Verifiable provenance and authenticity have been long-standing problems within the art world. Matters of copyright and ownership have also been traditionally difficult for both creators and distributors both to uphold and prove.
These various aspects, which were already problematic before, have worsened with the arrival of digital art. Indeed, any content can be duplicated endlessly on the internet. The need for ‘digital scarcity’ or ‘rare art’ has therefore increased over time… and blockchain can fix that.
Using blockchain technology immutability for creators to protect and track their work has been explored over the years to solve these issues, some blockchains being specifically created to that aim. It wasn’t until the rise of NFTs that a true solution was in sight.
Non-Fungible tokens have incited a crypto art revolution, enabling artists and creatives to build their careers in a decentralized space with true authenticity, traceable origin, ownership history, and no middle man. Furthermore, NFTs metadata enables the creation of truly unique rare digital artworks.
Digital art in itself is not a new concept and has been a maturing part of the multiple billion-dollar arts market since technology has allowed it. The term Digital Art was first used in the early 1980s when a team of computer engineers created a program named AAron to ‘paint’ for the pioneering A.I. artist Harold Cohen. Since this time, as the technology developed, innovations at the intersection of computer-assisted art and traditional methods have evolved.
Not always the case but one of the issues with establishing a value for digital creations has been the lack of the work’s physical presence like a video installation or a file holding an artwork. Another issue is solved by minting your works on a blockchain: these digital creations can be easily reproduced and redistributed, maintaining copyright and validating rightful ownership.
Pioneered by the LavaLabs team, CryptoPunks forged the way for art on the blockchain. A set of 10,000 ERC-20 tokens were produced, each an individual AI pixel character offered for free to claimants. Some Punks are rarer than others with each having an individual set of metadata attributes, some more common than others. That was back in 2017 a market and community quickly developed around them and by 2021 CryptoPunks had reached iconic heights of both monetary value and status as digital antiques of the future.
Since these beginnings, the minting of artworks as NFTs on the Blockchain has become extremely popular with many different decentralized Marketplaces formulating.
Creators can either ‘mint’ their own works such as on Mintbase or on digital art marketplace platforms where the artist is pre-vetted, such as on Known Origin, helping to promote the artist and giving them added legitimacy.
The future looks bright for Art backed by a non-fungible token system, with many already established digital and traditional artists finding a new home in the decentralized system of now also belonging to the Crypto Art scene (for example, Jose Delbo from DC Comics)..
You can also explore our selection of 10 crypto artists to discover to get an idea of what the crypto art movement is and why it matters so much.
Some controversial aspects go along with putting Art on the blockchain, especially regarding the metadata and where it is held. Some methods hold more information on-chain than others. Purely on-chain is completely immutable but with Ethereum’s gas prices so high, it can be very expensive to pay for the transaction to mint.
Other legitimate solutions involve using IPFS on a centralized server where files are held with only certain meta held on-chain. The purists are firm in their belief in things being as on-chain as possible whereas many simply don’t understand the difference and only see the reduced cost of off-chain hosting.