The Community Lavished ¥200,000 Gas Fee for An Artist
Encryption art is hot. But what exactly is crypto art?
We see Beeple’s work at Christie’s, which sold for nearly $70 million; Sotheby’s will also auction works by crypto artist Pak in April. Affected by this, the traditional circle of artists flocked to the chain for art auction.
But what exactly is crypto art?
To what extent has encryption changed the art world?
Can we go any further than bringing art to the chain?
We are faced with many questions, not limited to the following ones: are we practicing the art of the elite or the art of the masses? Is encryption leveling the world or making it more divided? What role do the communities play in crypto art? And what role do artists play in the art itself?
Talking to traditional artists repeatedly recently, I have found that they are very confused about these issues. What puzzles them most is how to get a good price for their art, and how to keep up with the era under the impact of encryption.
Encryption eclipsed what was once a pioneer and became a pioneer in art itself. But how to combine with new ideas is what all artists are thinking about at present. It’s difficult to practice because traditional artists often don’t understand blockchain technology, and many of them haven’t even heard of bitcoin or Ethereum, let alone expecting them to use smart contracts. In addition, they are used to being respected and isolated from the viewers, and make no attempt to go into communities and establish new connections with communities. I’m well aware that it is preventing great crypto art from being produced.
To this end, CryptoC will collaborate with artists, programmers and thinkers to launch a series of crypto art experiments. Such experiments are among the world’s leading. So far, I haven’t seen any crypto art trading platforms, such as SuperRare, MakersPlace, Nifty Gateway, etc., trying to do this, even though they are the biggest beneficiaries of crypto art.
In this article, I’d like to introduce you to the first crypto art experiment we’ve just completed called “勿以西为贵”(Rare is (not) precious). It’s an experiment involving artists, programmers, and the community to test whether scarcity or consensus matters more when it comes to an NFT piece of art. Here is how the experiment unfolded:
First of all, Artist Xi created a work for CryotoC, which is also a community badge of CryptoC. Anyone who holds this badge will be regarded as a CryptoC family member without distinction. Before the start of the experiment, we did not disclose to the community what rights we would enjoy as a CryptoC family member, but merely informed everyone that this was an on-chain art experiment on NFT.
Second, we internally discussed and designed a set of game rules. Personally, I used to think that the greatest importance about crypto art was that it freed the artists from the agencies of the gallery, but so far that seems naive. Now crypto artist agents are making a comeback like celebrity agents, once again separating the artist from communities. And the artists are once again alienated from the communities by being ignorant of the rights that blockchain technology can empower them and how to use the rights. So, can we use blockchain technology and a certain economic mechanism to help the artists bypass centralized agents and rebuild their relationships with communities?
With this in mind, we (the idea comes mainly from our team member QI) devised a new NFT airdrop, which I would like to call ISO, or Initial Social Offering.
We fully understand the situation of some artists that they may not have a large number of fans for airdrop. Therefore, ISO does not require artists to have a large fan base. Instead, it helps artists meet new friends and build fan communities when distributing NFTs.
How to implement ISO (Initial Social Offering)
Here is the way of how we help artists through ISO:
First of all, we set an upper limit of 200 pieces of art NFT (as a badge) that can be airdropped into the community. At the beginning, only 2 pieces of NTF can be randomly dropped into the community. Members who receive it can choose to keep the badge and not transfer to others to ensure the scarcity of the badge. Alternatively, he can transfer the badge and the system will airdrop another one at the same time, increasing the degree of consensus on the badges. Here involves multi-layers of games: first game will be between 2 badge holders, they will observe the actions of each other, then decide whether to transfer (if only one person transfers, then compared with the man who keeps the badge, he will be naturally formed a higher status within the community, because the whole community was evolved from him). Subsequently, everyone with a badge will be playing a game around this issue.
