NFTs, How Tos, Investing

How to collect programmable art

Learning how to use Async art to own and alter crypto art
Ryan Sean Adams Ryan Sean Adams Dec 22, 20208 min read
How to collect programmable art

Access the Inner Circle and level up your crypto finance game with 1,500+ crypto natives.

Dear Bankless Nation,

A mainstream digital artist with a non-crypto following just sold the most valuable NFT collection of all time—Beeple made $3.5m dollars selling scarce digital art.

Art from “The Complete MF Collection” by Beeple sold for $3.5m

This is the new art market. This is human culture digitized. This is a crypto-native primitive where users can verifiably own a digital artwork.

Not only can these digital assets be bought, sold, and collected instantly by anyone in the world, but these pieces can be programmed too.

This unlocks a new set of possibilities. What if an art piece had multiple owners and each owner could change how their part of the piece of the artwork looked?

You could change the color of a single pixel from blue to red (because you own it and you like red better) or better yet we could collectively modify an art piece as an act of political solidarity against an oppressor.

Artists set free. Fortunes made. Human culture persisted. This is a wild space in crypto and we’re just starting to scratch the surface.

Let’s explore the state of programmable art on Ethereum.


Like NFTs? On January 1st we’re launching Metaversal—a weekly Bankless newsletter focused on NFTs & crypto art. Go here and click subscribe to get the first issue. 🔥🔥🔥

🙏 Sponsor: Argent – DeFi in a tap (👈 go download this wallet now - RSA)

Watch Ethereum vs. The STABLE Act | Rohan Grey

📺 Watch Etherum vs The STABLE Act with Rohan Grey

Rohan is one of the authors of the STABLE Act, a proposal looking to impose Federal Bank Chartering upon any stablecoin issuer. Tune into the conversation to get a diversity of perspectives regarding how to protect money and what the STABLE act means for crypto.


Tactic #71: How to collect programmable art

Bankless Writer: William M. Peaster, creator of the DeFi Arts Intelligencer

Async Art is a programmable crypto art platform built on Ethereum where creators’ artworks are published as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The interesting part about this is that any given Async Art piece is composed of a “Master” token and “Layer” tokens, the latter of which hold adaptable traits collectors can trigger to alter a Master token’s final appearance. This tactic will show you how to collect crypto art NFTs on Async Art and how to change Layer tokens’ traits.

  • Goal: Collect and use crypto art on Async Art
  • Skill: Easy
  • Effort: 10 mins
  • ROI: Varies, but can be quite profitable with patience and the right pieces!

Background on Async Art

In late Feb. 2020, the Async Art project launched with the vision of using the Ethereum blockchain as a foundation for programmable digital art pieces.

At its core, Async Art centers around digital artworks that are living and constantly shifting thanks to collectors’ trait activations or alternatively via data pulled from off-chain resources.

Source: “Right Place & Right Time,” an Async Art piece centered around Bitcoin and created by artist Matt Kane. The piece’s Layer tokens change depending on BTC price data pulled from off-chain resources on an ongoing basis. The work’s master token sold for 262 ETH earlier this year.

To date, Async Art has facilitated ~700 sales worth nearly $1M in total volume, with the average platform sales price being around $1.5k.

The advantages for verified artists to mint through Async Art includes a novel sales funnel (i.e. selling an artwork as composed of multiple layer pieces) and the ability to earn royalties automatically on any Async Art secondary sales.

Personal Examples

Since the beginning of 2020, I’ve been collecting crypto art for fun from a variety of Ethereum-based platforms, including from Async Art.

One of the first Async pieces I became first acquainted with was “Choose the Man You Will Become” by acclaimed Nigerian artist and rising NFT artist Osinachi.

Source: “Choose the Man You Will Become” created by Osinachi and as minted on Async Art

In the work above, note how there are 6 rows with 5 profiles per row. Each one of these headshots is separately collectable as a ‘Layer’ token, and each of their traits can be changed from black silhouettes to colorful headshots.

Earlier this year I bought the middle profile in the 2nd row above, titled “8th Man,” for 1 ETH. A few months later I sold the token for 2 ETH. Yeah, doubling your money is cool and all, but that’s not the most interesting part.

When the George Floyd protests struck the United States, virtually all of the individual Layer token owners of the piece promptly turned their tokens into the silhouette state as a demonstration of solidarity.

It was a small protest through art and powered by Ethereum.

This interaction took place in decentralized fashion and with no direct coordination between Layer holders. The takeaway? This is only the initial example of how Ethereum-based art will be proactive, changeable, and collaborative in perpetuity going forward.

