NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are unique digital assets with no two being the same. NFTs, in a sense, serve to offer exclusivity, especially when it comes to digital art. Traditional artists such as Picasso, Dali, and Pollack created works that sell for millions because they are one-of-a-kind. Digital artists, on the other hand, have traditionally created work that can be copied and resold, with an infinite number of copies available. NFTs have changed the digital art game.
NFTs enable digital artists to create works that cannot be copied. Each is uniquely distinguishable and, although it seems strange, it is paying off big time. Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, a graphic designer from South Carolina, recently sold an NFT titled ‘Everydays – The First 5000 Days’ for $69 million at Christie’s. NFTs are slowly becoming the norm, forcing the world to view digital art with a new eye.
Beeple’s NFT made headlines, but many other digital artists and celebrities are using NFTs to cash in and raise millions for charity. The Weeknd offers NFTs in collaboration with Strangeloop Studios. Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million. Snoop Dogg released a series of 8 NFTs, including an original track he wrote and produced. Even Lindsay Lohan sold an NFT for $85,000. Now everyone seemingly wants a piece of the buzzing digital art world. It is easy to see why creators want to sell art, with willing collectors purchasing digital pieces of work for millions of dollars. What is not easy to see, however, is why collectors are willing to pay millions for digital files with little practical value.
Although each digital artwork represents the artist’s vision, they also represent time. Like an artist painting a canvas, digital artists dedicate time toward creating incredible works that resonate with others. Some digital artists make 1/1 pieces while others allow for a limited number of original copies. Interest in NFTs likely goes beyond this, though. Possessing an original piece of work that nobody else owns is likely only half the answer. The other half is demand. Digital artists whose work sells for a decent price now will likely only rise in value over time. NFTs are popular now with most people only learning about their existence because of larger sales making mainstream news.
Owning a unique digital asset that will likely rise in value makes sense if you view collectors as investors. Artists like Beeple, whose work now sells for millions, will likely go down in history as pioneers of the value NFTs can offer. In the future, long after they are gone, their NFTs will likely be worth more, such as is the case with traditional artists’ canvases.
Whether NFTs will stick around for a while is not the question that should be asked. The widespread attention, dumping of funds into the form of collections and investments, and exclusivity is something that will be hard to make disappear. NFTs, in their own way, empower the everyday person to own a little slice of something unique. Not everyone can afford a Pollack, or a Beeple for that matter, but some stunning NFTs are selling for $300.00. The question that should be asked is how rapidly different artistic industries, such as film and music, will try to capitalize on and work NFTs into their release structure. Kings of Leon announced that it will release its new album as an NFT and it is only a matter of time before others follow suit.