatao

The name Hackatao is fitting for this NFT project. “Hack” means discovering hidden meanings, whereas “Tao” is Yin and Yang for representing a dynamic balance. 

Hackatao is famous for both his NFT work as for physical pieces. Both styles showcase vibrant and expressive illustrations of female characters. 

Although, the most soared after NFTs created by Hackatao represent everyday issues regarding humanity, the environment and society. 

A well-known project created by Hackatao is Queen of Silence #3/5. The tattoo-styled, quirky piece of art features a woman with skulls, animals and dreams embedded into her body—representing her inner thoughts and demands. 

So far, Hackatao has sold 9184 NFTs, making a total market cap of $42,079,970.32. 

The NFTs typically sell for nearly $5K, although one sold for approximately $940k. 

Snowfro (Erick Calderon) 

Erick Calderon—who goes by the name Snowfro—is an iconic Web3 enthusiast who’s had an incredible journey. Not only is he renowned for being the founder of the Art Blocks generative NFT platform, but his iconic “Chromie Squiggles” generative NFT took the Web3 world by surprise.

Despite the generative art not looking like much at first glance, each Chromie Squiggle “embodies the soul of the Art Blocks platform”. Thus, collectors consider it as a personal signature from Snowfro himself. 

There are six contrasting types of Chromie Squiggles—fuzzy, ribbed, bold, standard, slinky, and pipe. He makes all styles from code that displays different characteristics and varies in rarity.

Chromie Squiggle #4697

Mystery also plays a big part in the project. Interestingly, collectors don’t know which squiggle they will acquire until after purchase.  

To date, the most expensive Chromie Squiggle is Chromie Squiggle #2227, with one selling for $26k. 

The average sale price for these digital assets is around $12K, boosting the project’s total market cap to approximately $38K. 

Richard Lord 

Richard Lord is yet another NFT curator reaping the benefits of being an artist on the Art Blocks platform. 

Lord’s most talked about NFT collection is Geometry Runners. The artwork represents animated geometric shapes “walking” across tiles. The collection’s colours vary from being mutable to bright. 

Geometry Runners has a total value of more than $30 million, with collectors purchasing 1,423 in total.  The highest bid for a Geometry Runner NFT is $28k. However, most sell for around $21k. 

Monica Rizzolli 

Last but not least, Monica Rizzolli joins the list of the top ten NFT artists. And, guess what, she’s another Art Blocks curator—who would’ve thought it? 

Being lucky enough to live in the Brazilian countryside, Rizzoli shows off her surroundings through digital art. And gosh, is it stunning. Her NFT collection consists of generative, abstract art. Although, she also highlights natural world forms, like flowers and leaves. 

Despite being bottom of the list, she still has six figures to be proud of. Her most famous collection is Fragments of an Infinite Field #570, assisting towards a total market cap of $30 million. 

The highest and average sale price for one of her NFTs is $29k. 

Final Thoughts: The Evolving Popularity of NFT Artists

The top 10 Web3 millionaires mentioned above bring something unique to the blockchain. Nevertheless, many other noteworthy NFT artists are floating around the space—all of which also show off six figures. 

There are a few trends we’ve gathered:

  1. Many of the top-selling NFT artists are anon. Collectors find the mystery appealing, as evidenced by the high-flying collections from Pak, XCopy and Hackatoa.
  2. The Art Blocks platform is a powerhouse. Buyers purchasing generative art on the platform do not fully know which digital assets they will receive until after forking out crypto to acquire one. 
  3. The personal allure and branding of the creator adds to the mystique. Beeple, for instance, has built his following by creating daily pieces over a decade. 

Of course, this list likely will change in time, as new generations of famous Web3 artists regularly appear on secondary marketplaces like OpenSea.

Anthony Georgiades
July 6, 2022

Punk and ape avatars are replacing duck faces and beach bodies on social media sites. But what do they stand for? 

