The Magic behind the Curtain: Interview with the developers of the Pixel Skull minting site
Updated: Jun 19, 2022
The digital engineers at the German company SWMS developed the minting site and the smart contract for the Pixel Skull Art Collective. Here's a conversation with Ingo Schlalos, who is in charge of the project, about the challenges and his personal interest in NTFs.
Ingo, you and your team at SWMS developed the smart contract and the minting site for Pixel Skull. Can you please explain what a „smart contract” is, exactly?
A smart contract is a piece of software which runs on a blockchain - in our case the Ethereum blockchain - which can be used to execute functions for reading and writing on said blockchain. These functions can be executed by users or can be triggered by an event defined in the contract. Basically, the smart contract regulates things like ownership, minting, and transactions but also permissions and license fees. A smart contract negotiates a trusted agreement between buyer and seller. Once a contract is created on the chain, it is unchangeable.
Why is a smart contract important for artists/creators and collectors in the NFT world?
For Pixel Skull we used the creator contract from Manifold Studio. We provide extensions for the functions that are not (yet) included in the smart contract, like lazy minting, on the creator’s own website. The big advantage of the Manifold creator contract: Platform independence. It allows you to retain true ownership and the rights of your work.
Of course it is also possible to use so-called standard factory contracts, which are provided by many marketplaces. The disadvantage of these standard contracts is that you as an artist/creator have no control over the contract, there are many other artists/creators that use the same contract, and the contract is not extendable. You can look at it as your brand, but it is not yours and it is used by many others.
The minting site you created looks great and we are very happy to have our own Pixel Skull minting site. What are the challenges for creating an individual minting site?
Normally, creating a minting website (for lazy minting) is no big deal. In the case of the Pixel Skull website, however, there were some challenges, so we had to create an extension for the (Manifold) smart contract to solve them. These were:
payout splitting between artists and the collective
44 artists (wallets) under one collective contract
pre-mint with whitelisting (WL)
two different minting prices (with/without WL)
ensuring that only allowed images can be minted via the contract
In addition, we made some gas-optimizations for the contract to keep the transaction fees within reasonable limits.
Pixel Skull is a large global collective of artists. Why did you decide to come on board as developers? What interests you in the project?
We were made aware of the collective by an artist known to us. All the works of the collective artists are extraordinarily beautiful, and we are therefore pleased to be able to participate here. Both the size of the collective and the international composition are very interesting for us. Should an artist later on desire to have his/her own smart contract outside the collective, we will of course be happy and ready to help.
I’m curious, are you active in the Metaverse? Collecting NFTs or looking for a virtual piece of land to buy?
Our company owns several NFTs including signed physical high-quality prints of Refik Anadol. I own NFTs from Refik Anadol, PAK and other artists. Refik Anadol's NFTs will give access to the Dataland metaverse, which I find very exciting. I am always looking for exciting projects in this realm.
One last question: I assume smart contracts and minting sites are not the majority of the projects you are working on. What is the key business of SWMS?
At SWMS we are digital engineers. We love machines, software, and difficult challenges. So, we are active in several areas. What all areas have in common is software development.
We develop individual software solutions for Windows, mobile and web platforms for our customers. As a Microsoft partner, we rely on the latest .Net technologies.
As a service provider, we support our clients in developing and operating multi-tenant IoT platforms, so they can continue to focus on their core competency - developing machines and devices - without missing out on digitization.
An experienced team of PLM and CAx experts supports our customers with extensive know-how and experience in dealing with industry and company-specific challenges, especially in the shipbuilding, aerospace, and mechanical engineering sectors. Finally, SWMS offers software solutions that supports users from design to automated manufacturing of composite components including robot-based 3D printing. All manufacturing steps are virtually mapped by digital twins, which guarantees a continuous software-supported process chain.
Thanks for the chat, Ingo! We are very happy to have you on board :) — Stay tuned for our upcoming NFT exhibition on July.1 at our Pixel Skull NFT Collectors Club.