Crypto Art Belongs In The Trash

Crypto Art Belongs In The Trash

A selection of the latest sales from Nifty Gateway, a crypto art market

A selection of the latest sales from Nifty Gateway, a crypto art marketplace

Blockchain, at best a scam and at worst a looming environmental disaster, has recently changed everything from currency exchange to basketball collectibles. But one area in which he had a particularly sudden – and divisive – impact is the art world.

While some artists have started to tentatively dip their toes into the world of NFT (Non-fungible token) piece of art last year, things exploded last month when a short video of Beeple—an artist that we have already featured on our Fine Art feature—Which was sold at the end of 2020 for $ 66,000 has been resold at auction for $ 6.6 million.

Now is the time to point out that it was not the video itself that was sold. Just a token representing the video. If you want, you can watch the video here for free:

This sale opened the door to the crypto art market from its hinges, and now many well-known professional artists working in the entertainment industry are rushing to jump into the action. An example is Ben Mauro, which as a Bloomberg report made over two million dollars in less than a month.

Mauro—who’s worked on stuff like Halo and Call of Duty, and which we’ve featured on Fine Art multiple times—Has life changed forever by sales, and for some this is a high-profile example that the blockchain gold rush exists as an exciting new opportunity for artists around the world to earn a lot of money. silver.

For others, however, it is evidence of artists participating in an unbalanced, dangerous and unregulated market that exists only as a form of exploitative mass illusion, simply so that they themselves can quickly earn money. money. As you can probably guess, the vast gaps between these two arguments have created a huge rift in the art community over the past few weeks, exposing the old and new flaws.

So far, a handful of well-known and established artists have made a lot of money selling tokens for existing artwork on a platform designed by techbros where any value of the tokens depends on investors who continue to invest. convince that the tokens – which are completely independent of the works of art themselves – have any value whatsoever.

I can see the argument that if an idiot wants to pay them, let them. Many entertainment artists, especially those working in video games and films, hold salaried or contract positions and are rarely able to get real “value” for their work. Taking advantage of such a fashion is an opportunity for them to do just that.

Meanwhile, many other artists have spent the past two weeks on Twitter and Facebook showing that this only exaggerates the existing and disproportionate demographics in the art industry, and oh for that matter makes them too. accomplices of a larger system which is catastrophic for the environment and is full of scams.

These reviews – coming from both high profile but also lesser artists, and which I paraphrase and keep anonymous here since they took place on private conversations on Facebook and Twitter – also present more nuanced arguments. , like what makes monetizing weird digital tokens for your art say about your art? How is selling a souvenir for trendy creative works to cash buyers different from the obscene world of collecting art?

The question was also raised as to who are the people who run and sell this product, in a completely unregulated and unsupervised market? An example of the risks involved here is that Mauro only “made millions” because he was not able to get his hands on his money because the cryptocurrency he was paid into is not. not available in the United States.

I am not trying both ways at the problem here. Obviously, I think the whole idea of ​​blockchain itself is incredibly stupid, and this is just one of the more recent and dumbest examples of it. What I find most depressing about crypto art and its impact on working artists is that it is presented as a discussion or debate. In a way, “some guys want to make money” balances the ledger with everything I just said.

Sadly, if you think these peer-friend disagreements are happening in a civil and thoughtful way, where have you been in the last 12 months. We’ve all been trapped inside and slowly gone mad, and the more we spin around the drain the faster we spin. It gets nasty there! I won’t link to specific examples because, again, these disagreements take place in private forums, but a lot of them are not nice and not helped by swarms of Twitter followers on both sides making out. threats and baseless allegations.

A series of tweets that I can share, however, are from artist Artyom Trakhanov. I urge you to go read everything.

A perfect encapsulation of everything I’ve just written can be found in a few moves made by ArtStation, the largest website and community focal point for the industry on the internet. Earlier this week, the site made a brief announcement saying they will explore running their own NFT marketplace on the site alongside traditional print and other product sales they currently offer.

That tweet was forgotten, then deleted, and only a few hours later the site overturned the decision, saying:

Dear all,

The last few hours since announcing our intention to launch a proof of concept for NFTs on ArtStation have been humbling. Based on the high demand from artists to enter the world of NFT, we sincerely felt compelled to explore this path and help artists to be successful.

In light of the critical social media reception regarding NFTs, it’s clear that now is not the right time for NFTs on ArtStation. We are sorry for all the negative emotions this has caused. Despite our attempts to validate our approach, we clearly made a mistake and admit our fault. It was our pain.

We believe that NFTs are a transformative technology that can bring significant and positive changes for digital artists. We hope that at some point in the future we will be able to find a fair and environmentally friendly solution. It will take some time to think about it and we will do our best to regain your trust.


The ArtStation team

This is exactly the process that sucked so many artists into crypto sales in the first place! The money, the hype, the buzz, it all seems so tempting, and people are rushing around without giving a half a second of pause to what they’re actually getting themselves into. It doesn’t take long, however, to point out – as ArtStation quickly found – that there isn’t just something wrong with it, there are a lot of things wrong with it, each of us. ‘them enough to make it a crappy proposition on its own, let alone when they’re all at stake.


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