SphericalArt, "Lunar Vibrations"

SphericalArt, aka Paul Petersen, is a geometric artist and poet who finds and creates his images inside of 3D polyhedral spheres. He looks for unique arrangements of polygons that hint at an emerging story. He overlays meaning onto the inherent beauty of polyhedral patterns. His artwork “Lunar Vibrations” depicts a broad vista with the moon’s tidal pulse filling the sky and landscape.

Dia al-Azzawi, "Freddie 1.0 #1"
Svccy, "Masks"

Over more than half a century, artist Dia al-Azzawi’s work has been shown in countless group and solo exhibitions worldwide, especially in Europe and across the Arab World. Freddie 1.0 is his genesis NFT collection, and was inspired by his grandson. Check out our interview with Dia here.

Matteo Succi, aka Svccy, is a digital artist and designer. His work is inspired by the Vaperwave Aesthetic, a genre that celebrates the technological nostalgia of the 80s and 90s. His work “Masks” is a commentary on the different masks we wear to survive in a modern day society. 


While investors and collectors navigate the new crypto ‘normal’ caused by another “Crypto Winter”, the rise of free-to-mint NTFs has been seemingly parabolic. Many recent and prospective projects are using this model to get the ever-popular genre of PFP generative series into the hands of eager collectors. Making NFTs free to mint has lowered the barrier to entry, and spurred demand for scarce tokens that demand less monetary commitment, but can still see exponential growth and profits. As this phenomena grips the crypto community, there are lingering questions about the sustainability of essentially giving away a collection with the promise of profit, through royalties from secondary market sales. 

Unlike most projects, Free-to-Mint NFT drops allow collectors to generate a piece for only the price of gas. Free launches create buzz and provide a way for collectors to obtain art and participate in a project which they might not have had the financial resources to get involved with.  It’s easy to see how this format appears attractive, the pay-to-play mindset that has dominated the NFT market no longer applies and instead tight-knit communities of early adopters create their own hype around exclusive collections. As scarcity sets in during the free for all minting events, collectors interested in the resale market benefit from the increase in floor prices.

These collections, while free to mint initially, have a history of being wildly successful. One of the most prolific projects that utilized this model is CryptoPunks in 2017. CryptoPunks centered around allowing whoever was both interested and already invested in the crypto space to claim their own. This set the groundwork for other offerings down the line as CryptoPunks skyrocketed to an 11 million dollar valuation at the very apex of the NFT craze.

Cryptopunks: 2, 532, 58, 30, 635, 602, 768, 603 and 757 | Sold at Christie's Auction House in 2021

In more recent history, Goblintown has seen similar success. Teased during a cryptic Twitter Space, with no roadmap or existing utility, Goblintown launched a 10,000 piece free-to-mint generative collection that quickly amassed 35,000 ETH in sales. The sales volume now sits at 44,500 ETH with 4,500 individual owners, most of which participated in the initial free minting event. 

Another project, For the Culture has met  a different kind of success through the free-to-mint model. Artchick toyed with the idea to pay collectors .01 ETH for every NFT they minted. The setup could ensure the creator would make their money back after 2,000 ETH of sales volume at 5% royalties. Sibel, an artist in the space, ran with the idea and brought the project to life with an OpenSea tagline stating:

“If you are reading this sh*t you came for the meme and stayed for the culture. Never underestimate the power of memes fcker. Fck u all! Roadmap? Fck that too!”

The colorful, simple sketches are easily recognizable in profile pictures and memes circling social media and have since led to the creation of derivative styles. 

FTC #617 | Owned by C016C0

The idea of paying collectors seems like a stretch in an already questionably sustainable minting process. And so the free-to-mint model and its variations beg the question: is this a long term option for creators and artists in the space? The pitfalls are evident. Giving away large amounts of NFT’s does not guarantee a profit, and generating hype can be a slow burn in a bear market. With this format, creators risk investing their time and effort into a project that won’t gain traction and get off the ground. In addition, smaller artists who already struggle to sell 1/1 pieces might not have the means or capability to create 10k drops which are the standard in the free-to-mint space. However, there are also notable positives associated with the free-to-mint market. The upside of gas-only projects is that they are inherently counterintuitive to those interested in securing a quick profit through flipping NFTs. Profit in these projects is determined by sales on the secondary market via royalties. If the scarcity/demand dynamic is not created during the “community hype” process, long term ROI will be unattainable. This provides a sense of security through both creator and collector accountability because of the slow set up process. In short, they typically don’t entice bad actors.

This is not to say that free minting doesn’t have its own set of safety and security risks. Risks for free-to-mint projects typically fall under the familiar categories in the crypto space of phishing, catfishing, fake airdrops, rugpulls and counterfeit projects, and a new contender to the scam list; sleep minting. In this new type of ruse, would-be scammers use another artist’s or creator’s account or wallet to generate a fake NFT. The wallet signature gives the NFT the appearance of authenticity, and collectors are none the wiser in paying for what they think is a verified work. We’ve seen these same types of malicious behavior in what have been typically known as scams in the Discord space via direct message requests and suspicious links. Smart contracts can be written to seemingly mint an NFT, but in doing so, a collector unwittingly signs a request allowing would-be unauthorized individuals access to their funds. However savvy collectors are already circumnavigating this issue by creating “burner wallets” to interact with these contracts, rather than use their main asset storage space.

With this in mind, there are precautions that every NFT Marketplace routinely advises their artists and collectors take, which also apply when participating in a free mint:

  • Protect your seed phrase
  • Choose verified creators
  • Avoid suspicious links
  • Utilize cold or burner wallets
  • Always verify signature requests
  • Revoke suspicious authorization when spotted
Mila Sketch, "Sophia the Robot"

Want to get started as an artist or collector on Mint Gold Dust? Check out our Metamask start up guide here.

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