When NFTs had a meteoric rise in popularity last year, it was exciting. For a while, it seemed like all people could talk about were NFTs. Celebrities started dropping collections, popular brands like Nike partnered with NFT creators, etc. Everywhere, there were headlines like, “How NFTs are disrupting the art world.”
This emotion was felt especially deeply by those of us who have been creating NFTs for years. The interest of art world institutions like Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the art form we were producing was groundbreaking, especially considering how few people knew what NFTs were before. It really felt like we were revolutionizing what art could and should be.
What are NFTs?
NFTs are units of data (unique code) that provide a secure record of ownership in a blockchain infrastructure (examples are Ethereum or Solana). NFTs, which represent non-fungible tokens, are often associated with a digital asset such as an image or video that lives on a blockchain.
However, the headlines that stuck in the public consciousness were not about NFTs being revolutionary, or creators using NFTs to build communities, or even their function as collectibles. Instead, NFTs became exclusively associated with their potential to earn investors quick fortunes. There is truth to this perception – investing in NFTs has paid off for many investors and creators, with tokens selling up to 91.8 million dollarsbut it is not the whole truth.
NFTs have changed what “Art“ Means
NFTs are much more than just assets for capital gain. NFTs allow digital artists to gain unprecedented recognition and appreciation. Since its inception, the digital art form has been overlooked. It wasn’t until NFTs began to gain traction that digital art galleries began to appear and auction houses began to consider this art form worthy of sale. Because of the NFT boom, people are starting to see digital art for what it is: innovative, deeply creative, and deserving of aesthetic appreciation.
Along with bringing deserved attention to digital art media, NFTs have ignited a massive conversation about what makes art worthwhile. While art ownership was once reserved for a select group, those with money and access, NFTs have made it possible for everyone to own original works. This also extends to works that are too expensive for most people to afford individually, as buyers can partially invest in the creators’ pieces.
NFTs offer new opportunities for digital artists
NFTs not only make owning art more accessible, but also making art. The “starving artist” trope exists for a reason, but art as a sign opens up new avenues for artists to make a living from their art. NFTs created a new incentive for buyers to purchase digital art because the owner could actually demonstrate that the art belonged to them. Now that that incentive exists, more artists are able to generate sales. Artists also keep more of the profits from these sales, which attracts creators who can’t afford to make art within the established system.
NFT markets allow direct sales between creators and buyers, and tokenization enables creators to earn royalties from future sales. In other words, by purchasing an NFT, an individual buyer can have a significant positive impact on that creator’s career and livelihood. In turn, creators can foster closer relationships with their supporters, enjoy more creative freedom, and produce more authentic work.
These close relationships extend across the NFT space. The direct collaboration and monetary opportunities offered by NFTs encourage creators to support each other, creating a kind of ecosystem within the artistic community. Artists who collect the works of other artists benefit from building creative networks and sharing the wealth with their peers.
These are just a few reasons why an NFT is valuable. An NFT can serve a real-world purpose, such as those associated with physical items. It can function as a ticket or pass to an event or community space. You might just like the art, or the creator behind it. No matter what fantastic purpose an individual sign may serve, engaging with NFTs means supporting the transformation of our culture’s creative landscape. By creating, collecting or investing, participating in the NFT market means challenging what art can and should be, and who can practice and benefit from it.