September 27, 2023

All About Open Editions: The New Wave in Digital Collectibles

min read

So you've seen and heard the hype.

Your Twitter timeline is probably full of prominent figures in the digital art space talking about the next big thing: the rise of open editions.

Like other trends that flourished in recent years, open editions (OE) are rallying the digital collectible market and driving a new wave of creativity. But while some see this as a sign of hope that the NFT space needed, others have a more skeptical outlook on the rising trend.

Before we dive into a more nuanced look at what open editions mean for the space, let's look at the basics of open edition collectibles and why they are currently so prominent.

What are open editions?

If you've been around the space for a while, you've probably noticed that most collections have a limited number of tokens. For example, popular PFP projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club and Deadfellaz each have 10,000 digital collectibles, a relatively common number for a PFP project.

Here is where open editions differ: open edition mints have an unlimited supply of collectibles for a specific timeframe. In other words, a collector can purchase as many of the digital collectibles during the minting period. Generally, open editions will have a minting period between 24-72 hours, but on rare occasions, projects will choose to have open editions without any time restraints.

Of course, teams can place limits on open editions, plus ways to cap the collections. For example, if a collection sells 100 collectibles during the scheduled sale period, the number of pieces in the collection is set at 100. Another strategy teams can do to ensure scarcity and rarity is setting limits on the number of mints per wallet.

An important note about OEs is that they aren't a novel concept to the space. Beeple, for example, launched a series of open editions on Nifty Gateway back in 2020, and there was Pak's Merge, which moved massive volume in 2021.

Beeple's open edition piece 'Infected'

The point here is that while the concept of OEs is nothing new, the recent surge in open edition drops is creating an exciting new wave.

Why would an artist choose to drop an open edition?

Each creator will have their reasoning for choosing a drop style over another, but there are several reasons why OEs are gaining popularity. One of the main motivations centers around accessibility.

Since the art has an unlimited quantity for a given period of time, the prices of these artworks are generally set at a lower price. Because of this, OEs are a proven way to make digital art more accessible to a broader portion of the community.

While OEs are currently moving large sums, the concept of this type of art is shifting the focus back to the artistic side of digital collectibles. Of course, there are plenty of people who want to flip their collectibles for profit, but there’s a growing tide of enthusiasts who see OEs as an entry into collecting digital art without the financial tunnel vision.

What do artists think about open editions?

The short answer is there is a mixed bag of reactions. Many artists are proponents of open editions and see this style of mint as a viable way to expand artistic recognition without a massive price tag.

Other artists also see OEs as a way to diversify the space and art.

Instead of focusing solely on one type of collection or mint, artists can use the OE wave to explore new territory and expand into a wider audience. It's a method that helps both the collector and the creator rather than making a collection that the community might see as a cash grab.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a portion of artists who do not see OEs in the same positive light. Wale.swoosh, recently dropped a thread on Twitter that was not necessarily anti-OEs but instead saw them as a meta(trend) that will eventually dip in popularity.

His take was not to disparage artists making OEs or to say that this style of digital collectible is inherently wrong; instead, he thinks it is a creative movement that will eventually lose steam.

Jack Butcher's Checks VV Open Edition

Others, however, have taken a more passive-aggressive in expressing their displeasure toward open edition projects:

Perhaps the most reasonable response from a top artist in the space came from non other than Betty, the Horde Mother of Deadfellaz.

As Betty eloquently puts it, OEs have a place within the NFT space. Of course, all trends tend to lose steam, but it doesn't take away from the valuable artistic contributions of this movement.

From a collector's standpoint, it all depends on what each individual is trying to achieve. Those buying OEs in hopes of massive financial gains may end up disappointed, but that holds for any fluctuating commodity.

A Open Edition titled tje Great Color Study. A pink room with a pink skull behind one door, a ballarina behind another, and a pink piano behind the third door
The Great Color Study

For the true fans of the art, OEs are truly revolutionary because more people can be collectors of something they genuinely appreciate. There is no doubt that this side of the conversation is a big win for the digital creator economy.

A list of popular open editions

If you're looking to brush up on knowledge of open edition collections, here's a short list of some of the most popular drops from the last few years:

For collectors, this is a very small range of what is available, and prices are only sometimes as astronomical as the more popular pieces by famous artists.

Dreamer by Pablo stanley and Audio Galleries
Dreamer by Pablo Stanley and Audio Galleries

Are open editions the future?

Open edition digital collectibles are proving to a be a valuable gateway for many artists looking to enter the world of digital collectibles. Many creators are likely to see this format as more suitable to their style than digital projects like PFP collections. At the end of the day, it boils down to what the artist feels represents their message best, and for many, open editions will be their preferred method.

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