Earlier in 2021, Twitter made waves as its founder, Jack Dorsey, sold his very first tweet for a whopping $2.9M USD. The news broke out of the crypto-enthusiasts' bubble and into social media, raising awareness of the value of digital assets through NFTs.
Non-fungible tokens (NFT) is a relatively new idea. Some are still reluctant to accept that tweets, blog posts, AR products, and digital art can be sold for more than the price of a luxury house. However, NFTs allow digital creators to sell their work to anyone who sees the value in them. While today's internet works in favor of the platforms, the future favors content creators through a bridge that connects them directly with their consumers.
So, as the move to digital commerce continues, digital ownership becomes more relevant as well. Take for example Hashmasks, a collection of living digital art that hit the NFT market by storm. In February, the 16,384 artworks within the collection were sold for a total of $16M just a few days after it was launched.
What makes Hashmasks valuable isn't just its funky digital design, but the way these pieces were put together and how the buyer takes part in giving the art a unique personality.
Created by the anonymous duo of Suum Cuique Labs, Hashmasks started its conception in late 2019. Without a clear notion of how the project will end up, the duo built something that reflects their identity and belief. The duo stated in interviews how they are the exact target market for these art pieces, making the project both an expression and a passionate pursuit of their creative selves.
The digital art curators took the 1980s collection by Jean-Michel Basquiat as an inspiration. They called for artists to take part in this vision through Fiverr requests and social media call-outs. But what seemed to be an easy task ended up more complicated than expected. A large chunk of the initial artwork that was submitted through this outsourced process was rejected due to its poor quality.
After a series of trial-and-error, and then additional applications, a group of 70 creatives was put together to start the work for what was to become some of the most sought-after digital art of 2021.
What's unique with Hashmasks is that each of the artists created only a part of the artwork, not the entire piece of art itself. The pieces have six distinguishing characteristics - the eye color, mask, skin color, background, character, and the item they’re holding. All these features were drawn separately by the artists.
After the series of the patchwork was created, the grueling task of putting these pieces together rested on the visionary duo.
Using an algorithm, Suum Cuique Labs forged digital works that were both unique and innovative, even to the NFT community. The canvas may present one digital art but hidden within are layers and layers crafted by hand from a team of artists from all around the world1.
Another iconic move that Hashmasks embarked upon was its random distribution method. For buyers, putting your money on something you haven't seen is risky. Well, not with Hashmasks. Fairness is one of the core values of this digital community, which means buyers weren’t able to pick the art themselves but received a randomly assigned artwork 14 days after the end of the selling period.
The pricing model was based on tiers that increased in value as demand increased. This was done to encourage users to purchase the said NFT.
Perhaps the most appealing part of Hashmasks, is the way it builds scarcity. Aside from one-of-a-kind artwork, Hashmasks give owners the ability to name their art through Name Change Tokens (NCTs) provided at the time of its purchase. A specified number of NCTs are awarded to the buyers within the first 14 days of the sale, enough to use for a couple of name changes.
After the 14-day selling period has passed, the Hashmasks will generate 10 NCTs daily for the next ten years. The tokens generated has only one purpose - to change the name of the NFT in the Ethereum blockchain. When the current owners have accumulated 1830 NCTs, they can then choose to burn it and rename their artwork. Hence, the art isn't finished when the sale is made, but rather will continue to evolve in the next ten years until the last NCT is delivered and burned.
Another noteworthy feature of Hashmasks is the company’s release to use the artwork for commercial use.
"The Company grants you an unlimited, worldwide, exclusive, license to use, copy, and display the purchased Art for the purpose of creating derivative works based upon the Art (“Commercial Use”). Examples of such Commercial Use would e.g. be the use of the Art to produce and sell merchandise products (T-Shirts etc.) displaying copies of the Art"
Therefore, the owners can have multiple streams of revenues from their investment - through the increase in value of the NFT itself, the NCT tokens, and the possible artwork merch.
Lastly, and the core of every NFT available online, is the strength in the community. NFTs rely heavily on a strong following that places the value on the product and the technology. The Hashmasks craze was stirred up by @CryptoCobain, a Twitter personality, who posted about the impulse buying that cost him hundreds of dollars.
The story behind the statement started with a private message from a fellow Ethereum community member named “Cryptopathic” who thought Hashmasks will be the next big NFT craze. Crypto Cobain invested a total of $200,000 on the artwork which then soared to over 113% in value in less than a week.
The crypto Twitter blew up and in a few days, Hashmasks were the talk of the town. Buying, selling, and artwork features were some of the trending topics. Implicit traits were ascribed to pieces and the followers couldn’t help but reveal their own design interpretations.
From Fibonacci sequence to pieces that can be pieced together like puzzles, to randomly but surprisingly identical designs, Hashmasks took the social media community by storm.
One user, Trentelme, browsed through the entire collection for 15 straight hours. His effort garnered him Hashmasks #3350 and #9934 which are the exact copy of each other. He named them The Real and The Unreal and stated in an interview that it was not luck that made him own the identical twins but rather, a product of pure obsession.
Indeed the obsession took over and the conversation has moved from Twitter to Discord. Avid followers have even started projects centered around the ingenious creation. Some of these include the Hashmask Finder, a list of all the Hashmasks, their distinguishing characteristics, current value, and all relevant metrics attached to each artwork. There’s also Mask DAO, the official DAO for the Hashmasks community with a virtual museum and community freebies.
Today, Hashmasks can be purchased in Opensea and other NFT marketplace, and are priced at least $8,000 per artwork. But the craze is far from over.
The creators are looking at expanding the use of the Hashmasks through avatar collectibles, digital prints, virtual worlds, games, and more.
The latest news release on the avatar gives three options to the owners:
- To claim a masked avatar based on their Hashmask art
- To claim an unmasked avatar with random traits
- Or to burn the Hashmask and claim both
Although still in the works, followers are bullish that this will further boost the value of the artwork. Furthermore, the use of NCT has been adapted by other dapps like Crypto Hodlers, generating conversations about how this can be the naming standard of NFTs in the future.
More than pieces of art and names that have no duplicates in the entire websphere, Hashmasks embed the identity of creators, owners, and the community of NFT advocates.