NFTs: An Art Trend or the Future of Art?
What are NFTs?
NFTs or Non-Fungible Tokens have grown in popularity since the creation of the first token in 2014. NFTs are digital images that each hold a unique data unit that details ownership of the artwork. Just like more traditional artistic images and pieces, they hold a real monetary value and can be bought and sold.
How are NFTs traded in the real word ?
When someone buys an NFT, they are buying the original piece, but not the copyright. In theory, this gives artists more control over reproductions and allows them to profit from them. However, because NFTs are digital entities, they are easily copied, and so their value as compared to a physical piece that an owner can keep or choose to display is still hotly debated. NFTs and their sudden rise in popularity have led to a debate in the art community; are these innovative creations just a trend, or are they the future of modern art?
The Rise of NFTS.
NFTs are in many ways a reflection of the cryptocurrency boom and its wider impact on the world. Like cryptocurrency, NFTs have increased in value as they have grown in popularity. NFTs have also made their mark on the $60 billion a year art industry. This year alone, one NFT curated by Beeple was sold by Christie’s for $69 million, making the digital artist one of the most valuable living creators in the world. Shortly before this ground-breaking sale, Beeple’s works increased from $100 to $66,666.66 for his first NFT. The resale value of NFTs has increased drastically; Beeple’s first NFT resold for $6.6 million just a few months after the initial purchase.
The Value Debate
Whilst the increasing value of NFTs has attracted headlines and investors, two questions remain: are NFTs anything more than an investment bubble? Does the art itself hold a significant value? For Pablo Rodrigues-Fraile, who purchased Beeple’s first NFT, NFTs are much more than a monetary investment. He has co-founded the Museum of Crypto Art and wants to display more NFTs and digital artworks. Equally, the fact that Christie’s hosted the sale is significant. The auction house has become a household name due to previous notable auctions, and has a reputation to uphold as an arbiter of fine art. To sell an NFT will not have been a decision taken lightly, and thus they most likely are positioning themselves to be at the forefront of a new art movement.
What do artists think of NFTs?
Beyond investors, though, it is important to consider what artists themselves think about NFTs. One of the major concerns about NFTs is that they can easily be copied. This undermines the original artists’ control over their work and denies them profits they are entitled to. Unlike more traditional forms of art, NFTs can literally be copied and pasted online. Whilst artists can retain the copyright of their NFT artwork, in reality, this doesn’t really protect them from unauthorized usage. Furthermore, there are allegations that artists’ works have been taken by others and then sold as their own.
Artists are also concerned about the carbon footprint of NFTs, as the blockchain technology used in NFTs is highly inefficient. In order for this art form to become more legitimate in the eyes of many artists and in an increasingly eco-concerned world, digital artists like Beeple will have to find environmentally friendly ways to generate the electricity needed for NFTs. For now, the artist has promised to offset the carbon used in the production of his art. However, as NFTs grow in demand, alternatives will have to be found to make the digital creations sustainable.
Questioning the future of NFT Art.
Of course, NFTs are being embraced by some of the most successful artists, which indicates the so-called ‘trend’ is here to stay. Takashi Murakami is collaborating with RTFKT studios to create designs for avatars. In the Instagram post announcing this collaboration, Murakami wrote that the NFT space ‘can be a revolution for the art world and artists’. Creating NFTs makes sense for Murakami, who seeks to democratise art. Equally, his Superflat, cartoon-esque creations can transition seamlessly into the NFT space. However, this is not true for all artists. Therefore, whilst NFTs may make space for a new generation of unorthodox artists, they could also potentially divide the art world, and limit the exposure of ‘traditional’ artists.
Perhaps, then, NFTs bring us back to the age-old question of what is art? Where are its boundaries and limits, and does it even have them? To those like Murakami who see NFTs as another dimension of the art world that is yet to be uncovered, NFTs present the future of art. However, to those who see NFTs as belonging to the world of cryptocurrency, they are inevitably a trend that will end when the investment bubble surrounding them inevitably bursts. Either way, one thing’s for sure, for now, the art world can’t stop talking about them.
Lining up with our mission of renovating art, TiA Talent is also challenging emerging artists worldwide to think of NFT artworks and prepare for changes.