Have you ever wondered how digital artists can profit from something that is not tangible? Digital artists have spent the last decade making money from commissions and other customized merchandise. However, they never really sold any of their artwork. Why buy a digital artwork that does not say that you own it? Everyone can simply download the art you spent money on without proof of owning it! So, what’s the point? Well, that’s when NFT art comes into play.
NFT art has transformed how artists and collectors view any piece of artwork. It connected the missing link between a digital asset and its ownership. NFT art grants you the assurance that you indeed are the sole owner of a digital painting, and you have the receipt to prove it! Let me explain.
Traditional Art Vs. Digital Art
For decades, digital art has been undervalued and shunned from the fine art world. Why? Because the indefinite copiable trait of digital artworks devoids any piece of art from being original. Let’s take a look at Da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa. There’s a reason why this masterpiece is worth over $800 million – It’s the real deal. Art experts can easily tell which Mona Lisa is the original work of Da Vinci and which one is a cheap replica. How? Well, the artwork is tangible so it’s easy to study.
Now, let’s take a look at any digital artist on DevianArt. Their artwork is digital, meaning it’s created using digital technology as part of the process. Thus, it’s a file that exists on the internet with no way of telling which copy is the original piece and which one is the reproduction. This limitation has put a strain on digital artwork and hindered it from being collected in the same way as traditional art has. Because of their lack of value, there is no market for collecting and trading digital artworks. Therefore, digital art suffered from a lack of recognition from the fine art industry. However, NFT art came to the rescue!
NFTs Revolutionize the Art Market
Although you can still copy a digital artwork many times, NFTs grant you ownership of the original artwork. How? It’s simple actually. NFTs are digital records of information encrypted on a blockchain. Therefore, NFTs can traceably and permanently prove the origin, ownership, and uniqueness of an asset – in this case, a digital artwork.
Therefore, NFT art is a step beyond what digital art is aspiring to become. You can link any digital artwork to an NFT that will act as a digital certificate of authenticity. Ergo, digital art becomes valuable!
Bringing value to something that never was considered an asset is a HUGE accomplishment. And NFTs did that. In reality, NFT art has not only surpassed digital art’s capabilities but also jumped ahead of the traditional art market. Traditional art has always relied on legal documentation to establish the authenticity of a certain artwork. Therefore, these papers can be easily forged and manipulated which yields a security problem for the traditional market. On the other hand, NFTs are written on the blockchain, meaning they are cryptographic information that is hard to hack or change. In addition, NFTs also provide a record of every transaction the artwork has made. That removes all uncertainty and assures skeptics of its authenticity.
So how exactly did NFT art revolutionize the art world?
Before cryptocurrency was a thing, we never really owned anything on the internet. However, the introduction of NFTs radically changed the status quo. Creators and collectors now have the authority to create digital art, trade it, and sell it by minting it as an NFT on the blockchain. Now, you can own a heavily secure receipt that proves that you are the sole owner of a digital artwork.
However, it’s best to not confuse the ownership of an artwork with its copyright. Buying an NFT art does not necessarily mean that you own its legal rights. Moreover, NFTs do not stop scammers from stealing art and selling it as NFTs. Although NFTs have smart contracts that support the legalities of ownership, it has yet to be tested in court. Check out this article if you want to avoid NFT art theft.
In addition to bringing value to digital artworks, NFT art allows artists a new way to monetize their work. With NFTs, selling a piece of digital artwork can be as easy as a click of a button. In addition, some NFT marketplaces allow artists to earn royalties. Meaning that each time a certain artwork is sold, the artist can receive up to 10% of future sales. However, the value of NFT art is totally dependent on the value of cryptocurrency. Therefore, artists who wish to sell their art as NFTs need to have extensive knowledge of the crypto market.
Previously, art trading was linked to physical art exhibitions. Therefore, it had geographical limitations for some art collectors and put a strain on some artworks from being globally recognized. However, with the rise of NFT art, art trading has moved online to open up to artists from all over the world. NFT marketplaces and collections thrive off of social media exposure. Therefore, artists who aspire to sell their work as NFTs are advised to start a social media following in order to increase their chances of success.
Types of NFT Art
Although digital artists are the ones who most benefited from NFTs, the non-fungible universe has opened tidal waves of opportunities for other art forms to shine.
PFPs and Avatars
Probably one of the most used art formats in the NFT universe, PFPs are profile pictures randomly generated by an AI. The first ever NFT collection to use this art form was Cryptopunks. Larva Labs have generated thousands of pixelated images of people aka Punks. These collections are usually generated in batches from an AI, with each having its own set of traits, some can also be duplicates. Owners of PFP NFTs can use them as a profile picture, hence the name, on their own social media. Recently, Twitter has solidified the relationship between PFPs and social media by verifying the profile pictures as original NFTs. Twitter accounts with the NFT now have their profile picture in a hexagonal shape.
Popular examples include:
Digital art and traditional art usually fall under this umbrella. Artists can choose to sell their own hard-worked artwork as a unique digital asset. The opposite of duplicate NFTs where the same artwork can have two different token IDs, a one-of-one artwork has its unique and custom token ID. This creates more value for the digital artwork in question. Many digital artists have taken their art portfolio and monetized it as an NFT collection.
However, traditional work has also made it into the Web3 scene. Many traditional artists have transformed their physical paintings into NFTs. Take for example the Uffizi Gallery in Florence which reproduced and sold a digital copy of Michelangelo’s Doni Madonna as NFT. The NFT was sold for €140,000.
Popular examples include:
Another form of art that emerged and took advantage of NFTs is generative art. Generative art maybe is the most interesting out of the 3 types of NFT art because it makes use of machine learning and computer algorithms to produce random art. The common characteristics of these images are the repetition of shapes, patterns, colors, and randomness of composition. The interesting thing about this art form is that most generative NFT art collections exist on-chain. That means the tool that generates the art is a system of code that exist on the blockchain. Therefore, art is generated indefinitely.
Popular examples include:
Top NFT Artists
Ever since NFTs became mainstream, the blockchain community has witnessed a rise in successful NFT artists that generated millions in volume!
Mike Winkelmann, known professionally as Beeple, is one of the famous NFT artists to have emerged, selling his “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” piece for $69,346,250.00. Christie’s house auctioned the piece in march 2021, which marked the first ever crypto art sold at an established auction house. His artwork is threading the line between realism and absurdism, depicting shapes, scenery, and political innuendos.
An anonymous digital artist by the name of Pak has ranked as the top artist in the NFT scene. Pak is the one behind the most expensive NFT art today, the Merge, which was bought by over 28,000 people for a total value of $91,8 million! Pak’s highest-selling NFT to date is Clock which sold for $20 million.
Probably one of the most famous generative artists of the NFT world, Tyler Hobbs’s NFT collection Fidenza has a whopping 54,255 ETH in total volume on Opensea! That is $66 million worth of generative art. Hobbs also made more than $177 million in secondary sales turning him into a crypto multi-millionaire.
NFT Art: A Forthcoming Market
As we discussed, NFTs allow artists to communicate directly with collectors by cutting all intermediary transactions. They also provide ownership and security of digital assets. However, nothing comes without disadvantages. NFTs propagate fraud and create environmental hazards never seen before in the traditional art markets. Nonetheless, NFTs are still in their early stage. By the looks of it, they might actually revolutionize the whole art scene and transform it into an advanced and secure art marketplace.