Can physical art be turned into NFTs?
Author: Mandee McFerren
With the rise of popularity of NFTs and crypto in general, more and more people are discussing the possibilities NFTs offer to the art world. Importantly, NFTs have given digital artists a way to create profit off digital artwork, whereas before digital artists would have to put their work (a digital image) on something physical, like a poster or other merchandise. This opens a lot of new doors to digital artists, allowing them to sell their artwork as a rare item and being able to authenticate it through the blockchain, as well as giving supporters of digital artists financial ways to support the art they love without buying merchandise.
With the whirlwind that is the rising popularity of NFTs, questions arise if it can go the other way around – can traditional fine artists like sculptors and painters make their works into NFTs?
Can anything, physical or digital, be an NFT?
The questions are endless, but in this article, we will focus on if it’s possible to make an NFT of a physical work, the ways in which NFTs could be attached to traditional fine art works, and if creating NFTs of physical art work is worth it – outlining what is sure to be a buzzing conversation in both the crypto and art worlds.
First things first – what is a NFT?
NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are pieces of digital art that live on the blockchain network. NFTs delegate ownership of a piece of digital content (think picture, tweet, or video) and they are typically paid for in ethereum cryptocurrency. An NFT can only be held by one person at a time, with unique ownership being recorded on a digital ledger (the blockchain) that provides a base support for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
You said pieces of digital art – can physical art be made into an NFT?
This question gets hard to answer, as it’s really up to how the owner regards authenticity. Since a physical work – like a sculpture or a painting – cannot enter the blockchain, for an NFT to be made of a physical work a digital image must be taken of the work which would then be minted into an NFT. Technically, the NFT is the image of the work, not the actual object, which depending on the buyer and their opinion of ownership, could be worth less than owning the physical artwork in person.
If physical objects can’t enter the blockchain, how can physical items be tied to NFTs?
While the physical object itself cannot be made into an NFT, an NFT could be used as a method of verification of ownership – one arguably stronger than a physical document. Because the blockchain exists in no singular place, nor is operated by a singular group or entity, it is extremely safe against theft or other nefarious practices. If a digital photo of a physical artwork was minted into an NFT that was sold accompanying the physical artwork, the NFT could act as both a certificate of authenticity of the physical artwork as well as an interesting new accompaniment to physical art purchases.
Physical items can also be tied to the ownership of art through group sharing of an artwork, or buying shares of a physical work. This method, which is available via ARTESSERE ArtChips, is new to the traditional art market. The platform sells shares of a physical work – similar to buying stock in a company – with proof of share purchase via NFT. The physical artwork itself stays within a museum or gallery, but patrons can buy shares of the work by buying an NFT. Then, if the art is sold or raises in value, they make a portion of the profit, while also supporting an artist they admire and may not be able to support if they had to buy a complete piece. Through ARTESSERE, patrons also are given free access to the gallery in which the art they are part-owner of is held, a high quality print of the work to display in their home, as well as open access to the company’s online services.
So, is making NFTs of physical art worth it?
Again, this is totally up to an individual’s opinion! Some may prefer to buy NFTs of just digital works, and buy physical art without anything NFT-related attached. Others may find an attached NFT a unique selling point in buying a piece of physical art and a good way to authenticate a piece, or may be intrigued by platforms such as ARTESSERE ArtChips which allow buyers to invest in a portion of a physical artwork through NFTs.
It will be interesting to see where the intersection of physical art and the NFT art world takes us, with a variety of opportunities ready for development. We will have to wait and see!