Secondly, the experiment was taking place on Ethereum, where on-chain behaviors come with expensive fees. Coincidentally, the experiment occurred during the Ethereum congestion caused by the FEI project, while gas charge soared. In addition to the complication of airdropped smart contracts, the transfer fee was as high as $200 per deal. This would be devastating for any transaction, but instead, price became a sieve for loyalty to the community and the work of the artist. We screened out 200 truly trusted users from our whitelist.
Finally, we made some modifications to the experimental mechanism to make the game more interesting. For example, we have defined that if a particular address that first received a badge does not transfer out within 24 hours, the badge will be self-destruct (thanks to teacher W for the suggestion here). In addition, we subsidized the money transfer by adding the weight to their badges, i.e. the address with higher gas consumption, the NFT it holds will be with higher weight in the end. This idea goes back to the Dego team, who invented the concept of face value for NFT.
After repeatedly collecting whitelists and screening addresses, we finally screened out 350 whitelists for this experiment. The process was magnificent, risky and unexpected. All participants (including the artist himself) later recalled that they had participated in a carnival of community and artists, and we, as the experimenter, were once faced with a state of losing control of the game. Finally, we even participated in the game as players. Here is my summary of the experiment.
· Initiate Airdrops
At 8 PM on April 2, 2021, the airdrop officially began. We airdropped 2 NFT badges into the system of two randomly selected individuals within the airdrop whitelist. Later it turned out that the two initial receivers were not very reliable, one of them was on the high-speed train, the other was doing outdoor sports…
The moment the list of airdrops was announced, the community that had been waiting for so long was flooded with addresses. Everyone posted their Ethereum addresses in the group and asked for reposts, including myself (I couldn’t miss our own badge…)
I’ve been in the crypto circle for four or five years, and I’ve joined thousands of groups, but I’ve never seen hundreds of addresses pop up in a single group in a flash. At that time, I seemed to be placed in a huge concert scene, that all the audience want to shake hands with the star. When the artist Xi saw this scene, he also said “crazy” in the group.
However, the two friends who received the badges were not convenient to take actions. Lin Ke, who got the badge, didn’t even check his phone. He got the news when his friends in the group called him temporarily. (He told me afterward that when he picked up his phone, he saw hundreds of people asking him for a badge. He didn’t know what was happening, but got startled.)
As all group members asked badges with no result, someone began to say: “ I will give a red envelope to whom transfer me the badge.” Someone even said, “I bid with double.” It’s essentially buying and selling. It was a seller’s market, and badge holders had a high say in pricing.
In addition, the social nature of the game stood out. In the highly chaotic WeChat group, where stable pricing power was hard to form, the “acquaintances” have greater advantages. People in the group started to be matey to Lin, even directly converted to Matataki users. There was also a talk of using Lin Ke’s personal fan token, LINK, to buy the badge, and Lin became a central figure in the WeChat group.
At that moment, another overlooked badge holder in the group, Smile, quietly transferred the badge to hobo. According to the chatting records in the group, hobo doesn’t know Smile personally, and Smile paid a high gas fee for the transfer. So Smile becomes the central figure in the group again, and hobo even takes the initiative to add Smile as his friend and secretly pays him the gas bill. At this time, the passing process is also a social process. Through the passing of badges, people made new friends forming a wonderful piece of fate.
Finally, Lin Ke decided to transfer the badge to a friend. He invited Minako Kojima from Matataki into the group and transferred the badge to her, but it turned out that Minako Kojima was not on the whitelist. Later, Lin transferred the badge to Jialin.
As the number of the badges transferred increased, the artist began asking the community for a badge. In fact, at the very beginning of the experiment, our idea was to reserve some for the official and the artist, so as to at least guarantee the interests of the official and the artist. After all, it was not easy to complete such a huge task. Later a friend of the team said, “Don’t keep any reservation. Trust the community.”
