Hello all, happy New Year and thanks for stopping by the second Nifty Newsletter, a community-run bulletin that highlights Blitmap derivative projects and some of the recent happenings in the Blit universe! The holidays delayed this issue a bit and a lot has happened since the first edition (looking at you Flipmap). But today I’m excited to spotlight Yanis, the creator of NANOBLITS, a collection of Blitmaps that are a quarter of the size of the original. Remember: Blitmap is in the public domain under a CC0 license, so derivatives are only limited by the artists imagination.
As we all know, Blitmaps are pixel art created on a grid of 32 by 32 pixels. Take it from me—this art may look simple, but it is actually incredibly difficult to produce from scratch. After joining the Blitmap community I downloaded Pixaki and tried my hand at making my own creations, learning that creating art as nuanced and detailed as that of the OG composition artists is difficult.
But what about doing it in less space? That’s what Blitmap holder and artist Yanis attempted to do with his project NANOBLITS, a derivative project that shrunk the Blitmap compositions down to an 8 by 8 pixel grid. Although these NANOBLITS were a quarter of the size of the originals, the amount of work the artist put into them was no less incredible.
A former designer at a prominent web2 company, Yanis had been following Blitmap creator Dom Hofmann on Twitter, where he saw Dom’s tweet about the start of Blitmap minting.
“Dom doesn’t post a lot, and so I vividly remember his tweet about Blitmap. It was like a single tweet and I didn’t feel the urgency to go and mint right then,” Yanis recalls. “I ultimately forgot about it and missed out on the minting completely. It wasn’t until I saw Dame [another Blitmap holder and popular NFT Twitter personality] tweeting about Blitmap—they did a great review of the project and I went to take another look at it, but it was already sold out. I read more about the idea on blitmap.com, peeked into the Discord server and had a good feeling. My girlfriend saw the beautiful Mushroom Moderator. It has a classic color palette paired with a meaningful symbol. Even though it was a lot of money we took the leap and bought in. Blitmap is a special story to be a part of and contribute to.”
After Yanis made the purchase of Mushroom Moderator, he did what he noticed many collectors do: relist the NFT at an exorbitant amount. For him, this was 18 ETH, a sum of money that he thought was absurd and one that no one would pay. But five short days later, the floor was swept, and his beloved Blitmap was gone in the blink of an eye. He didn’t want to be left out of the Holders channel and promptly rejoined by purchasing Looney Gato a short time later.
“Before Blitmap, I was already learning the tech side of NFTs: figuring out how the wallet works, exploring different marketplaces and minting a few of my own artworks. But there was no sense of community for me yet,” Yanis says. “And then I came across Dame’s tweets, which were very enthusiastic about Blitmap. That’s how I found this great community. I’m in Blitmap basically thanks to Dame, who is such a prominent and positive force. ”
After talking with Yanis, it didn’t surprise me that he gravitated to the Blitmap community, because he is an artist who cares deeply about personal experience and design. After leaving his web2 company, Yanis relocated from the Bay Area to Los Angeles where he began working on his passion project, the MINE.PINK application.
The online app description simply states “many uses, just one app.” But its design is reminiscent of the days of the early web when we created web pages and blog posts more for ourselves than for our social media audience.
“While it's great that we have these powerful social tools, it's important to have great personal spaces too,” Yanis believes. “Apps like Notes, Photos, Voice Memos and Messages haven’t seen much innovation and feel disconnected. With MINE.PINK, I'd like to create the best personal tool that starts with you as an individual. One that isn't limiting or distracting to you, but rather there purely to support you. ”
What Yanis created is hard to describe, but the aesthetic and feeling evoke something very similar to his NANOBLITS project, which is why I mention it here. Both seem to trim off any excess and cut to the essence of design.