Such avatars randomly popping up on Twitter and other social channels are PFP NFTs—an abbreviation for profile picture non-fungible tokens. To understand the concept behind the bizarre-looking characters used for social status, delving into the meanings behind PFP NFTs is vital. 

Here’s everything you need to know about PFP NFTs and more: 

PFP NFTs – What? 

PFP NFTs are digital artwork on the blockchain acquired in exchange for cryptocurrency. 

Collectors of PFP NFTs can change their social profile pictures from posey images of themselves (or furry friends) to these digital assets.

More social platforms are integrating NFT PFPs into their ecosystems to make the change of profile possible. If you encounter an avatar in a hexagon on someone’s Twitter profile, they’ve switched their selfie to an NFT. Meta’s Instagram also showcases PFP NFT collections, alongside other notable and recognizable names dabbling in the space. 

The BAYC collection, on OpenSea

The likelihood of those skeptical of crypto hacks sneering at the profile change is high. Still, there is much more to this digital art than what meets the eye. 

The Perks of PFP NFTs

PFP NFTs can boost and strengthen social status while acting as supportive environments for all beings. Check out the World of Women, for example. The PFP NFT project funds 15% of sales proceeds to support female artists’ projects and gives an additional 7.5% to relevant charities. Consequently, collectors can express themselves and what they stand for by displaying their most favoured NFT on their chosen social channels—replacing vain selfies most likely found cringe-worthy years later. 

Some of the most high-flying PFP NFTs cost six figures alone:

  • CryptoPunk #7523 ($11.7 million)
  • Doge #1355 ($4 million)
  • Meebit #10761 ($2.78 million)
  • SMB #1355 ($2.1 million)
  • Cool Cat #1490 ($1.41 million)

Thus, it is no surprise that collectors may want to show off their quirky (and ridiculously expensive) purchases. 

The Rise of PFP NFTs: When did PFP Become the “In” Thing?

The widespread use of PFP NFTs followed CryptoPunks releasing the first collection of PFP NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain in 2017. 

And boy, are they glad they did.

Lava Labs – the curators of CryptoPunks – initially minted their collection of pixelated punks for free, but the prices of the digital assets soon rose alongside the demand for NFTs. The most expensive CryptoPunk, Punk #7523, sold for $11.7 million alone, alongside someone purchasing a bundle of nine for $17 million a few months later. Considering the collection includes 10,000 NFTs, the team behind Lava Labs are laughing. Even so, it took a hot second for other NFT projects to latch onto the initiative. CryptoPunks remained the only PFP project available on secondary marketplaces six months after the leading launch (a long time for a market continuously evolving). 

Other PFP projects began to crop up half a year later, including the ever-so-famous Bored Ape Yacht Club and World of Women. 

To further put the power of PFP NFTs into perspective, the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s collection stands at more than $1 billion. CryptoPunks also has an outstanding market cap of $300 million, alongside the World of Women, with a total sales volume of $55 million. 

The Pros and Cons of NFT Profile Pictures

Unfortunately, industry concerns and issues follow most successful projects. So, let’s dig into the good, the bad, and the ugly of PFP NFTs.

The benefits of these types of NFTs boil down to numerous advantages. The digital assets showcase valuable content viewable on social sites while creating a bonding community with similar owners. Like a digital classic car club, the movement becomes more significant than the art itself. Look at Bored Ape Yacht, for instance. BAYC holders are one of the most active crypto-oriented communities on Twitter and in real life. Weed, apparel, trading cards, P2E games, and tickets to live events all have a part to play in the project’s popularity—influencing similar crypto projects to think outside the box.

