NFT. Nerd Friendly Tech? Not Formal Trends? New Fandangle Thing? If you’ve been reading up on Art news, you’ll see these abbreviations popping up recently. NFT, aka nonfungible tokens (which sounds like something about funguses), are digital assets taking the art world by storm. Think of digital art, such as pioneering artist David Em, who created computer graphics in the late 70s; with a huge price tag and a freshness label. Recently, artist Mike Winkelman, with the cutesy art name Beeple, earned a whopping $69,346,250 for his collage of daily artwork “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS.”
The title explains it all, 5000 art pieces digitally combined. The buyer was, bear with me, Metakovan, the founders and financers of Metapurse, the largest NFT fund on the planet. Plenty of meta, excuse me, mula. EVERYDAYS is considered the third most valuable piece of art; move over Jeff Koons and David Hockney. This is only the beginning. You have another artist who goes by Grimes who totaled his sales at $6 million for a few of his works. The NFTs vary from whimsical to sports legends in the subject matter. Chris Torres sold his Nyan Cat, a graphic cat wearing a PopTart with a rainbow shooting out from his behind, for $590,000. Take a look at the image and tell me I didn’t describe it right. Grimes’ take on LeBron’s James awesome dunk for the Lakers inspired $200,000. They are also in the unlikeliest places; the band the Kings of Leon’s newest album is an NFT, and the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is jumping into the hoopla by making his first tweet ever made into an NFT.
So, what’s the big deal over NFT? From what I gather, it’s a game-changer. Out of the minds of techies and finance gurus, an online hobby emerged into the art industry. NFT takes those subsequent digital assets and makes them non-exchangeable with another item of equal value. In other words, I can’t give you four quarters, and you’ll give me a dollar bill. Personally, I like carrying bills, than change. NFTs are stand-alone pieces of work.
If you’re familiar with Bitcoin, you’ll know about tokens (from the T part of the NFT) because it works in the same manner as cryptocurrency. If not, you’re not alone. Since this an art blog and I know art, not finance, I can only assume it’s digital money. Keeping in check are ‘blockchains’ which is like an electronic ledger of tokens in use. What makes NFTs the new hip thing to go after is that when you purchase a digital asset, it elevates the certificate of authenticity as guaranteeing that you own a one-of-a-kind piece of art. What better way to show your status as a big-time art buyer than an artwork under NFT?
If we are looking to buy some NFTs, where do we go, and how do we do it? The way it works is by getting yourself some cryptocurrency. Then you go shopping at an NFT marketplace, which is more like an eBay type of store. You would go to an auction with the artworks. There’s still another question. How do you know you are getting a legit NFT? The artist has to ‘mint’ the work; they access a file through the market and register it. Surprisingly, it is pretty easy to do. I feel in the future; there’s going to be some guidelines that would curb that. Now, if you’re thinking this is only for the art world, think again. These NFTs have a far-reaching grasp in other realms, such as loans. NFTs can be used as collateral to obtain one.
Dealing with NFTs has its side effects. There’s a possibility that this will all go out as a fad, and you’re stuck with cryptocurrency for it. The only way it can last is if the public interest lasts. Another issue is the purchasing of fake art. You can mistakenly buy a piece with an NFT stamped on it, but it’s a fake. It also has environmental implications. By using cryptocurrency transactions, electricity is being consumed in large amounts, surpassing the average household use.