In recent years, the world has become well acquainted with the idea of cryptocurrency. However, the latest trend in the cryptocurrency world is NFTs. In early March, artist Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, made history with the sale of his piece Everydays: The First 5,000 Days for a whopping $69.4 million in an online auction.
Although this is the most impressive amount secured for an NFT to date, NFTs worldwide are being bought and sold for millions of dollars.
However, many artists are wondering, are NFTs the future of the art world? And what exactly is an NFT? If you’re looking to get involved in the NFT world, here is a brief overview of this new currency.
What are NFTs?
NFTs or Non-Fungible tokens are taking the world by storm as “bitcoin for art.” Much like how Bitcoin is used to spend and save digital money, non-fungible tokens are any digital products created in the art world.
NFTs are individual digital files stored on a digital ledger or blockchain. They can prove that an item is one of a kind through the use of a unique signature. They aim to address the digital artwork issue of claiming ownership of something easily replicated in a digital space.
How are NFTs Different?
Unlike Bitcoin, non-fungible tokens are just that — non-fungible. With Bitcoin, if you trade one Bitcoin for another, you’ll have the same amount. On the other hand, non-fungible tokens are unique and can’t be exchanged for anything else.
This token can be used to both distribute and verify the ownership through the blockchain. Additionally, once an artist creates an NFT, they can digitally trace it forever.
While the idea of ownership sounds excellent, many wonder why you would buy a piece of art that millions of people can see on the internet for free. As our world becomes less and less physical, owning an NFT is similar to owning a one-of-a-kind artwork. You simply hold the rights to the digital counterpart.
How are NFTs Changing the Art World?
In the past, artists who sold their artwork could not continue earning if their work began to appreciate. With an NFT, it can be coded so that the original owner can continue to make a percentage of the profit each time the NFT changes hands. This amount ranges anywhere from 2.5 – 10%. This recurring revenue stream is quite inviting for artists looking to get the most out of their work.
NFTs allow artists to sell artwork for which there might not be a large market. For example, artists who enjoy creating stickers or emojis may not have a space to sell them on the App Store. But make these products into NFTs? Suddenly the sky’s the limit.
If you’re an art buyer, NFTs allow you to support artists, regardless of how large their following is. If your favorite artist comes out with a unique NFT, you get to purchase it, have individual ownership rights, and support an artist you love. For passionate art lovers, it seems like a sweet deal for everyone involved.
Issues with NFTs and Ownership
Unfortunately, not all that glitters is gold. With the uprise of NFTs to sell their unique work, artists experience their work replicated on NFT sites without their knowledge or permission. Artists who are already struggling to get commissions must go through the exhausting legwork of fighting to get their work taken down on these NFT sites.
This betrayal has resulted in dozens of artists beginning to lock their social media accounts. Although they lessen the chances of their art unfairly replicated, it’s now more challenging for them to get their work in front of new eyes.
The misuse of NFTs isn’t only limited to pieces of digital artwork. Recently, Canadian actor William Shatner complained to Twitter about people taking his tweets to create NFTs. Last July, Shatner experienced the positive side of the NFT wave. Shatner sold various memorabilia from his life and career as virtual trading cards on the Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX) Blockchain. They were sold in packs of 5 for $5 or 25 for $25. Unsurprisingly, the virtual items sold out in mere minutes. A scarce trading card was resold for $6,800.
However, just last week, Shatner was railing against the use of NFTs when it came to his attention that his tweets were being turned into NFTs without his consent. Tweets under his copyright are being stolen and turned into tokens and sold for profit. As innovative as they are, it seems the NFTs can work as a double-edged sword. The same artists who benefit from the tokens can also be taken advantage of by them.
While some artists are all for the NFT movement, many try to get others to abandon it altogether. They worry about what NFTs mean for the future of art and the question of actual ownership.
The Future of NFTs in The Art World
Whether NFTs result in a new generation of artists remains to be seen, but it’s fair to say that the use of this digital currency isn’t disappearing anytime soon. The current world conditions have resulted in an increased push towards a digital art world full of virtual spaces.
While NFTs may never surpass the value of physical art, it has encouraged dozens of artists to step outside of their comfort zone and create art that will hopefully continue to stand the tests of time.
AFYC Values Digital and Physical Artwork
While some artists choose to dip their toes into the world of NFTs, many prefer to stick to the tried and true manner of selling artwork to clients. If you’re an artist looking to give back without giving away your artwork, Art For Your Cause is the right platform for you.
We understand that artists want to support their community, but they still need to provide for themselves. Our platform gives artists the chance to sell their work and gain exposure while supporting worthwhile causes. You’ll retain all rights to your work and be able to track all your earnings through your artist dashboard. Get started today by visiting our artist signup page to find out more.