NFTs have arrived on the scene in a big way, and they are having an impact on all kinds of areas of art and commerce. Their biggest impact is in the world of digital art. Artists of all kinds have had a lot of trouble making an income in the digital world. While the Internet, streaming, and social media have made it easier than ever to discover and share art of all kinds, that also means it is harder for artists to profit from their work. NFTs provide a potential solution.

The channels that make it easy to share art online also make it easy to steal art. It’s a sad fact of the modern art world that any kind of art that can be spread digitally is hard to monetize. Images, music, text– piracy of art has been a major part of the online world for decades. This makes it very hard for artists to consistently make money, even as it is easier for fans to understand who they are. Additionally, artists who work digitally have to deal with platforms that control what they can share. For example, they might share work on DeviantArt, Reddit, or personal social media pages. However, the terms of service often restrict the kind of artwork that can be posted, and there might be disputes over rules or copyright strikes that can interfere with an artist’s ability to maintain control of their work.

The two key components of NFTs when it comes to their ability to help artists are their ability to keep track of unique ownership and their auction structure. Both of these are key– they can help artists raise money without falling prey to piracy thanks to these components of their design. NFTs can be tracked on an individual basis in a way that is not possible with other digital objects, and their link to the blockchain makes them especially well-suited to art hosted as a digital image. The ability to auction them off in batches can increase visibility considerably and make the art project go from just another posted image to a flow of income. 

This is not to say that NFTs are perfect. Artists have to contend with a few outstanding issues. For example, it is possible for someone to mint an NFT for art they do not own, securing the profits for themselves instead of the artist. This is a violation of copyright law, and NFT platforms need to be prepared to deal with the regulatory oversight this requires. Setting up a “trusted minter” system is just one potential way to safeguard copyright. In any case, NFTs are an exciting new horizon for artists to explore, and they provide a lot of new avenues for creatives to be paid. That gives them more time to make more art, which benefits everyone. It won’t be long until NFTs truly transform the way digital art is made, sold, and exchanged among fans of artists in a more equitable and supportive way.  

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