NFT art galleries: future of digital art or another crypto mode?

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As the art of non-fungible tokens (NFT) continues to develop as an industry, a new trend is rapidly emerging: NFT physical galleries showcasing unique digital, non-fungible works of art. Most recently, the biggest Bitcoin (BTC) event in history – the Bitcoin 2021 conference – featured an NFT pop-up art gallery with works by over 30 different crypto artists.

Teodora Atanasova, head of VIP relations and a member of the founding team of Nexo – the company that supported the Bitcoin Art Gallery – told UKTN that more than 100 works of art were sold during the two-day conference : “This demonstrates the impact that physical NFT galleries can have on both the traditional art world and the crypto industry.” She added, “We need to bring crypto to the eyes and touch of people.”

Popular crypto-friendly cities like Miami aren’t the only places NFT art galleries pop up. Earlier this month, an NFT pop-up art gallery first took place in Dallas, TX. The event was hosted by Artist Uprising, a Dallas-based arts agency for creatives, and showcased several individual works of art by NFT artists who collectively generated over $ 1 million in sales from digital art online in the last month alone.

Merrick Porchéddu, CEO of Artist Uprising, told UKTN that the event attracted over 200 attendees, with NFT sales still ongoing in open auctions:

“Many prints were sold, as well as two art canvases. The documentary ‘Making of NFT Gallery IRL’ was also filmed (which will hopefully explain all what NFT art is and why it is is here to stay.) In addition, we now have three neighborhoods that are keen to bring our NFT gallery into their spaces. “

NFT illustration “So Happy We Met” by Magdiel Lopez. Source: Uprising of the artists

Understanding the Need for NFT Physical Art Galleries

Yet while physical NFT art galleries are a notable milestone for the crypto industry, some art lovers, or traditionalists, may question the importance, if not the necessity, of NFT art galleries. in the real world.

For example, an article in The Art Newspaper quotes Saskia Draxler, co-owner of German art gallery Galerie Nagel Draxler, who noted that digital artist Beeple – who auctioned off an NFT artwork at the house of Christie’s auction for over $ 69 million – probably no impact on art history. She added that “NFTs will not replace physical art any more than NFTs in a Nike sneaker will replace real sneakers.”

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While this is only an opinion, some believe the confusion around NFTs and the need for physical galleries may stem from a lack of understanding. Carrie Eldridge, founder and CEO of ATO Platform – an asset management service providing royalties to artists, galleries and nonprofits – told UKTN that there are many pragmatists and curators who are not ready to adopt NFT as a legitimate medium. “They also don’t believe that NFTs provide a solution to the challenges that have plagued artists for generations, like tracking value, collecting royalties, analyzing collectors, appreciating value for collectors. and insurance companies and many other more complex issues, ”she said.

While this may be the case, Eldridge noted that it is important to consider the perspectives of traditional collectors and the crypto community when it comes to NFT art: “At ATO, we are excited about innovation and making it happen. at the same time, we are vigilant and protective of the art industry and those who have worked hard for decades to make it what it is today. “

While Eldridge makes a valid point, it’s important to point out why the NFT physical galleries appeared in the first place. While some may think these sites opened simply as a result of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, industry experts disagree.

For example, Marc Billings, founder of Blackdove – the company that launched Miami’s first NFT art gallery earlier in June – told UKTN that NFT art galleries are no different from traditional galleries in form. and their function. However, he noted that traditional art galleries have failed to meet the needs of the NFT artist, both in terms of technology and collector interest, thus opening the door to dedicated NFT galleries. . Billings said:

“NFT’s artwork looks more like a moving painting than a traditional video piece, which the more conservative art world has lacked. Artists and curators are hungry for wall space to exhibit. their works and their voices that the NFT Gallery is ideally positioned to manipulate. “

In addition to NFT digital artwork displayed in real world spaces, NFT artists have also started creating physical pieces associated with their digital creations. Not only do NFT physical art galleries showcase these pieces, they also help to attract the interest of the general public.

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For example, NFT artist Taylor Good – also known as “Warhodl” – told UKTN that by creating physical soup cans linked to digital NFTs, his Bitcoin 2021 pop-up attracted collectors. that were new to the NFT space.

Original Bitcoin May NFT artwork by Warhodl. Source: Warhodl

Echoing Good, crypto artist Sergey Gordienko – also known as ‘Do What You Love Artist’ – told UKTN that he offers physical pieces of NFT art to mainstream collectors with their digital versions. “I think it brings additional value to the physical artwork,” he said.

Bitcoin artwork by artist Do What You Love. Source: Sergei Gordienko

The art of NFT and the importance of blockchain

While it is important to recognize the need for physical NFT galleries, Billings also pointed out that blockchain technology plays an important role in the overall ecosystem: “Blockchain allows the hard work of different members of the community to be recognized. and remunerated accordingly.

Indeed, blockchain is one of the most important characteristics of NFTs in general, as it has created a whole new financial model for these assets. This has allowed creatives to make a greater portion of the profits, as the value is exchanged over a blockchain network. In addition, proof of ownership is obtained for collectors as all transactions are made and recorded on the blockchain.

Good explained that the NFT art allowed him to collect profits in real time, instead of waiting for galleries to accept, review and then sell the item:

“The age-old problem as an artist is knowing your worth, asking for it, and receiving your worth. Although NFTs are only a blockchain utility, the creative world is fortunate enough to be one. early vehicles or use cases, because what NFTs essentially are is a direct exchange of value. “

In addition, the decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol Aave is currently working on the development of a platform to use NFTs as collateral. Jordan Lazaro Gustave, COO of Aave, told UKTN that the company views NFTs as a store of value, usually in the form of artwork. He noted that Aave planned to use NFT art as collateral, in the same way that a bank would offer a line of credit to someone who wishes to purchase a work of art.

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While Lazaro Gustave couldn’t reveal all the details of the developing platform, he noted that traditionally in the DeFi space, fungible assets like stablecoins are used as collateral. However, he pointed out that NFTs are not fungible and that Aave has developed a way to use NFTs as collateral on a large scale.

Will NFT art galleries be a continuing trend?

While the benefits of physical NFT galleries are obvious, it’s not clear whether these dedicated spaces will continue to emerge across the world – or die out as the NFT hype wears off.

Porchéddu explained that while he initially thought that NFT art was a bubble that would soon burst, he now thinks it’s a trend that will transform and stay, adding: “People are getting incredibly innovative and approaching this in a unique way where they ‘provide solutions to problems.’

Billings further noted that no traditional gallery can keep up with technological innovation that emerges from the NFT art space. Echoing Billings, Eldridge commented that NFT art is not a revolution but an evolution of an ancient art form: digital art. He said:

“The reason digital art has not spread earlier in previous decades is the inability to keep up with it. An NFT is simply a ‘pointer’ to where the work is saved / stored. , with the aim of adding value by confirming it is limited or rare. NFTs are essential to explore, and many enthusiasts are embracing this innovation. “