What's this Non-Fungible Token (NFTs) Craze All About, Anyway?

In the last few months the non-fungible token (NFT) art space has exploded and data shows that there’s been over 4.9 million sales worth well over $128 million to-date. But what EXACTLY is the NFT, and why all the craze now specifically?

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain have disrupted nearly all areas of our human life. Perhaps being most synonymous with financial services, you might be surprised to find that it has paved its way into is the arts industry, too.

So What On Earth is a Crypto NFT?

Non-fungible tokens contain identifying information recorded in their smart contracts. It’s this information that makes each NFG different and that’s why they cannot be directly replaced by another token. So: non-fungible tokens are not interchangeable – each of these tokens is unique. They cannot be swapped like for like, because no two are alike. This helps make non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs) take blockchain applications way beyond the usual digital currency use. So, in essence, the possible uses of this technology are pretty much endless.

Another very important feature of NFTs is the fact that they are indivisible. This means you can’t send a portion of a non-fungible token to someone (unlike with, say, Bitcoin). Bitcoin is known as a fungible token, because you can send someone one Bitcoin and they can send one back, it would still be one Bitcoin.

How Did NFTs Come About?

It all started in late 2017, when the CryptoKitties project rocketed to popularity. CryptoKitties is a game on the ethereum blockchain that allows participants to buy, sell and breed cats or special NFT tokens on the ethereum blockchain. Each token represented a unique cat that was produced by a smart contract. The legacy of CryptoKitties is undeniable: the project raised huge awareness of the concept of non-fungible tokens.

OK, But What Has This Got to Do with Art?

Digital artists notoriously experience a lot of difficulties when it comes to protecting their copyright online. Thanks to NFTs, digital artists can safely sell their works. Non-fungible tokens and their smart contracts allow for detailed attributes to be added, like the identity of the owner, rich metadata or secure file links — all of this greatly helps artists have copyright over their work.

The world of crypto has also inspired artists to create futuristic and exciting artworks that seek to explore the world of the crypto/blockchain movement.

Another piece of exciting news is that in September 2020, Christie’s auction house announced the sale of a digital portrait of the Bitcoin code for more than $130,000. It was the first time a non-fungible token was auctioned at one of the major auction houses for traditional art.

A common criticism of the crypto art market has been that the so-called artworks have been called ‘simple’. While it’s easy to dismiss these works, there have been a number of serious artists who have left their mark in the crypto art world, and are certainly worthy of attention.

NFT x .art Domains

We’re proud to host a number of NFT projects on our domains. Here are some outstanding examples:

1. Async.art: Async Art is a new art movement built on the blockchain. Create, collect, and trade programmable art: digital paintings split into “Layers”, which you can use to affect the overall image. Launched in February 2020, there has already been over $2.5M in bid volume on the platform and over $600,000 in artist sales. In fact, we’re delighted to report that Matt Kane’s “Right Place & Right Time,” a programmable artwork that changes with Bitcoin price volatility, sold for over $100K on Async.art.

 

Artist: Jake Johns’ Created over a 7 month period between February to October, 2020 Original oil on canvas with 3d printed framing elements including glow in the dark, wood, gold ornate, basic blue. 32″ x 26″ Digitally re-painted and Asynced Tokenized on Ethereum.

2. Mon.art: Monart describes itself as the international art marketplace and community to purchase great artworks through the secured Blockchain.

ZHOU SHICHAO – DRAWINGS. Oil painting on canvas, 40 x 30 x 3cm – Framed, 2017

3. ThomasCrown.art: Thomas Crown Art has created an innovative solution for artists and art collectors providing the ability to use works of art as a literal “store of value” and serve as a cryptocurrency wallet for owners/collectors whilst providing an independent method to conclusively prove the provenance of artwork quickly and easily, and to view an incorruptible chain of ownership.

Mare Street E8, Giclée Print by artist Jinxy. Stored Currency: Ethereum (ETH)

4. BruceGraham.art: Long time friend of .art Domains (he owns over 100!), Bruce Graham is a self-described autodidact/outsider, outcyber and contemporary artist. His latest projects include InvestmentArt.art as well as PrintAndHang.art. 

Self Portrait 2020 study for proposed digital collage, c-print 16″ x 20″40.64 x 50.8 cm Copyright Bruce Graham

5. NFT.art: NFT.ART’s Social Community is focused on showing work by both established and emerging artists in the fields modern pop, illustration art, and crypto-art. All artworks on Display in NFT.ART galleries are as well minted on the blockchain as a unique Asset.

BLOCKGIN – The Blockchain-Art-Gin by Mr.Y | NFT SPIRITS

​What’s Next for NFTs?

Mass adoption of NFTs is definitely a possibility. According to an interview conducted by CoinTelegraph, Artur Sychov, founder and CEO of virtual reality platform Somnium Space, identified the art industry as being primed for blockchain disruption, saying: “Art is one of the biggest and fastest-growing applications for NFTs. The intersection of proof of ownership and scarcity makes it a perfect match made in heaven. Same with physical goods. Buying a digital copy and receiving a physical equivalent is becoming a big business and part of an ecosystem.” Watch this space…

Veronica Morozova
Veronica Morozova
Veronica Morozova is a London-based content writer and copyeditor. She has a Master's in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths University, and writes about a range of topics including political and social activism, mental health awareness, Eastern European culture, and more.