Digital artworks are currently being sold at top prices. Why is the hype around NFTs – non-fungible tokens – in art so big right now? And what is that NFT after all? A token is the digitalized form of an asset which has a specific value or function. At the same time, physical assets such as real estate or music copyright can also be tokenized by transferring the associated rights and obligations to the token. This means that the ownership relationships are digitally mapped and are thus become tradable.
In March 2021, Christie’s auction house sold off a digital photo collage from an artist named Beeple for a price of 69 million US dollars. This sum has also attracted the attention of many ordinary people. Now everyone wants to know what NFTs are.
Original vs. Digital Art
What is an original in the digital art world? In the case of Munch’s Scream, it is relatively simple: there is the real picture on canvas and there are copies of it on postcards and other prints. But what about NFT art? You can hang the Munch’s painting at home, but what do you do with NFT art? NFT exists only in the virtual world. But as we spend a lot of time online today, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media channels have become our constant companions, so purely digital possessions no longer seem so outlandish. Once created and uploaded, NFT works remain on the server, so they can be viewed by everyone at any time.
Creating a NFT Is Not Easy
But how do artists make an NFT? Some companies can help artists with this. First, a digital artist creates their artwork, which can be almost any form of media (GIFs, illustrations, videos, 3D models or similar). Then they need a hardware wallet where cryptocurrencies can be stored. And it even gets more technical. Since any cryptocurrency is also required to complete transactions on the blockchain, the artist should own some. When an artist sells their artwork, he receives the digital money into his wallet as well. An NFT essentially comes with a blockchain-printed certificate of authenticity that proves it is an original work and allows the creator of it to receive a cut of any subsequent trade.
eBay Wants to Allow Trade in Crypto Art
Non-Fungible Tokens exist on a blockchain ledger and offer the possibility to certify digital artwork such as paintings, photos, music, video clips, and trading cards as unique. eBay plans to launch NFT trading which would make the online auction house the first e-commerce provider to get involved in the digital art business. The NFTs have to contain information that proves their uniqueness. This way, the respective owner can always be traced and have his claims defended. Maybe, in the future, you will be able find something like Karl Lagerfeld’s last photoshoot or historical moments from NBA games on eBay. While anyone can view the NFTs for free, the buyer has the status as the official owner – a kind of digital bragging rights.