The word ‘NFT’ has been more and more prominent in the art world and is the hot topic at every art exhibition. It is no surprise NFTs are grabbing attention as digital assets are being sold for millions of dollars, even by the biggest auction houses like Christie’s. Art buyers are taking this opportunity to discover new artists or to invest in. Love them or hate them, NFTs are said to be the future of art, giving space for more artists to create and sell an innovative artwork that is far from the traditional.
We have answered a few questions to get you started on what you need to know about NFTs. As the art world continues to grow, it is important to stay informed and understand these new tools that can potentially aid us and be beneficial for both the seller and the buyer/collector.
Additionally, we have asked UAE based artists Gigi Gorlova, one of the UAE’s first crypto artist, Idriss B who is currently listing some of his works as NFTs and Kristel Bechara, the first artist in the Middle East to accept payments through cryptocurrencies for all sales, to join and share their input on NFTs, how it benefits them as artists and what they think about investing in them.
The world was left shocked after artist Mike Winkelmann, commonly known as Beeple sold an NFT of his collage (pictured above) for 69.3 million dollars at Christie’s, it was the first purely digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house. It was difficult to comprehend how an artist who had never sold above 4 digits, was able to gain all of this success. However, the artist credits months of valuable auctions for his NFTs as part of the key to his success.
Another enormous development for NFTs was made by auction house, Sotheby’s who held ‘The Fungible Collection’ by digital artist Pak, which consisted exclusively of digital art. The auction house was in collaboration with Nifty Gateway, which is another marketplace for NFTs. In just over 48 hours, sales reached a total of $16.8 million, leaving crowds once again astonished.
Locally, we had Andakulova Gallery, a contemporary art gallery that collaborated with MORROW Collective for the first NFT exhibition curated by Anna Seaman. This was an opportunity for successful artists, existing collectors and established galleries to connect. The exhibition GENESIS took place at the Origin Art Museum in Cryptovoxels.
According to Forbes, $174 million has been allocated on NFTs since November 2017, and according to TIME magazine, collectors and speculators have spent more than $200 million. Moreover, it is said that the value of the NFT market tripled in 2020, putting its current value over $250 million. To put this number into perspective, the average price of an NFT varies from $2,400 to $5,800 depending on the marketplace.
That leaves many people with the question of what exactly is an NFT, and is it a rational investment?
An NFT is a non-fungible token. Better yet, they are certificates of authenticity to prove ownership of a digital artwork. It is ‘Non-fungible’ in the sense that is unique and scarce. It is a one of a kind experience, as every NFT is different. They can be both bought and sold online with crypto currency. NFTs belong to Ethereum blockchain, which is a kind of crypto currency very well like the world known Bitcoin.
Currently, the advent of NFTs and the subsequent market creation and development has caused quite the disruption in the art world. As NFTs directly address the concerns of scarcity and authenticity that buyers and collectors of physical art have when it comes to acquiring digital art. They are produced with the help of blockchain technology, which just like the Bitcoin, provides a secure record of transactions. This helps in maintaining an unquestionable proof of ownership and provenance that ensures that original artworks and their owners are always identifiable via the blockchain. These NFTs can be taken as virtual signatures which helps in securing the value of the digital art regardless of how many times it is reproduced.Kristel Bechara
When it comes to NFTs, they are much different than digital art. We can own a variety of things such as paintings, drawings, videos, photographs or even music.
An NFT is made so that you have complete ownership over it, and therefore it can’t be easily copied. Additionally, the artist of your NFT keeps the rights over their work just like they would in the physical world, and their digital art is considered an original piece that is verified to be authentic.
In hopes of understanding what NFTs have done for artists, we can look at some particular cases. NFTs have given multiple artists the possibility of gaining more recognition for their work and giving them a digital platform instead of having to rely on galleries or auction houses.
