With no disrespect to other avatar projects, The Heart Project is much more than "just" a PFP project. The PFPs are essentially the membership tokens to a world of possibility when it comes to the future of creative collaboration. I got a chance to catch up with Aidan Cullen, one of the founders of the project ahead of the collection's collaboration with ONE37pm on today's POAP (if you want to learn how to get it, join our Twitter Space with the Heart Project today at 3pm PST / 6pm EST). Our conversation was driven by the limitless possibilities presented by the growing Hearts community.
Aidan Cullen Dives Into the Future of The Heart Project
A Quick Intro to The Heart Project
The Heart Project is intended to live as a constantly evolving collective of creators, innovating the processes through which we create art. "We’re really tying to change what collaboration and ownership can look like," Aidan tells me on the genesis of the project. The PFPs are just the beginning. They settled on hearts for the initial characters as they represent so much of what the brand is about: uplifting fledgling artists and creating a true community.
Part of what sets The Heart Project apart from other avatar collections is how much of the community carries over into the real world. "So much of our community is in real life, not just on discord and twitter," Aidan tells me. For the past few months since mint, they have hosted three events in NY, LA and Miami for the NFT community. Aidan has heard the criticism that they're "just throwing parties," but rightly feels that this critique diminishes the role events play in cultivating a forever community, rather than a collection for a couple quick flips. Events like this were a big part of how Aidan made the connections that allowed him to get to where he is today. "I started telling people I was a photographer and a director, and then suddenly I was a photographer and director," he jokes to me.
Their event with Nifty Gateway and Doodles last week in Miami, for example, was entirely committed to the brand's ethos of uplifting artists. 90% of the proceeds from the collaboration are going directly to the artists, and 10% are going to a roster of environmental charities to offset the carbon imprint of the ETH blockchain. "Usually galleries take 50%, and we’re like fuck that. We’re just here to elevate voices and do cool shit," Aidan tells me.
Their goal is to bridge the gap between the world of "traditional art" and "NFT art," demonstrating that "all of it is just art." NFT technology is effectively just a means of distribution; The Heart Project doesn't self-identify as an "NFT art project." It's a growing art collective utilizing some of the revolutionary technologies of 2021 to expand its community.
The Future of The Heart Project
“I hate talking about what we’re working on until it’s done," Aidan tells me. So with that in mind, he isn't able to divulge everything that they've got planned for the coming weeks, months, years and decades. But he updates me on the progress of the roadmap and what's to come.
They're rapidly approaching their first collaborative project as a community, which will take the form of a zine. Everyone from the community who submitted work will be included in the zine, which is being designed by the team's designer HK—who also happens to be a creative director for Brockhampton. They're also crowdsourcing some of the design feedback from the community. Every heart holder will be airdropped a zine access token. Down the line, holders will have the option to either hold a digital copy or burn it to get a physical version.
One of the brand's biggest undertakings by far right now is the collaboration portal that they're building, which is "a 12-month piece of tech that we're building in 5 months." The portal will be a way to facilitate collaboration between the community, incorporating file-sharing services, video chats and more to streamline virtual collaboration.
The portal won't be ready for a few months, but once it's live, Benny Blanco or one of the other artists they have booked for future collabs will be able to conduct a session through the portal, collaboratively creating a song with the community. Until the portal is ready, they'll be creating these kinds of projects through Discord and Twitch.
The Benny Blanco and Lil Dicky collab is already confirmed and on the roadmap, but Aidan notes to me that they are "working hard on locking in a bunch of artists—a bunch of upcoming artists and some of the biggest artists in the world." The fruits from these partnerships will comprise an entirely "new way to look at ownership."
"We’re going to make a lot of songs and music videos with a lot of these amazing artists, and then release them as NFTs. Then the funds will go into a community wallet," Aidan tells me (Just to be clear, this is not financial advice promising profits to the community). They'll work with the community to propose ways to use the funds, opening up opportunities on a regular basis for community members to pitch any art-driven projects. The community can then vote on the pitches, and some of the wallet funds will be allotted to bankroll someone's project—whether it's a zine, a song, clothing company or anything they're into. This is part of the Hearts' commitment to "complete transparency with the community and letting them participate in those proposals."
They're even working on creating a clothing company and "turning the Hearts community into a DAO." The DAO will own roughly 20% of the clothing company, which will first appear online, but eventually appear in retail locations worldwide. So every heart holder will get to be the co-owner of a burgeoning fashion brand. Pretty sick. The community will get to help with the design process, marketing and contributing to lookbooks for the forthcoming brand.
We’re here to change what collaboration and ownership can look like in the art space.
- Aidan Cullen
"I’m here for 10, 20, 30 years, not just to make a quick flip," Aidan notes to me. And after our conversation, that much is abundantly clear. The Heart Project isn't "just" an NFT collection; it's the basis of a constantly evolving art collective that will totally reshape the way we think about art production and ownership. I can't wait to see what they have in store.