It was very radical, and there would be completely possible that the official and the artist could not get the badge, but the advantage was that both the artist and the official would be in the “civilian state” of the game, which eliminated the factor of the artist’s overlooking the community, and even forced the artist to enter the community. At last we found that when the artist laid down his burden, he gained the recognition and affection of the temporary community consisting of strangers.
Because of Xi, the whole social distribution of NFT game can be held. Group members showed gratitude to him. Finally, through Xi’s efforts and repeated requests, he got the badge №16. The transfer of badges, which was based entirely on trust within the community, instead of the cold and arrogant reservation at the beginning, allowed Xi to connect with members of the community. For the artist, although his work does not have a clear price tag, but he has got the initial recognition of the community.
(However, regardless of my repeated requests for a badge for Xi in the group before, Xi didn’t transfer me his badge. Unreliable friendship…At last Chaos transferred me his badge, and I got №22.)
There was a small incident during the passing of the badges. Since our airdrop function did not support Wheat Wallet and imToken Wallet, but many of the Ethereum addresses provided by our group members were based on Wheat Wallet and imToken Wallet, the relay of badges was a bit bumpy. Touchingly, the community, made up of strangers and even econnoisseurs, did not turn to displeasure, but instead turned to teasing or encouraging everyone to continue. When the problem was solved, a cheer broke out in the crowd.
The screenshot below is the innocent experience of a WeChat group member nicknamed “Have You Heard of Camel Bell”. Our team did not know him before the airdrop, but he was regarded as the representative of the CrypoC because he was eager to popularize the airdrop to other group members. Out of the faith in him, 4 group members ordered badges from him.
Representative of CryptoC lost the blessing of the goddess of fortune, leaving regrets in this airdrop. Fortunately, the 4 friends of the representative all got badges.
· The Skyrocketing Ethereum Gas Bill
After the problem was solved, a member, who was later called “Big J” by the community, started the chain game of wallet address in the community. Within an hour, hundreds of people had posted their Ethereum wallet addresses behind Big J. A group member named “Xiaoyao” decided to transfer money to “Big J “. These two men did not know each other and had not yet entered an airdrop competition. They were unknown in the community and very gentle.
As the airdrop was accelerating, it soon became clear that the Ethereum network was getting congested, and the price of Ethereum was skyrocketing. As it turns out, the day we set for the airdrop experiment just encountered the phenomenological DeFi project FEI. It was locking position for Ether minting. In addition, the smart contract we wrote was relatively complex, so the transfer fee for a badge reached more than 200 US dollars.
This time the game became really exciting: for people who got airdropped badges, if they didn’t transfer them out and the 200 badges hadn’t been fully minted, their badges will be destroyed 24 hours later. But if they transferred to someone else, it would be very expensive. In addition, for those who wanted to have a badge, if they choose to reserve a badge by paying service fee, they were equivalent to buying a badge at a price close to 1,500 yuan each.
The game of social airdrop lasted to the wee hours. A group member from United States posted a moment, saying that it was a very interesting NFT experiment.
A seller’s market has begun to tilt towards a buyer’s. Because it was early in the morning, only 4 hours after the start of the airdrop, the trend was not yet apparent. By 8 A.M. in the next morning, 12 hours after the airdrop, the game between the badge holders and the people waiting for badges was completely in favor of the people waiting for badges. Voices began to appear in the group.
· Upside-down Game: Forced Present
At the very beginning of the airdrop experiment, the members who did not have badges urged the owners to transfer. They were not only willing to bear the commission fee, but also to pay extra money for it. But when the airdrop experiment was carried out halfway, badge holders asked expectants to receive the badges quickly, and even transferred the badges forcedly. Because everyone found that the badges that had not been transferred were not really their “permanent badges” and were under at great risk of being destroyed.
