Major online message board platform Reddit launched its third-generation (Gen 3) NFT collection today, significantly expanding the number of artistic collaborators while turning its focus towards the theme of future realities.
Previous collections began releasing on Ethereum scaling network Polygon in June 2022, depicting the platform’s alien mascot Snoo in various styles and themes. Over the following months, Reddit released Halloween-themed avatars and Super Bowl tie-ins, generating significant buzz and attracting over 7.3 million unique wallets to date.
The latest collection looks to expand upon that start with a much wider range of artistic output, stretching from 32 artists across the first two collections to over 100 artists in the Gen 3 drop alone, with an apparent goal to attract a wider base of collectors.
Ahead of today’s drop, Decrypt spoke to three of Reddit’s Gen3 artists—one new to the project and two returning from prior drops—about taking part in the internet giant’s NFT initiative, as well as what inspired their avatars.
Alicia Freeman, an Australian-based visual artist and children’s author, told Decrypt that Reddit initially approached her to participate in last year’s original collection. She was contacted by Reddit via DMs on the platform and didn’t expect how far-reaching it would ultimately be.
“I didn’t even realize I’d be getting paid for my work,” she exclaimed. “I was obviously happily surprised at how big the project became.”
Freeman’s style embraces mythical and fantastical creatures. With Gen 3’s theme of future realities and the expectation that her fellow artists would lean towards a sci-fi, robotic aesthetic, she decided to make three visually organic avatars.
“I decided to create avatars reflecting the rising ocean levels, the struggling bee populations, and the inevitable future of us all—returning to our original stardust form,” she said.
Artists were given full creative license from Reddit to pursue their creative ambitions, Freeman revealed, so long as their artwork fit within the template frame of the Snoo character.
Romanian-based digital illustrator Laura Dumitriu, told Decrypt that she utilized the template “to create a new world with colourful and cute characters”—a style which she has become synonymous with across social media platforms.
Bigger… and better?
Reddit’s transition into the NFT space has been largely praised over the past year for its artist-centric approach and for reaching new Web3 users. It’s a potentially significant onramp for mainstream audiences that may have never handled NFTs before, given the millions of avatars offered up free to Reddit users.
The original Gen 1 launch dropped under the radar, and only gained enough social awareness to sell out the premium (paid) avatars after a month of trading. By the time the Gen 2 launch followed, enough buzz and speculative frenzy had built up around the collection to sell out the paid NFTs within 24 hours.
According to public blockchain data curated by Dune, more than 10.6 million Reddit avatars have been minted to date with a total market cap value of $74.5 million.
Since entering the space, Reddit has notably avoided the term “NFT” across marketing campaigns, and has prioritized a simplified user experience on its platform to attract a native consumer audience that may be unfamiliar with blockchain technology.
For the Gen 3 drop, all artists were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) stating that they wouldn’t discuss specific details of the drop prior to launch. Despite this, purported leaked images of the art have been circulating across the internet.
With an expanded roster of artists, the Gen 3 supply mechanics will utilize a tiered system based upon the popularity of the artists. Chris Torres, the creator of the popular Nyan Cat meme, told Decrypt that he opted to create one avatar style with a supply of 1,000 NFTs, while some other artists created up to three characters each at varying supply levels of 75 or 100 NFTs.
“You can’t look at it and think, ‘There’s 97 artists, here’s the floor for all of them,’” Torres told Decrypt. “Each artist has their own lore and their own communities behind them, so each piece will go differently depending on who it is.”
Some members of the NFT community have suggested that Reddit’s decision to expand the number of artists will lead to an oversaturation of quantity, and potentially dilute the commercial value of the upcoming collection.
Freeman and Torres shared a more optimistic view with Decrypt, advocating for greater accessibility and distribution for the art rather than focusing on supply dynamics and potential speculative impact.
“No one really knows what to expect,” said Freeman. “There’s speculation on either end of the spectrum ranging from ‘too many artists’ to ‘the more the merrier,’ and I can understand both sides of the argument.”
“I feel with the growth of the avatar community, it was necessary to make avatar purchases more accessible for everyone,” she added.
Web icons unite
Torres is making his Reddit Collectible Avatars debut with the Gen 3 drop, and his Nyan Cat avatar carries the weight of a world-famous meme that has racked up over 205 million views on YouTube since April 2011. He previously turned his creation into an NFT collection that has since generated nearly 2,000 ETH worth of trading volume to date.
For the Reddit avatar, Torres wanted to emulate the original Nyan Cat design, as well as give a creative nod to the Nyan Balloon—a character he created back in 2011 that was recently turned into an NFT collection of its own.
“The goal for it was to take the original Nyan Cat—using the original file with all the original parts—and reconstruct it, so it could fit as Reddit’s Snoo character,” Torres told Decrypt. He added that working with existing pixel art is “a lot more difficult than traditional art” due to having to resize it to fit the avatar template.
Both Reddit and Nyan Cat are longtime internet icons, and Reddit has even used the Nyan Cat design in the past for medal rewards on its cryptocurrency subreddit. The NFT avatars mark the latest collaboration between the two, with Torres praising the platform for expanding the Web3 user base.
“I am always hesitant to join new collaborations, but I’ve been on Reddit for 12 years and trust the system,” he said. “It’s really cool seeing them create a whole new audience for NFTs and crypto.”