There has been an explosive interest in digital art of late. The emergence of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has led to artists and celebrities selling the ownership of their art to willing buyers – all the while using a similar blockchain technology than Bitcoin. However, many questions have been raised as to the viability of NFTs and whether they actually serve a good purpose.
What is an NFT?
A non-fungible token is a unique type of cryptocurrency. Standard cryptocurrencies can be mutually interchanged. NFTs on the other hand are unique and cannot be interchanged. Every single NFT is created on the blockchain and fettered to an object such as a digital art piece.
When you purchase an NFT, you buy the ‘ownership’ of the asset. An NFT does not mean that the actual digital artwork can’t be replicated. It’s still possible to take a screenshot or have the artwork be shared by third-party individuals. An NFT merely identifies who owns the artwork. NFTs cannot be destroyed and it’s not possible to halve the tokens while all art can be traced back to the original creator.
NFTs have gained popularity as it provides a medium from which creators are able to monetize their artwork. In the digital landscape, many artists have struggled to take ownership of their artwork, especially when it comes to widely-shared memes. The establishment of NFTs provides clarity as to the original creator and enables individuals to reap financial gains. Power is being transferred to the original creator and represents a welcome shift within the confines – or rather infinite depths – of the internet. The perception of NFTs is not all rosy and many point to a number of downfalls that dampen the hype behind NFTs.
Downfalls of NFTs
The biggest downfall to NFTs is that it doesn’t necessarily stop someone else from ‘owning’ the artwork too. Digital art can be replicated or found elsewhere and downloaded without issue. This means that buying an NFT essentially means your name is inserted into a database stating you ‘own’ the digital art in question. It must be noted that it also enables you to sell the art at a later stage and may well become a useful investment option.
Many artists have spoken out against NFTs as being an unappealing platform from which to sell and buy art. But, the biggest downfall to the long term viability of NFTs ties in with the environmental concern. The energy required to power the crypto network is astounding. We’d be remiss not to point out that this isn’t an issue that solely relates to NFTs but rather the entire crypto industry.
It remains to be seen if NFTs continue to garner widespread interest. As they are relatively scarce and seem to entice those with bulging crypto wallets, artists will surely continue to profit via this medium of exchange.