When I was in art school, we were told that basically no-one makes a living from producing art – even professional artists pay the bills with a day job. This has continued to be accurate, but may be about to change due to the establishment of the NFT, or non-fungible token.
Registering an artwork (or the first ever tweet, or a Kings of Leon album) as an NFT on the blockchain allows someone, or many someones, to ‘buy’ the artwork without a middleman, all the money goes to that artist.
But what does it mean to ‘own’ an artwork token? Depending on the terms of the token, the buyer may own the rights, or they may stay with the artist. The buyer may get the original copy (digital file, or physical copy if it’s a piece of real-world art), or the artist may keep it.
This upheaval in the way an artist can sell and profit from their art may be the most important thing to happen to the art world since the invention of the art gallery. I didn’t pick the $70 million price tag of the comic strip at random – an NFT of a digital artwork by Beeple just sold at Christie’s for $69 million. Not a framed painting, a token.
We may not have flying cars, but we are definitely living in the future.