Erick Calderon: NFT Platform Art Blocks’ Rapid Growth ‘Felt Unreasonable’

NFT Art Blocks art platform shot into the limelight during the 2021 bull run, featuring individual examples of generative art created on the platform that have sold for millions of dollars.

But Art Blocks creator Erick Calderon, aka Snowfro, has been telling decrypt‘s gm podcast that the platform’s rapid growth felt “unreasonable, unsustainable.”

He added that the crypto crash has resulted in “calmer” conditions that “make it much easier for me to have sensible conversations with people about art.”

“From a mental health perspective, it wasn’t healthy for Art Blocks as a team, nor was it healthy for Art Blocks artists,” Calderon said of the platform’s meteoric rise in September and October 2021. “Yes, they were in on it making a lot of money on a drop, but that’s actually not always healthy, especially when you question the real value of the work.”

In recent weeks, despite the bear market, Calderon has said that “Art Blocks has started something of a resurgence.”

This, in turn, has fueled speculation. “As I travel and talk to people in the contemporary art world to elevate art blocks outside of our little echo chamber, the conversation shifts back to speculation,” he said decrypt.

Calderon was quick to clarify, “We have no problem with speculation,” but said, “We want to make it clear that that’s not why we’re here. We’re happy when you make a lot of money and we’re disappointed when you lose a lot of money – but those things are actually irrelevant to our purpose, which is to host only amazing art by amazing artists in this new way.”

NFT bear market setting

The bear market doesn’t seem to have hurt Art Blocks’ ambitions; Calderon tells decrypt that the platform is hiring new employees. “We want Art Blocks to grow and we know time is of the essence,” he said, adding that the platform recently hired an artistic director.

Art Block’s artwork Fidenza #313 by Tyler Hobbs sold for $3.3 million in ETH in 2021. Image: Art Blocks

“We’ve seen incredible artists on Art Blocks; Some of them come from traditional artistic backgrounds, but many of them are computer scientists who recognize they have a creative side,” Calderon said.

The new artistic director will help these newcomers to develop their careers, he explained. “We have to help artists to master their careers, to get criticism, to get feedback, to help them not only through their art project, but also through their artistic career.”

Calderon also plans to expand Art Blocks’ engineering team.

“We’re very aware of how lucky we are to potentially be in hiring mode,” he said, hinting that companies that hired during the bull market may have overextended themselves. “Actually, you don’t have the luxury during a bull market to sit back and say, ‘We’re not hiring until the next bear market because people are unreasonable with their salary expectations.’ Because then you stay behind.”

Calderon, who has witnessed economic cycles before, explained that during bull markets, “incredibly talented people are hired for incredible amounts of money that become unsustainable during that downtime.” That in turn means that during a downturn, you “may have to fire ten people because you want to keep that one superstar because you overpay them. You start asking, okay, maybe I can’t afford to pay that person that much because these other people are actually making a normal living.

Fortunately, he said, that’s not a problem for Art Blocks, which is “thriving” in the current economy. “We’re excited, we’re lucky and we feel very privileged to be in the position we’re in.”

Stay up to date on crypto news and receive daily updates in your inbox.

Leave a Comment