What is an NFT?
So you may be thinking...okay, I've seen this term floating around. What the hell exactly is an NFT?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data on a digital ledger called a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable. NFTs can represent digital files such as art, audio, videos, items in video games and other forms of creative work. While the digital files themselves are infinitely reproducible, the NFTs representing them are tracked on their underlying blockchains and provide buyers with proof of ownership of the NFTs.
Still with me? Good.
At the time of writing, we are definitely in a grey area when it comes to digital tokenization of digital media. My personal experience has led me through a ton of research in order to understand the difference between the value of a jpg image posted to social media vs that same jpg image shared as a collectible item. The answer? Technically, there is none.
WHY is this such an important time then? And why should we care about NFTs then? Well...
For artists that have started their journey's in recent years, we have had the privilege of having powerful social media platforms to share our work to, many of my friends and myself of which have enjoyed incredible attention and validation that our work is good...to a lucky few, valuable enough for a print sale or even a gig or two. Most of us have also come to the unfortunate realization that art as a living simply isn't sustainable (or very very difficult), so we become content with competing for engagement and likes instead of valuing our work as legitimate pieces of art and pieces to be cherished, backed by memories and stories. In my experience, many artists would gladly be happy enough to take a multi-day adventure trip, spend multiple day and hours editing and processing their work, incur travel expenses out of their own pocket...to create a social media post. It has become a habit of devaluation that has led to a world where a digital image is a disposable piece of content to be either consumed or scrolled past within a split second. All this work to create an image that can be easily ripped offline and repurposed without any record or trace. Honestly, becoming a photographer in the digital age has become a complete nightmare.
Still with me?
This is where blockchain technology comes in to solve many of these issues. Digital art in recent months has exploded onto the NFT scene. What started as gag collectibles in a space that nobody took seriously has developed into a multi-million collectible industry with art selling for as high as $69 Million.
But then how the hell is a jpg image, the same one that has been posted and reposted hundreds of times...any different than the one that sold for $69 Million? Let me try to explain...
To summarize...what you are looking at is the container that can hold 1) smart contracts setting ownership, usage, and even royalty terms in a permanent record on the blockchain it is created on 2) Unique token IDs which are traceable back to the original artist address which will stay with the piece as it potentially moves between owners. Just think about if the original artist for the Nike symbol had sold the artwork as an NFT? The artist would still be reaping rewards from that contract to this day, rather than having to settle for the few thousand dollar work-for-hire gig the sleepy brand at the time approached them for.
Are you starting to see the big picture now?
The auctions I won and the success other artists in the space demonstrate the true value of the work that we pour our passions into to create. Digital rights and ownership has always been a losing battle for digital media creators, and we finally have a solution that can further legitimize photography and media content creation as more permanent than disposable pieces of online content.
In order to help educate more of my awesome community on the potential benefits of the application of this technology to digital artwork, I've created a project called 'Chicago Origins' which can be viewed here:
For anyone that is curious about how they can get started themselves with creating their own NFT artwork. I wrote a neat little Beginners NFT Guidebook that can be downloaded for free here:
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