The market for crypto collectibles, also known as NFTs or non-fungible tokens, exploded in early 2021, exceeding 2.5 billion transactions volume in the first six months as NFTs gained overwhelming popularity. With million-dollar JPEG sales going through the roof, the primary debate surrounding these unique digital artworks has centred around one question: what made one NFT enjoy success while others were left entirely unnoticed? One of the reasons this was on everyone’s mind was because the boom has also witnessed NFT enthusiasts rediscovering some of the earliest non-fungible tokens, propelling the value of these NFT collectibles to hitherto-unknown highs.
One of these early NFT projects was CryptoPunks: a set of randomly generated pixel-based avatars that were dropped in 2017, but in 2021, these became one of the most desirable and most rare NFTs ever sold. However, this was not the only collection that became a sensation. After Crypto Punks made their big debut, Hashmasks, another community favourite, swept everyone away with a highly unique value proposition. What united both collections were rather distinctive aesthetic styles that, in many ways, defined the subsequent development of the NFT industry as a whole.
In today’s editorial, we will delve into what made these collectibles special, the reasons the community resonated with the aesthetics of JPEGs and why a new kid on the NFT block, Big Eyes Coin, might have the potential to exceed its predecessors. However, before we do that, let’s recap the basics about them NFTs. Let’s dive in.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, function similarly to cryptocurrencies and are created on a blockchain digital ledger, but there is a catch. Fungible tokens, like ETH, are identical. People can swap them like for like, and each person would end up with the same ETH.
NFTs, on the other hand, are unique and can neither be directly replaced by another token nor be swapped because no two NFTs are the same. These JPEGs possess unique attributes usually linked to a specific asset, providing digital or physical asset ownership as a token.
However, unlike traditional works of art that are considered valuable precisely because there is only one piece, these digital files can be endlessly duplicated to generate a collective tokenized version of the artwork, also known as collectible.
This effectively means that each NFT typically represents a part of a grander narrative, manifested by a shared theme or aesthetic style, where specific features change, but the overall tone stays the same. This is not a general rule, and many NFTs do not follow this trend. However, nearly all share this characteristic if we look at the most financially successful ones, such as CryptoPunks and Hashmasks.
The aesthetic pattern becomes especially evident when we consider the first collection of NFTs, which ignited the community’s interest, foreshadowing the industry’s subsequent success. Thanks to Larva Labs, which issued a series of 10,000 images tokenized as NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain, we now have Bored Ape Yacht Club and other NFT sensations. In the Crypto Punk collection, each digital file was randomly generated from a list of multiple attributes, creating distinctive yet similar designs of people, apes, pirates, and even aliens.
It is hard to believe, but CryptoPunks was released for community feedback in 2017 when Ethereum’s ERC-721 NFT standard wasn’t even a thing then! The two-person team at Larva Labs dropped them as an experiment, with Ethereum wallet owners snatching up the 9,000 JPEGs released to the public, while Larva Labs held onto the rest.
NFT volume remained dormant for the next three years, but it wasn’t until late 2021 that demand skyrocketed for these digital collectibles. The secondary market value for CryptoPunks went through the roof, leading to multiple multi-million-dollar sales. These NFTs were even sold at auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and many influencers from the community used CryptoPunks as Twitter profile pictures.
However, what drove this collection’s success and major demand for CryptoPunks among the investors was not because they were one of the oldest NFT projects but because it was the first set of randomly generated profile pictures to resonate with the crypto flock on a massive scale. So, it would not be too farfetched to say that the success of these NFTs is directly responsible for the industry truly taking off.
The Hashmasks collections, in my opinion, are the personification of how art, technology and creativity push the original CryptoPunk idea to an entirely new level, creating a next-generation artwork collectible. Assembling 16,384 pieces of art represents how the NFT collection of seemingly similar avatars benefits from recycling and copying. Let me elaborate on what I mean.
