The art world has a problem. But NFTs can offer “a real solution”

NFTs provide new possibilities and opportunities for artists in ways the traditional art world has never offered.

With the advent of technology, a new artistic ecosystem has formed, free from many structures, artists usually navigate just to reach an audience, let alone succeed. Crucially, blockchain leveled the playing field, and suddenly anyone could participate in the new creator economy.

NFT projects built from the ground up on Discord and other social media channels have brought like-minded people together and fostered exciting new opportunities to distribute the digital artworks these communities love and the flow of capital. who accompanies him. Illustrators and digital artists whose art has proliferated on the internet over the past decade have finally found a way to be recognized and adequately compensated for their work. The Web3 era, it seemed, would herald a new and fairer future for all.

NFTs haven’t solved the art world’s problems

But the development of the crypto art space has not only been a story of success and fairness. The new creator economy has emerged from the context that preceded it. It’s no wonder, then, that some of the same issues of artist disenfranchisement, media optics, and financial obsessions have rippled through today’s NFT space.

Probably the most notable example of this dynamic occurred when Bored Ape Yacht Club lead artist All Seeing Seneca one day randomly discovered that NFTs from the project she helped build began to sell for millions at a time. The fact that Seneca has never seen proper compensation from a project that is now worth billions indicates that the decentralization and fairness that projects like BAYC and others talk about are perhaps a lower priority in the space than they shouldn’t.

Seneca’s Bored Ape sketches, via All Seeing Seneca

But fairly compensating artists for their work is only one aspect of the NFT space to analyze when comparing it with the traditional or contemporary art world.

Looking honestly at both the good and the bad of the Web3 art space is crucial to its sustainable future. So where are things? What remnants of the traditional art world do artists still have to manage in Web3, and what has the space fortunately left behind?

The evolution of the art world

Many creators and collectors in the NFT space have embarked on contemporary art. Such figures, like Artwrld founders Nato Thompson and Josh Goldblum, have been at the forefront of the blockchain-based revolution.

Thompson, a self-proclaimed author, curator and cultural infrastructure builder, has worked as artistic director at Philadelphia Contemporary, Creative Time and MASS MoCA. Goldblum is the founding director of Bluecadet, the Emmy Award-winning digital agency that creates websites, mobile apps and interactive installations. Together, and alongside the Lebanese artist Walid Raad, they created the Artwrld platform allowing contemporary artists to find their place in Web3 and NFTs.

“Major media follows the big money and big controversies in NFTs,” Thompson explained in an interview with nft now. “This has been the case in the art world, [and it] has always been to his detriment. There are 770,000 manufacturers in the NFT space – and everyone mentions Bored Ape Yacht Club. The nature of the media continues to be exactly the same.

Despite this, Thompson notes that many structures of hierarchy and influence in the art ecosystem are subject to complete change. The analog art world, he says, is extraordinarily static and forces people to navigate power structures that are difficult to penetrate. Web3 and NFT represent a step back from this paradigm.

“I think there’s a real opportunity in terms of participation between artists and their communities when it’s not mediated by galleries, museums or Facebook,” Goldblum added in an interview with nft now.

“We can’t help but remember Web2 and what came of it.”

NATO Thompson

One of the best things about the NFT space, Goldblum and Thompson said, is that everything is largely still in motion. This contrasts with the traditional art world, where structures are solidified and guardians reign supreme. The two hope things will stay smooth for a while, as this atmosphere allows for more possibilities and greater freedom for everyone.

“The time when things are unclear is the most exciting time,” Thompson explained. “The world to come digitally is shaped now. These camps are being shaped now. And they are created by people, not just systems. I think good movements start with utopianism. But for some of us old people, we can’t help but remember Web2 and what came of it.

For Thompson, Web3 is a fantastic opportunity to create structures grounded in values ​​of diversity and equity, especially in a context where artists and communities can be “truly trans-global”, he said. “These things run deep in a way that has never happened in avant-garde history.”

Artists and institutions open up to Web3

But it’s precisely the kind of transient, amorphous space that Thompson fondly refers to that keeps many contemporary artists from making the Web3 leap, according to Ronnie K. Pirovino, a well-known collector and curator in the art space. traditional and crypto. The promise that the NFT space holds, he maintains, has yet to be realized.

Part of the NFT Collector 888 NFT Collection, via MakersPlace

“I think that promise is largely unfulfilled because there are still a large number of artists in the contemporary art space who really need to understand how they fit into this new space and how they can help with that,” Pirovino explained in an interview with nft now. “Not treating it like it’s something they shouldn’t approach because they don’t understand it or they feel like their time is up.”

Pirovino, who hosted Christie’s first-ever on-chain NFT auction, says a more comprehensive view of the NFT ecosystem will only develop when non-Web3 native artists make the jump. “When we see more artists in the contemporary art space expanding their practice into this new realm, then we will begin to experience the fulfillment of the promise [of NFTs],” he explained.

Ironically, the current bear market could help artists start experimenting with NFTs, says Pirovino, because the stakes are simply lower. If contemporary artists consider the risk factor to be more creative than financial, they will be able to explore crypto art with more confidence.

“That space doesn’t necessarily need to be indelibly tied to money,” Pirovino said encouragingly. He also thinks that the question of projects or institutions profiting from artists could have a real solution.

“It absolutely prevents them from entering space.”

Ronnie K. Pirovino

“It is a concern. It is certainly a concern,” acknowledged Pirovino, about the exploitative practices that can occur. “However, I think people are becoming so much more sophisticated on all the dimensions that surround the space that I think it’s becoming less of an issue. There are so many educational resources you can find to educate yourself. Like Twitter Spaces , where you can sit all day and listen to what’s going on, and even if you’ve never heard of NFTs, by the end of it, you’ll probably know a fair bit of what’s going on in space.

When asked if he thinks most people in the NFT space are more interested in forming long-term art collections or just being part of a community and making money, he remains optimistic.

“You certainly see very passionate collectors in this space who focus on particular individuals,” Pirovino explained. “FVCKRENDER has a pretty loyal fanbase, for example. I’m starting to see some very high-profile collectors like 33nft, Pranksy, 888, and GMoney doing more and more of what they can to collect the best work. They’ve taken upon them to be definitive collectors in the space. It’s certainly a parallel with the contemporary art space. The same passion is there.

But the biggest obstacle for contemporary artists and collectors to experiment with NFTs, says Pirovino, is the technical layer involved in their engagement. The Web3 community, he believes, needs to take a more proactive stance to onboard people to blockchain-based technology and simplify the process for them.

“Right now you are in danger,” Pirovino said. “If you click on the wrong thing, if you act on something too quickly, it’s anxiety-provoking. And for an older person who’s extremely interested in all of that, it absolutely prevents them from getting into space.

The critical question for the NFT community to think about, says Pirovino, is simple: how easy does something have to be for the general public to adopt it?

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