What is Crypto Art and How Can You Invest in It?

Crypto art is an emerging market that revolves around digital artworks traded on blockchains as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Each piece of crypto art is unique and represented by an NFT with its own value.

Blockchain and Crypto Art

Bitcoin promised to challenge the traditional financial market, but what about fine art? Can there be any connection between digital currencies and art?

Well, blockchain might be the ideal technology for a digital money system like Bitcoin, but it turns out it is universal in terms of use cases. This technology is like a Lego – individuals and businesses use their creativity to build different products, services, and tools for today’s world.

One of the most interesting applications of blockchain is art.

There are two ways in which blockchain and art can interfere:

  • The technology can be used to register and authenticate existing physical artwork like paintings and sculptures. This can be done through a process called tokenization, usually to prevent forgeries and track the ownership of the artwork. In this case, the process is the same as tokenizing real estate or diamonds, for example. It’s still not clear whether such artwork can be regarded as crypto art, so we’re not referring to this in the present article.
  • Another great symbiosis between art and blockchain is the digital artwork that is registered directly onto a public or private blockchain. In this case, each artwork is represented by a unique non-fungible token (NFT). This makes the ownership and sale of artwork possible in a decentralized environment.

What Are Non-Fungible Tokens?

At this point, you’re probably wondering what NFTs are. NFTs are a special category of blockchain-based tokens that represent something scarce and unique.

Unlike fungible digital currencies like Monero, NFTs are not mutually interchangeable. For example, we really don’t care what particular monero unit we hold in our wallet since all coins have the same value. We don’t make any distinction between two monero.

NFTs are different in the sense that each token is unique and has its own value, even though they have the same technical structure and reside on the same blockchain.

NFTs have reached wider recognition in 2017 thanks to CryptoKitties, a popular blockchain collectible game where each token represents a virtual cat with unique identifiers. Users can buy, collect, breed, donate, and sell the cats. Some kitties were sold for hundreds of thousands of US dollars in ether.

Back to our topic: the crypto art is relying on these NFTs, which are usually issued on Ethereum using the ERC-721 standard, as opposed to the common ERC-20 standard used by most tokens out there. There are specialized marketplaces where the NFT-based artwork is exhibited and traded.

The Crypto Art Market Size

DeFi is regarded as the fastest-growing sector within the blockchain space, but crypto art is a worthy competitor.

According to data from CryptoArt.io (yes – there’s a Coinmarketcap-like website for the crypto art sector), the total value of the market is almost $90 million, with more than 67 thousand artworks sold to date.

Total crypto art value.

CryptoArt also monitors the most successful crypto artists.

So far, the biggest blockchain-based artwork trade to date took place in December of last year. The artist nicknamed Beeple sold a collection of 20 artworks to Tim Kang for a staggering $777,777. The digital artist produces video content and concert visuals for celebrities like Eminem and Nicki Minaj and is currently the most popular crypto artist. Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, has sold over 800 artworks for more than $9 million in total.

On February 3, 2021, a Twitter user named Danny said that he paid 420 ETH for a demonic NFT artwork known as a Hashmask. The trade was carried out on the OpenSea platform and cost the equivalent of about $650,000 at the time of purchase. The Hashmasks is a platform run by Swiss-based Suum Cuique Labs, which hosts a collection of more than 16,000 unique digital portraits created by over 70 artists.

All in all, the market has more than tripled in the first weeks of 2021, which is partly due to a surge in the ETH price. Nevertheless, there is an increased interest in NFT artworks.

Ethernity, a new NFT art project backed by Gemini bosses Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has announced that it would auction off digital artworks backed by celebrities. A portion of the accumulated funds will go to charities picked by the participating public figures, which include football legends Paolo Maldini and Christian Vieri, as well as Philadelphia 76ers billionaire Michael Rubin.

The main deduction is that the crypto art space may be profitable for both investors and artists.

How Can You Invest in Crypto Art?

There are online marketplaces where you can browse through digital artworks and buy what you like. You can call them galleries.

Besides the esthetical aspect, buying crypto art may be a good investment. Most of the time, you will pay in ether, so investors prefer to monitor the ETH price before making a transaction. Here are the most popular platforms for buying and selling crypto art:

  • OpenSea – this one is promoted as the oldest NFT platform. Here you can find all kinds of NFT artworks, collectibles, sports trading cards, and virtual world items. Today, the most popular NFTs sold on the platform are Hashmasks and CryptoPunks.
  • Nifty Gateway – Nifty is run by Gemini, the popular US-based crypto exchange founded by Winklevoss brothers. It is currently the largest one by sales volume. For example, Beeple prefers to sell on Nifty. The platform allows you to buy with a credit card.
  • SuperRare – another popular NFT marketplace is SuperRare, which accepts only 1% of all applicants. Users can like artwork posts and share through a username linked to their ETH wallet.

Currently, there are about 50 platforms to publish and trade crypto artwork.

Here is how you can buy an artwork on OpenSea – a permissionless marketplace that welcomes everyone:

  • First, you need to plug a Web 3 wallet into your browser. The most popular one is MetaMask. OpenSea will automatically connect to your MetaMask wallets holding funds, and will transfer the funds to the artist when you click “Buy.”
  • The next step is to go the OpenSea’s Browse Page and select your favorite artwork. The most popular types of NFTs are Hashmasks, CryptoPunks, Rarible, and SuperRare. You can filter the works by the most recent, lowest or highest price, most viewed, and more.

Opensea artwork.

  • Let’s say that you like a piece of crypto art and want to impress your friends. Now it’s time to buy. OpenSea artists can create three different types of listings: fixed price, Dutch auction, and English auction. It’s like buying on eBay. You have to click on the item that you like and if it has a fixed price, hit the “Buy Now” button.

A Journey 2

  • Next, you will be sent to another page to finish the transaction. Alternatively, you can participate in auctions.

Besides investing in crypto art, you may be interested in becoming an artist and sell your work through one of the mentioned platforms.

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