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art and crypto

Let’s get cultural with NOWPayments! Not only can you accept crypto with us, but you can also enjoy some art (and then buy it with crypto). Although crypto is relatively new – it has already inspired some artists … to accept it as payment. And also to create art about it – yes.

Art is also business (and that’s OK), and the business part of art is ready to accept crypto in all senses.

Blockchain technology is gradually taking over the prestigious art marketplace promising big changes in the coming future. Blockchains and cryptocurrencies are shaping up solutions for issues facing the art market – especially the online art space – including transparency, providence, ownership, intellectual property, copyrights, authenticity, and value of art pieces. 

Analysts predict the market is set to grow to $9.34 billion in the next four years – a growth that could heavily benefit from the adoption of blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies. 

With a $5 billion opportunity knocking on the online art marketplace by 2024, blockchain-based startups are building real-world solutions for the art ecosystem. 

Cryptocurrencies in the Art world 

Cryptocurrencies and blockchains are rising in the art space and with it a whole ecosystem, ‘Crypto Art’ too. Ever heard of CryptoKitties? CryptoPunks? These are a new category of art based on blockchain technology and purchased using cryptocurrencies. There are two major types of ‘Crypto Art’ available today – crypto-themed artwork and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).  

Cryptocurrencies in the Art world
Crypto-themed artwork is taking over the art space (Image: Forbes)

Crypto-themed artwork represents subject matters focusing on the culture, politics, economics, or philosophy surrounding blockchain and cryptocurrency technology. NFTs, on the other hand, include digital artwork that is broadcasted on a blockchain. The latter is more popular in the crypto ecosystem allowing a quick, safe, and verifiable ownership and sale of artwork that is secured cryptographically on a blockchain. 

If the art is crypto-related, it only makes sense to accept all kinds of cryptocurrencies for it.

A. Crypto-collectibles 

NFTs also referred to as crypto-collectibles, came into the spotlight in June 2017, when CryptoPunks launched – opening the gateway to a market of rare crypto art. CryptoPunks is an Ethereum ERC 721 standard based digital art marketplace that has produced tens of thousands of art collectibles tied to a cryptocurrency. 

“A crypto-collectible is a cryptographically unique, non-fungible digital asset. Unlike cryptocurrencies, which require all tokens to be identical, each crypto-collectible token is unique or limited in quantity.”

Less than six months following the launch of CyberPunks, CryptoKitties, a collectibles game similar to Pokémon Go, launched. The game allows users to breed, collect, and sell virtual cats on the Ethereum blockchain as an NFT, meaning the token is unique to each CryptoKitty produced.  

CyberPunks is a crypto-collectible platform that allows digital artists to sell their craft
CyberPunks is a crypto-collectible platform that allows digital artists to sell their craft (Image: CryptoPunks)

CryptoKitties are bred from parents to offspring with a total of 12 ‘cattributes’ for any cat, including pattern, mouth shape, fur, eye shape, base color, accent color, highlight color, eye color, and optional wild, environment, ‘purrstige’ and ‘secret’. 

CryptoKitties growth

According to statistics from the Ethereum block explorer, one CryptoKitty sold for 246.9255 ETH (~$117,500) in December 2017. The most expensive CryptoKitty was sold in 2018 for over $140,000 worth of ETH at the time. 

These crypto kitties do go brrrr, right?

CryptoKitties growth

Over the years, CryptoKitties has grown into one of the biggest projects on Ethereum – once contributing to over 10% of the total transactional volume on the blockchain. 

B. Crypto-themed artwork

Moving on from the digital art on blockchains and into artwork inspired by blockchain, Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies. Since the launch of Bitcoin over a decade ago, a number of artists have been inspired to create pieces about crypto and its underlying technology. Here are some of the popular blockchain/Bitcoin-inspired artwork:

1. The Last Bitcoin Supper 

One of the most popular Bitcoin artwork is the “Last Bitcoin Supper”. French artist, Youl, derived the idea from the Christian tale of Jesus and the last supper shared with his disciples before being crucified. This painting, launched at an e-bay auction in 2014, recreates the famous Leonardo Da Vinci painting of the “Last Supper” depicting Jesus as Bitcoin – showing the fundamental changes that Bitcoin aims to bring across the world. 

The Last Bitcoin Supper: French artist, Youl, the depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” art using a Bitcoin theme
The Last Bitcoin Supper: French artist, Youl, the depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” art using a Bitcoin theme. (Image: Medium)

The huge 140×70 centimeter canvas was sold at an auction, dubbed “Project Bitcoin”, for 4.64 BTC (roughly $3,000 at the time of sale). 

2. Will ‘art’ for money

In a first-of-its-kind Bitcoin art, seasoned artist Peter Fröhlich, created a Bitcoin mining wall art, in a bid to enjoy art and make money at the same time. 

Peter Fröhlich's Bitcoin mining art
Peter Fröhlich’s Bitcoin mining art (Image: Werk/Schau)

The art piece is put on a rosewood panel covered inside a baroque gold plated frame consisting “a small computer and four specialized computing units producing Bitcoins, the most known and used cryptocurrency,” the artist describes. It includes a small display of the current rate of calculation and exchange rate of Bitcoin to Euros.

3. Crypto in street art 

The growth of Bitcoin and altcoins alike have seen street graffiti artists pick up their brushes to pay homage to the raging innovative technology. One poplar street artist benefiting from cryptocurrency is Pascal Boyart, a French graffiti artist, who has made it a habit of leaving crypto wallet addresses hidden in his murals. 

