Could NFTs increase value for artists?

The art world has become a saturated career for most artists. There is lots of competition, and it’s challenging to rise and become a successful artist through the traditional mediums. In the ever-changing age of technology, many find new ways to display and promote their works, hoping to get noticed and fulfill their dream of making a living from their art. Recently NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens have risen to popularity. This new platform has created a new market for artists to sell and promote their work through the blockchain. 

NFTs provide artists with a lot of benefits the traditional art world lacked, for starters, transparency. Usually, the art market is difficult to break into; it is mostly unregulated, mainly attracting wealthy art collectors. Lack of openness usually leads to an imbalance benefiting only the rich, and those with fewer assets get left out of contributing. The world of art collecting seems to have been built solely for those with the resources to invest, often leaving artists who lack these resources with much less to gain. Transparency in the art trade can bring a lot more benefit to artists, not to mention when selling an NFT, artists can receive a cut of the resale price, something unheard of in traditional means of art selling. 

There is a new door for growth in the art world. Artists can already see significantly more profits in making their works into NFTs, and many artists have seen success in turning their creations into investments through the blockchain. Artist and game designer Margeurite de Courcelle was able to make $274,000 in 2021 through NFT sales. Not to mention most famously, the creator of the Nyan Cat meme GIF, popular in 2011, was able to sell the original GIF for $580,000. Without having to pay intermediaries to distribute and get their work out there, NFTs are giving artists more power over the selling process of their work and making art a viable career. 

Making art into an investment through the blockchain might seem like the answer to artists who struggle to make their careers kick off. However, there are certain outturns those thinking of venturing into the world of NFTs should consider. NFTs have a poor reputation for their impact on the environment. Cryptocurrencies already get a bad rap for the greenhouse gasses crypto mining emits; NFTs seem to be adding to this problem. The Digicomonist estimates that just one Ethereum transaction uses more than 70.32kWh of electricity, analogous to about 34 Kg of carbon dioxide. With the increase in popularity of NFTs, this environmental impact is increasing. 

This impact on the environment is not the only problem with NFTs. Art theft seems to be becoming a common issue in the community. While art theft has been an issue in the art community in general, NFTs bring a new risk to artists who want to share their work. Given the ease of turning a JPEG into an NFT, many are simply downloading art from artists’ online accounts and converting them without permission, taking any profits that creation makes to themselves and robbing the artist of proper credits. Art theft poses a danger to many smaller artists who may struggle with funding to copyright their works and leave them out of thousands of dollars for their hard work. 

Like in any form of investing, NFTs come with their risks. They can be incredibly beneficial to small artists trying to make money off of their work and create a career. However, they can also create a problem for small artists, putting them at risk of art theft. There are two sides to the NFT debate, where some support the opportunities it brings and others cast them down for the negative impacts. Artists who want to proceed into the world of NFTs should do so well informed and with caution, as there seem to be as many risks as there are benefits. 

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