NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are transforming digital art. What was once an indefinitely duplicable art form, with copies distributed to the masses, has been transformed into one that follows traditional art on its very own digital path. NFTs are enabling digital artists to quickly raise millions of dollars and become household names seemingly overnight.

Works of art by famous artists sell for tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars. Dali, Pollack, and others have catalogs of work with each piece in the catalog being wholly unique. There can be just one Lavender Mist. Up until the development and NFTs, the opposite was true for digital works of art. Previously, digital art could be copied and there was no sense of exclusivity. Lacking exclusivity, digital artists were limited to what people were willing to pay for duplicable works of art. 

Enter NFTs, which transformed duplicable artworks into status-generating investment pieces. NFTs are tokens that define who owns a specific asset. In this case, it is a piece of digital artwork. However, NFTs can also represent digital sports cards, videos, and other digital works. NFTs make it easy to distinguish an exclusive asset in an easily duplicable digital space.

From barely heard of to being all the rage, NFTs have taken the world by storm. Everyone wants to hop on the digital bandwagon and for good reason. Digital artists see stories about people like Beeple, a graphic designer from South Carolina, whose work has become an overnight sensation and selling for tens of millions of dollars. The truth is, however, that there are more digital artists like Olive Allen whose series, The Unbearables, on Nifty Gateway is sold out as well. Allen’s work provides social commentary and stimulates much-needed thoughts about where we are as both a society and species.

There is no doubt that NFTs are changing the digital landscape. They are shifting the scales of capitalism and enabling everyday people to become a part of something more exclusive and valuable. What was once available to the rare few at costs far too high for most to even consider has shifted into a form of collecting that everyone can be proud of and derive profit.

Even more important, however, is NFTs ability to change how digital art is perceived. As they are thrusted into the spotlight, NFTs are slowly shifting how digital art is viewed. No longer is tangibility necessary for value to be perceived. No longer is it necessary to upload your work to a stock website and hope the masses click ‘download.’ No longer will digital artists struggle to find a market for their creative works. 

NFTs provide an environment in which digital artists like Beeple and Allen can thrive. From relatively unknown to international stardom, the exclusivity they create is, in some ways, creating this generation’s version of traditional artists. Some will flourish while others will flounder. Only time will tell what the future holds for NFTs.

View this article in the July 2021 issue of MP or check out our article on crypto art trailblazer Olive Allen.

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Howard Rapp is Editor In Chief @ MP. Howard earned his B.A. in Communication Arts with a focus on Screenwriting and Film Production from Marymount Manhattan College and his J.D. with a focus on Business and Intellectual Property Law from the University of Miami School of Law. He is an avid writer, gamer, and dog dad.

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