While digital collectibles (NFTs) may seem strange to many people, they offer a huge opportunity that didn't exist five years ago. They are part of a digital revolution that’s democratizing everything and opening up new opportunities. However, many people remain doubtful, because, just like every new technology before it, NFTs have been misused. The rise in popularity led to massive demand in a very short time which in turn attracted fraudsters and scams.
Today mentioning NFTs in any conversation elicits contradicting emotions and views, from celebrating their disruptive power to condemning them as everything wrong with society and capitalism.
While some see oversimplifying digital collectibles and reduce them to just 1s and 0s, we believe we are only beginning to learn about the power of innovations brought forward by blockchain technology like NFTs. The world of the future is digital, and NFTs are going to play a part. Those who do not see this future becoming more real by the day are missing the point entirely.
In 2007, just in time for Christmas, the first Kindle e-reader was released. It sold out in five hours, for what now seems like an astronomical price of $400. Amazon.com launched in 1994, no one believed that selling books online would ever become a thing. But here we are in 2007, selling digital books to be read on a digital screen!
The usual path to success in art involves years of studying at art school, getting an undergrad or a master's degree, or studying under a skilled artist. Then the artist signs up with an art gallery that helps nurture their career and draws the eyes of collectors. With the advent of technology and the rise of the internet, everything has been revolutionized. Many artists have been able to build an online brand using social media, and sell their work online.
However, the one thing artists were still unable to do by 2020 was sell digital art. Artists can showcase their digital art to the world, but there is no technology that would enable them to transfer the ownership of digital artwork.
An NFT is the technology component that was missing. And it took the rise of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to enable the rise of NFTs and digital collectibles. Suddenly, artists can sell their artworks as digital collectibles powered by NFTs and blockchain technology, creating an open digital collectibles market where anyone can get into action; artists, collectors, pros, and hobbyists.
The media frenzy followed, and stories of artists and collectors making millions with NFTs dominated the conversations. So instead of focusing on the possibilities of this new technology, it was all about the money made, the money lost, and the money stolen. The backlash followed, and it mostly stemmed from a lack of understanding of how the technology works, or how artists and collectors can benefit. It didn’t help that many people who benefited from the status quo of the art market were unhappy with being replaced.
We call the digital artworks that are linked on an NFT digital collectibles. They are by their nature digital, and because of the NFT technology, they are collectible. When people collect digital artwork, they use NFT technology to do so. However, the item they collected is a digital collectible. We choose to make this distinction to help understand NFT technology and its impact on our world.
Digital collectibles have already changed the art world for every. What started with a few impressive sales of digital artworks for millions of dollars is not going to stop until the dominant form of how we collect and enjoy art is digital.
But just because the art is digital doesn’t mean that there is less appreciation for artistic talent, style, and ability to connect with an audience. If anything, the principles of success for digital art are identical to those of physical art, the only difference is that for all creatives, from artists to movie makers, animators, and musicians, NFT technology has given them the possibility to play on the global stage. The way artists and creatives sell their works and connect with their communities, and the way we collect and engage with art and culture have forever changed and will continue to as new emerging technologies like AI, AR, and VR continue to converge and become more accessible.
And just like we don’t hesitate to pay $15 for a digital copy of a book when 20 years ago we thought it was crazy to even buy a physical book online, one day, buying digital artwork will become the norm.