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If you’ve been active on the internet in the past few weeks and months, you’ve likely heard the three-letter acronym before. That’s right, NFTs are taking the world by storm. A lot of people are still wondering what NFTs are, what role they play in the digital landscape, how are they related to crypto - and more importantly, how can you jump in and ride the momentum?
This is especially true for artists, illustrators, photographers, or anyone in the creative industry really. As there have been plenty of examples of artworks that have been sold as NFTs - and for a hefty price tag too.
So, where do we even begin? Well, this article will be discussing NFTs as an instrument or medium for artists to bring exposure to their work. We’ll also be discussing some of the available marketplaces that are available at the moment.
Let’s begin with a working definition. NFTs are an acronym for Non-Fungible Token. Now this alone raises more questions than it does to answer the question. To get a sense of what NFTs are, we’ll have to dig a bit deeper and understand the concept of fungibility.
The easiest way to understand fungibility is to use an example. Simply put, fungible things are anything that is exchangeable and are equal in value. Bitcoin is fungible, a five-dollar bill is fungible, a cup of Americano is fungible - get the picture? Fungible simply means it looks the same, and it has the same value.
Non-fungible items are the opposite. Take a scissor and cut that five-dollar bill in half, it becomes non-fungible. That bill is no longer exchangeable with another five bill - or at least someone in their right mind would.
Now, while that five-dollar bill is no longer fungible, you get something that’s unique - something that isn’t interchangeable with any other five-dollar bill. This unique label, the signature if you will - is what is called an NFT.
NFTs are like digital signatures, or fingerprints that represent that five-dollar bill - or any unique piece of property you can think of. Like art, for example.
The art industry saw more than $50 billion in sales in the past year. And something to keep in mind when talking about art, is that we are talking about highly unique, non-replaceable bodies of work created by distinguished artists.
The Starry Night, The Birth of Venus, The Night Watch, The Monalisa - all of these world-class paintings all share something in common - they are irreplaceable, highly unique pieces created by the maestros - they are all non-fungible.
Now fast forward to the advent of NFTs, more artists will be able to put out their bodies of work aided by the non-fungible tokens that will serve as a digital signature to authenticate and verify that a certain art piece is truly one of one, a unique artwork that is irreplaceable.
Currently, the art market remains largely an unregulated field - one that benefits those with influence and resources, such as the collectors - and casting aside those with the least, namely the artists themselves.
In many cases, it is the collectors, galleries, and auction houses that benefit the most from the art sales. The same thing couldn't be said for the artists themselves, unfortunately. In fact, oftentimes the artists themselves wouldn’t know if their artwork has changed hands, resold to a different collector, and for how much.
This is where NFTs come to play. The inherent design of NFTs means that they can be configured to compensate for the original creators of that artwork, whether that’s painters, illustrators, photographers, you name it.
This ensures that a percentage of future resales of the artwork will be given to the artists themselves - something that’s different from the traditional art dealings.
Another inherent benefit of NFTs for artists is the transparency in the bidding process. This is of course if they opted for that method to sell their artwork. Nevertheless, NFT marketplaces will often display the current biddings, the number of bidders, and also the cryptocurrency used to facilitate the transaction.
Exposure is also another perk with having your work as NFTs. Marketplaces such as OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare are excellent places to get your work discovered globally. You no longer have to be limited to your local galleries, or conform to the strict policies of existing marketplaces that take big cuts from the commission.
To some, non-fungible tokens may seem abstract and speculative at the moment - or maybe even an absurd bubble that’s only fueled by hype.
While the concept itself is partly driven by hype, the underlying technology that makes NFTs possible is projected to revolutionize the way transactions and commerce in the coming future, especially in the art industry. Think back to the time when the internet was first invented, and now look at where we are now - the internet is inseparable from our digital lives. Blockchain technology and NFTs will likely follow the same footsteps.
(2021, March 31). What are NFTs and How Do They Work? Easy Crypto. https://learn.easycrypto.com/what-are-nfts-and-how-do-they-work/
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