Open Edition mints have become a popular way for artists to create unique and accessible collections in 2023 — and arguably the most successful example of this trending meta has been Jack Butcher's Checks VV project.
An artistic commentary on the idea of verification and Elon Musk's Twitter Blue conquests, Butcher released his 80-checkmark grid in January — and has continued to capture the attention of the space through novel metadata updates and a burn mechanism that empowers collectors to use the token as the canvas.
Below is a deep dive into the Checks VV project:
Who Is Jack Butcher? 🎨
Jack Butcher, the founder of the creative agency Visualize Value (hence the VV in the project name), has grown his following by using simple and effective visual images to communicate complex messages. After spending 10 years working as a Creative Director in the advertising industry, Butcher branched out to launch his own consulting agency.
Butcher is no stranger to NFTs, having created and sold several collections and 1/1 pieces over the last two years — with his "NFTs, explained" piece notably selling for 74 ETH in March of 2021:
Launch of Checks VV ✅
In late 2022, Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter and the subsequent launch of Twitter Blue subscriptions fundamentally altered the 'verified' status quo that the social media platform had helped usher in over the last decade. The blue checkmark used to be a status symbol — but could now be effectively purchased for an $8 monthly subscription.
This cultural shift inspired Butcher to create Checks — a neat grid of 80 multicolored checkmarks that provided social commentary on the idea of verification and authenticity.
On Jan. 3, Butcher released his 24-hour Open Edition (uncapped supply) mint of Checks, priced at $8 (a nod to Twitter Blue's subscription price). The caption, "This artwork may or may not be notable" is another Easter Egg tied to Twitter — when hovering over a Twitter account that was verified prior to Blue, the message reads, "This is a legacy verified account. It may or may not be notable.”
16,031 NFTs were minted in the 24-hour window, with the floor steadily rising as Butcher continued to build in public — creating a thread of his ideas and direction for the project that provided transparent updates.
The primary direction focused on a burn mechanism, which Butcher noted was inspired by Damien Hirst's 'The Currency'.
Butcher's proposed mechanics detailed burning the Open Edition to receive an "on-chain original", which would create a randomly generated 80-check grid. From there, collectors could burn two originals to create a 40-check, two 40s to create a 20, etc. – culminating in a top-level single black check.
Super Burn Sunday 🔥
Butcher's Phase 2 burn event kicked off on Super Bowl Sunday, with users able to burn their editions into the new "originals" contract on the Checks.art interface. Through originals, Butcher gamified the creation process even further — with traits like color band, speed, shift, and day allowing holders to choose their own path to curating the collection.
The burn is not mandatory — participants can choose to keep their Edition, acting as an "unrevealed" NFT and carrying a premium on the market for the chance at minting a rare Original.
An example of the burning UI:
What Makes Each Check Unique 🔎
There are several different attributes that impact the output of the Checks Originals. A description of the varying traits:
Number of Checks: How many checkmarks are in the grid. As described above, combining two 80 checks creates a 40, two 40s to a 20, etc.
Color Band: How many colors are present in the design — ranges from 80 all the way down to 1, with the single bands fetching the highest premium of any attribute.
Gradient: The color pattern present in the design. Gradients command a premium on the market, and have emerged as one of the more subjectively desirable traits.
Speed: If you didn't realize, Checks move! The speed at which the art cycles through is noted in the speed characteristics, which range from .5x (slower) to 2x (quicker).
Shift: Refers to the light shift, between either UV or IR.
Day: Indicates when the NFT was created, relative to the burn mechanism being live.
Additionally — as Checks are burned together to create lower-numbered grids, the outputs take characteristics of their 'parent'. Users are provided with two outcomes when combining checks — allowing the burner to become the artist as the new NFT is created. The provenance of each Check is also preserved on-chain, with the 'family tree' of each combination traceable back to the original 80-check Originals.
Continuing in Butcher's goal of transparency, the constantly updating collection data is available on the Checks.Art statistics page.
Metadata Master 😱
One unique aspect of the Checks journey has been his willingness to challenge the market's perception of what an NFT really is.
"What's the difference between an image and an NFT," Butcher questioned on Twitter right before updating the metadata of the editions. Changing the image displayed used to be an extremely polarizing move in the NFT space, but Butcher has leveraged these updates to create buzz around the project — featuring various Checks-themed pieces that often represent a current event or other notable pieces of art.
"Checks is an infinite canvas for expression that is designed to challenge the concept of ownership and authorship in the age of the internet," Butcher tweeted in January.
Community & DAOs 🫂
A bustling community has formed around the Checks project, with a variety of user-generated derivatives, tools, and collector DAOs emerging in support of the collection.
Butcher has encouraged the derivatives, tweeting that users do not need his consent to collaborate on anything checks related.
"The symbol is as much yours as it is mine. No one owns it and everyone owns it — simply ask the market if they want what you're making," Butcher posted.
Many of the derivatives are displayed on the Checks site, viewable under the 'Feed' section. Some of the most notable takes on the Checks meme include Beeple's 'Dawn of Check', and Budweiser's 'This Bud's For You. Check."
While no single black Checks have been created (must burn 64 single Checks, or 4,096 total Originals), several DAOs have been rumored to be forming to try and accomplish the lowest possible output.
The Jack Butcher Ecosystem 🗺️
While Checks have seen over 60,000 ETH in secondary volume between Editions and Originals, they aren't the only notable Jack Butcher project capturing the attention of the space.
In January, Butcher released a separate Open Edition collection called 'Opepens', with 15,984 Pepe derivatives minted. While the project flew a bit under the radar in the shadow of Checks, Butcher made waves in February with a single tweet teasing a potential PFP.
Since the tease, Butcher has continued to update the metadata on Opepens, with several posts hinting at Checks tying into the eventual Opepen output.
The artist also has a third Open Edition collection called Merge VV, which Butcher has emphasized has no further planned development outside of the art.