What if Bob Ross Had Minted NFTs? by@amymtom
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What if Bob Ross Had Minted NFTs?

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The Netflix documentary, "[Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed," was released on August 25, 2021. Director Joshua Rofé created a documentary that is, in large, about the legacy of Bob Ross and how his happy accidents sparked joy in thousands of people across the world. The Kowalskis, it seemed, controlled Bob Ross Inc. business for many years and, when Bob died, manipulated the Ross family into giving over the rights to his name and work. But what if Bob Ross had put his paintings on the blockchain?

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The Netflix documentary, "Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed," was released on August 25, 2021, and added drama to the art world. Director Joshua Rofé created a documentary that is, in large, about the legacy of Bob Ross and how his happy accidents sparked joy in thousands of people across the world. But the story could not be told without highlighting the relationship between Bob Ross and his long-term business partners, Annette and Walter Kowalski - who allegedly cared more about the money than anything else.

Happy little spolier alert: this story talks about all the crazy sh*t that went down in the documentary.

Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed” exposed the inner workings of the relationship between Bob and his business partners - the Kowalskis. Steve Ross, the surviving son of Bob Ross, talked about how the Kowalskis were only interested in the triple bottom line and were a little trigger happy with their ability to sue people.

Many people who were asked to participate in the documentary declined due to fear of legal repercussions.

However, Bob was a stand-up guy who just loved art. When creating Bob Ross painting supplies, Bob didn’t want to cut any corners when it came to product quality. He wanted people to pick up a paintbrush to create art regardless of skill level. The Kowalskis took care of all the merchandising and business growth, and money-making schemes; Bob painted.

The Kowalskis, it seemed, controlled Bob Ross Inc. business for many years and, when Bob died, manipulated the Ross family into giving over the rights to his name and work. The Bob Ross name belongs to the Bob Ross Inc., which is run and owned by the Kowalskis’ daughter. And along with the name, the sales of any merchandise go to the corporation.

But what if Bob Ross had put his paintings on the Blockchain?

If Bob Ross had been alive during the NFT craze, he’d probably be a billionaire. The documentary highlighted Bob’s issues with owning his art and his name, which wouldn’t have been a problem if he had minted his own paintings.

But first, maybe we should take a step back.

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a non-fungible token that lives on the blockchain. There is data that is associated with each NFT that makes it a unique and certifiable digital asset. This means that you’ll know when you have THE copy and not a fake. It also means that a receipt of all the sales and resells of a piece of art is recorded. So far, people are willing to pay a pretty penny for an NFT - the highest sold NFT to date went for $69 million.

How do people make money with NFTs?

I’ll talk about this from a creator’s standpoint. As an artist, you can tokenize your artwork on an NFT marketplace platform like OpenSea or Rarible. You can then sell the piece of art on the NFT marketplace of your choice and the money from the sale will go into your crypto wallet. Then, every time that art is resold, you get a portion of the sale, get to see who the new owner is, and you see a list of all the transactions in history for that piece.

On platforms like OpenSea, it’s free to mint your artwork and it’s very simple to do. But once it’s minted, it cannot be done again.

Okay, back to Bob

NFTs would have solved a few of Bob’s problems including having ownership of his artwork and having proof of an original piece.

Bob Ross doing what he did best

Bob Ross doing what he did best

What if Bob Ross owned his art?

If Bob Ross minted his own NFTs, he would have owned his art on the blockchain. He wouldn’t have needed the Kowalskis to create the products or the branding or the TV show. Bob’s followers would have gone directly to the NFT marketplace and purchased his art using their crypto wallets.

With NFTs, you cut out the middle man art dealer. As the demand for your art increases, the more your resell value will increase and the more money you will make. And then, your followers just go to the online marketplace to purchase your art. Imagine all the money Bob lost out on from when black market copies of his pieces were resold.

What if you could identify a Bob Ross original?

A Bob Ross painting can be easily replicated by another artist - so much so that there’s a black market for Bob Ross fakes. In the documentary, they mentioned that Anette Kowalski may be the only person on earth to identify a Bob Ross original.

If Bob Ross’s work were NFTs, you could easily verify the art. With the blockchain acting like an NFT transaction ledger, you can verify the original creator. Sorry Bob Ross Painting Replicators, you’re out of the job.

Artists rejoice: NFTs are here to make art into a “real career”

FINALLY, something that gets your Mom off your back and makes good use of that art degree. Gone are the days of the starving artist. NFTs provide a way for artists to make real money. I’m saying three cheers to the future of crazy, fun, weird internet art.


If you have something to say about NFTs, Bob Ross, or want to chat about art or business- get in touch! You can also catch me hosting The HackerNoon Podcast 2-3x a week.

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