As an artist who uses artificial neural networks to create much of my art and an early adopter of Bitcoin, it is only natural that I would offer NFTs because I’m basically a techie nerd when all is said and done. However, I do have some reservations when it comes to NFTs for art and only offer them alongside physical works of art that are shipped to my customers.
What is NFT?
Let’s take a look at what an Art NFT actually is and some of the potential problems surrounding the latest craze in the art world. When you buy an NFT artwork you are essentially buying a hash. A hash is a long number stored on a blockchain that is associated with a link to the art that you purchased. NFT stands for Non-fungible Token and it is the unique token that you own and that token is what represents ownership of the art associated with it.
Physical, digital or both
When you buy art from me I give you the choice of receiving the physical item and the digital version. Some of my more tech-savvy friends don’t always want to receive the physical version for a myriad of reasons, such as storage, shipping when showing their collections(usually in virtual galleries), or reselling an artwork. These people live primarily in a thing called metaverses (basically online virtual environments). Granted some of them also live in their mom’s basement too! This is an inside joke within the crypto community and they know that I love them really.
I have been creating art for over 15 years and will continue to make and sell art in the physical world, but it would feel remiss of me to exclude my basement-dwelling, metaverse-maverick friends by not including NFTs as an option for these very serious collectors.
I hear people saying NFT art is a scam, well, “scam” is a very strong word and most of these people who make such strong claims would likely call physical art a scam too. The reasons for this are plentiful. Sometimes, it is a lack of vision, understanding and cultural awareness. Sometimes people are just jealous of other people’s success in any field and sometimes people are stuck in a negative thinking mindset.
Possible concerns with NFT’s
There are genuine concerns that reasonable people have regarding NFT art, though, and I wanted to explore and share some of these concerns with you.
It’s a bubble
The whole world is currently in a bubble from what I can see around me. From Crypto markets to traditional stock markets and infinite money printing by central banks, aided and abetted by bloated governments. All sorts of markets are in a bubble. If you are into watch collecting like me, you’ll see the same thing happening there. Bubbles can and do pop eventually. Even the traditional art world could be said to be in a bubble.
Our whole financial system is based on boom (bubble) and bust, so it isn’t any surprise. The last pop in the traditional market bubble happened in 2008, tanking the value of a whole swath of other assets and financial markets. Art prices were no exception and the prices for art did decrease significantly. There were some very intelligent and financially well off people who saw this as a unique buying opportunity and now own an amazing art collection that is valued at staggering amounts compared to what they paid for it. NFTs could be a phase that eventually dies out, but they could also become a standard part of art collection. Once we adopt a new technology we tend to iterate on previous versions, rather than completely abandon it. Bubbles come and go and are a part of life.
While it is true that an NFT artwork can be reproduced easily because it is only a key file that is protected on a blockchain and therefore anyone can right-click and copy the work, that isn’t the whole story about reproducibility. If you look at the images of my artwork on this website, you might not notice that they are tiny files that only contain kilobytes of data and would be useless for someone who tried to steal the art and have it printed.
When you buy the artwork we use the original size image that is uncompressed and contains megabytes of data for printing the original artwork. I physically sign every original artwork and keep meticulous records. Also, all of the artwork you see on this website is legally protected by copyright laws, which means that if someone uses the images without permission I can and do sue them.
Nothing about NFTs gives the artist or buyer the protections described in the previous paragraph. The law is very uncertain surrounding NFTs and copyright laws. So these doubts surrounding NFT art do have some merit, which is why I have taken the traditional precautions that are standard in the art industry. We offer the option of minting an NFT on the buyers choice of blockchain after they have bought the artwork, but it isn’t an essential part of what we’re offering.
You can lose an NFT Artwork
The non-fungible token is unique—hence “non-fungible”—and associated with a specific and verifiable piece of data. The token can’t be divided, duplicated, or destroyed, however, it can be lost! If you lose access to your digital wallet, or the private key that contains your NFT key files, the ownership is essentially lost.
You might buy an NFT artwork from a person who minted it who didn’t own or have permission to mint and sell it. This would mean that you were unwittingly participating in fraud and could be held accountable to some degree. You could and almost certainly will lose your ownership of the art because it was never yours in the first place.
Interoperability means the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, at present or in the future, in either implementation or access, without any restrictions.
That’s a pretty complicated way of saying NFT artworks are dependent on certain blockchains and are not able to be swapped to other blockchains that use different types of blockchain technology. This is another reason why we don’t mint our artworks until the customer expresses their will about which blockchain they want the artwork minted on.
Imagine that you have an extensive artwork collection on an Ethereum blockchain and we automatically minted all of our art on a Binance blockchain. You would now have two collections of art instead of one and this is not very practical for most people. This is one of the major drawbacks with NFTs in our opinion. Standardisation is a long way from coming to fruition. We feel our solution of minting upon request for those who really want the NFT is the best way to approach this.
Another major drawback is that not all of these blockchain platforms will survive the rigours of competition and there is no way to tell who the winners and losers will be. NFTs need to point to something. Usually, this is in the form of a URL that leads to a JSON metadata file. Say that you have started your collection of art on an NFT blockchain platform and they all of a sudden go out of business. They will inevitably stop hosting the URLs where your artwork is stored. You now own a key-file token to an empty URL and this means that you have lost the artwork and any intrinsic—aesthetic or monetary—value that you once had entitlement to.
This legacy of broken links is already starting to take place and as the buzz for NFTs die down and competition between the platforms intensifies we can expect lots more of these broken links and broken hearts. Maybe some artist will buy these broken links from you and exhibit them as artwork in its own right… who knows, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
Benefits and drawbacks
There can be benefits and drawbacks to NFT Art and it is not so easy to call something a scam and be done with it. There are many serious NFT Art collectors who would be extremely offended by such accusations. The best we can say for now is that it is a new application of a new technology and it remains to be seen what the future of NFTs will become in their final iteration. In the meantime I will keep one foot in the metaverse and one foot in the physical world. I enjoy exploring technological advances and will continue to have fun producing art whatever happens.
Are there scams in NFT Art? Of course, there are, like there are scams in anything that involves the transfer of money or assets. It can attract the unscrupulous types who have no guilt or remorse for their actions. Is NFT Art a scam? I think that is a very unfair assumption and not borne out by the facts. As with all technology, it can be used for evil and for good. There is nothing inherently scammy about NFT Art or Artists who embrace this new medium of exchange.
In conclusion, art and value-investing have become synonymous. Just as in the traditional art world there are stars, rising stars and hobbyists and NFT art is no different in this respect. When you buy art you should primarily buy something that you like and can live with and this goes for anything that you collect. Speculation is speculation and if this is your primary reason for investing in anything, then you should take time to research and ensure that you have invested wisely.
I’m a professional artist who makes art full time and will continue to make art until I die. I take this profession very seriously and work hard along with my team to ensure the value of my art increases over time. We have a methodology to our marketing that surpasses relying on the current buzz in the art industry. I’ll be around and producing art for as long as I live.
I invite serious collectors to view my work and if you like it, I encourage you to get in contact. Join me on my art journey so that we can start building mutually beneficial relationships that last for years to come.