An overview of crypto art, the new medium for digital art
Crypto art is a term used to define a piece of art, either digital or physical, that has been tokenized in order to produce an NFT representing a certificate of ownership for its owner. Each work of crypto art is a digital asset created, verified and tracked on the blockchain. This way, the entire provenance of bids, sales and previous collectors will be recorded on the Blockchain, ensuring not only provenance and ownership, but also a better transparency on the art market.
Each piece of art is minted and digitally signed by the artist, and as soon as the artist sells the piece, the buyer is registered as the new owner. When the collector sells the piece to a new buyer, the original artists can earn royalties from each subsequent sale. This royalty system will influence more and more artists to join the crypto art revolution.
Artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple holds the record for the most expensive digital art piece. Everydays:The First 5000 Days selling for 69.3 million USD on March 12th, 2021.
Crypto art also allows to verify scarcity of the piece with the use of blockchain technology. Take for example an original painting signed by Picasso. It can have its authenticity and ownership authenticated through an extensive written history, bills of sale and other physical documents. Even with all these documents to back it up, there can still be mistakes, fraud and counterfeiting. The piece could be an elaborate fake or copy, and it would be impossible to know without X-Ray, MRI or other invasive technologies that could potentially damage the piece. With crypto art, we eliminate the need for such extensive measures to guarantee authenticity and provenance, since everything is recorded on the Blockchain right from the moment it is created.
Because of the very nature of digital technology, digital art is very easy to replicate. But, thanks to NFTs, crypto art is a way of making digital files one-of-a-kind. Fakes or doubles can be easily weeded out with a quick look up of the crypto DNA of the piece, which can include date and time of minting, location of minting, address of wallet that executed the minting and all sorts of other metadata the artists might want to add to the piece. However, caution must be taken. Even with NFTs, authenticity can never be guarenteed. Collectors must always ensure they are buying from the original creator. To do that, here’s a checklist we created to help you before your first purchase:
Visit the artist’s Website: do they mention creating crypto art? If they have posted links to their crypto art platforms, make sure to use these links only.
Visit the artist’s social media profiles: have they been active and promoting their crypto art work publicly?
Verify different NFT marketplaces and search for the artist’s name: have they minted the same NFTs on other platforms?
Try to contact the artist via social media or e-mail. Most artists are very open to speaking with their collectors and you will be able to learn even more about their process and truly ensure the piece comes from them directly.
To conclude, here's a series of common factors that are said to have shaped the aesthetic and the community up to this day, according to this article by Artnome:
Digitally Native: For the first time, artwork can be created, editioned, bought, and sold digitally.
Geographically Agnostic: Empowered by the internet, artists participate from all over the world. CryptoArt is the first truly global art movement.
Democratic/: Everyone is encouraged to participate regardless of skills, training, class, gender, race, age, creed, etc.
Decentralized: Tools and guidelines are designed to reduce the power of gatekeepers and middlemen and increase the autonomy of artists.
Anonymous: Use of pseudonyms allows artists to create and sell art while staying anonymous (if preferred), freeing them from social judgment.
Pro-Artist: Blockchain platforms often take little to no commission from artists. Artists are often remunerated for every future sale of a single work through royalties embedded.
For further reference, here is a short video made by the team over at SuperRare describing the phenomenon.
For the full history of crypto art, visit this Website created by Martin Lukas Ostachowski.