A revolutionary development in the art world? Nothing more than a confusing acronym? Crypto bro mumbo jumbo? If you’ve been wondering just what the hell NFTs actually are and what they are good for then sit tight, you have come to the right place!
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Firstly, let’s get to grips with the basics and make sense of some of the confusing jargon involved with this tech wizardry. NFTs (non-fungible tokens), are an individual representation of an asset, marked down in blockchain - a digital database stored on a network of computers. This unique ledger is a public record of ownership and guarantees scarcity. These tokens can be minted to represent anything, a 3D model of a Chesterfield sofa, a clip of a young child exclaiming; “Charlie bit my finger!”, or a work of digital art.
Works of art minted as NFTs have made the news in the last 12 months after the sale of “Everydays; The first 5000 Days”, a piece by the incredible digital artist Beeple that sold at Christie’s for a cool $69 million. This unbelievable piece is a collage of illustrations and cartoons that Beeple (real name Mike Winkelmann) designed on his computer, once a day, for more than 13 years. The buzz generated by this sale spread like wildfire and has sown the seeds of revolution amongst the art world.
But the beauty of NFTs is not in big bumper sales, and here is the reason why we’re getting so excited about them. For a long time, digital artists like Beeple and innumerable others faced a problem. Because digital art is so easily copied and spread online, they were unable to prove ownership and capitalise off of their hard work. Since ownership proved so tricky, these artists had been forced to work in the commercial sphere in roles such as graphic designers, 3D modellers, and cartoonists. This security is giving digital artists ownership and control over their work for the first time, liberating and empowering a huge number of people at the cutting edge of art.
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Now on top of this security there is another benefit to the artists minting NFTs: clarity. Because NFTs are minted into a chain of data, all kinds of different and useful information can be included when they are created. For example, ownership, care instructions (for physical works represented by NFTs) and detailed contacts that outline clearly what kind of percentage royalties are owed to the artist upon resale of the work. For this very reason, NFTs prove that they are not just limited to the digital art sphere. It makes a lot of sense to mint an NFT to represent a traditional, physical art work too, as contracts and maintenance details can be clearly stored and exchanged time and time again.
It must be said that the potential being seen in the complexity and creativity amongst digital art is wonderfully exciting. For the first time, art is being blended with intelligent algorithms and huge datasets. These new pieces are exploring and describing with incredible poignancy what it means to live in a world increasingly experienced in a digital space. The huge potential of digital art is limitless considering the moves of big tech companies such as Meta to further enhance the social and vocational experience online.
For collectors, the advent of NFTs is an exciting opportunity to diversify and modernise their portfolios. NFTs are quickly gaining recognition at the highest levels in the art industry with more stalls focused exclusively on NFTs at last year’s Miami Beach Art Basel than ever before.
Stay tuned, because this is just the beginning!
The D'Stassi Art Team.