Remember Nyan Cat? A decade-old meme about an animated cat whose GIF was posted by 25-year-old Christopher Torres in 2011. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the meme, Torres made an exceptional decision (at least financially) to post a “remastered” Nyan Cat as an NFT. On February 19, the GIF sold for 300 ETH, worth about $574,536 at the time.
People all have the same meme on their phone, yet why would anyone pay over half a million dollars for that? What exactly is crypto art? Why has it suddenly caught the world’s attention? We are going to try and answer these questions.
What is Crypto Art?
In short, crypto art is a digital artwork that is linked to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT).
What made Torres’ remastered version special was that it was minted on an NFT. Now, the image can be replicated (as has been done millions of times before), but the token can’t. It is unique.
It is easier to understand from the perspective of a more familiar physical art. Any Picasso painting right now would fetch you tens of millions of dollars, but what exactly makes it special? After all, it is just a canvas with some paint on it. There are hundreds of artists alive that will replicate the painting and to most eyes, it will be indistinguishable. What makes the painting special is that the person who put the paint on the canvas was Pablo Picasso. What makes it rare is that there is exactly one piece like that and only one person can own the original.
Now, through NFTs, it’s possible to track the ownership of any art out there, be it digital or physical. The person who owns it can resell it or license the rights to a museum to display it or even control the conditions under which it is displayed.
Crypto Art is Game-Changing for Artists
An artist can get a commission as the piece sells and resells. Artists finally have an avenue for transparent royalties.
Let’s take an example, an artist named Sam makes crypto art and sells it on a curated NFT marketplace like FomoLab for say $10. Over time, Sam becomes more recognized and his art is now worth much more than the $10 that the art previously sold.
Now, the same representation might be worth $1,000. If Sam sets his royalties at 10%, he would get $100 from that secondary sale. What this essentially means is that the work Sam has done today can make him money for years and years to come.
In traditional art, this is not the case. Once a painting is sold, the artist (or their estate) gets nothing on the resale.
Why Invest in Crypto Art?
Crypto art has dramatically changed the art world. It sounds hyperbolic, but once looking at what has happened till now, and the implications for it in the future, it might not seem so.
NFTs have created a legitimate way to collect digital art. This has never been possible for digital artists in the past. A token acting as a digital certificate for a digital file, securely held on a permanent network of computers, now allows digital artists to sell their work like never before.
Artists can take their lives under their control. They don’t need big art houses to like their work, for it to be seen or purchased by people. If people like someone’s work, they will pay for it. As stated earlier, artists can enjoy the benefits of royalty of their work, years after they first sell their work.
Buyers not only have legitimate channels to buy genuine products, but also have public proof of the authenticity of their possession. Reselling and distributing the owned art is completely in the purchaser’s hands in the world of crypto art.
However, in the present popular crypto art ecosystem, there is a catch. Most NFT platforms are based on the Ethereum network, which comes with high gas fees, sometimes in hundreds of dollars. The barrier for entry for small artists becomes very high. Transactions that are of a lesser amount or even proportionally close to the gas price become too expensive.
To solve this problem of high transaction fees, there are NFT ecosystems like FomoLab based on Binance Smart Chain(BSC) which have much faster and cheaper transactions.