What are art NFTs?
Art NFT 101
An art NFT is a piece of art that is minted onto a blockchain, therefore becoming a non-fungible token (or NFT). Art NFTs can be physical pieces of artwork that are digitized, or they can be natively created using digital tools.
What is an NFT?
An NFT is a unique digital item stored on a blockchain. NFTs can represent almost anything and serve as a digital record of ownership.
OpenSea supports both non-fungible tokens and semi-fungible tokens. When an item is fungible, it means it’s interchangeable with another of the same item. Non-fungible, on the other hand, means the item is totally unique and therefore has its own unique value. Semi-fungible tokens are 1 of a select number of that item, but distinct from other items. This means a 1/1 piece of art is non-fungible, and, for example, a piece of art that has 100 copies, like many limited run art prints, is semi-fungible.
How are NFTs connected to blockchain technology?
NFTs operate on blockchain technology. A blockchain is a digitally distributed ledger that records transactions and information across a decentralized network. Most blockchains are verified by many nodes (read: computers), which is why you’ll hear them described as “decentralized.”
NFTs use smart contracts, which are automated computer programs that enforce their own coded rules. Smart contracts use a coded, automated system that executes a rule once a set of criteria is met. Buying and selling NFTs using OpenSea is powered by smart contract protocol, Seaport.
Smart contracts, and the blockchain at large, allow users to track and validate NFT ownership.
What are the advantages of using blockchains for art NFTs?
There are several advantages of using blockchains for art NFTs:
Authenticity and provenance
By using a blockchain to track the ownership and movement of an art NFT, it is possible to establish a clear and verifiable record of the authenticity and provenance of the artwork. This can provide added transparency in the art market.
Ownership and control
By using an NFT to represent ownership of an artwork, artists and collectors can have greater control over how their art is used, displayed, and sold. Thanks to creator fees, artists can also continue to earn compensation for their work as it’s sold and resold.
By using a blockchain to represent and track the ownership of art, it is possible to create a more liquid market for art. The blockchain’s public nature, and clear and transparent record of ownership and sales history can improve the experience for artists selling their work and for collectors buying and selling art.
By using a blockchain to represent art, it is possible to make art more accessible to a wider audience. For example, an artist could create an NFT that represents a digital copy of their work, which can be easily shared and viewed online. This can make it easier for artists to reach a global audience and for collectors to access a wider range of art.
Where are art NFTs stored?
Blockchains store NFTs. You can use an NFT-compatible crypto wallet to access your NFTs, and you can view them on OpenSea once you’ve connected your wallet. OpenSea is compatible with multiple wallets. An easy way to remember the role a crypto wallet plays is to think of it as your unique address on the blockchain — it allows you to send, receive, and store items.
What makes an NFT an art NFT?
An art NFT is a type of NFT that represents a piece of digital art, such as a drawing, painting, or piece of digital artwork. Each art NFT is unique and traceable to the original creator of the NFT, and that connection to the creator may be valuable as well. Art NFTs are a new form of digital art that can be collected and sold, similar to physical artwork. Art NFTs can also have additional utility (for example, owning the NFT may also give you commercial rights to use the underlying artwork).
What are the most popular types of art NFTs?
When browsing art NFTs, you might see collections or artwork described as "generative." Generative art refers to art that is created using algorithms or other computer-based processes, rather than being created directly by an artist’s own hands. Generative art can be created using a wide range of techniques and technologies, including code, artificial intelligence, and other types of software. It can be used to create a variety of different types of art, including visual art, music, and literature. Generative art can be entirely new and original, or used to modify or transform existing art. One of the most famous generative art collections is "Fidenza" by Tyler Hobbs, whose algorithm was programmed to produce colorful, organic blocks and lines.
Digital art NFTs represent digital artworks, such as paintings, drawings, animations, and other types of digital media. Digital art NFTs can be used to represent a wide range of styles and genres, including abstract art, realism, surrealism, and more.
Photography NFTs represent photographs, either as digital files or as redeemable physical prints.
