There’s been a lot of buzz around NFTs recently, often in the context of trading and marketplaces. But there’s more to NFTs than just business, and they have serious potential to change the world of digital art for the better.
NFT stands for non-fungible token, which essentially means a unique, non-interchangeable data file. This separates them from the otherwise somewhat similar system of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, wherein all digital objects are exactly the same and hold only monetary value. These files are hosted on online marketplaces or blockchains, which is an advanced digital ledger that is almost impossible to hack or steal from. There, they can be traded, bid on, sold, purchased, or held in hopes of them reaching a higher value in the marketplace. Popular websites that host NFT blockchains include NiftyGateway, OpenSea, and MakersPlace.
The connection between NFTs and the world of digital art becomes clear on websites like these- each NFT is actually a work of art, including paintings, 3D animation, music, modelling, and more. These files are released in a limited capacity by the artist, with each individual piece having a unique number out of all copies distributed. Then, those who purchased the artwork can put it up on the marketplace. Considering that the implementation and wide use of these NFT marketplaces is relatively recent, with most gaining popularity around 2018-19, the economy being rapidly formed with these blockchains should not be overlooked.
Modern digital art has become quite popular, with hundreds of thousands of artists sharing their content online from every corner of the globe, and appearing on popular social media, in advertisements, and on sharing websites like forums. These artists can run into some issues, though: it can be hard to make income, especially when considering that exposure is almost just as important, meaning artists can be forced to put out their art for free just to get noticed. It can be challenging to find the right marketplace to sell art to, and some of these art sharing services require paid subscriptions and other less-than-accessible aspects. Considering that some already don’t take traditional visual arts seriously, it stands to reason that people would take a sub-genre like digital art even less seriously. In general, work as a digital artist can be very insecure, and new artists could be discouraged by all these drawbacks. This brings me to my main point: NFT’s could be revolutionary in the world of digital art by fixing these issues, and inspire more beginning artists to follow their creative passion.
Although they’re not a miracle by any means, NFTs do actually solve these problems and more: people are getting more exposed to their existence due to celebrities like Elon Musk, Calvin Harris, TheWeeknd and more creating and selling their own NFTs, as well as the exorbitant prices some items can rise to in value. This makes people take the marketplace and art more seriously, gives blockchains credibility, and ensures the user base continues to grow. There is a more reliable stream of income for artists- rather than selling their work for a set price to a set customer using another method, they can use methods like raffles, limited releases, and bidding wars to increase interest and money earned on a piece. Anybody can start making, selling, and buying NFTs on the marketplaces, increasing accessibility and producing new artists that can get off to the right start in the field of digital arts, without needing connections or insane skills. Nifty Gateway is just one of the marketplaces that also has a built-in NFT creator, eliminating even more barriers to entry like lacking certain programs or not knowing where to start. Finally, the security of blockchains means that artists won’t have to worry about piracy or theft, adding another layer of security to this sometimes-unsure field.
While not a get-rich-quick scheme, nor a perfectly stable economy, NFTs do offer a potentially more viable, popular, and profitable than traditional avenues of selling art online. Especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, where artists can struggle with making income, this is an emerging market that shouldn’t be ignored.