An Example of crypto street art
An Example of crypto street art (Image: Shutterstock)

In 2019, the artist, who also paints his QR code for his crypto wallet on the murals, received over $12,000 in assorted cryptocurrencies including BTC, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC).

Importance of Cryptocurrencies in Art

So what are some of the advantages of crypto in the art ecosystem and marketplaces? Below we highlight the main drivers that are pushing the art industry to adopt blockchain technology and associated cryptocurrencies: 

  • Driving digital art sales through digital scarcity: Similar to NFTs, digital art on blockchains could be made scarce or only produce unique and hard-to-replicate art. The immutability and public nature of the blockchain ensures the art is stored on unique blocks ensuring ownership of the art is tracked. 
  • Proof of ownership: Given records are stored on a blockchain, every artwork placed on the blockchain is given a unique hash that is distributed and cannot be replicated.   
  • Improving provenance and reducing forgery: No matter how many times this work is bought and sold, my original purchase and the purchases of future owners of the work are documented and unalterable, creating a trusted provenance.
  • Creating a more ethical way to pay artists: Paying with cryptocurrencies reduces the cost of transactions involved in traditional payment methods. Some platforms offer a standard commission on all art while others also pay the original creator some commission for resold artwork. 

Blockchain solutions to the art market ecosystem

Want to purchase or sell your artwork on a digital platform using cryptocurrencies? Sign up with NOWPayments!

Below we highlight some of the best digital art marketplaces accepting crypto as payment:

1. Blockchain Art Exchange (BAE)

U.K based Blockchain Art Exchange is quickly making a name for itself in the blockchain art market providing a primary marketplace for ‘Crypto Art’. The platform prices its art in dollars but the digital art is stored on a blockchain hence the need for a cryptocurrency wallet e.g. Metamask. 

Blockchain Art Exchange (BAE)
Image: Blockchain Art Exchange

Collectors make payments for the art through PayPal and a host of cryptocurrencies including DAI stablecoin, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and TrueUSD (TUSD). 

2. Cointemporary

Cointemporary is an art platform launched in 2014 by two Vienna-based artists, Andy Boot and Valentin Rurhy, in an effort to promote a marketplace that quotes prices in Bitcoin. The platform differs from other website art galleries in that its exhibitions are ephemeral whereby the website features an artist’s work for one week and disappears forever. 

According to a Coindesk article, the platform offers artists payment in Bitcoin or fiat – the former offering a higher payout at 70% while fiat payments yield 60% for the artist. Artwork sold by Cointemporary is shipped by a Viennese fine art logistics company called Kunsttrans, which also accepts bitcoin.

NB: The website has been off since the start of 2020

3. DADA.nyc

Brooklyn-based DADA.nyc launched in 2012 by Carrie Eldridge as a social network for artists and art enthusiasts to connect and communicate with each other. The platform encourages artists from across all languages, geographic locations, and beliefs to collaborate on art masterpieces, which once completed, are posted on a blockchain-based marketplace where the artists sell their work. 

“DesControl” painting comprising of 40 drawings from 11 artists from nine countries across the globe (Image: DAD.nyc)
“DesControl” painting comprising of 40 drawings from 11 artists from nine countries across the globe (Image: DAD.nyc)

The platform then offers the collectors (buyers) contributing to the artwork a proof of ownership once purchased. According to the official website, DADA.nyc represents the “largest rare art collection in the world” with over 120,000 rare digital artwork from 187 artists already turned to NFTs. 

Galleries are embracing cryptocurrency payments for Art

Unlike other industries, the art world is fully embracing cryptocurrency payments – not only on the digital art marketplaces but also in art galleries. Here are some of the art galleries that have accepted cryptocurrency payments:

1. Dadiani Fine Art Gallery 

In 2017, the U.K-based fine art gallery, Dadiani started accepting cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and other cryptos as entrance payment options. Dadiani Fine Art Gallery showcases British and international artists’ work aiming to bring unnoticed artists to the limelight. 

Dadiani Fine Art Gallery

While the art gallery shut down its website at the tail end of 2019, acceptance of crypto opened up a gateway for more Fine Art Galleries to take the same route. 

2. Āto Gallery

In 2016, Āto Gallery, a U.S based online art marketplace based on blockchain technology, shocked the world by selling an art piece for 150 Bitcoins – roughly $1.7 million at current prices. The artwork, “Chasing Hearts/Northern Lights” is a painting by New York-based mixed art artist, Benjamin Katz. 

Benjamin Katz’s "Chasing Hearts/Northern Lights” was purchased for 150 Bitcoins in 2016.
Benjamin Katz’s “Chasing Hearts/Northern Lights” was purchased for 150 Bitcoins in 2016.

At the time, the painting ranked as the most expensive artwork paid in Bitcoins. The collector chose to remain anonymous while purchasing the artwork. 

Parting Shot

As seen above, cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology are finding their way to the art marketplaces giving artists a transparent, secure, and verifiable platform to sell their artwork. Art collectors also benefit in that they can remain anonymous during the purchase and have an immutable proof of ownership badge on the purchased artwork. 

As the crypto space grows in adoption, the art ecosystem looks ripe to grow more blockchain and cryptocurrency payment systems. Only time will tell!

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NOWPayments is the easiest way to accept online payments in a wide variety of cryptocurrencies. This service is custody-free, has competitive fees and is available worldwide.

  • Over 50 cryptocurrencies are accepted on the platform with an in-built exchange feature;
  • API, widgets, plugins and a donation button are all easy to integrate;
  • It is a non-custodial service ensuring the security of your funds;
  • A very simple setup

Crypto happens – accept it NOW!

Post Author: Nowpayments.io