From ceramic tiles to generative NFTs: The origin story of the founder of Art Blocks

Erick Calderon, also known as “snowfro”, became known as the creator of a year ago NFT Generative Art Platform Art Blocks. But his journey into the crypto world was a detour.

Calderon first heard about it after almost a decade working at the ceramic tile company he founded with his father Bitcoin by his brother in 2013. “He mentioned something about mining bitcoin with thumb drives, but that it was too late to mine with a thumb drive,” Calderon said on the latest episode of decrypt‘s gm podcast. “And I’m like, ‘That sounds like it was really cool to know that a year ago.'”

Fast forward a few years, Calderon read an article about Bitcoin that struck a chord at a pivotal moment: “I’ve felt like the world is on fire for a very long time, and I’m starting to eat less and less trust,” Calderon said. Consumed by a “crazy desire” to own exactly one full bitcoin by the end of 2016, he met his goal “punctually at midnight” on New Year’s Eve — after having “a few drinks.”

But it was when he discovered it ether and be smart contracts that “my brain literally exploded,” he said decrypt.

Calderon experimented with smart contracts and created a time-bound Ethereum gift for a friend’s baby that didn’t open until she turned 18 in a house,” he said.

After NFT collection CryptoPunks Launched in 2017, “everything clicked”. Since that time, Calderon has said, “I’ve spent far more time in the NFT space than any human should.”

build art blocks

This led him to found the generative art platform Art Blocks. NFT artworks produced on the platform, including the Fidenza series and the iconic Chromie Squiggle, have sold for millions of dollars — an explosive growth path, Calderon said decrypt “felt unreasonable,” even if it was exciting.

“Art Blocks was a hobby, I never expected it to become what it is today,” he said. “I’m not someone who’s been financially driven in my life.”

Calderon tells decrypt He believes that the current assessment of NFT technology is biased relative to the underlying technology.

“I think during the madness of the last year maybe 60% to 70% of the value of NFT was attributed and attributed to NFT technology, and maybe 30% was the value of the content,” he said. “For me, that shouldn’t be more than 5%.”

He also believes that we will soon be doing away with the “NFT” jargon altogether. “I spent a week in Basel, Switzerland a few weeks ago, and I was very careful not to use the term NFT – mostly using ‘blockchain-powered art’ or just ‘art’,” he said.

Generative Communities

More exciting for Calderon is the technology used to create generative artwork. “The product-market fit of generative art is just so beautiful,” he said. “An artist can create thousands, tens of thousands – one day a million – independent, unique, individual artworks in one action without having to do it manually.”

Where a single artist can’t produce tens of thousands of individual paintings in their lifetime, “generative art allows that to exist,” he said, and allows an artist to define a set of rules by which the art is created.

That in turn makes it possible to build communities around art, he said. “In an era where an artist is a young aspiring artist, access to art is fully democratized as it is usually not extremely expensive to purchase art from that artist.”

In the future, he predicts, additive manufacturing will be commonplace. “Your coffee table will not be the same as your neighbor’s coffee table, even if you buy it from the same place.”

As for the future of NFTs, Calderon expects them to go beyond art. “NFT art, or crypto-powered art, blockchain art, has been the lowest-friction use case for the concept of a non-fungible token,” he said. “It’s the easiest thing for the world to think about and understand.” Finally, he said, “Your mortgage will be on a blockchain, ownership of your house will be on a blockchain.”

And – to come full circle – Calderon’s tile company will be there to set it up. “I spent the first 18 professional years of my life doing that,” he said. “And I’m actually still in the room, although unfortunately I don’t have time to devote to this business. It’s still working, it’s still going and it’s still part of my process of getting here.”

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.