Art has always been subjective and highly coveted; a time capsule for future appreciators to create stories of a particular time period. So, it only made sense that in this digital era, we came up with a way to combine the nuance of art collecting and the innovativeness of digital artwork with the most technically efficient system of NFT artwork.
For those of you who may not be as wired as the rest of us, NFTs – or Non Fungible Tokens – are digital assets that exist widely on the Ethereum blockchain and are purchased using a digital wallet. NFTs aren’t tangible but have become highly sought-after content with artists, NFT creators, and collectors favoring this new crypto craze. Anything can be an NFT from a sketch, a tweet, even a picture of someone’s hand so long as it’s uploaded digitally and has a unique presence.
So, what is NFT art? For now, it appears to be more of a resource than an idea; a more streamlined way for digital artists to easily and quickly sell digital art to generate income.
The Difference Between an NFT and Cryptocurrency?
An NFT is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that represents real-world items. They are not interchangeable (non-fungible tokens) which means they cannot be traded in the same respect as cryptocurrencies. NFTs are managed by blockchain technology and all transactions are completed online.
Cryptocurrency, often referred to as tokens, is a form of digital currency that doesn’t depend on financial institutions to verify transactions. Cryptocurrency is fungible meaning it can be traded with an identical item for the same value.
The Purpose of NFT
The main idea behind an NFT is to represent real-world items like physical art. Creating an NFT provides proof of ownership and creates scarcity; which, in the art world is key to establishing value.
Selling NFTs as digital art presents the issue of the art being copied. However, the proof of ownership allows for distinguishing a copy from the original through blockchain technology.
What Makes it Art?
NFTs have been prompted to transform the art world-changing not just how art is commissioned but how the community values it. They are claimed to be on task to revolutionize digital art and the art world as a whole.
Contrary to its newfound popularity, digital art has been around for decades. Arranging digital art into an NFT could be seen as a marketing ploy to easily sell a digital file by creating scarcity.
Although there is no literal definition of art, it is understood that art is the creation of something using knowledge and imagination. Combine this idea with buying NFTs and we can usher in innovation and access. If one wants to rest on the philosophical expression which defines art by its nature and social importance, then NFT art is undoubtedly the future of representation.
Inclusion of NFT Art
The popularity of owning NFTs could be the fuel needed for the inclusion of NFT art into the art world also paving the way for advances toward diversity.
Traditional art spaces are synonymous with being majority white and male. By way of NFTs, a more diverse range of artists are able to acquire significant exposure without having to worry about conventional gatekeepers.
As digital art grows and expands into NFT art, BIPOC and LGBTQ artists are receiving more prominent platforms with opportunities in which to sell and share their work in ways that didn’t exist prior to the NFT marketplace.
Representation in the NFT space is important to the art community as it provides an outlet to grow and bring about change in a market notorious for exclusion. The NFT community provides a sense of belonging as the space expands. NFT artworks aren’t limited to identities but shared experiences providing for collaborations and an expansion of NFT artists that may otherwise have never existed.
Digital Art Ownership
The value of an NFT comes from the allure of owning something no one else could possess; bragging rights in terms of exclusivity. This makes the digital file an immediate collectible.
Purchasing digital artwork provides the same appreciation as physical artwork; owning it gives a nod to the creator and establishes influence in the art world for the collector.
When you think in terms of the popular NFT collections that have surfaced such as Crypto Punks or the Bored Ape Yacht Club, it becomes apparent that value for crypto art isn’t based on scarcity as it is primarily with physical art but more so on its omnipresence. The more traction a collection can acquire, the more valuable it becomes.
Environmentalists believe the process of minting NFTs has a negative impact on the environment because of its high energy consumption. For perspective, bitcoin uses a proof-of-work mechanism which essentially means there’s competition amongst miners to mine a block and each force of effort pushes energy consumption.
The impact of NFTs is similar as energy-intensive computing power is used to authenticate and sell NFTs. With the increased popularity of NFT art, the impact increases.
Although NFTs currently have a strong environmental impact, there are ways to make them more sustainable and therefore environmentally friendly in the future. Ethereum, the most widely used blockchain for NFTs, is moving away from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake which requires less energy consumption.
Alternatives to Ethereum
A few alternatives to Ethereum could also aid in reducing energy consumption. Cardano, developed by one of the founders of Ethereum Charles Hoskinson, is used for digital contracts. It can handle 1,000 transactions per second compared to Bitcoin’s 7. As a result of already utilizing proof-of-stake, Cardano can scale up larger without giving up any speed or efficiency which cuts down on energy usage.
How Can Artists Benefit?
At one point in time, art history consisted of detailed replications of the rich and powerful attracting the likes of the rich and powerful. As time mustered on and artists such as Andy Warhol and Basquiat transformed the antiquated expressionism of art and how it was received, a new culture of creators began to flood the art world.