Illustration NFTs represent illustrations, such as drawings, paintings, comics, or other types of visual media.
Groundbreaking NFT artists
Art is subjective, and art NFTs are an interesting example of this old adage. Beeple made headlines for having a single NFT sell for $69 million dollars at Christie’s. The NFT, “Everydays - The First 5000 Days,” was the first “purely digital work of art ever offered by a major auction house,” according to Christie’s. Beeple, whose real name is Mike Winkelmann, made the NFT by creating and posting new photos every day for over 13 years, thus creating the massive collage. Christie’s became the first auction house to offer an NFT and to accept cryptocurrency as payment for it. What’s particularly remarkable about the piece is that viewers can see Beeple’s progression and evolution as an artist over the 5,000 days’ worth of artwork.
Damien Hirst also made waves with his first NFT collection, The Currency. In 2016, Hirst, known in the traditional art world for pieces like For the Love of God, a human skull made of platinum and encrusted with diamonds, created 10,000 of his signature multi-colored dot paintings. Each piece was signed by the artist and titled using artificial intelligence and then minted onto the Ethereum blockchain as an NFT. Hirst then gave all buyers of the NFTs the option to choose between the digital or physical version of his pieces; whichever ones they did not choose were burned (physically or digitally). The final result was that 4,851 NFTs were chosen — 1,000 by Hirst because of his belief in NFTs — and 5,149 physical paintings were chosen.
Another now-famous artist, Erick Calderon, known as “Snowfro,” founded Art Blocks, a generative art platform that blends classic modern art aesthetics with the power of artificial intelligence. Since launching in November 2020, Art Blocks has garnered attention from big names in the traditional art world like Sotheby’s. Outside of Art Blocks, Calderon has also created collections like Chromie Squiggle that have captured the attention of NFT art fans and collectors.
Artists from the traditional art world like Frank Stella, known for his color-blocked geometric paintings, have also launched NFT collections. His recent 3D NFT collection, Geometries, put his work in front of an entirely new audience and gave it a new dimension, both literally and figuratively.
How can I explore and buy art NFTs?
You can find art NFTs on OpenSea’s Art NFT section.
In order to buy an NFT, you'll need a crypto wallet and cryptocurrency (or, in some cases, just a credit or debit card). Using OpenSea, you can instantly buy items listed for sale, bid in auctions, or make offers on NFTs.
How do I properly vet an NFT before buying it?
Web3 technology is still new and constantly evolving, so while no single action guarantees protection, there are best practices that can help. Never share your wallet’s seed phrase, be careful when taking actions using your wallet, and make sure to thoroughly evaluate NFTs before buying. The best rule of thumb is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
OpenSea also has an icon visible via a blue checkmark badge on a collection or account. A blue checkmark badge on an account means that account has been verified for authenticity by OpenSea. A blue checkmark badge on a collection means the collection belongs to a verified account and has significant interest or sales. (OpenSea does not endorse verified accounts or badged collections, and OpenSea makes no representations regarding the NFTs in a verified account or badged collection.)
What gas fees will I pay when buying an art NFT?
In web3, the term “gas fee” refers to the payment needed to execute transactions on the blockchain. Gas fees increase when more people use applications that run on top of a blockchain’s network, therefore competing for space within the block. Think of it like Uber’s surge pricing model that increases the cost of booking a ride during the busiest commuting times. OpenSea also doesn’t control gas fees, set gas fees, or receive any of the gas fees incurred by users on the platform. Instead, they all go to network validators or miners.
When you start the NFT purchase process using OpenSea, you’ll see the gas fee broken down by your wallet provider, so you can watch the fee refresh and complete the transaction when it’s low.
Yes, you can resell an art NFT using OpenSea. Your first step is to access the NFT while connected with your wallet to OpenSea, select “Sell” and follow the instructions. A full step-by-step guide is found here.
Instead of a certificate of authenticity, the the blockchain is used to prove an NFT’s authenticity and ownership. You can use a blockchain explorer, like Etherscan, to search the NFT’s history and learn more about its smart contract.