Fortunately, by this time the gas bill for the Ethereum mainnet had come down. At about 11 A.M. on April 3, more than 60 badges were minted and transferred. The community was like a big collective, and members were constantly talking about where the game would go and about Xi’s work. Then Xi suddenly brought a piece of good news to the community (like glad tidings in the midst of collective labor).”Seeing everyone’s enthusiasm, I decided to present my next new work to the CryptoC member with highest weight.” he said. “Xiaoyao”, who had transferred out badges for several times, replied: “Isn’t that me?” At this point, a crazy social airdrop of transferring was sparked.
If you read the above-mentioned contents carefully, you should know that the “weight” was designed to subsidize the gas fee. The role of the weight is to mark the contribution of members in the community. When the community was just established, no one was able to prove its contribution. Let us clarify with gas fee. At this moment, Xi’s unexpected action gave us additional surprise.
Subsequently, “Big J”, “Shi Jiahao” and “Cool with No Salary” arrived at the battlefield. Among them, “Big J” was the craziest guy. He indiscriminately transferred badges to the group members. Whoever gave address, he would transfer without charge. Less than 1 hour, the number of circulated badges increased from 60 to 90. “Big J” also won his fame in the competition, surpassing “Xiaoyao” and stabilizing his position in the community.
In fact, when it came to the badge №66, some group members have realized to get a good badge number. At that time about 3 members contested for a good number. When it came to №88, someone mentioned this matter publicly in the group, the competition became more intense. In the end, even our official programmer couldn’t bear any more. He said he would get his favorite number to propose to his girlfriend, which made our colleagues in the working group laugh.
By 2 P.M. on April 3, nearly 130 badges had been produced. At that time, I suddenly received a call from Xi in the Today Art Gallery. He said, “I have one more surprise for you!” I was stunned: “What? One more?” It turned out that he had spent two hours doing an improvised electronic soundtrack with the theme of CryptoC. If I invited him to co-create for CryptoC at the beginning, he just agreed as a friend. What he was doing at time was because he had caught up in the craze of the community. He was being actually producing work as a community artist.
By this point, the experiment was completely out of control. At the beginning of the experiment, we thought about many kinds of possibilities, but only in the process of the experiment did we feel that the possibility provided by the community is far beyond our imagination. In less than 24 hours, this community, the vast majority of whom we didn’t know, had its own KOL, along with a true community artist. The artist himself reaches the “Hi” state, and this “Hi” state continued to push the community mood to new heights.
At 3:00 P.M. on April 3, everyone in the community felt that they had participated in a very different social experiment. Members spontaneously collected copywriting and posted them on their Moments. At this time, we found that only 5 hours from the destruction time at 8t o ‘clock in the evening, some group members began to popularize the badge destruction issue to someone who hadn’t transferred out their badges. Group member “Autumn” knew nothing about the rules of airdrop on the evening of April 2, but on the afternoon of April 3, he was able to explain to Yuan Jie. That was really interesting.
After “Big J” came back from meeting, once again he made airdrop like a seeder. He successively airdropped the community badges of CryptoC to Mr. Li Yang and Mr. Cao Yin. We were very happy for their joining in the community.
· Final sprint
By 7 o ‘clock on April 3, the most exciting time point of the whole airdrop, the climax came. Fifty badges have been minted and distributed, with 50 remaining to be distributed. According to the rule of destruction, if the badge is not transferred out within 24 hours after being received, it will be destroyed, thus it was the most complex period in the global game.
In order to protect those members facing the risk of badge being destroyed, official sorted a whitelist of those who did not possess badges.
At this time the game was very intense, group members began to analyze the psychology of the badge holders and people who didn’t have badge.
First, the game among badge holders. Although they were under the risk of badge being destroyed, due to the high gas fee, some holders were not willing to transfer out any more, but waited for the actions of other more urgent holders.
Second, the game between the badge holders and expectants. With only 50 badges left, those who haven’t got badges would be even more nervous because there wouldn’t be many more opportunities left for them. Arguably, the psychology of seeking to buy should appear, but meanwhile they also knew that if someone didn’t transfer out the badges would be destroyed. Thus, there came the situation of guessing the psychology of the other side.
