A few days ago, a massive milestone in the art world was reached – the first-ever digital art piece was auctioned at Christie’s, ranking an incredible $69 million dollars. The “first 5000 days” was a so-called NFT of Beeple, a pioneer of digital art and by many considered to be the most successful artist in the space.
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But how exactly did a .jpeg file end up being sold for such an enormous amount of money? This is where blockchain technology comes into play. Apart from choosing to buy Bitcoin, investors are now also exploring the interesting applications of cryptocurrencies when it comes to digital art, and the industry has been experiencing massive growth over the past year.
What are NFTs?
The merge of blockchain in the art world is reflected in the world of NFTs, also known as non-fungible tokens. In short, this is the ability of an artist to pair a unique piece of digital art with a wallet address based on Ethereum (or other blockchains), in order to indicate its authenticity and increase its scarcity. It is the first time in the history of art that artists can sell unique digital art that maintains all the properties of the physical piece.
The NFT market started back in 2017 when the previous bull market caused massive inflation to the ETH price, and thus many developers started experimenting with the project’s potential applications. One of the use cases was that of NFTs, and soon enough, Cryptokitties were created.
In time, multiple platforms were developed to accommodate artists that wished to sell their art on the blockchain. Some of the more popular ones include OpenSea, Rarible, NiftyGateway, and others.
NFTs during the bear market
In 2018 and 2019, NFTs rarely made front-page news. In fact, most had never even heard of the potential linked to scarce digital art and all of its applications. When the market experienced a rapid decrease in value, most people fixated their viewpoint on the drivers of the market, namely Bitcoin and Ethereum. Smaller sub-groups of blockchain manifestations were “forgotten” by retail investors, except for some idealists that are now cashing out huge amounts of Ether in the secondary markets.
Art = Creativity
As we are slowly moving into a society where all brainless tasks are getting automated, more individuals choose to become creators, tying their identity to their work. The same is true for all forms of art, including music, paintings, content development, and more. This shift to the empowerment of the individual is seen nowhere as much as in the crypto industry, where peer-to-peer financial transactions are celebrated.
As we are moving to a more decentralized world, we can expect NFTs to grow in popularity and things we never expected to see as valuable becoming the new norm. This is mainly because machines and AI technology are not yet at a point where creative work is possible. Hence, the value of such tasks will become more important, and more people will be inclined (or even forced) to move in that direction.
The lesson here is simple – creative work will increase in importance, while labor will slowly cease to exist. This may not come as a surprise to many. Robots can already perform human work faster, cheaper, and more sustainably. However, those without an education or the ability to learn a new skill in the next few years may suffer the consequences of this shift.
Other NFT use cases
Apart from delving into the world of art, NFTs also expanded to support the sale and acquisition of virtual land, also known as virtual real estate. The concept also exists since 2017, when Decentraland (MANA) was the first to release the concept to the public. At this point, there are multiple virtual worlds, with Binance-supported Sandbox growing in popularity faster than the rest.
Finally, NFTs are also enabling influencers and large brands to “sell” the ownerships of video moments (NBA Topshot), tweets, and even photographs. While some are still boggling when it comes to this rapid evolution in digital scarcity, others are already piling up digital art to hopefully sell it in secondary markets.
Blockchain technology is rapidly changing the landscape of creators. For the most part, this shift towards personal empowering is filled with benefits, enabling everyone with an idea to capitalize on its execution.
On the other hand, those without technological literacy or opportunities to go digital will suffer the consequences, as automation slowly makes their job disappear. In retrospect, celebrating creativity has always been a pinnacle in human evolution, and it is therefore important for everyone to recognize the shift and adapt accordingly.
Writer, Blogger, and Amazon Affiliate Expert. I am writing content on health and tech Niches for more than 5 years.