By now, you have undoubtedly heard of the famous auction of Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days (2021). The fact that it has sold for $69 million has been the headline of many news sources — and it is no surprise, considering NFT was relatively unknown despite the fact it existed since 2015. This, along with the fact that the NFT market surpassed $250 million in 2020 — more than triple its value than the year prior, has launched NFT into the mainstream… or has it? Today, we will look a bit more into the world of digital art and digital artists, with the topic of the day being NFT and whether it has a future or not.
What Is NFT?
NFT or Non-fungible token is, simply put, a unique unit of data on a blockchain. To break this down into layman’s terms, let’s start with this — every file on your PC, laptop, phone, or any other digital device is simply code arranged in a particular way and assigned a specific file format. Then — every unit of crypto-currency is a unique set of numbers and data that can only be assigned and read with a private key. The Ethereum crypto-currency allows users to add additional data to any individual unit of crypto-currency.
With this in mind, when the artwork is assigned to a unit of data on the Ethereum blockchain, it becomes understandable how and why it can be transferred and sold as a unique item — this data and the image attached to it will be the only one in existence and verifiable as such. Therefore, an NFT is a digital representation of a specific unit of virtual currency, and this representation can range from audio files to images. To sum it up, it resembles Bitcoin — if a Bitcoin had a file attached to it.
The best comparison one can make to explain NFT artwork is to the relationships between artists and their benefactors in the past. However, the NFT makes it possible that the artist is the one choosing how and what will be sold instead of the benefactor. This is granting them more creative freedom while still giving the art buyers the sense that they own something truly unique — which is also true.
NFT Today And Where It Can Lead
One of the most famous NFT visual works sold recently — besides Beeple’s Everydays — is a simple image of a rainbow-toting cat, sold for a jaw dropping price of over half a million dollars. The image is commonly known as the Nyan Cat meme, and the very reason it has reached that price is the very selling point of NFT artwork — its uniqueness. The person who owns that image is the only one who has the real image now, as everything else is and can only be screenshots and copies that might look like the original but are not the original.
This opens up a whole spectrum of possibilities for people creating digital art. Let us take virtual reality art as an example — their work exists only in digital space, which may have posed a challenge to the way they were selling artwork. However, using NFTs, both the buyer and the creator of VR artwork can be sure the piece is unique and will keep being unique as only one person can own it.
Additionally, investors such as Elon Musk and Chamath Palihapitiya are backing this purely digital art form, which has also largely contributed to the rise of interest in this type of art. Moreover, Beeple’s NFT artwork was offered by Christie’s, an auction house that has existed since 1776, which further proves the point that prominent art businesses are now interested in the NFT.
One of the current events with NFT as its central theme is an auction series held by SuperRare in collaboration with Verisart. 10×10 is a series of 10 auctions for 10 artists, conducted over – you guessed it — 10 weeks, where SuperRare will be the auction site and every NFT will be certified by Verisart. It started in February, and it is still ongoing during this spring — so that might be a good way to see if the trend is taking hold.
NFT in the digital art world has the potential to provide artists with more control over their creations and the artworks’ intellectual property (IP) that in return can bring vast financial reward and social impacts in the future. Having said all this, as well as taking into account the possible rise in AI art, only time can tell whether this hype and demand of NFT art will be a fad or future. However, for now, it presents a significant improvement to both security and fervent customer following and satisfaction — which might be just the things to keep it afloat for a while longer.