What’s this Non-Fungible Token (NFTs) Craze All About, Anyway?

In the last few months the non-fungible token (NFT) art space has exploded and data shows that there’s been over 4.9 million sales worth well over $128 million to-date. But what EXACTLY is the NFT, and why all the craze now specifically?

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain have disrupted nearly all areas of our human life. Perhaps being most synonymous with financial services, you might be surprised to find that it has paved its way into is the arts industry, too.

So What On Earth is a Crypto NFT?

Non-fungible tokens contain identifying information recorded in their smart contracts. It’s this information that makes each NFG different and that’s why they cannot be directly replaced by another token. So: non-fungible tokens are not interchangeable – each of these tokens is unique. They cannot be swapped like for like, because no two are alike. This helps make non-fungible tokens (aka NFTs) take blockchain applications way beyond the usual digital currency use. So, in essence, the possible uses of this technology are pretty much endless.

Another very important feature of NFTs is the fact that they are indivisible. This means you can’t send a portion of a non-fungible token to someone (unlike with, say, Bitcoin). Bitcoin is known as a fungible token, because you can send someone one Bitcoin and they can send one back, it would still be one Bitcoin.

How Did NFTs Come About?

It all started in late 2017, when the CryptoKitties project rocketed to popularity. CryptoKitties is a game on the ethereum blockchain that allows participants to buy, sell and breed cats or special NFT tokens on the ethereum blockchain. Each token represented a unique cat that was produced by a smart contract. The legacy of CryptoKitties is undeniable: the project raised huge awareness of the concept of non-fungible tokens.

OK, But What Has This Got to Do with Art?

Digital artists notoriously experience a lot of difficulties when it comes to protecting their copyright online. Thanks to NFTs, digital artists can safely sell their works. Non-fungible tokens and their smart contracts allow for detailed attributes to be added, like the identity of the owner, rich metadata or secure file links — all of this greatly helps artists have copyright over their work.

The world of crypto has also inspired artists to create futuristic and exciting artworks that seek to explore the world of the crypto/blockchain movement.

Another piece of exciting news is that in September 2020, Christie’s auction house announced the sale of a digital portrait of the Bitcoin code for more than $130,000. It was the first time a non-fungible token was auctioned at one of the major auction houses for traditional art.

A common criticism of the crypto art market has been that the so-called artworks have been called ‘simple’. While it’s easy to dismiss these works, there have been a number of serious artists who have left their mark in the crypto art world, and are certainly worthy of attention.

PUBLISHED BYAna alexendre


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