Introducing Blockchain and Art
Technology Meets Creativity
It is said that technology is a form or art. With the recent boom of the blockchain art market, this is looking to be more fact than fiction. From digital kittens and meme trading cards fetching prices of over $100,000 to artificial intelligence (AI) driven artwork, blockchain technology has officially entered the art world.
Blockchain art consists of more than just slapping a piece of art online. Its an emerging market and is changing art for the better.
People Are Creating Blockchain Art
Currently the most popular form of blockchain art, collectibles like Cryptokitties and Rare Pepe trading cards have developed a cult-like following. These digital pieces of art are directly created, stored and traded on platforms like Ethereum and Counterparty.
There are at least four major areas where blockchain will disrupt the art market:
1. Driving digital art sales through digital scarcity.
2. Democratizing fine art investment-This means making fine art investment open to everyone not just art professionals or those skilled in art trading.
3. Improving provenance and reducing art forgery-Meaning providing better evidence that will establish that an art piece has not been altered, and is not a forgery, a reproduction, stolen or looted art.
4. Creating a more ethical way of paying artists.
A big problem with producing and selling digital art is how easily it can be duplicated and pirated. Once something is copied and replicated for free the value drops and the prospect of a market disappears. For things to be of value they need to have scarcity. Blockchain is said to help solve this problem for digital artists by introducing the idea of "digital scarcity" issuing to unique blocks proving ownership.
You Can Track and Verify Art On The Blockchain
Perhaps more important than creating art is being able to verify that the art you purchase is authentic. The Fine Arts Experts Institute (FAE) in Geneva, Switzerland stated in 2014 that over 50% of the artwork that they examine are either forged or misattributed to the incorrect artists. With pieces in the fine arts market selling for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's important that you're buying what you think you're buying.
Some blockchain projects are working to tokenize art provenance or credibility. Blockchain art provenance is a method of proving the ownership of original creations via blockchain. It works like this:
1. An artist creates a new piece of art and certifies it with a token on a blockchain.
2. When you buy the artwork from the artist, they transfer the associated token to you.
3. When you sell the piece, you transfer the token to the buyer.
4. And this trading goes on and on.
The token transactions are stored publicly so you as buyer can easily track the entire history of ownership back to the artist. If the token doesn't originate with the artist's wallet, the artwork is declared a fake.
You can use this process for physical pieces of art as well as digital works. Because digital works are easily reproducible, associating them with tokens preserves their rarity, which in turn retains their value.
As with most industries, the blockchain art market is best at making middlemen obsolete. Decentralized art galleries are popping up everywhere giving most (if not all) of sale proceeds to the artists. Decentralized art galleries are art galleries that have moved online to provide greater access to their art collections. Such online galleries are:
Curio Cards are GIFs and images tied to the Ethereum platform in which artists receive 100% of their sales. Because the cards are on the blockchain you as an artist can choose exactly how many you want to sell. There's no need to worry about copying, forgery or massive fees. This opens up a whole new world of making money for digital artists.
Even with physical works of art, galleries are using blockchain. The platform Maecenas, is a decentralized platform that democratizes fine art, if you'd like to get involved with art investing, but don't have the bankroll to purchase a multi-thousand dollar piece, this platform is for you. On Maecenas you can invest in a portion of artwork using the platform's art tokens. Additionally to finance new pieces, galleries are able to list their artwork to Maecenas users at a fraction of the cost of what an auctioneer or loan would cost them.
Even in this young industry, there are still plenty of ways to get involved and stretch your creative muscles. Don't let a lack of artistic ability stop you. Projects like Slothicorn, which provides a Universal Basic Income for all Crypto art, gives you the support you need when first starting out.
Harvard Business Review describes blockchain as an open distributed ledger or spreadsheet that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
Here's an example of how purchasing blockchain art works. A certain artist purchased some digital art from a business name DADA.nyc. DADA.nyc provide a decentralized marketplace where you can buy limited editions of digital artworks with ID protection and proof of ownership.
The DADA art collection becomes permanently embedded in the blockchain and can no longer be changed or modified. This allows a user to verify that there are indeed only a certain number of limited-edition DADA artworks, that the artwork you buy belongs to you and that it was created by a specific artist.
In order to buy art from DADA.nyc, the artist had to first download and install the MetaMask digital wallet chrome browser plugin. He then created an account at Coinbase, the world's most popular way to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin and then he connected it to his bank account. With that in place he was able to purchase artwork by an artist named Moxarra from the "Creeps and Weirdos" collection at 0.168730896870718 Ethereums or $11.83. He now have the option to sell the work the same as a physical work of art-but he wants to hold on to it for now.
While the art is nice, the real value may be in the interaction with the artist and the folks at DADA.nyc They include prominent a social sharing button, for the artwork, and once shared, the artist received many sincere tweets of gratitude from the team at DADA.nyc and from the artist(the person who created the work)himself. He was even able to chat with the artist about naming the piece "Arty the Artnome" as an "official" unofficial mascot for artnome. What an awesome experience for less than the price of a movie ticket.
So what is the value of a blockchain distributed ledger with the above transaction?
1. Authentication /attribution - The artist Moxarra has authenicated that this work is in fact, created by him. Because the record of authentication is on the Ethereum blockchain and distributed across millions of machines, Moxarra cannot later decide the work was not his. This protects the buyers investment as a collector indefinitely.
2. Digital Edition - The artist chose to offer this artwork in a limited edition of 200. Each number within the edition is tracked separately on the ledger. The artist cannot later expand the edition as this information is a matter of public record on the blockchain.
3. Proof of Ownership - the purchaser purchased number 44/200 of the edition. This information is also decentralized and cannot be contested.
4. Provenance - No matter how many times this work is bought and sold, his original purchase and the purchase of future owners of the work are documented and unalterable, creating a trusted provenance.
5. Renumeration - In the initial sales of the artwork, 70% goes to the artist and 30% to DADA. That is a fairly standard comission, what is unique though is that the artist gets 30% for every additional sale of that same work, with the owner seller getting 60% and DADA getting 10%.
It is a little tricky getting set up to buy digital art and Crypto collectibles. However it is strongly recommended that people go through the process, as it will become an increasingly popular way to buy, trade and collect digital property.