The days we needed to find curators and dispute places in top-tier auctions to have access to high-quality art are over. NFTs are slowly dominating the art industry and artists willing to make the switch to embrace NFT technology are entering a promising territory. Crypto and NFT-related advancements opened a door that is likely to remain wide open as technology advances and keeps bringing improvements and novelties to how we live our daily lives.
With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies and Non Fungible Tokens, the art market - which also includes digital art - is experiencing a brand new phenomenon. Looking back a few years ago, digital artists still faced daily challenges to monetizing their creations, a setback that challenged the constant technological upgrades that provided these professionals a myriad of possibilities to create the new. For instance, pictures in jpg. format, mp4 videos, and GIFs were almost impossible to truly regulate as products being sold online, but blockchain technology has come to change this scenario for good. NFTs give digital artists the chance to legitimize the way they sell their work, paving the way for a digital economy form focused on collaborations and organic exchanges.
In Nigeria, Abdulrahman Yusuf, a digital artist from Lagos, has already started to harvest the benefits of implementing NFTs in the way he maintains his creative business. Abdul creates collages mixing photographs and digital illustrations, always with a bright set of colors that communicate self-awareness, consciousness, and the features of the human journey towards peace of mind. With NFTs, Abdul has been given groundbreaking opportunities to widen the scope of his sales and increase his popularity. Abdul’s works are centered on ideas of self-love and community, and his cross-cultural pieces that celebrate diversity have always been available for purchase online. Still, his sales flow was never as satisfactory as it is now. However, with the implementation of NFTs as a means to exchange value, Abdul considerably increased the number of pieces he could sell at higher prices.
It works like this: a blockchain is created for each piece of art to guarantee its authenticity. Artists get commissions each time a piece of art is sold, and the blockchain created for each item remains unaltered, even if hundreds of clients buy the same piece. In addition, NFTs secure and attach contract to each work available online, which guides the selling-reselling process and brings more liberty and independence for creators to control what they produce, what goes online, and what they earn. Blockchain technology also guarantees that each transaction is reliable and verifiable, with complete transparency.
Furthermore, NFTs also ensure that each asset has a unique identifier placed online to allow owners and creators to track what happens around each creation. Traceable original art pieces secured with NFTs cannot be duplicated, which guarantees the originality and uniqueness that many art enthusiasts and collectors might be looking for.
NFTs might be getting heated in the African art market just now, but this is not the first time it has shown up as an attractive possibility. In May 2021, the Kenyan photographer Rich Allela caught continent-wide attention in Africa after selling one of his art collections using non-fungible tokens for the first time. The auction was online on OpenSea, which is currently one of the best and most reliable marketplaces for NFTs. Outside Africa, NFTs are already behind million-dollar sales in the digital world. In February 2021, the NFT attached to the first-ever published tweet made by Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, was sold for $2.7 million. If there’s a market where people invest millions to buy the originality of a simple tweet, we can only imagine what NFTs can do in the online art market.
Safety and monetization might be what artists are most looking forward to witnessing with the use of NFTs, but the technology also brings other possibilities that go beyond profits and originality. Non-fungilbe tokens leave the path free for artists who want to make a change and truly impact not only the physical but also the digital world of art with their ideas. With a more secure online environment, creators can better explain what their pieces signify and their motivations behind each creation without fearing having their originality stolen. This new dynamic may lead people to look at art differently, care more about it, and see it not only as a hobby but also as a promising investment.
NFTs indeed have a groundbreaking potential in the growth of Africa’s creative economy. On top of the financial benefits, “crypto art” changes the art scenario by adding more freedom for artists to create and administer their work. African artists now have better tools to understand the demands of their customers and the dynamics of the market, so they know how to focus on these features and use the technology in favor of their creative power and monetary independence.