Amid the ongoing crypto winter (will it eventually become an ice age?), one pocket of the Web3 world isn’t just thawing, it’s thriving. Meet open editions, a way of dropping NFTs that has welcomed in a fresh wave of artists and renewed enthusiasm among collectors.
Open editions aren’t new but after leading crypto art creators turned to them in 2022, their popularity duly boomed. Aided by the emergence of new NFT platforms designed to provide easy use and creative flexibility, popular open edition projects by the likes of Jack Butcher, Marcel Deneuve, and Terrell Jones pushed the trend further.
By the end of January, the overall NFT sales volume had grown more than 40 percent by some estimates. A bull run was being whispered about quite loudly in some of the internet. Kevin Abosch, who launched his first open editions on February 11 to very warm reception, offered the friendly advice: “please don’t FOMO into it… Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose!”
Here we break down what an open edition is, why they’re proving popular, and some of the landmark projects from recent years.
What’s an open edition?
An NFT with no limit to the number of editions that can be minted. This contrasts to a limited edition, which sets a cap on how many NFTs can be minted. Limited editions can range from one-of-ones to 10,000 or more editions.
Think of them as prints or photographs in traditional art-world terms, wherein editions or iterations allow for multiple collectors, while maintaining the value and uniqueness of each individual work.
Open editions (or OE in cryptoslang) aren’t, however, a limitless free-for-all. Creators usually control the time frame in which the NFT can be minted (typically a span of 24 to 72 hours). Once that time elapses, no more editions can be minted. The number of mints allowed per crypto wallet can also be capped.
Why are open editions popular?
Open editions aren’t new, Beeple dropped three way back in 2020 and NFT platform Nifty Gateway embraced them to gain stature and grow its audience. The current surge in popularity can partly be explained by a democratization push from within the NFT sphere. This movement has two main protagonists, platforms and big-name NFT artists.
New platforms, such as Zora and Manifold, have promoted open editions and prioritized making it easy for rookie NFT artists to release work with little technical know-how.
Major NFT names are drawn to the accessibility and affordability of open editions. An open edition NFT could be had for $10 or less, allowing community fans, often priced out of limited-edition collections, to get their hands (the digital kind) on work. By expanding their collector pool, artists can follow up by offering NFT holders benefits such as access to exclusive experiences, content, or further NFTs.
What do the detractors say?
The flood of creators that have entered the NFT space has provoked some snobbish ire from OG creators and collectors, particularly when newer artists with low demand are seen as trying to make quick money.
On the collector’s side, some worry that artists selling too many editions serves to deflate prices by undermining any sense of scarcity surrounding their work. Some argue it is more beneficial to release a high number of low-priced limited editions than run an open edition collection.
What are some of the most notable open editions?
Beeple’s 2020 trio of open edition NFTs (Bull Run, Infected, and Into the Ether) dropped on Nifty Gateway were priced at $969 each (he sold 601 of them), setting a precedent for big-name creator breaking from the conventional practice of limited editions.
In 2021, XCOPY, a leading crypto artist who creates glitchy and dystopic work, dropped a 90-minute-long open edition of three works (Traitors, Afterburn, and Guzzler) and raised more than $2 million. This was topped in 2022 in Max Pain, which raised $23 million in 10 minutes.
In April 2022, Drift, a NFT photographer who scales buildings and then photographs his shoes from delirious heights, minted an open edition in recognition of having being released from prison a year earlier. First Day Out sold 10,351 editions at 0.2 ETH ($6.8 million at the time).
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