Richerd Chan of Manifold: Smart Contracts As Art

Richerd Chan is the founder of manifold.xyz and a developer. He creates blockchain products for some of the premiere NFT artists like Mad Dog Jones, Murat Pak, and Roger Dickerman. In this episode, we explore the company’s vision for the future of NFTs. The goal is to allow artists to own their own smart contracts and have more control over them.


“The hard part is more about how you verify, how you test, and how you make sure your contract is solid. And then after that, how do you create a good experience?” (Timestamp: 16:13)

“When I think about what NFT is (…), to me it’s the token that provides the value. Because, otherwise if you just had an image, there’s no value to that image. The value of the image is almost nothing because you can just right-click save it.” (Timestamp: 22:31)

“By burning something, you are now saying I am part of this community.” (Timestamp: 33:54)  

What is manifold.xyz?

  • NFT infrastructure: manifold.xyz is a technology company that provides infrastructure for NFTs. It’s known for its smart contracts, but they also deal with behind the scenes. The creator contracts they’ve released provide free open-source NFT minting. Their goal is to create the highest level of providence for artists.   
  • Innovation through smart contracts: There’s the token, and there’s the representation of what it is: art or experiences for example. Creators want to innovate. This is made possible outside of many popular platforms through a smart contract. One issue with creating a new smart contract for every new project is the disproportionate number of smart contracts and a fragmented providence for that artist.  
  • Artist-owned innovative work: On platforms like Nifty Gateway, each contract must be checked individually. Richerd’s company creates one contract per brand. The functionality can be custom made and the project is artist-owned.

How Richerd Got Into NFTs

  • Introduction to Bitcoin: Richerd has been involved with crypto for about a decade. His friend invited him to the Bitcoin conference, and he was motivated to learn about it and develop an app. He purchased a few Bitcoins and there he met someone who would become the co-founder of his first company.  
  • Creating his companies: He went to a blockchain hackathon, and they developed the app. Afterward, they built a payment processor for Crypto which was bought by another company. Later, he created another company that provided transportation services to babysitters.     
  • Flipping his first NFT: In January of 2021, he and his friend had a conversation of NFTs. His friend purchased a few NFTs and the prices continued to increase. They eventually purchased one together. Pieces were selling out quickly at the auction, but Richerd was able to acquire one. He then decided to sell it for $14,960. It took 10 minutes.   

Supporting Collaborative Projects

  • The Manifold Creator: There are two types of product options: the core contracts provided through Manifold Creator, and collaborative projects. Through the Creator tool was created to support collaborative projects.
  • NFT Extensions Library: To create a collectible NFT, you could create a collectible extension app that plugs into the creator contract. The contracts are open source which means anyone can launch them. The goal is to develop and offer a library of apps as extensions. What are the problems creators are experiencing? This always informs what they decide to create.
  • Collaborating with Mad Dog Jones: He started collecting NFTs.He purchased several more and developed relationships with creators. With a few friends, he purchased Mad Dog Jones’ Block Heater for $66, 000. They collaborated together on the Crash + Burn drop on Nifty Gateway.  

Flipping and innovating

  • Big potential for profit: Richerd realized that he should have held onto his NFT longer to allow it to increase in value. This would have made him a bigger profit. At that moment he understood what NFTs are. Having been in crypto for a while, for Richerd, it was about figuring out how to move money around. With NFTs, it was about ownership of visual assets.   
  • New innovations in NFT: One idea was, you create a self-replicating NFT. The coding itself for many contracts is not that complicated. The goal is to encapsulate the logic. His company helps artists with the sale of the item once the contract is solid. They established internal processes to make launches successful including the marketing of the pieces.
  • Successful project with Mad Dog Jones: For Replicator, they did social media campaigns for the launch. Generation three will be launching soon. The project is a self-replicating NFT. Manifold.xyz is working closely on designing with Mad Dog Jones and are effectively on his team.

Creating great NFTs through coding

  • Token economy: The token is part of the data in the contract, and it points to who owns it. Then, you have the artwork represented by the token. The token holds the value of the item because the image itself can be saved and copied. The contract itself doesn’t do anything except store the information about the owner.  
  • Creating a great NFT: The contract is part of the artwork because it’s what enables the experience. The experience is coded into the smart contract. To make a great NFT you have to consider the contract, the token, and the artwork.
  • Enhancing the experience: The visual representation, the user experience, and the ownership are all a part of the NFT. Going forward, they want to show people that NFTs are not just tokens. To Richerd, code is a creative endeavor. Good code is well designed, beautifully laid out, easy to read, and the variables are nicely defined.   

Engineering success

  • Richerd’s process: Richerd went to school for hardware engineering. He used to design computer hardware. He believes building NFTs is straightforward. When it comes to security, the guardrails are strong with smart contracts. The company does a lot of testing. However, the process of burning art for ash is complex.    
  • Virtual Burning: ASH tokens are generated by burning NFTs. Richerd burns art often. He attended Burning Man and displayed one piece for four days. On the fifth day, they burned it to the ground. Burning NFT art is different but the experience of doing it in a community is part of the process.
  • Building a space: As of now, there is no great platform for artists to create a good experience for their collectors. Minting contracts can be accessed by anyone in exchange for a gas fee. Minting fees are unnecessary. Plus, most platforms required artists to do their own marketing. Manifold.xyz is trying to change this by accelerating the space and making sales and minting contracts free and accessible.

A vision for the future

  • Eliminating the middleman: The company wants to create what’s in the best interest of the artist and what they want. The middleman isn’t necessary according to Richerd. They are creating a toolset for everyone as the next innovation of NFTs. The vision is to give artists control of their smart contracts and making that the industry standard.
  • How to connect: You can visit Manifold.xyz on their website https://www.manifold.xyz/ or connect on Twitter to find out about their latest projects: @manifoldxyz or connect with Richerd here: @richerd.