‘NFT’ is not only a shining new opportunity for art collectors but it is also a great one for digital artists like me. For example, NFT allows for artists to receive royalties every time their artwork is traded or sold which is incredible as this allows them to keep reaping the financial benefits of their work perpetually. Plus, with NFT rapidly becoming the gold standard of authenticating and validating digital art, the market for digital art investment is quickly expanding leading to higher demand for our work. This is not just a trend; I see it as the future for us artists.Kristel Bechara
Many artists up until recently, were fed up with having little to no recognition for their digital work. Often, their work would go viral on social media platforms, however, the artist would get no profit or recognition. NFTs have facilitated this issue, making sure that credit goes where it’s due.
Crypto Artist Gigi Gorlova speaks on how NFTs have changed her dynamic in the art world:
NFTs have benefited me financially and have brought me recognition. I have recently been on the cover of Khaleej Times Wknd magazine and without NFTs this wouldn’t have been possible.Gigi Gorlova
Another example of how NFTs can benefit artists is shown by Emily Ratajkowski. This year, activist and model Ratajkowski sold an NFT of a picture of herself in front of one of her Instagram posts, it sold at auction at Christie’s for $140,000, plus fees.
To understand her motive, we must first know that this original Instagram post was transferred to a canvas by the artist Richard Prince. Due to the fact that her Instagram is public, Prince was able to do this without repercussions. Ratajkowski, in hopes of regaining control over her image, purchased it for $82,000 and then shot the image for her NFT titled ‘Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution’.
Nevertheless, NFTs do not only benefit artists, given the numbers of their recent growth, we can see that there are possibilities for the NFT market to grow and attract more potential investors.
As an art collector or a simple buyer, NFTs give you the possibility of supporting the digital world, as well as having rights to unique pieces which you now can use publicly without any repercussions. Furthermore, it is an asset that can potentially increase in value and used for profit. Back in February of 2021, one of Beeple’s NFTs that initially sold for $66,666 was later resold for $6.6 million.
Crypto Artist Gigi Gorlova speaks on how she views investing on NFTs:
NFTs are a good investment but like every collectable (physical or digital) some are better than others. When you come into the NFT space and you would like to invest please make sure you do your research on projects and their history before purchasing anything.Gigi Gorlova
Artist Idriss b also shares some advice to those looking to invest on NFTs:
The most important thing is who you partner with, that is the only thing that matters. Some not so nice and meaningless NFTs were sold at insane pricing, while great content was not even bought because nobody knew about it.Idriss b
Given that NFTs are highly accessible, anyone is able to buy an art piece that they like and fits their budget. Whether that be to support an artist, or for future profit. However, like Gorlova explained, not every artwork will be potential profit, so it is important to research and inform yourself before making the decision to buy. Additionally, what we can take from Idriss’ advice is that one must remember that the value of an NFT is based on the value an individual gives it, and is willing to pay for it. It is important to know what you’re doing beforehand to avoid loss.
Finding a reliable platform to purchase and trade NFTs is crucial. To begin, you must have a digital wallet that will allow you to store NFTs, depending on what currencies your NFT provider accepts, you will need to purchase cryptocurrency.
Available NFT Markets
There are several market places such as Foundation, OpenSea, and Rarible. Each of these is unique and known for their particularities. We asked the featured artists to give some insight to their favorite market places and why they trust them.
Artist Gigi Gorlova speaks on where her NFTs are sold and why her preferences lay on these platforms:
My NFTs are sold on Foundation and Rarible. I sell on Foundation because it’s invite only so it’s a more exclusive platform with a lot of famous artist selling their NFTs. I also use Rarible as it’s the biggest NFT platform with the most transactions and I’m verified on the platform.Gigi Gorlova
Artist Kristel Bechara is also quite fond of Foundation:
Personally, I have had a very positive experience creating and dealing with NFTs with almost all my released work having been sold on Foundation, my preferred NFT marketplace. I like Foundation because it is more creator friendly, as its user base is quite limited and exclusive which gives ample opportunity to artists to keep themselves visible on the platform.Kristel Bechara
Artist Kristel Bechara also added that since Foundation operates on an auction-based model, the transactional process on the platform is transparent and clear which is why she prefers it.
It is safe to say that NFTs are growing in popularity and likenesses, but they still remain quite a controversial topic. Great development has been made for digital art as even the biggest auction houses are providing their support for this new digital era. However, the questions remains:
Could this be the next chapter for art history?