Curio’s Snow Globes launched as a Christmas gift to Curio Cardholders on December 13, 2022. It was a surprise release — until the teaser, only the Curio DAO “Mint Guild” knew about it. And only those who held a Card in November 2022, when a snapshot was taken, would have access.
Excitement ran high the night before the drop. Usually, NFT projects release NFTs to existing holders. A few Curio Cards artists followed this path in 2021: Robek World curated remixes by 0010, Rylen and sgt_slaughtermelon for his cards (21–23), while Marisol Vengas (DAO expert Max Infeld) commissioned remixes of the entire set by his good friend and artist, Frisk.
Yet, Curio’s Snow Globes went beyond the traditional NFT airdrop reward: Cardholders received exclusive access to a new 3D art collection game. The price to mint the NFTs was free. 32 globes were released that paid tribute to the original Curio Cards history in a new, playful 3D form. Favorites like the Bard and Barbarian, or 17b were now reimagined in a rotatable, glass globe. And just like with the original Curio Cards, minisets can be collected in addition to the full set; and then traded in to create a “bundle” — a globe including each artwork and a Curio Raccoon (every Cardholder got a Curio to start their globe gathering adventure).
The project is the first by the Mint Guild, part of Curio DAO, the community that’s organically organized around the original historical collection since its Rediscovery. It was created by Travis Uhrig, one of the three founders of Curio Cards, and Vincent Gros, a French 3D artist based in Canada.
Gros, who works as a Senior Level Artist for game developer Airship Syndicate, was already a Cardholder in 2021. Over time, he’s gone from being an inspired fan to a Curio collaborator and remix artist. And Curio’s Snow Globes is his first NFT project.
Curio DAO member OC Ripley spoke to Gros following the successful launch. Their conversation dove into Gros’ collaboration with the DAO, how and why he’s become part of the Curio Cards community, and his journey through art and crypto thus far.
OC: How did you get started in art? And why 3D art?
VG: For me, there was no specific point in time where I said, "I wanna be an artist." I assume it goes like that for most people, but I don't really know, and that's a good question to ask. I just did stuff as a child and teenager; creative stuff, and, little by little, it gives you this itch to explore more, without being conscious of the path you're on. Because it's mostly for fun at that stage. For me, it was pencil drawings, writing, map editors in video games, video editing, some 3D, picture editing in photoshop, music etc.
And then, someday around 2017/18, you get to the point where you have to choose a direction you know. I loved playing video games, so I figured why not work in that? Fast-forward two years into the process of studying in the art class of a "videogame school" in France — that's where I clicked with 3D modeling/texturing/sculpting as a viable industry job, because it was fun, creative, and very useful to every type of game. I continued developing other aspects of my creativity in my personal time, especially in music, but most of my last 9 years on the job have been exactly that: creating, building and lighting environments for video game levels.
OC: How did you find out about Curio? What drew you to the project?
VG: I think it was Matty (DCLBlogger) who got me hooked on Curios. More specifically, it was during one of EllioTrades' videos where he had him (Matty) as a guest during the infamous 2021 NFT summer. I was seeing all this wave of ... profits, I guess, but no NFT was getting my interest, because I did not understand most of them. Then, there was the case for historical NFTs, and this clicked with me instantly, as it is not a very novel concept and it's pretty universal: if it's old, if it's art, if it's a precursor in any way, it will only get more and more attention and value as ETH NFTs grow.
By that time I already knew about CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties, a bit. I was actually "in" NFTs already in Fall 2020 with some obscure projects, and closely following art platforms like Superrare (unfortunately, I did not end up on one of these in time; galleries were already flooded with artists, catching up with real life too quickly). But Curios were in the discussion, like an outsider soon to be rediscovered, and I found this fact, plus the fact that they were the first art NFTs on Ethereum very appealing, especially as a first serious step in NFTs.
OC: What are your thoughts on Curio?
VG: It checks all the boxes I want in an NFT investment (and it's my only NFT investment at the moment): historical value as a precursor, artistic value, a very strong and ethical community, semi fungible nature for ease of trade (to replicate standard crypto/stocks tactics like DCA and laddering out of positions, for example), lots of different prices to get in and out, lots of personal choices (which card to collect, for example). It's all weird and fun, when you look at the cards, what they represent, how they came to be. It's pretty magical to see so much sincerity and naiveté in an NFT project. And there's a frickin' raccoon on top of it!
Curio, The Raccoon. The first globe all Cardholders received. Curio is the mascot for the original Curio Cards collection.
OC: How does it feel to be a “Curio artist”?