In the end, the players were all in China and were supposed to be asleep in the wee hours of the morning, so it was impossible to stay up in the group. In this way, the evening of April 3 from 8 o ‘clock to 12 o ‘clock became the most tensive moment of the two sides. Almost everyone who got a badge in the night of April 2, and anyone who had no badge, all kept an eye on the situation.
At this critical juncture, suddenly someone started the war of airdrop. Crazy transferring out appeared on the chain that badge holder couldn’t wait any more. The number of addresses on the chain quickly grew to 163, with only 37 badges left. At this point, the pressure turned to the expectants. They began to frantically ask for transfer, with commission fee or even red envelopes. In a crazy excitement, the remaining 37 were distributed rapidly. It was like a dream to every group member. By 8:44 on April 3, the whole event was over.
Because №199 and №200 are beautiful, and the activity ended unexpectedly, these two badges were still transferred out after the end of the activity. However, when finished, people who transferred out their badges will no longer receive additional ones from the system. They essentially gave their badges to someone else for free.
This led to a dispute in the community. Since participating in the activity, community member WANG has been very enthusiastic in the group to call on transfer, activate atmosphere and teach others how to get the badge, but has been struggling to get a badge. Finally, closely before the end of the airdrop, WANG found Jiang Hai and made an agreement that Jiang Hai would transfer the badge while WANG would pay for the gas with BNB. However, when Jiang Hai successfully transferred the №46 badge to WANG at 8:44, the airdrop had already ended at 8:43, so Jiang Hai could not get a new airdrop, resulting in a misunderstanding.
At first, WANG said in the community that he would return it to Jiang Hai, with a bill for low gas fee then went for barbecue. However, Jiang Hai didn’t receive the badge, mistook WANG for taking the badge and escaping away. Therefore, he called him more than ten times and shared his experience in the community. When “WANG” came back, he was angry and did not want to return it to him, which caused a dispute.
After 24 hours of transferring, chatting and gaming, everyone has established a preliminary feeling for the community. In people’s mind, badges already have value. As official, we didn’t want to hurt the feelings of our two friends over this little experiment. Finally, under our mediation, “Jiang Hai” and “WANG” reached a settlement, they jointly held the badge №46, and share the proceeds of it.
The story of these two brothers, who had never met before, became a tale. And their actions have been witnessed by the community.
So that is our first crypto art experiment. It’s a combination of artists, communities, and multi-layer games on the chain. With this experiment, we came up with an ISO (Initial Social Offering) approach. This experiment has shown that ISO can help an artist, or a DAO organization, quickly build a fan community within a game. Moreover, we care a lot about the artist’s personal experience within the offering. If an artist can have fun with his or her first social offering (e.g., showing his or her personality), then building a fan community is half successful.
The experiment coincided with an all-time high in Ether’s price and a period of network congestion. According to our statistics after the event, from the official deployment of the smart contract to minting and the transfers in the community, a total of about 200,000 CNY gas fees was spent. That may sound jaw-dropping, but if a community is willing to spend 200,000 CNY in gas bills for an artist, that artist is a success on a community level.
After the event, we asked the community for their feelings of participation. Many of them are very touching. Here, I’ve extracted the views of two community members:
“Have you ever asked the camel bell” (the representative of CryptoC): “I am the owner of the badge №190 of CryptoC (the former №3). In this activity, I started to contact CryptoC at the very beginning and gradually understood the declaration of CryptoC, and I knew that this community was special. Then I actively participated in this airdrop.
Much appreciated for trusting me and passing me the badge №3, so I became the owner of the badge №3. I knew I should pass the badge to others, so I passed it to others with the lowest gas. They trusted me without reservation and gave me their Ether, but my badge was not used in the right way. It was destroyed.
