NFT’s are controversial. Digital artists, celebrities, Crypto-investors, and collectors have increasingly adopted NFTs. Blockchain technology creators like the Ethereum Platform, where most new NFTs are “minted” also evangelize the phenomenon. This enthusiasm about NFTs is because of a clear issue that has existed as long as digital art (actually, ANY art) has ever existed- origin, ownership, and money. Detractors dismiss NFTs as a passing fad. Which is it? Whether NFTs take off, go down, or evolve into something else. It is important to know The popularity of NFTs. What they are, and how they are influencing the world of digital art and CGI.
How do you know who wrote a book or painted a picture? While systems to recognize inventors of technical inventions existed as far back as Ancient Greece, copyrights to recognize writers came much later in the 18th century. Meanwhile, artists used signatures (another invention that dates back to ancient civilizations like Babylon and Egypt). Some even hid their signatures so that casual forgeries of the artwork would miss them, making the original easy to detect- assuming one knew what to look for. That inconsistency and variation was the basic problem!
Digitization tried to address this through multiple ways, such as “locking” (think of a “protected” PDF document), digital signatures, etc. This was a great way to stop alterations and unauthorized copying, important for such things as legal contracts, but not really effective to commercialize art. Artists could create unalterable single “stills”, reducing the commercial reach, or resign themselves that any artwork would be ultimately copied.
Instead of blocking access, what if there was a way to attach unique “signatures” to every copy of the artwork? That’s what NFTs promise to do. The underlying Blockchain technology, the same technology powering Bitcoin, works by replicating itself across thousands of computers across the world. Any change to any file (such as changing the name of the owner of the file) is considered a “transaction” and “updated”. In every copy of the ledger across every one of those thousands of computers. The greater the number of users in the blockchain, the more secure it becomes. This way, a digital artist can make a “limited edition” run of her art, sell each copy to individual buyers, and record the name of the artist and owner in the file. When the buyer sells the art down the road, say at an auction. The change in owner name triggers another “transaction” and update.
In 2021, the digital artist Beeple sold a series of 13 artworks, posted online one a day, for $69 million. The most expensive artwork series every sold. Art has always had admirers willing to pay huge amounts of money, but the susceptibility to forgery and unlimited copies has kept values low in the digital world. NFTs have the potential to unlock huge new revenue streams in through sale of digital artworks for use in social media, influencing, augmented reality and digitization etc. As well as sale of virtual real estate, engineering models and so on. Overall, while it is difficult to estimate the exact value of the potential revenue in the commercial CGI industry, there is no doubt NFTs have already generated significant value and will continue to do so, especially as they continue to evolve.
NFTs are young technology. If history is anything to go by, the world of digital authentication will continue to evolve. Digital artists and content creators of visual artwork would do well to learn how to incorporate NFTs into their work to enable monetization, because commerce is good for everyone. Online marketplaces like OpenSea have already sprung up to enable fast transactions, and new ones will continue to pop up.
If you are a digital artist or digital content company. One of the best ways to incorporate NFTs into your workflow is to partner with a professional expert that can walk you through every step of the journey. Manipal Digital is a leading technology and service provider to the digital artwork world. Contact us today to see how we can help your business move to the fast lane through NFTs.