There are a multitude of reasons why the contemporary digital art market is better for artists than being in the structure of the ‘traditional art world’.
Term ‘NFT’ has developed a controversial association due to the shared terminology with the speculative world of PFPs and the murky history of cryptocurrency itself. Nonetheless, the benefits facing an artist who is actively creating in the current NFT ecosystem are unparalleled. The potential for new careers opportunities, incoming streams of revenue, and powerful connections are stronger than they ever have been before.
Allow me to highlight some of the key differences and advantages.
A buzz word that gets thrown around a lot, this is actually a critical aspect to why being an artist in Web 3 is better than it was in the trad-art world.
Web 3 connections between artists and collectors exist in a way that wasn’t common in trad-art and were much more difficult to establish. Due to the means of communication online, and the direct nature in which artists speak directly with collectors (no galleries in-between), connections can develop between individuals who have radically different life experiences and skillsets. This transfer for knowledge is very valuable, and strengthened through a relationship that doesn’t require a middle-person (like an agent or gallerist). These collector-artist relationships often turn into real friendships and mentorships, all due to a strong bond over the art.
Same goes for the artists themselves. In the Web 3 ecosystem it is easy to collaborate with other artists, especially due to the online nature of communication. The NFT space is generally very uplifting of one another, and since all transactions are public on the blockchain, everyone can openly see and celebrate each others successes.
Less of A Slave
The term ‘starving artist’ didn’t come from nowhere. It’s commonly known that the majority of artists often face financial uncertainty and instability. This leads to the need to take commissioned assignments from brands and clients.
Before the assignment is even given, there’s usually a pitch process where multiple artists compete to get hired for the same job. This ‘hustle’ in many cases is how an artist can make a living through their creative craft, if they are the lucky one to be chosen for the project.
However, the work the artist does on a commercial assignment directly benefits the client and often doesn’t help the artist themselves. NFT’s have created a market whereby artists can actually work on the work they want to create for themselves, and sell that ‘personal work’ instead of taking every commission that comes their way out of necessity.
Furthermore, most marketplaces take a far smaller commission than the typical 50% of the traditional art world. This gallery fee, on top of the costs of production, can be a heavy hit on an artists financial reward. Not to mention the fact that sometimes buyers of trad-art don’t pay the gallery, or the gallery doesn’t pay the artist. On the blockchain, this is resolved by the instantaneous transfer of funds and assets via a smart contract.
The issue of creator royalties is another significant component to being a digital artist in Web3. Most marketplaces honour the concept of a creator royalty in perpetuity, often amounting to 10% whenever a piece is sold on the secondary market. This is HUGE for creators, as in the past artists would never see any future revenue from their work after an initial sale.
The trad-art world is also known for its gatekeeping. In order to have access to a collector base, you need a gallerist. Finding a gallerist who agrees to represent you can be extremely difficult, especially if the artist is located in a country where there is not a strong trad-art market. Even so, gallerists operate with a whole set of criteria as far as to whom they choose to onboard. In part this is to protect their existing roster of artists, however it creates a barrier of entry whereby the average person has very little chance of having their work seen by potential buyers.
The NFT space is openly accessible to anyone that has access to a computer. Minting fees can be extremely low, especially if not minting on Ethereum. Artists in developing countries or those facing other socio-economic challenges have the opportunity to have their work seen online by prospective collectors.
The huge potential to harness social media and spread ones artwork has led to many artists who come from non-traditional art backgrounds to find success in Web 3.
With NFTs, exhibiting digital artwork is much easier than the typical process of exhibiting in trad-art. Artwork can be transferred quickly and easily across the world through the web, and digital pieces can be shown on a range of surfaces from an actual IRL gallery setting, to a virtual gallery or even massive led billboards in global urban centres like Times Square.
Being ‘anti-NFT’ is essentially being anti-Artist. Those individuals who hate on NFT’s either do not understand what they actually are, conflate the world of PFPs with 1/1 art, or have never been a professional working creative/artist themselves to see the reality of what it means to be one. Changing the definition of this technology from “NFT’s” to “Digital Art” may be the first step in rewiring the mainstream narrative. However, this may not even matter. When a technological revolution begins, all opposing forces are inevitably doomed for failure and unable to stop the powerful waves of revolutionary change.