“When I joined the Blitmap Holders channel, I was surprised,” Yanis said. “I didn’t know that this kind of community spirit still existed on the internet. Furthermore, Dom's communication style of being to the point, very concise and clear is a skill I'd like to develop. He’s mastered making art, building clever mechanisms and communicating it well. ”
Yanis began to notice that many people were eager to get into the Holders channel, but were priced out by the steep entry point of a Blitmap. He became interested in tackling this problem, which has been echoed in the channel by holders and artists alike. To make the originals available to people at a fraction of the price, NANOBLITS was born. Yanis began creating the designs with Grix by eBoy, a pixel editor iPhone app with a simple drag-and-drop interface.
“Creating NANOBLITS was challenging—it took a month and a half to complete the set," Yanis explains. "I remember starting on the day when Dom dropped Loot. First with the simple compositions, the obvious ones that would translate down to the smaller grid. But looking at the many more complex ones, I felt there was no way I'd be able to make those into 8 by 8. ”
For those more difficult and abstract Blitmaps, Yanis realized he would have to create his own interpretation of the pixels and not hold himself to the standard of making exact replicas of the originals. One such NANOBLIT that comes to mind is Warm Vibe, which I recently picked up on the secondary market. The heart featured in the original composition by BRAINDRAIND was already abstract in the 32 by 32 Blitmap; however, Yanis had to take the abstraction a step further, invoking more of a feeling of the original than an exact representation.
While most artists balk at questions around their favorites, Yanis was clear cut in choosing the NANOBLIT that was based on Numo’s Fishy.
“I like the creepy little Fishy guy,” Yanis says with a hint of fanboy in his voice. “That was one of my favorite Blits when I first saw the collection months ago—I just loved how sleepy, dreamy and weird it is. And so when making the NANOBLITS, I waited to make Fishy until the very end, and was extra precious about it. I was like, damn, I really have to make it right!”
Besides developing all 100 original Blitmaps (and a few nods to other related projects), Yanis created a companion web interface built on his MINE.PINK platform where you can view all of the NFTs at once. If you haven’t clicked over to see it, I highly recommend doing so—seeing all of the NANOBLITS together in a curated environment is something special, demonstrating the need for online spaces to showcase collections in general.
An insider tip that I initially missed out on, which Yanis pointed out during the interview: click and hold any NANOBLIT on his site and it will toggle over to the original Blitmap composition. This Easter egg is incredibly fun to play around with.
Yet despite how impeccable both the NFT art and web experience are, Yanis felt slightly apprehensive about launching the project. It wasn’t until he traveled to NFT NYC and ran into Blitmap composition artists Varley and Zod that he got the push he needed to launch. After showing them a demo of his NANOBLITS and the companion site, both artists told him he had to go for it.
“I'm just standing there in NYC, feeling the energy of the OG artists, then Varley posts an announcement that I was working on a derivative project on Discord right away,” Yanis said. “And he shows me the post and I’m like, OK, I’ve got to go back to California and put them out!”
While the CC0 licensing was much appreciated, Yanis said that he considers himself a street artist and would have put the project out regardless.
“I love Blitmap, and would’ve made NANOBLITS whether they had an open-source license or not.” Yanis said emphatically, with a bit of a laugh. “But when Blitmap was announced as Public Domain—it felt very inviting. A big part of being an artist and making art is you must be open and confident, CC0 takes that to the next level. There will be positive future outcomes that we can’t even imagine now. Blitmap going with the CC0 license is very experimental. It’s beautiful.”
This was such an inspiring story, and Yanis was a wonderful person interview! I left the call feeling amped up about where the Blitmap derivative scene stands today and the high-quality creations that people are creating.
It’s also amazing how helpful this community is to one another—that nudge from Varley and Zod was just enough to help push NANOBLITS from an idea to production. I think it would be equally great to someday see a NANOBLITS minting platform akin to what we had with Blitmap. Yanis has the idea and artwork—it would be terrific if he could find a collaborator for the code. Regardless, it’s fascinating to think about the possibilities!