A Refreshing Era for Art: Digital Crypto Art and NFTs

Blockchain technology enabled the expansion, appreciation, and collection of art to break through the three-dimensional barrier, to now, take place in a fully digital way in the form of NFTs. Digital crypto art pieces are making headlines as they auction for staggering amounts. Artists are discovering novel opportunities to gain recognition and royalties by inserting their digital artwork into the blockchain. A clear example took place in March when artist Beeple auctioned his artwork titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” for more than $69 million dollars at Christie’s. It was the first digital artwork (NFT) ever offered at the auction house.

Digital Artwork Crypto Blockchain

The enthusiasm for NFTs is such that international athletes and big enterprises are entering the digital crypto art industry, taking part in the opportunities that the blockchain has generated in the art scene. In this article, we cover the perks of NFTs and how they are empowering artists and marking a refreshing chapter for art.

What exactly are NFTs?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) represent the ownership of a digital asset. In art, these assets can be image files, videos, gifs, songs, etc. Digital crypto art has risen in popularity during 2021, generating a lucrative market. According to Reuters publications, during the first half of 2021, the NFT transactions on OpenSea, a major NFT marketplace, surpassed the value of $2 billion dollars. In the NFT era, talented artists have the possibility of transforming ‘Instagram likes’ into revenue streams.

To make digital crypto art an NFT, artists “mint” or insert their artwork into the blockchain. As part of the blockchain records, NFTs are digital assets that can never be altered and are tamper-proofed; therefore, they are unique.

How it works

Most of NFTs are minted in the Ethereum blockchain. This means that one of the main mediums of exchange for NFTs is Ether (ETH), Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency. 

The Ethereum blockchain is one of the most prominent blockchains out there and has recognition for the functionalities of its smart contracts. In NFTs, the smart contract contains a set of codes with key information including a unique identification of the NFT owner, known as “token_id”. For instance, the “token_id” of the current owner of “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” is token_id: 40913. This information is public in the blockchain and therefore anyone can verify it. 

We all have heard about how the blockchain has impacted important spheres such as the financial industry. Partly, this is due to the power of smart contracts that are crucial for financial transactions in the blockchain. NFTs crypto art uses the power of the blockchain to store, transfer and verify the authenticity of a digital asset. 

What about protecting the environment?

Although many people have rightfully raised concerns about the massive electricity consumption of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies are evolving to tackle this issue. The Ethereum blockchain will update its verification protocol to reduce energy consumption by the end of 2021 or early 2022; according to Yahoo Finance, the new protocol will reduce energy use by around 99% percent. The popularity of Digital crypto art could increase with Ethereum’s new protocol that is more environmentally friendly. 

Why are NFTs so valuable?

Similar to artworks such as paintings, the value of an NFT can be tied to the author’s popularity, scarcity, or a special history of the piece. As long as there are people willing to buy crypto art, the piece is valuable. So, in this space where digital assets are easy to transfer and display to a global audience, there is a myriad of opportunities for artists. 

NFTs crypto art: Benefits to artists

Not only can creators sell their NFTs for profitable sums, but they can also continue to earn royalties if collectors choose to resell their NFTs. All these conditions should be included in the smart contract of the NFT. 

NFTs empower artists. One of the reasons why the blockchain is so disrupting is because it’s decentralized. This means that there is no control by a middleman. In the case of art, auction houses and galleries have the ultimate decision to choose which artists they support and promote making it hard to determine how fair this decision can be, but with NFTs and the blockchain, anyone can auction their art and display it in major marketplaces. Furthermore, since blockchain technologies continue to update and evolve, new ways to interact with NFTs may also emerge. 

NFTs are definitely energizing the art and design scene, empowering artists and enabling collectors to finally have a tokenized authentication of their digital assets. 

Ok, where do I list my NFTs crypto art online?

Popular marketplaces to list NFTs include Opensea, Rarible, and Niftygateway.

The key element you will need to begin selling your NFT crypto art is a wallet. Most marketplaces are compatible with Ethereum based wallets such as Metatask and Enjin. In fact, Metatask is the recommend wallet by Opensea. However, it’s advised to pick a wallet upon personal research. Characteristics to consider when you choose a wallet are whether major marketplaces support that wallet and if it’s compatible with different blockchains.

With your chosen wallet, you will receive a unique address (string of letters and numbers) that will store your NFT and will be the starting point of the transfer of your NFTs.

Before selling your NFT crypto art, you will need to “mint it” in the blockchain. Usually, marketplaces allow you to mint your NFTs crypto through their platforms. Keep in mind, you will need to pay a “gas fee”. Anyone involved in crypto is well aware of gas fees. Gas fees are the compensation that “miners” or people who validate your NFT in the blockchain earn for their work and computational power. This fee doesn’t go to the marketplaces. 

In marketplaces such as Opensea and Rarible, prices are listed in Ether, Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, so it can be useful to become familiar with this coin. 

Digital crypto art in the blockchain era

As described above, digital crypto art is experiencing an exciting chapter in which artists have gained more recognition and control over their work. NFTs have made the process of collecting and auction art more decentralized — ultimately benefiting artists and digital collectors.