VG: Well, for the record, I don't feel like a Curio Artist in the same way we usually say this (for the OGs, you know). So, I mostly feel like a "Curio Fan Artist" more than anything. I used existing material and ideas because I liked them, and put my personal twist on it, the way most fan art is done. But yeah, to answer the question, it feels good! I'm happy to be able to bring something more to this ever-growing community, and see that some people enjoy that.
OC: What are your views on crypto and NFTs, especially as an artist?
VG: Crypto was and is a very finance-driven topic for me. So, most of my views on the subject were not coming from the artistic side of my life, at first. Then I heard about NFTs around Fall 2020. It actually started with $MEME, now that I think about it ... what a time it was to be alive and to lose some bucks on food coins.
SuperRare and platforms like that were eye-opening for me, though. I saw the potential for many artists to monetize their art directly to their fans, and earn royalties on the secondary market. So, this is the good side of the equation as far as I am concerned. Where it hurts more, is that very quickly the game was starting to look exactly like the art world outside NFTs: it's all about recognition of follower counts and who you already know in the industry, and a lot less about the art itself. I despise that a bit. There's always some outliers to this rule, fortunately, but anyways, it has nothing to do with NFTs themselves and it's more of a critique of the art world and galleries.
OC: What is the Snow Globes project about? Why did you make it, and where did the idea come from?
VG: Initially it was a way to strengthen my investment in Curio Cards, in a way that was not "buying more cards". I have long term thinking for most of what I do nowadays, and I like to see my projects as planting seeds for harvests that will come way later down the road. I like to see how things can have synergy between them, and in the case of the Snow Globes, see how it would impact the value of the community and of the cards themselves. Not in a direct fashion, but more like cultural "Curio Soft Power", if you will. Something intangible that adds a brick to the Curio building, but maybe there could also be a direct, lesser-but-more-tangible reward (this took form in me having two full sets of the Snow Globes, as a mirror of the treasury).
I knew my strengths, and ease with 3D, and saw how the cards were all 2D, and I said to myself (something like), "This could totally work and add value to existing cards, not remove value out of them, as they are 2D. This could only expand the Curio Universe".
I started with Curio, the Raccoon in 3D, and then I had the crazy idea to make all the cards in 3D too. And an easy backstory for them to exist in 3D was maybe that Curio was inspired by real world objects when they decided to create the cards. Yes, it's a parallel universe where the Curio Cards are actually "Curio's cards" you know. So, it's kind of a mythology, a genesis of the cards themselves. A way to build a little fantasy world around all of this, which is something else than the real story with the OGs and real Curio Artists (which is a great one full of anecdotes).
Also, Snow Globe was a term coined later by people following my work in the curio club, because I had to find a good way to frame all these creations, and it took shape in a small round pedestal with a spherical backdrop that encloses the objects, so it would show up easily on OpenSea. So, basically a snow globe, but it turned out that way, rather than it was intended from the start.
OC: Did it really take a year to finish the Globes? Why? How was the process?
VG: Oh, not really at all. I think I had most of the objects done in a month on my personal time, working randomly on it and updating the community. It was back in September/October 2021, around Christie's you know (a lot of hype back then, even though the market was crashing and the auction had a "sell the news" type of situation). To explain this timeframe, it's because the type of 3D I chose was a very simple one (one I would call "basic" in regards to my actual skills in this field). It does the trick. It's fun-looking and all, but it was a fast job, as I never intended for it to be more than that. This is what enabled me to do the 30 cards, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to keep motivation or to finish it in a timely manner. Some assets took more time, some took less.
Around that time in November, the interest in the project grew more than just some people looking at it in the Discord. I can't remember exactly, but I was suggesting how all of this could be a fun NFT to airdrop, and how you could turn them around in the OS viewer and all. It was intended as a gift; an airdrop to the community, something people could enjoy.
The real vision for its use came from Travis and maybe a few DAO people (I know CryptoLurker was maybe the 1st fan of the project, and she was definitely involved all the way through since then). We even had a few calls with them. Travis suggested something that built upon my intentions, and would be a collecting game (the one we have right now!). He asked if I could have not just the full set, but all the cards as individual Snow Globes, in order to airdrop the small ones, and trade and collect them to obtain the bigger prize: the full set.
Turns out it's very easy since it's 3D, so I said, “Yes, let's go.” (And also because I liked this idea a lot). The bulk of the work was having the full set and all the objects, and it was already done at that point. I just had to duplicate and move a bunch of things, and export all the sets and their thumbnails. Which I started to do, and then put it on hold, as it was the boring and not so urgent part.