The creation of the Hashmasks collection was dispersed among seventy digital artists who rendered only specific parts of avatars to produce unique features, like eye, colour, background, and the masks themselves—instead of the whole piece. This meant in practice that at some point, each artist left their mark on every avatar, but there was a twist. They were never shown an entire picture, so it was for the creators to fit every single piece like a puzzle.
However, the creators did not stop there as they genuinely wanted to stand out with their collection, driven by the desire to produce conspicuous designs with an underlying value. To achieve this, the project added two additional layers of scarcity, where the first one was dedicated to a broad set of traits similar to CryptoPunks. Meanwhile, the second one contained implicit characteristics that were not revealed to the public and left deliberately for a viewer to identify when engaging with the collection.
But the cherry on top, underlining the uniqueness of Hashmasks, was that the team of creators gave complete control over the rarest traits an NFT could arguably have – the name to consumers. This is when I think this collection resonated with the crypto community and the broader public by deconstructing the initial premise of the CryptoPunk collection to deliver a unique approach to NFTs. What it effectively achieved was that it used the recycled nature of NFTs to render an avatar where the creativity and craftsmanship of the creators did not undermine the role of the consumer but made it work for the benefit of the collection.
It is no secret that after the success of CryptoPunks and Hashmasks, the crypto market, along with NFTs, made a U-turn, spawning various coins or collectibles that were pretty much either dog-inspired or ape-derivatives. Shiba Inu and ApeCoin would be among the latest additions to the crypto family that, despite starting strong, have not been able to maintain their pace.
This is when the newly aspiring project, Big Eyes Coin, comes into play to save the industry from monotonous recycled NFTs to reanimate it to the days of glory. The project started redefining the established narrative by deviating from the ape-inspired JPEGs favouring a cute anime-looking cat. This project is about the community, where although aesthetics is central to delivering the promised results, this is not the only value proposition behind it.
One feature that makes it stand out is the desire to build a blockchain ecosystem that would be self-sufficient for continuous growth using uniquely cute NFTs. This is done in order to simultaneously offer access to more memorable content and exclusive events while making the blockchain more accessible for everyone worldwide. In the past year, the purpose of NFTs has shifted from simply being art to representing a form of a pass. Many enterprises, from Cannes Movie Festival to Coachella Music, issued unique NFTs used to enter the events.
Following this recent trend, Big Eyes Coin is looking to expand on this idea by delivering a plethora of different NFTs, each dedicated to a specific occasion. However, this is not the only ace up the cute little cat’s sleeve, as 10% of profits from NFT sales will be dedicated to different charities that protect ocean life. The Big Eyes Coin project makes preserving the environment its number one priority, which is rare for crypto projects as nature is typically the least of their concerns. Considering everything, no wonder it is looking to enter the top 10 NFTs by market capitalization, as all the ingredients for success are there.
The ever-growing industry of NFTs, ever since its peak, has been in stagnation mode, as no project so far came close to the likes of CryptoPunks and Hashmasks, except for maybe BAYC. And even the bored-ape-looking community has not been doing great as many people have grown weary of the monotonous and seamless copycat projects that lack artistic value and substance behind them.
Although CryptoPunks initiated a trend that laid the foundation for the NFTs to propel into the future, what used to fly in 2017 will not receive the same effect nowadays. The industry desperately needs change, and for starters, it is wise to reconstruct at least the aesthetic part of how NFTs appear. This is why the Big Eyes Coin project has all the necessary ingredients to succeed in the long term.
Yes, its artistic value is not as impressive as that of Hashmask, but in terms of value proposition and community goals, it exceeds both aforementioned NFT collectibles. What truly makes Big Eyes Coin distinctive is the combination of a ground-breaking collection design accompanied by a broader ecosystem, which is usually lacking with most NFTs. This subsequently produces a medley where cuteness, bald goals and community vibes amalgamate into a driving force that shapes the history of NFT aesthetics. The question is: do you want to become part of it?
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