Other notable pros of PFP NFTs include:

  • Ownership of state-of-the-art digital assets
  • A record of authenticity and ownership verifiable on-chain (smart contracts)
  • Being a part of a decentralized market with high growth and wealth potential 
  • Weeding out the middlemen—supporting creatives by allowing them to solely sell to collectors while keeping all profits and royalties made
  • Access to community platforms, like Discord, and voting power on upcoming project plans (depending on the project)

Unfortunately, like most good things, there is usually a catch. As NFTs became the in-thing, hackers latched on to the movement—doing anything and everything to get their hands on the digital goods. When considering likely occurrences of real-life hacks, you will soon realise crypto is no different. For example, if you attach your image to a piece of artwork that costs $500k, you will undoubtedly become an instant target for savvy hackers who will do whatever they can to get at it. Hence, many people on-chain are anon. 

Scams aren’t the only reason people turn their noses up at NFTs. Other causes are:

  • Uncertainty in value regarding the current bear market
  • Use of significant amounts of energy
  • Steep gas fees depending on the demand of the project 
  • Ownership does not mean complete control—although buyers own the NFT, they do not control its duplication or distribution across platforms (unless purchasing the crypto domain)

But are these downfalls enough to clear out PFP NFTs for good? 

Final Thoughts: Are PFP NFTs Still Hot?

Although the crypto market is going through a tough time and bearly standing (har, har), the PFP NFT market is far from dead. 

Positive steps towards the future of the blockchain are in the works. Many crypto firms are doing their utmost to make buying and trading on-chain more scalable, secure, and sustainable. The underlying blockchain network, Ethereum, is no different. 

Developers behind Ethereum are working toward eliminating its current consensus mechanism from Proof-of-Work (POW) to Proof-of-Stake (POS). Reasons include the network using less energy and decreasing the risks of centralization and attacks for happier, decentralized purchases. Let’s hope technical issues stop interrupting the update shortly so we can enjoy the perks. 

It’s important to note that getting in early on a successful project is usually adequate for those wanting to use PFP NFTs to trade for financial gain and reap benefits down the line. Although, if launch dates slip your mind, fear not. Plenty of profile picture-worthy NFTs are circling the space—most of which vary in price and supply appealing benefits. 

Whether music, sports, fashion, gaming, or real estate is your thing, there is a project with your name on it. Your favourite celebrity may even own the collection you desire. 

Some of the hottest, most recent PFP NFT drops include Otherdeed for Otherside, Moonrunners, MrFoxReligion, Dooplicator, Doodles, and goblintown.wtf—check them out on OpenSea. 

Andrew Amarosa
May 29, 2022

Bull or bear market, 2020 and 2021 will forever be cemented in NFT history.

Reports have shown that NFTs garnered the most profit ($17.7 billion) in the crypto space in 2021 – the market exploded by over 20,000 percent from the year prior. The total value of transactions jumped from $82.5 million to over $17 billion. 

However, the times are changing– namely, the technology behind NFT platforms and various mechanisms is improving significantly. 

Today, we’re going to explore NFT minting– how much does it cost to mint an NFT today, and how will this be different in years to come? Read along as we explore what “minting” an NFT is and more. 

What Does Minting an NFT Mean?

A common misconception about NFTs is that people often confuse minting NFTs with buying NFTs. There’s a fundamental difference. Minting an NFT means creating something completely new on the blockchain. 

It’s ‌converting a digital file into a digital asset that lives on the blockchain, whether that asset is digital art, music, or collectibles like sports and trading cards. However, it’s not like the blockchain is hosting the files for the NFT itself– that would cause the blockchain to become incredibly bloated and inefficient.

Remember, an NFT is just a token; this token represents the ownership of a specific digital asset. It’s not the screenshot of the Bored Ape Yacht Club that’s valuable; it’s the token. 

Minting an NFT means publishing your unique token on a blockchain to make it purchasable by other people. 

NFTs are minted on a blockchain. Ethereum’s blockchain is very popular for minting NFTs, including Solana, Cardano, Tezos, and more. 

You can buy NFTs on a marketplace like OpenSea– and sometimes, these platforms will also allow creators to mint their NFTs. 

However, many projects will first launch on a third-party site dedicated to the minting of the project; the fees you can expect to pay are usually only those for the network, which can be a princely sum themselves.

