AI Art and NFTs

AI Art

A big part of the NFT world is the overlap between art and technology, so it makes sense that AI art and NFTs can make for a natural combination.

AI art refers, as you might expect, to any art generated with the assistance of AI. That’s a little vague, though, and there’s already a category of art that’s very prevalent in NFTs called generative art.

Generative art means art that’s generated via an artist-created algorithm, although it might include components (perhaps hand-drawn) created by the artist. You might sometimes see it referred to as creative coding.

AI art, on the other hand, may be created by an AI system (such as Midjourney or DALL-E) that operates purely on natural text prompts from the user. But then, AI output might (or might not) be altered and adapted by an artist to create a composition that is more than just the AI output.

It’s an area with no clear boundaries, generative art and AI art are closely interlinked, and there’s plenty of debate around the subject, but let’s put that aside for now, and hone in on some NFT platforms, collectives and creators that fall within the AI art category.

Platforms and Collectives

<h3 id="braindrops“>BrainDrops
AI art
Image credit: BrainDrops

Co-founded by Justin Trimble and Gene Kogan, the BrainDrops platform specializes in AI art released as NFTs. Carefully curating what gets released through the platform, it functions also as a community hub, and generate a lot of interest when it mints a new collection.

Brain Drops dates back to 2021, when, on November 15th, three collections (by Gene Kogan, Claire Silver, and Pindar Van Arman) were minted. These are known as the Day One set, and if you hold a piece from each collection, you gain access to pre-mints from future drops.

There are currently seventeen BrainDrops collections, and it’s a great starting point from which to explore AI art NFTs.

<h3 id="obvious“>Obvious
AI art
Image credit: Obvious and Opera de Paris

This French art collective is famous for creating a piece called Edmond de Belamy, which was the first AI artwork to sell at auction, in 2018, fetching $432,500 at Christie’s New York. That wasn’t an NFT, but Obvious now releases work as NFTs too, with 1/1s for sale on SuperRare, a collection released with BrainDrops and, recently, a collaboration with Opera de Paris, as well as physical art works.

<h3 id="bright-moments“>Bright Moments
AI art
Image credit: Bright Moments

Focused on generative art and AI art, Bright Moment is an accomplished NFT platform that brings together physical and digital experiences at its live minting events. The platform started in California, but feels international, is touring galleries in cities around the world, and has partnered with Pace Gallery and Art Blocks.

The ongoing NFT collection at the core of Bright Moments is called CryptoCitizens, and there are Mint Passes to attend the IRL events (at which CryptoCitizens are minted), the next of which is happening in Tokyo in May, and features an AI art collection.

<h3 id="sansa“>Sansa

This is an NFT marketplace specializing in generative and AI art. It’s not focused only on AI, but a lot of AI artists and projects seem to favor Sansa over OpenSea and other well-known marketplaces.


<h3 id="claire-silver“>Claire Silver
AI art
Image credit: Claire Silver

Perhaps the biggest name in AI art NFTs is Claire Silver, who has grabbed headlines with some big sales, including two works that were each bought for 52.69 ETH on SuperRare, and a 40 ETH sale on MakersPlace.

Silver comes originally from an analog art background, moved into digital formats, and takes an experimental, open-minded approach, describing herself as collaborating with AI. And if you think AI art isn’t really art, then Silver has a collection actually called AI Art is Not Art that might be of interest.

<h3 id="pindar-van-arman“>Pindar Van Arman
AI art
Image credit: Pindar Van Arman

Another big name is Pindar Van Arman, who describes himself as “collaborating with my artificially intelligent painting robots”. He has a strong media presence, and his blog is a very unpretentious and accessible place to learn more about AI art.

Van Arman’s on-chain, animated bitGANs project–featuring psychedelically distorted 8-bit loops and characters familiar to anyone holding pieces from the Nouns NFT project–is particularly well known.

<h3 id="huemin“>Huemin
AI art
Image credit: Huemin

Creating AI art since 2021, Huemin has become a prominent creator in the AI NFT world, and recently dropped a collection through BrainDrops called Materia Mania, which depicts colorful but minimal 3D shapes. Not for everyone, perhaps, but it’s the kind of style that goes down well in NFT art circles (see Chromie Squiggles for an iconic example).

For more substantial images, take a look at the New Dimension collection, which is inspired by the work of Hasui Kawase, an early twentieth century Japanese woodblock printer, but which incorporates techy geometric patterns. And if you want to dive into a creative AI community, you can join Huemin’s Deforum Discord server, where you’ll find art and some very technical discussions.

<h3 id="helena-sarin“>Helena Sarin
AI art
Image credit: Helena Sarin

Describing herself as an engineering artist, Helena Sarin comes from a practical tech background (having worked as a designer of both communication systems and computer vision software), and an analog artistic background (utilizing watercolor and pastel), and she now combines these tech and art strands to produce AI art.

As well as 1/1 NFTs, she produces physical prints and ceramics patterned with AI designs, and one of her works, called On The Sunny Side of AI, Swinging Out Easy recently sold for 16 ETH to the influential 6529 Capital investment fund. 

<h3 id="roope-rainisto“>Roope Rainisto
AI art
Image credit: Roope Rainisto

While some other artists refer to themselves as collaborating with computers, Roope Rainisto is not worried about hurting the AI’s robotic feelings, describing himself as “enslaving computers to create art”.

With a career background in design, UX and writing, Rainisto is now focused on the creative possibilities enabled by AI, and gained a lot of attention recently for his Life in West America project. Glanced at from a distance, the photo-style images in the collection look like classic Americana, but on closer inspection, they’re replete with weirdly unsettling AI distortions.

And finally, Rainisto’s Life in West America loops us back, again, to the BrainDrops platform, through which it was released.

AI Art and NFTs - - 2024

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