It has now been just over a year since the NFT boom began when Covid-era creatives discovered blockchain technology in isolation and minted their hopes and dreams en masse. NFTs generated $23 billion in trade volume within a year and disrupted the traditional art world. As NFT producers arrived to satisfy the movement’s most capitalist predilections in a bullish buyer’s market, the focus of attention understandably shifted to generative art collections.
Since the rise of the profile picture, robust IRL communities have formed from PFP collections, and cartoon-like assets have become the new gatekeepers for access, opportunity, and alpha. This poses a challenge for one-of-one artists competing for attention. With so many more NFTs in a generative art collection, it stands to reason why PFP communities are often perceived to be more engaging; there are potentially thousands more NFT-owning members to participate, interact, and form lasting friendships with.
Recently, the crypto community has witnessed collaborative team conflicts and dissolutions, irreconcilable grievances, and very public breakups between founders. However, there are many successful examples of tokenized communities whose members share very little in common aside from asset ownership. Arguably, smaller artist-led communities are more meaningful for token holders, with a sense of fellowship and belonging that enhances the NFT’s value proposition over time.
Social networks provide a public forum for creators to dialogue about art, NFTs, career development, and ways to facilitate and collaborate. For Bay Area artist Charmaine Hussain, social audio apps like Clubhouse feel like home. “I feel like I’m in my element because we’ve spent so much time together, and the conversations flow so easily,” she said. While investing in her art career, Hussain’s tireless presence bred familiarity and trust within a niche community of ambitious newcomers to NFTs. In doing so, her vision for Enchanted Valley, a fantasy world of avatar art collectibles, has flourished.
Enchanted Valley is a mysterious fantasy world hidden at the edge of time and space. As signs from an ancient prophecy begin to manifest, all that stands between life and death is the ability to unravel the mysteries hidden in the enigmatic Artifact at the very heart of Enchanted Valley. The Enchanteds are magical fairy-like beings belonging to 5 Orders. 5 generative art collections of 2,222 NFTs will be released consecutively, each representing one of the 5 Orders.
Violetta Melnikova, the artist who drew The Enchanteds by hand, had been observing Hussain generously opening Clubhouse rooms to spend hours helping others find their way in the space. “For me, to commit to a long-term project like a generative art collection, it’s important to have the same core values,” she said. Melnikova immediately connected with the colourful patterns in Hussain’s hand-drawn mandalas, which inspired the creation of the Enchanted Valley universe.
“From the very beginning, we were clear that we wanted to create a combination of more detailed, polished fine art illustrations with generative art technology,” Melnikova emphasized. While developing the project, she was able to draw on her background in classical painting studies, as well as her experience working with ceramics and porcelain, beads, and even clothing. “I saw a unique opportunity to bring all of these experiences from my past artistic lives into the NFT world in one collection,” Melnikova said. Rather than randomly dictate rarities, the creative team used the generator as an art tool to ensure all 1,500 traits Melnikova drew are actually minted and appear in each collection. The result is manually curated generative art that champions ethnic and gender diversity and inclusivity.
To scale her idea from her OpenSea collection to a fantasy world of avatar collectibles, Hussain first partnered with Himanshu Atre, a product manager with a background in software engineering. Their shared heritage and love for storytelling had already connected them in conversations months beforehand. “What attracted me to the project was a broader initiative,” Atre said. “It’s not just a generative art project with beautiful fantastic art. It’s also Adam’s writing. It’s Daniel’s music. It’s Ganesh’s symbolism. It’s Jafeth’s strategy and the supportive community we formed.”
At the center of Enchanted Valley, a mysterious, ancient Artifact hovers above a temple. Ganesh Katave, its creator, believes that design captures the deepest complexities of human imagination. “Everything in the artifact is basically related to what Enchanted Valley represents; our sacred geometry,” Katave said. Before joining Enchanted Valley’s creative team, both Hussain and Atre were previous collectors of Katave’s art. As Enchanted Valley’s visual brand architect, Katave is the symbologist who embedded clues and hints from various cultures to solve the mystery of the Artifact, which also serves as a collectors pass. “There are certain elements of Celtic, South Asian, and other cultures combined to create this very global looking image,” Katave explained.
Adam Gilad, a Hollywood screenwriter with a background in animation and world literature, applied his knowledge of mythology and traditions to craft the story structure for Enchanted Valley’s fantasy world. While attending Hussain’s social gathering at NFT NYC last year, Gilad immediately connected with Hussain when they discovered they’re both Stanford alums. “Charmaine created this universe; it seemed to make sense to find a narrative inside of it, where through very specific characters, we could begin to explore the entire story world,” Gilad explained. “What we’ve created is a framework where people can take their characters and create their own stories and their artwork. It’s kind of a creative playground to hear as many voices as we can, where all of them will be valued,” he said.
Amid all the high-profile agency-driven projects, numerous corporate drops, and well-funded, influencer-led collaborations that dominate crypto news, it’s the relatively unknown NFT artists who continue to inspire the web3 industrial revolution as creators, collectors, and community leaders.
“Whether you buy an NFT or not, you’re welcome in our space. You won’t feel excluded. Your differences are celebrated. Your uniqueness is appreciated,” Atre promised. To foster a self-sustaining ecosystem, the community will maintain a database of talent and resources. “When we want to do another Enchanted Valley project, we’re going to go to our database first and look for artists and creators,” Hussain said.
Enchanted Valley will also grant scholarships for equipment and collaborative ventures between artists. “We know how hard it is to struggle as a creator of any kind, whether you’re coming at the technology or from the art perspective. 5% of our funds will go to support that, and we prioritize women, BIPOC and LGBTQIA artists,” Hussain said. “We’re going to layout our vision and our hope, and the right people will attract to it.”