Not urgent because of what Travis and others envisioned for the project: they needed the right contract to deploy this kind of airdrop and game of bundling NFTs into other ones. This particular topic is what took us (or rather, them) the whole year, I think. We should cross-interview with Travis on that topic actually, but I believe the whole thing was pretty much dormant until it was revived at the end of 2022 when they gathered the funds and gave substance to the initiative. Hearing about this, I resumed the exporting work since I had all the files safe and ready. We refined the vision a little more and added sub-sets (aka Artist sets), and it was good to go on my end.
All in all, it turned out great and was right in time for Christmas 2022! Very happy to see how they handled this very professionally.
OC: What was it like collaborating with Curio DAO?
VG: It was great, honestly! It encapsulated perfectly why I am invested and involved in Curio Cards. Trust, creative spirit, long term thinking, vision and direction, collaboration, simplicity and organization. It was all there. Driven by and for the community, always with the value of art and its relation to money and technology in mind, but never with greed or too many personal interests. Curio is still paving the way for new ideas and projects.
It went pretty smoothly on my side. I usually put limits to say where my fan artwork began and where it ended, because I had to manage expectations and adjust my involvement to something I was comfortable with, and I was heard (remember, it was all on my personal time, so I had to put clear boundaries on what I was cool with or not, what I was motivated to do or not).
On the other end, I was happy getting feedback and evolving around the greater ideas and vision for what the project could be (so for this, mostly spear-headed by Travis, CryptoLurker, and a few crucial DAO members near the end). I think we got a nice iterative and non-intrusive work process there. Again, a big thank you to all of them for all of this, and also the funding for the initiative. As we told ourselves a few times, launching this project is only the beginning of something, not the end, really. The airdrop logistics is an investment for the future of the Curio DAO and community, for more airdrops. And the Snow Globes were a support for that; to kick-start it.
I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few years—same as the Curio Cards! A big thank you to the OGs also, because the art is directly inspired by theirs, and some of them like Daniel (Friedman) have been curious and very kind about the process. And thanks to the Curio Club and community for being awesome, as always.
OC: How did your friend Mylène Lelièvre get involved, and what was her involvement in Curio’s Snow Globes?
VG: I was showing her what I was doing at the time, and since she was still in her studies in 3D modeling, waiting for a new job to begin, I asked if she wanted to help with some of these. She was interested, and did 14, 15 and 16, if I remember correctly. It was under my direction and I tweaked a few things here and there, but it felt important to us to credit her even though the task was small in comparison to the rest. I've made her aware of everything going on here in Curio Land and she is quite happy that this project bore fruit!
OC: What kind of work do you do daily?
VG: Nowadays, I work remotely full time as a Senior Level Artist for Airship Syndicate (Austin, TX). This job consists in building and lighting the levels for the game, in the game engine (mostly Unreal for me), following the design intentions, and making the environment beautiful, interesting and compelling to explore and play in. It's also called worldbuilding because we shape a lot of what the player will experience, and we try to do environmental storytelling whenever we can. In the past, I used to model a lot of props, but now I mostly use what other team members create, to focus on building and composing imaginary places to explore.
It's a bit like being an architect, a landscapist, an interior designer or an urbanist, depending on the situation.
Our game is called Wayfinder, by the way! For the rest, my portfolio is there to showcase all of what I did in the past.
In my personal time, I also have a videogame project which is in its infancy, where I embrace a broader skill set. I'm hoping that in a decade of work or so, this gets somewhere serious!
OC: What can we expect from you in the future?
VG: Sticking around, mostly! In the Curio community, at least, in the Discord, being in the shadows here and there. I got less time to spend there than before, but it's the nature of things, and I'll always be around and reachable.
I don't think I'll do more fan art, and it's due to my motivation, the different work projects and life, but I am hodling my cards for the long haul.
What I can say though, is that I reached out to Mylène when CryptoLurker and Etheriad were looking for a 3D Artist, and she seemed interested! I think it will be paid work and related to merchandising. I really hope something cool and fun comes out of this! I am hoping that the Mint Guild/DAO gets bigger and bolder, and that we get more artists around Curio Cards to honor this project and community with the big picture in mind. I always have "#10 Future" in mind.
Vincent Gros’ work is viewable on Art Station. To explore Curio’s Snow Globes on OpenSea, go here. And if you’re an existing Cardholder who has yet to claim your Globes, go to dao.curio.cards/snowglobes.
Let’s get ready to bundle! (And unbundle at any time).
This article was written and edited by Curio DAO contributors. You can find out more about the DAO and support the writers of this article here. Visit the Curio Cards Discord to get to know the community.