Many young artists are shifting towards digital art as virtual work, school, and life flourishes. Those artists now have an entirely new market for their work through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are an important way for young artists to represent themselves in the art market; say Ally Chen and Emma Chen.
So What are NFTs Exactly?
An NFT is a digital code of characters that is recorded on the blockchain, which is used to certify the authenticity and ownership of a specific art piece. Anyone can access this blockchain record. And the trading history and previous owners of an NFT are stored on the blockchain. Owning a NFT gives bragging rights and basic usage rights. This includes having the authority to post pictures online and making limited amounts of merchandise. Ownership, however, is NOT equivalent to owning copyright laws to the artwork itself.
Are NFTs just photos? Well, yes… and no. The exact media of any NFT is duplicable through copy paste or downloads, but having a copy does not represent ownership. It’s comparable to owning a fake designer bag! Most collectors would rather make a costly purchase than own a replica.
But more than collectors, artists should be the primary beneficiaries of NFT technology. Think about issues young artists commonly encounter: copyright infringement, financial challenges, network-building, exposure, and more. One solution? NFTs.
NFT copyright laws mirror those surrounding traditional artwork. When artists create new work, they automatically own the copyrights. Even with an NFT, it’s the original artist that retains exclusive copyright to the work and is permitted to reproduce, reuse, and distribute the work as desired. Collectors and buyers monetarily profiting off NFTs after making a purchase thereby violate NFT copyright laws.
Are NFTs Beneficial for Young Artists?
In addition to receiving a one-time payment for each piece they create, artists can benefit from NFT royalty fees after the initial payment. Each time an NFT is used or sold after the initial purchase, the original artist must earn a percentage of the resale. While it varies, a typical NFT royalty fee ranges from 5% to 10% of the original sale price. Payments to the artist are automatically incorporated in a “smart contract” that is built into the NFT. Royalties allow artists to profit from their work long after its initial sale, quite a refinement from the traditional one-time deal. This advantage may help young artists make their passion more sustainable and worthwhile, reducing the financial burden of being an artist.
NFTs also offer a straightforward marketing option for artists as compared to traditional modes of showcasing and selling artwork. They can bypass auction houses, galleries, and agents by selling pieces as NFTs directly through online marketplaces. NFT marketplaces minimise unfair advantages by focusing solely on artists and their work. This dynamic prevents the “middlemen” of traditional art markets from defining an artist’s sales and future.
Revolutionising the Art Market.
Listing art on the NFT marketplace is simply another form of promotion. Buyers and traders take interest, bid on the price until it is sold, receive ownership rights to the artwork, but artists still retain copyrights! NFT marketplaces have revolutionised commissions on digital art by implementing an automatic transaction that simplifies art sales. It has transformed into an eclectic online shopping experience between artists and collectors.
With fresh eyes to observe the growth of NFTs, digital art/media has the potential to change innovation. While older artists default to the traditional art market, young artists have the privilege of taking a risk: using the NFT marketplace as their main source of creative expression and letting go of outdated practices. As traditional art market structures retire, digital mediums and the metaverse are hastily taking over. Navigating digital worlds is second nature to Gen-Z since video games and social media have bridged teens far and wide across the world. Growth does not represent abandoning tradition, but rather embracing the future!
Emma Chen is a junior at McLean High School with a deep interest in visual arts. She recently began exploring the economic impact of the arts and is actively involved in researching and discussing her findings. She strongly believes the arts have positive social benefits, and frequently volunteers through art events with her arts organization. She is a member of her school’s Tartan Literary Magazine that collects and publishes McLean’s best student literature and art. In her free time, Emma enjoys taking landscape photos, visiting art museums, and window shopping.
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