William Mapan explains generative art using a crayon and dice – Cointelegraph Magazine

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Generative artist William Mapan’s latest collection, “Distance,” sold out in less than 24 hours despite launching in the middle of a very weak NFT market.

From his early long-form generative series “Dragons” on the Tezos blockchain to the highly sought-after “Anticyclone” ArtBlocks collection that currently commands a 5 ETH floor, Mapan has a unique way of capturing the hearts and minds of collectors.

But many people in the public still don’t understand what generative art even is. Mapan has a unique way of explaining the often misunderstood genre by boiling it down to a piece of paper, a crayon and a die.

“It can be really hard to explain but usually the way I explain is to put away the code, put away the blockchain, put away everything. Just take a piece of paper, a crayon and dice. Imagine drawing two by two boxes on that paper, so four boxes total. You then throw the dice — if the roll shows up as a three or below, you draw a square; if the dice shows four or above, you draw a circle into one of the boxes.

“You just made an algorithm; you just made a set of rules and introduced some randomness in there. That’s basically what generative art is, you build a set of rules, an algorithm and then introduce randomness. Then you try to control that part of the space.

Strands of Solitude #010 by William Mapan
Strands of Solitude #010 by William Mapan (OpenSea)

“With the grid of two by two, the parameter of space is very reduced, but as soon as you expand to different parameters, you can get many different outputs. Imagine a 10 by 10 box and imagine you have multiple shapes like a circle, triangle, square, star or whatever. You just write down your rules and just follow them, and that’s it.”

Fine line technique

Mapan’s work straddles the line between appearing as if it’s physically or digitally made, a technique other artists such as Tyler Hobbs and Emily Xiu have a reputation for.

“I like to activate senses, feelings and memories. My hope is that when you see my work, it sparks curiosity. You might think my art reminds you of something in one way, but in another way, you’re thinking there are so many shapes that it’s impossible that someone made it by hand,” says Mapan.

“I hope that it connects with people in their memories, especially like the last series that I released last week, “Distance.” I want people to see themselves traveling, and they remember, ‘Oh, I was on this plane when I saw this kind of landscape down there.’ I like to trigger emotions and curiosity.”

Distance by William Mapan
Distance #22 by William Mapan (OpenSea)

Based in France, Mapan credits Matt Deslauriers, the artist behind Meridians and Subscapes, as his introduction to art on the blockchain. Mapan’s first NFT was minted on 4 March 2021 on Tezos, where he put a lot of his early digital work before launching Anticyclone via ArtBlocks on Ethereum on 23 April 2022.

“Matt helped me navigate early on. He kindly explained it all to me, and it started to make sense over time. I started in the Tezos ecosystem, which was a very community art-driven vibe,” Mapan says.

“It intrigued me that you could put an algorithm on the blockchain, and when people mint it, they buy an iteration that triggers your algorithm on demand. It was a new way to think about your work. Basically, the collector is a triggering point.”

Notable Sales

Rapid-fire Q&A

Are there any up-and-coming artists who you think people should be paying attention to?

“Anna Lucia:I definitely love her work. She’s very talented, and I can’t wait to see her progress. You need to look her up.”

What are the influences on your art career to date?

“Abstract expressionism movement and people pushing boundaries in modern-day art.”

Who is a notable collector of yours that makes you smile knowing they own one of your pieces?

“AC the collector — He is one of the most engaging ones. He comes to exhibitions and talks to me. He always tries to reach out to me and to understand the practice behind the work. AC is definitely a great collector.” 

What’s your favorite NFT in your wallet that’s not your own NFT?

“‘Horizon(te)s #5” — a collaboration by Iskra Velitchkova and Zach Lieberman.

“I don’t know why I love this, but I just do. It’s perfect because I love Iskra’s work and I love Zach’s work. It’s the perfect combination. I love the light and abstract shapes, it’s just amazing work.”

Who do you listen to when creating art? 

“Kendrick Lamar and Sofiane Pamart. I really like classical music, especially when I try to be in the flow state. When I need to crush stuff, it’s hip hop.

“Performers are in another light. They need to go up in front of the public. They have to be fragile and sensible, yet you have to let your shell down. I find that very inspiring.

“I try to be more like that. To let my emotions out. Prior, I was basically shutting them down because I wasn’t creating art full-time. Now that art is my job, I want to explore expressing myself more. Performers are very inspiring in that regard.”

Untitled by William Mapan
“Untitled” by William Mapan (objkt.com)

What’s hot in NFT art markets

Mapan’s aforementioned “Distance,” a collaboration with Cactoid Labs and LACMA, sold out its 250-piece collection at a 2 ETH mint price per piece. The collection has done close to 185 ETH in secondary sales volume since its 13 September mint.

Below are some of the other top recent digital art sales.

Cool Cats headed to Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nothing says mainstream more than the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and Cool Cats is set to become the first NFT collection to be featured.

In its 97th annual edition, the parade ran a contest that featured numerous NFT collections, including SupDucks, Boss Beauties and VeeFriends. Cool Cats eventually won out, which means a massive Blue Cat balloon will grace the skies of Manhattan on 23 November.

The lead artist and founder of Cool Cats, Clon, couldn’t be more excited for his beloved project.

“This is a big moment for me as an artist and as the founder of Cool Cats. Personally, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has always been an important event in my family and it holds a lot of memories. Being able to showcase my artwork alongside some of the world’s most recognizable characters is a dream come true,” says Clon.

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Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford

Greg Oakford is the co-founder of NFT Fest Australia. A former marketing and communications specialist in the sports world, Greg now focuses his time on running events, creating content and consulting in web3. He is an avid NFT collector and hosts a weekly podcast covering all things NFTs.

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