Highly anticipated in the world of NFTs, Brendan Tadler‘s DANKBOTS are slated to mint on 12 April, but will be developing a rewards system and value that will exist far beyond. Led by an eight-person team of NFT collectors, artists, engineers, financial experts; and helmed by respected architects Brendan Tadler and Rebecca Gordon along with Kristen Tadler and their team, DANKBOTS is a profile picture (PFP) collection that includes 7,777 algorithmically-generated Block Shaped Bots that exist on the Ethereum blockchain. The team has also collaborated with artists—including Mr Oizo, Nicolas Sassoon, eBoy and others on true 1/1 works. DANKBOTS (unlike many PFPs in the realm) bridge the gap between the art and collectible worlds of NFTs, and it’s this overlap that makes DANKBOTS especially appealing.
Tadler has participated in and contributed to web3 for years, and collecting NFTs made sense to him as a collector in the real world. He’s also known for opening the Office of Decentraland Architects in 2018—the first architecture studio in that space. An appreciator of art in all forms, Tadler believes there are actually plenty of parallels in the seemingly disparate spaces. “I love collecting real world art. It’s one of my passions. I love supporting artists and I love the feeling of saying, ‘Hey, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.’ I want to show my clients… this can enrich your life. That’s all it really is. It’s a support system and a community that believes in this person, their work is incredible, and it’s worth something.”
Moving into the digital space, Tadler started collecting on various platforms and after a few false starts, began to understand the immense value existing there—in the form of community. “I realized, ‘Wow, there’s liquidity here and we can begin to trade these things.’ People really believe that these are worth something and the reason is simply because there’s a community behind it. There’s a belief system with enough people to believe something. That’s the value.”
Tadler’s affection for minimalism echoes throughout his firm’s builds, with thoughtful use of materials and subtle lines. In a world where bright, bold (oftentimes gaudy or even juvenile) artworks abound, DANKBOTS—loosely inspired by Nouns DAO—are pleasingly minimal. The name, Tadler explains, is born from the NFT community and is intended to be less pretentious than art and design project names often can be. “There is a noticeable new vocabulary within the NFT community, especially on Twitter that one notices when fully immersed into the NFT space,” he says. “‘Dank’ is one of the catchy words that kept surfacing in my feed and quickly became the title of our project.”
The project began with Tadler’s colleague, Gordon, who was exploring minting the firm’s drawings on-chain. This led Gordon to PFPs. “She’s incredibly talented and that’s one of the reasons we hired her, because her graphics are just mind-blowing,” Tadler tells us. “She produced something and we were like, ‘Wow, this is absolutely gorgeous, really cool. It’s plastic, minimalist. I think it’s very user-friendly. I think it could be a credible global language and people would get it. You know, it’s not over the top.” After further discussion, Tadler and Gordon decided to launch a PFP project.
The 7,777-item DANKBOTS include 130 traits and use Creative Commons licensing which allows and encourages holders to use their DANKBOTS in any way they choose—whether that’s as a PFP or printing it on a T-shirt. Further reflecting the connection between web3 and real-world art, DANKBOTS will have several tangible elements too, including limited edition merchandise in the form of apparel and products. “We are exploring styles that reflect our aesthetic preference from our DANKBOTS creations, which are minimalist, classic, neutral tones, something not too loud and reflects the underground nature of our project,” Tadler tells us about the limited edition pieces that will be available only to holders of DANKBOTS.
But what really sets DANKBOTS apart, Tadler says, are the collaborations with artists that are already respected in the real world. “We have had world-class collaborations before we minted,” he says. “Nicolas Sassoon is one of the best. eBoy is one of the greatest pixel artists. Mr Oizo is a world-famous musician and movie producer. These are people that will have value regardless of a utility or not. Having those connections was kind of historic.”
Again, it’s the overlap between art in the real-world, Web 2.0 and web3 that’s paramount to DANKBOTS. “Just because you have Ether doesn’t mean that you understand art,” Tadler says. Ultimately, the mission for the project is two-fold: to educate and encourage community and to support artists. “The goal here is to merge the profile picture community with the fine art community in order to educate and share with these collectors. Especially with onboarding people from web2 to web3, this is the most important thing in order to make this space succeed, because otherwise web2-to-web3 people will get burned. They get timid and they back out. We have a responsibility to take these cases, these entities and educate in order to provide value and to provide some type of guidance to users. The other thing is supporting emerging artists in space. We need to take our funds and Treasury funds to support and enrich these artists and show them that this is the place they have to be… The opportunity now is greater than ever.”
“Collecting real-world art can be a very personal and self-absorbed decision, simply because you desire a beautiful object, you buy it, display it and that can simply be it. Web3 art is a decision and responsibility to participate in a community and understand the value of an artist’s career relies on momentum,” Tadler explains. “A non-fungible token is minted, it exists as a point in space with no movement. A force is applied, and now the token or point in space is moving and one becomes responsible for which direction it goes.”
From the minimal designs to the architects’ mindsets, the parralels and differences between NFT collecting and real-word art scenes, there’s no doubt that community is central to DANKBOTS. Tadler tells us, “The beautiful thing about web3 art is that by collecting, we become the gallerists for that artist and have to participate in order to direct where that movement goes.”
Hero image courtesy of DANKBOTS