The blockchain is a multi-trillion dollar industry. And, yes, it is fueled on crypto which is volatile and still moving through a stark bear market. Though, at the core of the Blockchain movement is the simple, yet deeply powerful Smart Contract (which is also called an NFT). The Smart Contract connects to an “object” – this can be an image, a sound file, a pdf, video, and more. This object can be purchased by anyone (using some form of crypto payment) tying the object’s creator to the piece forever: it cannot be claimed as being created by anyone else, ever. The Intellectual Property remains in the creator’s name, always.
The ability to attribute value to an artist through technology is creating a value revolution. Artists/creators are able to create collections and communities around their work, and this act is giving many artists in the margins a sense of belonging and value.
So, how does the blockchain culture impact the art market? And, does it matter?
“Value”: Gross Domestic Product OR Blockchain Value Revolution?
Let’s clarify what “value” means in this context: in general, an artist’s value in the world tends to point to its selling value. Are they marketable? How much is a piece worth (supply/demand). OR, some believe value should be cultural; that artists should move the cultural conversation, and through social impact the valuation of their work increases over time . Financial and cultural value “In Real Life” (IRL) for artists, and their art, are hotly contested as the best measurement. Yet, most believe that art markets are driven by sales, independent of cultural impact.
Think of value another way – a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is used to identify growth in a country, and its value to investors or partners. “In Real Life” (IRL) GDP allows a metric for us to understand how countries and cultures are growing or shrinking. Additionally, exchange rates, inflation and debt are all mixed into this metric. At the end of the day, layers of economic factors help attribute financial value to countries.
Yet, sales alone, or even the GDP of a country are the very WORST way to identify value on the blockchain. First, often countries with lower GDP have stronger blockchain growth and adoption compared to those with higher GDP. This is because the low GDP regions are looking to leverage the blockchain to exit economic systems that don’t work for them anymore, reframe their own self-governance and value, and join the emerging on-chain economic growth as an equal partner.
Artists are no different! Artists are flocking to the blockchain because they tend to be perceived as “low” value (in the context of sales) and are isolated in a world that measures value (much like the GDP) through systems of measurement that are not truly relevant to artists. What’s generally important to artists (and their value) is impact first, then the creation of their work/portfolio/collection, though paramount is having control over their destiny.
The “real world” of IRL does not match (what I am terming) the BVR – Blockchain Value Revolution – where artists are able to compensate themselves and own their work, and own their own IP. In other words, with the blockchain they now have leverage in an art market that runs on scarcity.