In this informational age where technology is constantly advancing, digital artists are finding new ways to show and sell their works. Digital art is more difficult to own than traditional art and “crypto art” was first sold in 2014 to solve this problem, although at the same time, it created new problems.
In simple terms, as defined on Medium, crypto art is digital art relating to Blockchain technology which allows consumers to buy, sell and trade the artworks as if they are physical ones. Crypto art can be verified using an NFT (non-fungible token). NFT is a token that represents a unique ID that’s linked to a piece of crypto art and cannot be replicated. It’s used to verify the ownership of that piece of artwork, according to The Verge.
Blockchain is a database that’s used to exchange cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. Different information can be stored on the blockchain, but the most common use for it has been transactions. The benefits of exchanging digital art on the blockchain are similar to exchanging cryptocurrency.
One of the biggest misconceptions about crypto art is why someone would pay for the art when it can be easily downloaded or saved online. The image that anyone can download online is worthless, but the original work that is NFT linked can raise in value over time.
The value of the artwork is based upon scarcity, and crypto art is not reproducible due to the NFT, according to The Conversation. Another element to this is that collectors place value on it, again due to the scarcity. Some people buy crypto art solely for it to rise in value, and others buy the works because they feel a connection to it or they want to support the artist.
One artist, known by the name Beeple, has sold the highest valued crypto art to date for nearly $70 million, according to Business Insider. He is one of the most well-known artists in this community and has said that when he saw the auction bid: “It probably means digital art is here to stay.”
Benefits of Crypto Art:
Crypto art has a huge impact on investors, consumers and artists. It’s a new and exciting idea, with many possibilities. There are many positive sides to crypto art. Every piece of crypto art that has been minted is going to be forever on the blockchain, eliminating doubts of authenticity and ownership. Collectors also want to know that they own a “one of a kind” work, something that’s rare.
Often in the fine art world, artists rely on auction houses, gallery owners and expensive advisor coordinations, but crypto art can be transferred between creator and buyer in a matter of minutes, usually on crypto art marketplaces. Crypto artists can also put their works on various marketplaces simultaneously, allowing for more opportunities and wider exposure for the artist.
Another advantage for the artist here is being able to acquire 80% of the initial acquisition instead of 50%. They also proceed to get their initial sale plus 10-15% of secondary sales.
Also, a benefit that has come out of crypto art is the ability for artists to be creative without boundaries. Bringing more digital art into the fine art world releases an entirely new medium of creativity that has never been fully appreciated before.
Crypto art also seems very futuristic. As VR and AR increasingly develop, digital art fits right into the category. Crypto art could very possibly be the new era of digital art.
The Drawbacks of Crypto Art:
French philosopher Paul Virilio has been quoted to say: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.” True to this wisdom, every invention of technology carries its own downside. There are a number of environmental concerns for crypto art.
Since crypto art lives on the Ethereum blockchain, blockchain technology itself already takes a massive amount of energy, the current model being very harmful to the environment.
The reason why crypto art wastes so much energy is that major cryptocurrencies use a protocol to determine their value. The average carbon footprint of a single work of crypto art averages about double a person’s annual carbon footprint, according to Bar and Line.
Despite this, there is work being done to get the Ethereum blockchain to a much more sustainable path, called Ethereum 2.0, that would supposedly reduce energy consumption by 99%, according to Ethereum.org. Technological advances are inevitable. So in this case, it’s better to embrace it than be against it.
In reality, no one can be certain whether blockchain will become an important aspect in digital art, but for now, crypto art is fairly new and an exciting medium for creative people to explore.