NFT and Art: A New Lesson for Artists

Being an artist is as much about art today, as it is about technology, says Benjamin Rameau

NFT art has become the talk of the town of late, quickly becoming a million-dollar business. It’s what allowed a 10-second piece of video art by digital artist Beeple to sell for $6.6 million, or an auction of $69 million at Christy’s for a digital collage.

NFT art refers to art that has been tokenized as a non-fungible token, or NFT. Here, an artwork is given a unique digital identity which, along with ownership history, is recorded on a blockchain.

The world of art has been through several turning points. “Deconstruction” has been around since the 1950s, golden ratios became significant during the Renaissance, and postmodernism is the latest trend.

STart Crypto, a Hong Kong-based artworks transaction platform, is now asking what’s next. To Benjamin Rameau, Chairperson at STart Crypto, it is technology. And in this respect, NFTs are the clear winner.

Benjamin Rameau, Chairperson at STart Crypto

What do NFTs do for the world of art?

For starters, not only do NFTs make each artwork truly unique, they also enable a trading mechanism for these artworks that is traceable. Further, they help to plug digital piracy of art by confirming the original creators and true owners of each artwork.

They can also benefit artists via commissions or royalties. NFTs help artists monetize their work both at the transaction point, such as an auction or a sale, and also through secondary transactions, where ownership of the artwork is passed on.

“Every time [the artwork is resold], the creators can receive a certain percentage of the transaction. The creator’s posterity can benefit from the income generated by these transactions too,” Rameau says. “With NFT and the blockchain, artists can earn income and don’t have to worry that their creations will be stolen or copied by others.”

Moreover, Rameau notes, it allows for more competition among artists. “NFTs created a great opportunity for artists, especially those who were not famous. Non-mainstream artists can have the opportunity to grow too, due to the lower entry barrier.”

It’s not the first time art is being commercialized, but NFTs give arts auctions a modern spin, making it more intellectual property-based.

Will NFTs change the meaning of what art is?

Art has a close relationship with market forces, Rameau says. While most early artworks were religious because only the Church could afford to pay artists, the Renaissance enabled businessmen to become patrons of art, paying artists for work that covered a broad range of themes.

In the age of technology, converting artworks into NFTs follows a trend that the art industry has long followed.

“Arts in different art periods reflect the society at that time. Artists have been inspired by the characteristics of a period,” Rameau says.

The difference here, however, is that NFTs are not related to art at all. They are simply a technology that helps to solve the problem of undervaluation of art, poor compensation to artists, and the lack of “an ascribed and unique status,” Rameau adds.

At the same time, artists have to understand the feasibility of technology, and then apply it to realize their ideas when it comes to their body of work. For instance, it is easy to confuse owning an NFT to owning copyrights to a work, but that’s not the case. Similarly, NFTs come with different rights for the NFT owner, and these are not standardized across the art world. One could have a right to view the art, for instance, but not necessarily sell it.

Artists need to grasp the inner workings of NFT technology, and what they need to do with it, in order to successfully monetize their work, and not simply fall prey to an Internet trend.

If done correctly, the result will be a revolution of art in this time, Rameau says.

This article is written in partnership with STart Crypto

Header image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

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