How Much Does OpenSea Charge for Minting NFTs?

OpenSea is the most popular NFT marketplace. Primarily for Ethereum-based NFTs, OpenSea announced the addition of Solana NFTs to their marketplace in Q1 2022. 

OpenSea requires users to pay two fees before minting their digital assets on the platform. These minting prices aren’t fixed: they can be higher or lower depending on the function you seek to perform. 

The first fee you’ll pay as a first-time creator is used to initialize your account. As of April 2022, this fee typically costs $70 to $300

The second fee used to grant access to your account costs $10 to $30. 

You can avoid high gas fees if you spot days when gas fees are lower using tools like Etherscan

Then, OpenSea charges 2.5% for first-time sales of your minted NFT– it’s a multi-billion dollar company for a reason. 

How Much Does Rarible Charge for Minting NFTs?

With ‌400,000 NFTs created and 1.6+ million users, Rarible is another of the most popular NFT marketplaces globally. 

Most users choose Rarible over other platforms because it is a multi-chain platform, has easy-to-use tools, a decentralized governance system that’s more advanced than what you’ll get on most platforms, and a flexible royalty management system that allows creators to set up to 50% royalty fee.

Minting on Rarible is straightforward compared to other NFT marketplaces. The platform itself doesn’t charge a minting fee. You have to pay the gas fee for minting on three different blockchains available in the marketplace (Ethereum, Tezos, and Flow).

After paying the gas fees required for minting, Rarible charges a 2.5% fee for every NFT buy and sell transaction.

What Are Gas Wars and How to Avoid Paying High Gas Fees when Minting

If you’re active in the NFT space, “gas wars” are something you may have sweaty nightmares about. Gas, or the computational power needed to verify transactions on a blockchain network, can often cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollar-worth of Eth.

Since “minting” an NFT to the blockchain is a much more computationally-heavy process, the network charges more than typical transaction fees. 

A gas war is an auction to get front row seats in an upcoming block of transactions to be validated on the Ethereum blockchain. If there is a surge in the number of people waiting for their transactions to get validated, the price gets too high, which triggers a scuffle.

Almost like a bidding war, people pay more so they can get their transactions processed quicker, ‌driving the transaction costs up. Gas wars are the main cause of high transaction fees on the blockchain. They’re prevalent on the Ethereum network, ‌infamous for its performance and scalability setbacks.

To avoid paying high gas fees, ‌learn how to track gas fees. Etherscan’s Gas Now is a handy tool that can help you to minimize gas prices.

How to Mint an NFT for Free on the Blockchain

Popular marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible allow you to mint NFTs for free on the platform.

Recently, Rarible announced that you could mint for free on the platform (yes, no gas fees). The downside is that your asset goes on the Rarible collection and not your collection. This means Rarible has more control of your digital asset, and also, the buyer pays for your minting fee.

You can also mint for free on OpenSea. The new collection manager launched in December 2020 introduced a lazy minting feature, allowing creators to list NFTs paying no gas fees until they make the first purchase. Since the NFT isn’t transferable on-chain until they purchase, creators can list without paying a dime.

However, this is not applicable for first-time listing. If this is your first time listing on OpenSea, you still have to pay the gas fees needed to initialize your account.

The Polygon network also allows creators to “mint NFTs for free at the speed of light.” All you have to do is connect your Polygon account, upload your digital art, select the Polygon network during the minting process, and you’re good to go.

Final Thoughts: What to Expect for NFT Minting in the Future

Although the NFT market went ballistic in 2021, the 2022 bear market has many reconsidering their sky-high purchases.JPEGs– if not at least the hundreds or thousands of dollars they spent on gas fees to simply purchase the art. 

In this article, we learned what NFT minting is, how to mint your project on popular marketplaces, and avoid paying very high gas fees. 

However, increasingly more creative and consumer-friendly innovations are being built to make the creation and selling of NFT art a much more profitable endeavor. 

Andrew Amarosa

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