By Darianne Hudson
- NFTs ability to prove authenticity of digital art has led to a boom in collectibility and the creation of a new art market that is not susceptible to replication
- Black artists are finding an equitable way to profit from the new multi-million dollar crypto art market
Blockchain and non-fungible token (NFT) trading has made the world of art collecting an open democratized and diverse market for the first time in history. In the first few months of the year there were more than $300 million in NFT sales, according to Cointelegraph. Blockchain platforms are now being used by artists to register the copyright data of digital art pieces, create proof of ownership, and be credited each time the artwork is traded digitally. Will Black artists be able to create work, while being their own gallery in showcasing and selling art, especially pieces that support social justice movements?
Why This Matters: Historically, art trading was an exclusive, and mainly white, realm of investing. Black art was underrepresented due to the reliance on galleries, making it harder for these artists to live sustainably from their craft. However, cryptocurrencies are changing this through waves that continue to shock economists, and shift the tide in terms of equity and profitability of digital artists. Blockchain allows them to sell digital artwork with fractional ownership: creating as many “fractions” as they want and selling to owners who buy only a fraction of the piece. Fractional ownership increases an owner’s chances of meaningful return on investment.
Artists are also able to sell directly to buyers without the use of a middleman. Earlier this year Christie’s auction house sold Beeple’s first 5,000 “Everydays,” digital art for a record $69 million.
While this is a new space, some Black celebrities are not new to collecting and investing in art: Oprah Winfrey, Grant Hill, Swizz Beats, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Beyonce and Danny Simmons (brother of Rev Run & Russell Simmons) have extensive African and African-American Art collections.
What’s Next: Skeptics worry about the longevity and continuity of digital art as blockchain technology and hardware inevitably undergoes updates. Only time will tell if blockchain digital art will be able to endure the changes of time, just as historic canvas paintings withstood the test of time. Collectors and artists alike are confident that the opportunities blockchain brings in terms of authenticity, equity, and return on investment will allow it to endure.
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