There is something fascinating about the digital work of artist Anthony Sims, “Not sure of myself, I’m sure” – a grotesquely colored skeletal creature moving its limbs amid a collage of random sketches that spin and float on the canvas.
This is basically a painting that the Fort Worth artist created by hand before handing it over to fellow artist Andri Wibowo, known professionally as TagaPaw. With TagaPaw’s help, the Sims’ physical painting evolved into an animated media piece that can only be seen on a screen.
Then came the next step, perhaps the most difficult of all: selling it.
Making money with digital works like these is tricky for the artists who create them. Any image or video posted online can land on someone’s camera roll with a simple screenshot or screen recording. Of course, this method usually results in a loss of quality – plus you don’t really own the job; technically, you stole it. Technically.
But there is a way to buy original digital art, the same way you would buy an original painting or sculpture, put it in your house, and call it theirs.
Enter the NFTs.
An NFT (i.e. a non-fungible token) is a digital asset such as a photo or video, bought and sold through a cryptocurrency, with each transaction recorded on a ledger called a blockchain. The blockchain keeps track of every time the work arrives in the hands of a new owner – a certificate of authenticity, so to speak, that distinguishes the work from a screenshot or recording.
Even tweets and memes make money as NFT; some may remember a few notorious cases that made the headlines, like when Nyan Cat’s viral YouTube video sold for almost $ 600,000 in February or when Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey sold his very first tweet for over $ 2.9 million in March.
Then there’s Sims, who in January began bringing his work to the digital art market, SuperRare. One of those pieces was “I’m not sure of myself, I’m sure,” this skeleton animation that he created with TagaPaw.
In May, the coin sold for $ 99,973 – less than an hour after listing.
“[NFTs] are a new method of verification. It’s not super revolutionary; However, the revolutionary aspect is that we now have a way to verify digital art. We didn’t have this before, ”Sims says. “Now digital art can be treated like fine art. “
NFTs are all the rage in the art world, especially for digital creators like The Sims, who find more value to sell through this method as opposed to an art exhibit or Etsy.
Nick Bontrager, Associate Art Professor at TCU, has helped some of his students enter the cryptocurrency space. Not only does this save the artist time and money, he says, but it’s also an ideal way to complete a transaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, when contactless exchanges can. be preferable.
“For the first time in an artist’s career, he can create something on his laptop or computer without having to say, ‘Oh, now I have to find a print shop to turn this digital painting into a piece of canvas or of paper, then I can sell it on Etsy, ”Bontrager says. “By not leaving their room, they can offer it for sale and have buyers all over the world look at their works of art they’ve created and potentially buy and collect them, which is fantastic.”
Bontrager compares cryptocurrency to currency exchanged at an airport. Buyers can exchange real money (like US dollars) for digital money (like Ethereum) on an exchange website, and its value is constantly changing.
“It’s just one more way to meet the needs of a buyer, seller and designer,” says Bontrager. “Rather than bringing a portfolio of my works to every gallery, museum, regardless of metroplex, and maybe walk away with nothing, I have this other new opportunity to have a similar process with less risk. ”
As for Sims, he sees NFTs as a new frontier for art. He quit his job as a robotics technician and committed to doing art full time, showing his work in places like Denver and Los Angeles. It also continues to sell on SuperRare; a few notable pieces like “Love” and “Saint Death” recently sold for over $ 11,000 each.
“NFTs have changed my life,” says Sims. “This [almost] A $ 100,000 coin solidified my name not only as a fine artist but also as a crypto artist. I am now definitely part of this movement.