At that time, I was very worried, not only because the badge was gone, but also because so many people were waiting for my reply. During the process, I asked others for help and looked for various solutions, but it came to nothing at last. As the party concerned, I was quite anxious, but the person who gave me the gas fee did not urge me and still trusted me all the time, making me feel warm. At that time, this matter lasted from eight or nine o ‘clock in the evening until after twelve o ‘clock. Fortunately, the problem was solved finally. I have learned a lot from it, and the most important thing is that I have gained these trusted friends in CryptoC. The event is over, and it’s just the beginning.”
Igneous: “At the beginning of the airdrop activity, because there were only two people having the badge, scarcity of the badges caused fierce competition among people on the whitelist. At that time I also wanted to bid for it but stopped by high gas fee. Next morning I intended to obtain a badge, but fear of someone take my gas and run away. After I turned to officials, safely I got the badge.
After a few hours, I was a little afraid that there might not be sufficient time for me to transfer out my badge. I began to look for a large number of people who did not get less and less whitelist, whitelist began to become very hot. After talking to a few people, some of them actually got badges straight away, and I started to regret my rush in our morning. Finally, I found a person, transferred me 0.05 ETH. I was very happy, but he only has account of imtoken, so I was not sure whether to transfer it to him or not. When I hesitated, the air drop activity was over, and my heart was relieved. At least the badge belongs to me. I didn’t keep my promise to transfer it to him. I just wanted to have this badge. Maybe it would be worth a lot of money. After expressing my apology, I returned 0.05 ETH and compensated him with a small red envelope, thus reaching a settlement with him.
During this activity, my heart has been drifting, I have experienced greed and regret, and I have also experienced the magical thing of trust. When I told my friends about this activity, most of them thought it was of little significance, but I had an impulse that I would rather be deceived to participate in it.”
We have collected 66 testimonials from the community and created a cloud picture with their key words. Advice and affection from the community are highly valued.
First of all, I truly feel the great changes that encryption has brought to artists and art, especially in the transformation of production relations, organizational forms and power structures. There are artists out there who are already trying to explore chain-native art, and they can go even further from a community perspective.
Second, trust the community. This is easier said than done. In the beginning, I also held an elitist stance, trying to get some big shots in our community, and even wishing that every community member being big shot. But Qi and Whitefish criticized my idea, both of them believed that a real community belonging to CryptoC and artists Xi should be established. In addition, Whitefish believes that the community can be educated and will grow together with us. And it should embrace a diverse group organization. According to our investigation, the friends who participated in the airdrop came from all over the country, from Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Nanning, and from the unknown small counties. Some of them are designers from Hong Kong, some are based in the United States and are already enjoying financial freedom. Some are university students, some are civil servants. Some are experienced NFT players, some are just learning how to use the metamask wallet. There was a couple bringing their entire family attend to our airdrop, and they both got the badges. To be honest, I didn’t know most of the people who participated in the community distribution, and in the end, their participation made our community drop amazing.
Regarding the point of trusting the community, I would like to make more extension. I couldn’t have imagined ISO being so successful without seeing the power of the community, and the community also educated me. One of the most common practices in the financial market is that giant whales drive up the prices of artists’ works. The voice of giant whales is very important in the art market. How to help artists get closer to the community and how to invent new tools for them is the mission of all content tool providers in the Web3.0 era.
Last but not least, a personal note. With the data of April, we have already seen that trading volumes on several of the NFT’s leading exchanges are falling fast, and the enthusiasm for NFT hype in the West has started to fade. If there is no new gameplay, and if we continue to maintain the same system of content production once getting the artwork on chains, crypto art will not be a revolution, but rather a boring mapping of the on-chain world to the off-chain world. For the long and real prosperous future of this industry, we have to answer this question.
The times are changing very dramatically. We will not stop experimenting with crypto art, and will continue to deeply integrate art, blockchain and the community. We also want to call on more artists to join us in the experiments.
Make the vanward events happen here.