Has AI finally made Bored Ape NFTs artistic?

AI art is cropping up everywhere and it should be no surprise that it's making an impact on the NFT world. Bored Ape Yacht Club remains one of the most famous collections of Ethereum-based non-fungible tokens, and now they've been given a fine art makeover by AI using Google's cloud computing network – all 10,000 of them.

So what began as a pioneering collection of NFT collectables has been turned into another collection of more artistic NFTs by some seriously powerful machine learning. And they've sold out already, obviously. Lost? See our explainer what are NFTs? and our guide to how to use DALL·E 2 to catch up.

AI Bored Ape Yacht Club

(Image credit: Artsy Monke / Crypto Grims)

The Artsy Monke project took advantage of advances in AI and image diffusion techniques using Google's Colab platform and its Cloud Computing service. The team fed the 10,000 images from the original Bored Ape NFT drop into their AI to use as a canvas to create generative art. The machine was then taught how to paint in 20 different art styles by being fed 14 million images and a massive dataset of related keywords.

This was no quick AI art generator job. The team ran multiple servers for several weeks to get the results they wanted, with between 25 and 250 iterations per piece. Crypto Grims, Artsy Monke's AI artist, wrote in a blog piece on Bored Panda, "We had to throw away the very first batch even though it ate up almost a thousand dollars, since the AI was giving us too many fairies dancing in meadows or demons made of clouds, but not quite remembering to still make it look like a monkey."

The final results are stunning, ranging from intricate realism to painterly impressionist scenes moody cityscapes and fantasy styles, but all with a form that will be instantly recognisable to anyone who's been following the NFT scene – Yuga Labs' original Bored Ape.

With the market now saturated with profile-pic collections that people buy in the hope of flipping for a profit, Artsy Monke took a different route, aiming to make art that people would simply enjoy collecting and holding. It retains the excitement behind minting a new Ape, not knowing how it would turn out, but introduces a fine art element that the team felt was missing.

It backed up its philosophy by selling at a cheap price too, at just 0.01 ETH ($15) – Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs now sell for around 85 ETH (about $140,000 right now, but we know how fast that can change). The 10,000-piece collection has already sold out and new buyers can only buy from existing owners on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. Prices remain low, but that could change: Artsy Monke are planning to launch Artsy Monkeland, a metaverse themepark that only Artsy Monke NFT holders will be able to enter to access Play to Earn (P2E) video games. Yes, the metaverse is a strange place. 

"We wanted Artsy Monke to be pieces of art that you could hang on your wall, but also, by using Web3 technology, we can also let holders access the Artsy Monke games and earn real money," the project's blockchain developer Dan Hovey said. "The more Monke NFT you hold, the more games you can play and the more money you can earn."

For more on NFTs, see our guides to how to make and sell an NFT and the best NFT marketplaces. And for more AI art, don't miss our pick of the weirdest AI art yet.

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Joseph Foley

Joe is a regular freelance journalist and editor at Creative Bloq. He writes news and features, updates buying guides and keeps track of the best equipment for creatives, from monitors to accessories and office supplies. A writer and translator, he also works as a project manager at London and Buenos Aires-based design, production and branding agency Hermana Creatives, where he manages a team of designers, photographers and video editors who specialise in producing photography, video content, graphic design and collaterals for the hospitality sector. He enjoys photography, particularly nature photography, wellness and he dances Argentine tango.