As 2023 began, the popularity of Ordinals Inscriptions continued to increase rapidly, causing numerous collectors to try and profit from the Bitcoin NFT craze. While most collectors focused on projects like CryptoPunks and OnChainMonkey, which were Ethereum-based and connected to the world’s oldest blockchain, a new Bitcoin-based initiative emerged with the goal of redefining the digital artifact narrative. Led by an independent developer and longtime Bitcoin advocate, Taproot Wizards (TW) entered the scene not only as a newcomer to Ordinals, but also as a project seeking to be more than just another generative avatar creation. With the motto “Make Bitcoin Magical Again” and artwork that has significant historical relevance within the Bitcoin community, this wizard-themed initiative completely disrupted the evolving Bitcoin NFT ecosystem in a single bold move.

What is Taproot Wizards?

Taproot Wizards is a collection of 2,121 unique, wizard-themed profile pictures that were teased over time on the project’s Discord before being fully revealed on February 18, 2023. The project has not yet been minted, but it has received acclaim for its avant-garde qualities that reference a significant piece of Bitcoin’s history: the Bitcoin Wizard. The Bitcoin Wizard is an iconic image of a wizard wielding Bitcoin that was originally uploaded to Reddit’s r/Bitcoin in 2013 by a user named “mavensbot.” The image quickly became a mascot for BTC and was later incorporated into Taproot Wizards. While it was initially believed that Taproot Wizards simply used the original Bitcoin Wizard as inspiration, it was later revealed that mavensbot was involved in creating the art for the collection. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Bitcoin Wizard’s creation, a separate collection featuring the Bitcoin Wizard was launched to onboard users onto Bitcoin’s Lightning Network and benefit mavensbot for his contributions to the blockchain community.

Who created Taproot Wizards, and why?

Without mavensbot’s original contribution to the Bitcoin Reddit, Taproot Wizards wouldn’t exist. However, the impact of the Bitcoin Wizard drawing goes far beyond simply inspiring TW’s art. According to Udi Wertheimer, a developer, crypto advocate, and member of r/Bitcoin at the time of the original Bitcoin Wizard’s posting, the drawing was a major event that nearly doubled the size of the Bitcoin Reddit. This event, and the cultural shift it represented, ultimately inspired Wertheimer to leverage the wizard IP to create modern, non-fungible versions.

The Evolution of the Bitcion Wizard into “The Taproot Wizards” Credit: Taproot Wizards

In an interview, Wertheimer explained that the Bitcoin Wizard drawing brought in many new people to r/Bitcoin. “The cool thing about it was that it was this very simple drawing,” he said. “It looks like it was made in Microsoft Paint, and it just says ‘magical internet money – join us,’ that’s all.” This drawing inspired Wertheimer to create a twist on the concept, inviting people to join the world of “magical internet JPEGs” with the wizard collection. The collection was intended for people who believed in Bitcoin and wanted to see it succeed.

When Ordinals began to gain popularity, Wertheimer saw it as an opportunity to shake up the seemingly stagnant Bitcoin community. As a Bitcoin native and major proponent of the cryptocurrency, he took it upon himself to do so in a grandiose way. On February 1, in an event to announce Taproot Wizards to the world, Wertheimer orchestrated the largest block and transaction in Bitcoin’s history, achieving the maximum BTC block size of 4MB, which many previously thought was impossible.

However, not everyone was pleased with the sizeable block or Taproot Wizards. Many Bitcoin maximalists were already opposed to Ordinals for various reasons, including their tendency to cause congestion on the blockchain. Wertheimer’s purposeful action of maxing out a BTC block meant that network usage would come to a halt, at least for a short while. This move was part of Wertheimer’s plan to bring innovation back to Bitcoin, but it was only one show of force.

The intention behind the project

At its surface level, Taproot Wizards is a collection of PFPs with simple and poorly drawn wizard Ordinal NFTs. However, Udi Wertheimer intends to use the buzz and tradeability of PFP projects as a Trojan horse to promote Bitcoin awareness. By inciting disruption, fostering community, and reviving Bitcoin’s rebellious ethos, Wertheimer hopes to create a new wave of interest and innovation on Bitcoin.

Believing that Bitcoin has lost momentum due to Ethereum’s NFT success, Wertheimer desires to revive the unique and humorous culture established by early crypto adopters on the Bitcoin blockchain. But he believes that Bitcoin maximalists must overcome their pride and accept that the blockchain can be used for more than transactions. This is why he launched TW with a 4MB Bitcoin block.

Wertheimer explains that the message they wanted to convey is that they will do whatever the Bitcoin protocol allows, regardless of preconceptions about what is acceptable. He disagrees with the current Bitcoin ethos of perfectionism and advocates for embracing failures and mistakes to achieve progress. He hopes that Taproot Wizards can ignite the passion for experimentation, trying new things, and learning from mistakes to promote progress.

The future of Taproot Wizards

It’s uncertain whether Taproot Wizards will become the next big NFT project. However, Wertheimer’s efforts with the project aim to have a broader impact on the Bitcoin blockchain beyond just a PFP collection. Education is a significant focus for Wertheimer as he aims to spark interest and innovation in Bitcoin. Rather than providing regular incentives to keep community members engaged, he encourages them to take action on their own.

Although Taproot Wizards fans may receive rewards for their support, Wertheimer’s approach could inspire new ways of managing NFT projects like Ordinals. As the NFT landscape continues to evolve, Taproot Wizards may have served the blockchain best by demonstrating that stagnancy and complacency won’t help NFTs reach the mainstream.