What Is NFT Art?
With NFTs dominating the financial sector and celebrities jumping on board and into advertisements, it was only a matter of time before NFTs entered the art world. But what exactly are NFTs, how are they obtained, and what makes them art? Let’s get into it.
NFT stands for non-fungible token, a digital asset that you can exclusively own like any other asset. But you can’t touch this one. It exists solely in the digital sphere.
Each NFT has a unique digital signature, which means it does not have an equal. Cryptocurrency is fungible, which means they can be traded for one another and are similar in value. One Bitcoin is identical to another Bitcoin, even though the physical dollar value may change. While you could feasibly trade one NFT for another, it’s like switching a Monet for a Picasso.
The uniqueness of each piece is what makes NFTs a natural in the art world, where collecting one-of-a-kind pieces has always been the goal.
What Is an NFT Artist?
Like artists across any medium, NFT artists are creators. While NFTs can be any kind of digital file, NFT artwork is similar to the paintings or photographs you would see hanging in a museum. They’re just in a different space, and NFT artists work in the digital space, much like graphic designers.
The main goal of an NFT artist is to create unique, digital artwork that can be accessed by many but only owned by one person at a time. Unlike pictures that hang in a museum, NFT artists can send their work to a global audience instantly, making the possibility of a sale higher.
One of the most important things about creating NFT art is the minting process, which classifies every NFT as unique. After an NFT artist creates their work, it is minted or tokenized on a cryptocurrency service known as a Blockchain. Blockchain is a digital transaction system that tracks copyright and creation records in a way that is difficult to hack or alter. The idea of the Blockchain is that an NFT can always be directly traced back to its proper creator.
The Blockchain can be verified each time an NFT changes hands. Similarly, some NFT sales will include a smart contract, much like any purchase agreement. However, this one is coded into the item being sold. Smart contracts verify the terms between owner and seller have been met, track the item's history starting with creation and set terms for future sales and royalties.
NFT Is the Medium; Art Is Art
As we just spoke about, NFT art is just like any other piece of art throughout history; the only difference is where it is located. And because NFTs are strictly in the digital space, it is possible that rather than buying an NFT for thousands or even millions of dollars, someone might simply right-click to save the image or take a screenshot. That is like owning a print of a famous painting but not the original.
And this is not a new problem on the internet. Downloading photos and using them as your own has long been a common practice, and that’s why companies turned to watermarks to prevent their work from being used without their approval.
However, because of the Blockchain, only one person can own an NFT at a time, and only one person will ever be its creator. A person might still be able to get a decent enough—in their mind—copy of your work, but without the Blockchain, they cannot sell it, and it holds no real value.
With the high prices, the unpredictable future, and the possible scams, you might wonder why people are so interested in NFT artwork in the first place. For the same reasons people have ever been interested in art: the chance to own something unique and possibly historic or simply the opportunity to own something you find aesthetically pleasing.
Just because you cannot physically display NFT artwork does not mean it can’t be enjoyed by the owner. And like all art, the value will fluctuate over time due to any number of reasons. Some art collectors are motivated by owning pieces they find beautiful or significant, while possible returns on their investments inspire others. Whatever the reason, collecting NFT art is no different than collecting traditional art.
Digital Art is Modern Art
The world has always changed with each new technological advancement. As more and more daily tasks are completed electronically—paying bills, visiting the doctor—it’s natural that hobbies and pleasurable pursuits have moved into the digital sphere.
Digital art is not necessarily an NFT but any work that uses digital technology for its creation, such as computer graphics, scanned photographs, touch-screen drawing, and more. And it’s not as new as you think. Andy Warhol famously digitized a picture of Debbie Harry using a Commodore Amiga computer in 1985.
Art is a direct expression of our current way of life. With our current landscape digitized in every possible way, the modern form of art is also naturally digitized.
Owning Art, Collecting Art, Enjoying Art
Art has long been a fascination of people, no matter its medium. It began with cave drawings and has evolved into digital renderings. Art has always been something society loves to create, observe and discuss, whether in a museum or on a discord platform.
Enjoying NFT art is certainly more complicated than enjoying physical art because you can only access it through a screen, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be appreciated. It may not be for everybody, but people are historically resistant to technological advancements when they are first introduced.
Collecting art is like collecting anything that brings you joy—coins, baseball cards, pokemon cards, movies, and more. Whether the art you collect is to decorate your home or purely for investment purposes, digital art and NFTs align with centuries-old practices.
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