We are experiencing this same reign with the height of NFT art. Artists have been placed in a position to control where and how their art is used, economic gain, ownership protection, and marketability through a digital file. Physical artworks are being replaced by their digital counterparts thus affording artists more flexibility and inclusion.
The NFT market has cut out the need for art dealers, enabling artists to share and sell artwork directly online. This has opened up an opportunity for the artist to sell digital artwork and instead of receiving one-time monetary exchanges, they are able to set royalty percentages to their pieces and obtain passive income so long as the digital asset exists.
Smart contracts allow for profit sharing and collective decision-making where NFT trading is concerned. They also determine the rights and ownership of the buyer such as their ability to resale. Although it may be financially favorable to keep that option open, some artists may choose otherwise and smart contracts allow for that choice. With physical work, once it has been sold, it can be resold without the artist’s permission. This law does not apply to NFTs as they are intangible and reduce the risk of artists losing out when their work is resold on the secondary market.
NFTs are allowing for a marketable transition from galleries to social media platforms to marketplaces creating a direct connection with the fans. Additionally, because of the dual benefit between creator and collector, more involved experiences are being adopted by artists allowing for more excitement toward sharing projects such as virtual museums digital and auction houses. Utilizing this space empowers the artist to expand their influence and NFT platform instantly.
Some strategies artists may want to take into consideration when launching NFT projects are:
Leveraging a fan base can ultimately determine the value of the project.
Networking via marketplaces, discords, and social media channels will enhance communication between the artist and their fan base.
If the community is already familiar with the artist but new to NFTs, a website would work as a hub that could easily transition them into the new world.
Using NFT Art as a Resource
One of the best things about NFTs is their unlimited and expansive uses. An artist can convert their art into an NFT and sell that as a primary or secondary piece but thinking out of the box, as most artists do, they can employ an NFT as a resource or digital trading currency.
The focal point of NFT sales and marketing is the NFT itself. However, the attraction of promoting the NFT comes from the digital assets and other incentives attached. Instead of simply creating physical objects, NFTs grant access to an experience. Take for example the artist promoting a gallery show. They could create an NFT as the ticket with a digital database and each buyer will receive a perk be it a print of a highlighted piece, access to the artists’ exclusive community, or maybe even a first look at a new collection.
An NFT collection is becoming prominent amongst NFT art. Because collections tend to be limited, the enticement of being a holder will draw collectors to most projects. The ability to say you are a part of an exclusive group can be invaluable, strengthening the notoriety of the artist.
Certain marketplaces such as Nifty Gateway and NBA Top Shot are niche marketplaces appealing to specific collectors. Digital artists can explore their creativity more by targeting a particular consumer base and marketing their art directly toward the interest of these NFT marketplaces.
Because NFTs are still new, emerging artists and veteran artists are technically on the same playing field when occupying this space. If they pay close attention to the navigation of this world and ease their fans into it as they themselves grow, they are more likely to attract more collectors. The artists who can educate while creating will be viewed as an expert. The NFT world can be intimidating to anyone not familiar with crypto so it is vastly important not to leave fans behind for lack of comprehension.
It’s a networking gold mine! Most conversations being had in the art world now are built around digital images. There’s no better segue than to introduce a current project.
The Future of NFT Art
Many have debated if NFTs are truly the future of art or just a trend that will soon lose momentum. In either respect, one thing that can’t be denied is the amount of money artists have been able to make in such a short amount of time as well as the many new possibilities to showcase digital work.
With acknowledgment to artists like Beeple whose piece “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” sold for $69 million in less than 2 weeks in an online auction, it’s difficult to imagine this “trend” of selling art as an NFT dying off. If anything, there will be more innovations creating even easier access and quicker transactions. It would make sense that digital museums will become housing stations for collected NFTs or even physical museums with digital displays.
For photographers, this would be a seemingly effortless transition as minting images comes naturally, so photographers and even a graphic designer navigating this space would be ahead of the game. NFTs provide flexible options for series and collections and grant access to markets they normally would not have entered.
Musicians have also become more aware of the benefits of utilizing NFTs. Although streaming music for many artists has been the most popular way to showcase their art, it has not been the most profitable. A few artists have dabbled in the consumption of NFT music and reaped favorable benefits. NFT art in the music industry is making waves as a future option to those looking to take more control of their distribution and overall finances.
Even brands are becoming artists by jumping on the NFT train. Nike, Taco Bell, Charmin and Coca-Cola have all used NFTs in their recent marketing campaigns. They are heavy in partnerships with other digital forums to bridge gaps, create awareness and claim their spot in what’s soon to be a notable use of marketing.
With the rise of VR and the Metaverse, it’s looking like NFTs are here to stay. This is the perfect time for an artist to become acquainted with all things digital.
As with traditional art, the height or decline of NFT art will rest solely on the artist. Consumers get bored and migrate to the next bright and shiny idea so it is necessary to keep innovation at the forefront of creativity. The great thing about NFTs is that possibilities are utterly limitless and as long as there are countless opportunities for everyone involved to benefit, the future of NFT art will remain bright and shiny!