The image above is a screen shot from the SuperRare.com site.
Note: I'm constantly updating this post as I discover more.
The forthcoming Christie's auction of the artist Beeple's digital work as an NFT (non-fungible token) shows how close we are to a new way of buying and selling and making artwork. This auction follows on from their earlier sale of Robert Alice's artwork Block 21 which was a physical work that also came with an NFT. You can find more by visiting the Christie's website to view the catlogue details.
Update: this work by Beeple just sold for $69.3M
Now, are you sceptical about selling your art work as an NFT? It is still early days for NFTs, so it is sensible to be sceptical because right now this is still an exotic option. But it is definitely worth being aware of this new marketplace for artists and collectors who may elect to move away from traditional physical and online galleries over the next few years and into the NFT marketplace.
For me, nothing can replace the experience of viewing a work of art in a gallery or museum which I don't get from the online galleries but that is probably more a function of my age. However, we are now moving so fast towards a digital life, supercharged by lockdowns, that this alternative digital ecosystem for selling, experiencing and collecting art will be attractive for those who embrace 'new' trends.
The main characters in this trend are NFTs, artists and a crypto coin known as Ethereum (Eth). Just for your reference, at the time of writing 1 ETH = USD $1500
NFTs and digital art offer a growth channel for artists who choose to put their work on the Eth blockchain. And this is the main point of this post - it is about artists choosing to sell their works via NFTs. I suggest you check out NFTs on youtube, but note, much of the discussion of the NFT market place is concentrating on collectible sports cards so use the search string "art and NFTs" to narrow it down.
Keep in mind that there are two distinct steps to complete before you can sell your artwork as an NFT:
- There is the process that the artist follows to mint the NFT linking the artwork to the coin. If you are the creator of the NFT you can ensure that every time the NFT artwork changes hands you receive a royalty - directly. Now, if you are curious to see how to mint your work to a NFT on one such site, say Rarible.com, then follow this link. The end result is that the work is now on the blockchain along with whatever documentation you include as metadata. You then mint an NFT for your physical or digital artwork. It is worth noting that there are fees invoilved and they are made in Eth. At the time of writing an Eth has rocketed from $200 to $1500 so it is potentially way more expensive to mint an NFT today than it was late 2020, when these sites first appeared.
- And then there is the process by which a collector purchases the actual work and then is able to display it or onsell it to another collector. All future transactions are recorded in the blockchain.
The Christie's auction of Beeple's artwork
Let's start with the (forthcoming) Christie's online auction featuring the artist Beeple's work "Everydays: The first 5000 days" (the online auction commences on 25 February and concludes 11 March 2021) - click here to jump on the link to view the catalogue. Beeple is currently the top earning digital artist according to the site cryptoart.io (see their ranking here) so expectations are that this work will sell in the millions of dollars, although the starting price is just in the hundreds.
Christie's say they accept payment in Eth and this difference in delivery and payment of art sold as an NFT at auction has helped with the hype. Beeple, the artist at the centre of this journey attempts to explain what he is doing on his faq page at https://www.beeple-collect.com/faq
Here's what Beeple says on his website:
WHY THE HELL WOULD I BUY THIS STUFF, IF CAN JUST SEE IT FOR FREE ON INSTAGRAM? yes you can, and you always will be able to SEE my work for free. this is for people who are interested in COLLECTING artwork, which is a very different experience. i want people to feel like they can truly own, collect, and display this artwork in a way that feels more exciting and engaging than just viewing a picture on instagram. i also want collectors to benefit from the fact that when you eventually see ol' kim jong buzz-tiddies in the MOMA, their beeple collection will be worth 47 bazillion dollars. ??????
NFTs disruption of traditional markets
But it isn't just Christie's that is selling art via NFTs. There are a number of sites emerging assisted by the media's obsession with anything new and trendy. And this media attention is superchaged by the fact that, surprisingly for those of us on the high street, there is already lots of money to be made by selling to collectors on sites like MakersPlace, SuperRare and Rarible. Collectors who will pay you in crypto (typically Eth) which you can hodl while the price goes higher or join the real world by converting your Eth to dollars via a crypto exchange. Rarible and some of the other sites also allow you to specify a percentage of the sale price as a royalty each time your work changes hands on the secondary market. And all this without seeing a gallery director, the collector or even their money..
NTFs are also used for putting real world assets onto the crypto market - things like insurance, real estate, collectibles and more. If you are interested in seeing an example of this then just click on this link to go to a Rarible tutorial or this link to go to a Mintbase.
Selling a work (either digital or actual) using NFTs via the collectible websites takes your marketing one step further than posting to Instagram. Admittedly, right now it appears complicated to get an artwork minted as an NFT, at least for the first time, but on the other hand, it appears as though 'genius' artists have already successfully done so. Have a look at this interview with the young artist FEWOCIOUS to see how successful this artist has become in the NFT marketplace in a really short time.
In the end it is the belief that NFTs will give informed hyper collectors the jump on those traditional collectors who don't care about the NFT market and to artists who are encouraged to go the NFT route as they are told that NFTs will give them more autonomy over traditional channels. The crypto world is fuelled by shilling, fomo and more fomo. And digital art in the NFT ecosystem has already adopted this same hype. Only time will tell whether there are real or imagined benefits to be gained by going the NFT route.
By Martin Shub
Here are some links you might want to look at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLa2ceNvSM4. Listen to what a digital art collector (Australian) has to say
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-eVnopwxss. This is a really lovely interview with the young artist FEWOCIOUS
https://youtu.be/7V_2xrmGrWI. This is a great tutorial for artists and it covers the beginning to end process. Worth a watch.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjo1hlIey9g. Very user friendly end-to-end description of making your first NTF
https://mintbase.io/. Mintbase - they have a detailed tutorial on creating an NFT for art or a product on their home page
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFD_8oDxw1k. Decent tutorial using Rarible hosted by an artist
https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/beeple-first-5000-days/beeple-b-1981-1/112924. Link to the Christies story
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bDmhVOFDpk&feature=youtu.be. how to post a work as an NFT on Rarible
https://cryptoart.io/artists. LIsting of artists selling in the digitlal realm
NFT specifically for Artists/Photographers
https://uniquephoto.medium.com/welcome-to-unique-photo-a1a5839a40a9. Unique Photo
https://www.unique.one/. DigitalOne - specifically for artists
https://xdai.unique.one/marketplace. DigitalOne for collectors
https://www.thehashmasks.com/. Digital art and collectible
https://makersplace.com/ MakersPlace. (Curated)
https://niftygateway.com/. Nifty (by the Winklevoss Twins)
https://superrare.co/. SuperRare (Curated)
https://mintable.app/. NFT store