For another example, consider the Async Art piece “One More Turn III” by artist defiantsquid.  The artwork is inspired by the turn-based strategy game franchise ‘Sid Meier’s Civilization’ which revolves around controllable tiles.

I’m a huge fan of the Civilization series, so I immediately picked up three Layer tokens   representing the tiles in the bottom right corner. As a programmable piece, each of these tiles’ states (and all the others) can be shifted from “Empty,” to red, blue, or yellow.

This means the piece can constantly shift in appearance, just like how Civilization matches see shifting play fields as they proceed on! And all of this is entirely based on the whims of its collectors.

Source: “One More Turn III” created by defiantsquid and as minted on Async Art. My 3 tile-NFTs are the whitish ones in the bottom right corner, as I’m humorously and independently maintaining a “neutral” country amid the ongoing artwork. 

How to collect crypto art on Async Art

Collecting NFTs, whether they be Master or Layer tokens, is straightforward. The only thing you really need to start with is some disposable ETH that you’re ready to spend.

Let me preface my coming remarks by saying crypto art investing can be risky just like various activities around DeFi. So be cautious! And do your own research!

If you’re dead set on jumping in, your best bet is finding an artist whose artwork you love (and is in your price range) or NFTs that move you personally. Do it without any immediate consideration for potential profits, meaning any flips you do will be icing on the cake.

All that said, here’s how to get started investing on Async Art:

  1. Navigate to Async Art and connect your wallet.
  1. Async Art has Master and Layer tokens available for a range of prices, including previously unsold NFTs and works available from collectors on the secondary marketplace. Browse the platform’s Gallery to find a piece that strikes your fancy.
Source: Async Art Gallery
  1. Some Async Art pieces have “Buy Now” prices, and some have open-ended auctions that end at the artist’s discretion. Navigate to your piece of choice’s “Place a bid” section and fire off your desired ETH bid.
Source: Micro Grass master token
  1. If you purchase a Master or Layer token at its “Buy Now” price, it’ll be immediately sent to your Ethereum wallet. If you place an auction bid, you’ll have to wait and see if the artist accepts your bid or if you get outbid by another potential collector.
  2. If you get outbid by another collector but the artist in question hasn’t closed the primary sale yet, feel free to fire off another higher ETH bid. Never spend more ETH than you can afford to lose, but if you’re committed to winning a specific NFT then re-upping your ETH bid may be necessary!

That’s all it takes!

You may win some auctions, you may lose others.

But at the end of the day it’s really quite fun to collect crypto art NFTs on Async. These “media legos” are programmable and ever-evolving, which is obviously cool, but in collecting NFTs you’re not only supporting artists, you’re also supporting Ethereum’s blossoming NFT scene. What’s not to love!

Artists and collectors alike are entering a new era of opportunity: Ethereum’s decentralized economy. Participants now have more options to earn and invest in this emerging digital economy—all on the back of ETH.

For Async Art, it’s a project you should have on your radar accordingly, and with it being so young it’s as good a time as any to become involved now.

Action steps

  • Explore Async Art’s gallery and see if there’s anything you like
  • Invest in Master or Layer tokens and see how your pieces evolve!
  • Subscribe to Metaversal to level up your NFT game in 2021.

Author Bio

William M. Peaster is a professional writer and creator of the DeFi Arts Intelligencer. He’s recently been contributing content to Bankless, DeFi Pulse Farmer, defiprime, and beyond.

Go Bankless. $12 / mo. Includes archive access, Inner Circle & Deals(pay w/ crypto)

🙏Thanks to our sponsor


You were promised the future of money. Instead you got '90s banking UX and a paper password. Enough is enough. Argent protects your assets and gives you peace of mind. Earn interest and invest in a tap. No seed phrase. No problem. This is one of the best DeFi mobile wallets in the game today. Start exploring DeFi on the go with Argent. 🔥

Argent just added even more…

🔥 Yearn Vaults live! Automatically earn yield on your assets. Simply choose a Vault and amount to invest, and Yearn handles the rest.

🔥 Balancer live! Earn BAL tokens by providing liquidity.


Not financial or tax advice. This newsletter is strictly educational and is not investment advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not tax advice. Talk to your accountant. Do your own research.

Disclosure. From time-to-time I may add links in this newsletter to products I use. I may receive commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. I’ll always disclose when this is the case.

Ryan Sean Adams

Written by Ryan Sean Adams

347 Articles View all      

Crypto investor going bankless.

No Responses