Snowfro: The Man Behind the Generative Art Revolution
"Success is a life full of improvement."
Welcome to another edition of Behind The Keys.
This man doesn’t need an introduction. It’s easy to say that without him, the generative art movement we currently experience today wouldn’t exist. It’s as simple as that.
More important than that in my opinion is that this guy is one of the kindest humans I have met in the space. He’s incredibly humble, approachable, and friendly. I’ve learned so much from him in this interview and enjoyed it a lot. Hope you too!
As always, thank you for reading. Let’s start:
Who is Snowfro?
Erick Calderon, also known as Snowfro, is an entrepreneur, artist, and technology enthusiast based in Houston, Texas.
He spent the first 18 years of his career operating a ceramic tile company before transitioning to different artistic projects.
His first approach with NFTs was in 2017 when he started minting CryptoPunks after discovering the project on Reddit.
In 2020, he founded Art Blocks, a platform for generative art on the Ethereum blockchain. His first project on the platform, Chromie Squiggle, is an algorithmic collection of 10,000 NFTs and a grail to most generative art collectors.
He is also the creator of 100 Untitled Spaces, a project launched for Bright Moments’ Mexico City collection, city where he was born.
Behind the Keys: Snowfro
What is something you wish someone had told you before becoming an artist?
Haha well before web3 I wish artists had shared the often marginal success rate of ideas. For example, one of the artists I love the most told me he would be lucky to have 5% of his proposals accepted for artworks. I was told no a couple of times and assumed I’d never be an artist.
Post web3 I think there are a lot of things people are “signing up” for that they’re not fully aware of. And knowing ahead of time that the highly public and critical nature of the ecosystem can really wear you down sometimes.
What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
What does your creating process look like?
My process starts with one basic question:
“Do I think this could make someone smile?”
If the answer is yes then I proceed. I really think kindness can be infectious, and often times something as small as a work of art on a wall can be the catalyst to change someone’s day.
What activity do you fall into when you are trying to enhance your creativity?
Drinking a cup of coffee late at night basically programming my brain that it’s not sleep time gets me into a mood to work through creative endeavors after putting the kids to sleep. It’s impossible to work on anything (other than ceramics) with them around because I feel like I’m neglecting spending the little time that I have with them!
Coding is a medium that I spend 50% of the time just getting back into the work, and it requires a massive amount of concentration on my part, especially because I am a novice coder.
What do you benefit the most when working with NFTs and the blockchain?
I have always had a lot to say, but a very small group of people to say it to. Whether it is with words or with artwork there is something powerful about the nature of web3 enhancing the reach of what I have to say and being able to speak to a broader audience.
Growing up I always wanted to change the world. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. Web3’s 24/7 interconnected community-minded nature gives me hope that there might actually be a chance to make a significant impact in this world and that drives me more than anything else.
Who are 2-3 artists you admire or respect that you think deserve (even) more recognition?
I would love to pass on this if that’s ok??? TOO MANY to list and afraid to leave people out.
(Note: Thought about deleting this answer, but I think this encompasses in so many ways how Snowfro is: kind, and extremely empathetic)
What is one thing you think artists should focus more on, and why?
Trying new things and leaning into conceptual projects, especially those that highlight the dialogue made available through the web3 ecosystem.
What skill should anyone harvest early in their career that will pay off massively for years?
Patience. And kindness. Being compassionate and empathetic, being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes even if you don’t agree with their opinion or stance, allows me to discover more about myself, letting me put more genuine and authentic work into the world.
Why do you create art?
To make people smile 🙂
What’s a book or an article that has greatly influenced your life?
Gosh, so many books but I often find myself going back to this obscure book I read as a child called Maniac McGee. I haven’t read it since so it might have all sorts of weird stuff in it that’s not relevant now, but it’s about a kid who enjoys the challenge of untangling incredibly elaborate and complex knots.
What habit or practice has changed your life the most?
Putting myself in other people’s shoes when we are out of alignment and taking time to understand the nature of the misalignment has had a lifelong impact on me.
This is part of the process of entrepreneurship too, and being able to empathize with humans helps understand what sorts of things they might want to participate in.
What are you willing to struggle for?
Empowering more artists to be able to dedicate themselves full-time to creating art, and expanding that empowering to anyone to be able to dedicate more time to what they love.
What is your favorite failure?
While I embrace failure and recognize the importance it is hard to name a favorite failure as they all hurt too much to pick a favorite.
What does success look like to you?
While success in individual endeavors means that humans come to appreciate the work I have put into a concept, overall I am terrified by “success” in that I see it as the end of the road.
Success in life is always being curious and excited about innovation and empowering people to be their best selves, including myself. We can always improve ourselves, we can always be better at what we do.
Success is a life full of improvement.
If you could ask yourself one question every day to set yourself up for success, which one would it be?
“Can we get to inbox 0 today?”
What is one strong opinion you have?
You can do anything you set your mind to (within reason).
Which of your past experiences/learnings have set you up for success in the present?
Nearly 20 years in the design industry, within a highly competitive sector (ceramic tiles) cemented a need to deeply understand what drives design-oriented people to make aesthetic decisions.
What would you say to your 25-year-old self?
GET A HAIRCUT.
Learn more from Snowfro
Something to read: Snowfro Speaks: The Art Blocks Founder on His Journey as a Web3 Artist
Something to watch: All-In on Art Blocks with Founder, Erick Calderon
Something to listen to: Snowfro and Art Blocks: The Generative Art Revolution
Get in Touch with Snowfro
The best way to get in touch with Snowfro is via Twitter.