Welcome to the sixth instalment of our Disruptive Technology series, where we showcase technical innovations that are revolutionising the world!
This time around, we’re exploring one of the hot topics thats got the art, tech and business worlds talking — NFTs. These tradeable, collectible art forms (ranging from GIFs, to digital art and so much more) are taking over the headlines as of late, with lots of excitement and some confusion over what exactly NFTs are — and what they mean for the future of art.
Let’s start with the basics.
What the heck is an NFT?
An NFT is a non-fungible token; unlike ‘fungible’ assets, which can be interchanged (for example, one bitcoin with another bitcoin, or one £20 note with two £10 ones), non-fungible assets have their own value and are one of a kind. The Mona Lisa is a popular example of a non-fungible item — it can’t be replicated and it’s one-of-a-kind.
And while most digital files can be duplicated quite easily, NFTs are ‘tokenised’ as they’re part of the Ethereum blockchain— meaning that the owners can prove that they own the ‘original’ because of the ata stored inside the file.
An NFT can be almost anything digital, and have been around since 2014. In-game items, like unique outfits for characters, are NFTs; as are short films and music. But the recent hype that’s been building over the past couple of years around NFTs is centred around NFT artwork — with an incredible $174 million USD being spent on them since 2017.
What are some of the most famous out there?
Quantum — the very first NFT
The first-ever NFT is called Quantum and was created back when the system for selling NFTs was developed in 2014. A graphic consists of spinning dollar signs inside an ornate picture frame, and was produced by Kevin McCoy.
McCoy has recently put the artwork up for an auction in early June — it’s expected to be worth almost $7,000 USD.
Beeple & Everydays – The First 5000 Days
It was in March 2021 that the artist known as Beeple (an alias for Mike Winkelmann) sold his NFT collage for $69.3 million USD as part of the first entirely digital auction held by an auction house — in this instance being the prestigious Christies.
The collage is made up of artwork built into the piece every day for 5,000 days — meaning that The First 5000 Days has been in creation since 2007.
It currently stands at the most expensive NFT to ever be sold.
Trevor Andrew — Gucci Ghost
Trevor Andrew — also known as Gucci Ghost — is an American graffitti artist who made waves years back for integrating the iconic Gucci double g’s into his neighbourhood street art — resulting in a collaboration with the fashion house.
In 2019, he began creating NFTs; and is now one of the top 15 NFT artists worldwide. His first collection, released in November 2020 sold in just 12 seconds — by the time of his second drop in March 2021 his work was reselling for an incredible $3.5 million in revenue.
A Gucci Ghost gif alone sold for $3,600 in February, with fans and digital art collectors excitedly anticipating another collection release in June.
It’s been 10 years since Chris Torres created an animated Pop-Tart cat flying through the air in Gif form. Still, when a one-of-a-kind digital version went up for sale in February, it managed to be sold for almost $560,000.
Following the sale Torres said in a tweet: “Thanks for believing in Nyan Cat all these years. I hope this inspires future artists to get into the #NFT universe so they can get proper recognition for their work.”
The logo for Fyre Festival
Fyre Festival was one of the big entertainment stories of 2017 — especially on social media where news of the fraud first came to light. As a result of the festival’s failure, its producer, Billy McFarland was convicted of $26million and sentenced to several years in prison; rapper Ja Rule, who was associated, avoided any charges.
In an incredible twist of events, he sold a painting of the Fyre Festival logo as an NFT for $122,000 in March of this year.
But can an NFT really be considered art?
Like most things in the art and design world, that depends on who you speak to. The ability for independent artists to capitalise on their work — and be able to create digital art pieces that have ‘tokenised’ value — is arguably a really great thing.
Is a logo art? We think it can be.
Is the Fyre Fest logo art? Someone thinks so — or if they don’t, they still see the value in owning it. The future of NFTs is still to be determined; but we’ll be keeping an eye on this exciting — and controversial — space.