So you’ll have all heard of them, how they’re the next big thing, how they’re selling for millions. But what even are NFTs? And what have they got to do with artwork? We’re here to discuss these very questions.
So, what is an nft?
Let’s get serious for a minute. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. Types of NFT data units include digital files such as photos, videos, and audio. Because each token is uniquely identifiable, NFTs differ from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. NFT ledgers claim to provide a public certificate of authenticity or proof of ownership, but the legal rights conveyed by an NFT can be uncertain. NFTs do not restrict the sharing or copying of the underlying digital files and do not prevent the creation of NFTs with identical associated files. (thank heavens for Wikipedia) So in layman's terms that means it’s a unit of data that doesn't have a fixed value (like a currency) but unquantifiable value like a photo, video or audio file.
What are some examples of NFT art?
The most expensive NFT ever sold was made by an artist called Pak and titled ‘the merge’, however the artwork wasn’t bought by an individual but by a collective. It officially became the most expensive NFT ever sold on December 2, 2021, with almost 30,000 collectors pitching together for a total cost of $91.8m. Here’s a link to the artwork (screenshot it and have a $91.8M screensaver).
The most expensive NFT bought by an individual however was by an artist named Beeple and is titled ‘Everydays: the First 5000 Days’ selling for a whopping $69.3m. The artist had challenged themselves to create a piece of art everyday, the artwork itself being (as it’s namesake suggests) a collage of 5000 individual pieces of art.
Who makes these NFT artworks?
There are countless digital artists pioneering this movement but one to mention would be Mike Winkleman, we mentioned him before by his pseudonym ‘Beeple’. An American graphic designer who produces a variety of digital artwork including short films, Creative Commons VJ loops and VR / AR work. One of the originators of the current "everyday" movement in 3D graphics, he has been creating a picture everyday from start to finish and posting it online for over ten years without missing a single day.
Another artist to mention is XCOPY, dealing with death, dystopia and apathy with scratchy distorted flashing loops. Common motifs of skulls, flames and derelict buildings, XCOPY’s work is extremely visually arresting. This particular genre of doomy and naive digital art has proved very popular.
Do other artists make NFT art?
Yes they do. Of course it comes as no surprise that one of the first to jump on the bandwagon was visionary (and lover of making a quick buck) Damien Hirst. Hirst announced a project called ‘The Currency’ in which customers were able to purchase small hand-painted (and therefore unique) dot covered works on paper, each piece of paper corresponds to an NFT which the purchaser of the paper is given ownership of.
However there was a catch, owners had a year to decide whether they would keep the paper and relinquish the rights to the NFT or choose the NFT and have the paper ceremoniously burned. Through this, Hirst was trying to force the market to choose which had more inherent value, the physical article or the zeitgeist blockchain rights. This was seen as a bit of a gimmick, but within two months of ‘The Currency’ launching it had made $25M.
There’s no doubt that NFTs are growing more and more popular as time goes on and it begs the question: How high is the ceiling for NFT popularity and prices? Only time will tell. Whether a flash in the pan or a new market here to stay, we’re just glad that art is now more distributed, accessible and being adopted by emerging technologies.
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