Crypto art is gaining ground, creating new opportunities for Montreal's art world
MONTREAL -- Maybe you’ve recently heard the term “NFT.” It’s an acronym for non-fungible tokens. Say what?
It’s a curious trend that some people are paying big money for -- a digital item that the buyer can’t even touch.
Art, music, video sequences and even collectables can be bought and sold as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and they are gaining in popularity.
Recently, the artist Beeple sold a work at Christie’s art auction for $69 million US. The first tweet ever sent, by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey also recently sold as an NFT for almost $3 million.
The buyers don’t get a tangible piece of art, but they get to own the digital asset.
“When it comes to creating an asset or piece of artwork, or video game level, something that can be digitized, is what NFTs are all about," explains technology expert Marc Saltzman. "And the whole investment world is salivating over the opportunity of buying something low and selling it high. Hence, the whole craze of NFTs lately, even though they've been around for about five years.”
Imagine the handwritten autograph you got from a celebrity when you were a kid. All your friends took a good look at it or even photocopied it, but the original was yours. Like a certificate of authenticity that a traditional painting comes with, an NFT is the same – but digital.
“The transaction is digital, it is on the blockchain which is an online ledger of checks and balances communally vetted by 10s of 1000s of computers around the world,” said Saltzman.
The growing interest in NFTs is creating a boost for the art industry.
Torontonian Gabriel Granatstein is curious about technology and does research in his spare time.
“I'm very interested in the blockchain and the cryptocurrencies and I've been reading and learning about NFTs and I called my mom and said you should put your work up as an NFT,” he said.
Granatstein’s mother is a traditional mixed-media artist in Montreal.
Lynda Schnieder Granatstein embraces new ways to create. She’s been using a drone to take photographs to provide a new perspective on local landscapes. She then composes large-scale paintings from those images and is eager to access new ways to share her work.
“I believe that when you learn new things, you grow. and I never want to stay still, I want to always keep learning,” she said.
She’s learned about NFTs, and with her son, now has a large Montreal cityscape up for bid on Rarible, a website that deals in digital art and collectables. The art piece that can hang on someone’s wall in their home can also be shared on their homepage for the world to see -- it's old school meets new technology.
Pointing at her art, Lynda explained her methods.
“If you were to look very closely in this, you would see many different layers of paper; etching paper and printed materials that I have glued on and painted over to provide the texture that I think enriches a painting.”
Her traditional, tangible, textured painting is one option, and the NFT is another.
Gabriel Granatstein mused about how we carry so much value in our pocket these days.
“I think we've moved away from a lot of tangible items. When you look at your phone now, you have your credit card on your phone, your ID, and now you can have art on your phone. When I was young, I used to collect baseball cards and now those are digital,” he said, laughing because digital baseball cards are much more convenient. “Now you don’t have to carry a suitcase full of baseball cards, which I’ve been carrying from house to house to house for the last 20 years."
Maybe we need to think of an NFT as beautiful Bitcoin, a piece of crypto-art that the whole world can see, but you alone can own.