Finally, sophisticated art for diverse expression and philanthropy
By Angelina Lopez
Despite what you’ve been hearing, NFTs are not dead! More companies, content creators, and artists are looking to introduce their brand and art to Web3, but this time with important cultural purposes.
What Exactly is an NFT?
If you don’t understand NFTs, you’re not alone. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) concisely are digital assets that can be treated like physical assets. Like a painting, an NFT is viewed, shared, borrowed, and sold with crypto (primarily Ethereum). It can come as a video, a sound, an image, or even a tweet.
People often question the point. Someone can take a screenshot and have the same thing. However, just like a painting, one can make a copy, which wouldn’t be the same as owning the original. The original ownership is verified on a blockchain — a distributed database that stores information in a digital format.
About only 30% of Americans are aware of NFTs and now content creators have the opportunity to add value to their work, have digital data of ownership, and ditch a third party taking a percentage when involved in selling their art. This sums up the Web3 movement — no more middlemen. Internet users have the opportunity to buy and sell their content directly to their audience.
Since the world turned digital during the pandemic, there was no business as usual. Some had the opportunity to work from home, and some were not as lucky but still home with only their hobbies left. Artists, musicians, designers, and other creatives were allowed to show their talents online. Aside from social media, a more significant opportunity for profits in the NFT space bloomed.
A Forbes contributor, Rebekah Bastian, spoke about the inclusionary potential of NFTs on the artist and designer’s side, saying, “Through NFTs, a more diverse range of artists are able to gain exposure without having to go through traditional gatekeepers.” Finally, allowing diverse artists to make a living from their art, ditch the “starving artist” stereotype, and expand the art community into a space of equity.
Let’s look at the past, present, and future. Going back a couple of hundred years, women and other minorities often appeared in art but were hardly recognized for being the artist. One artist, Frida Kahlo, made headlines in her time. She was Latin American, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and one of the most famous female artists of the 20th century. While Kahlo achieved fame and success, artists of similar backgrounds did not. Now, some NFT collections are directed toward supporting causes in support of women, the LGBTQ+ community, or Indigenous artists.
Crypto Chicks created a collection that “reflects the individuality and uniqueness of every woman.” Each Crypto Chick is a randomly generated woman with distinctive features and styles. Each one sold is unique and supports women to embrace their differences.
Traditional art still lacks this sense of inclusion. Statistics show 87% of artists whose work is displayed in U.S. museums are male, and 85% are white. And while NFTs seem to be widely explored, according to a Finder.com survey conducted in September 2021, only 29.4% of Americans are aware of NFTs and only 2.84% of Americans own NFTs. Men are nearly four times as likely to own NFTs as women in the U.S. But, when you compare that to the gap in traditional art, it seems to be moving in the right direction.
The exclusion in traditional art has also affected neurodiverse artists. An online community called ARTXV supports and celebrates neurodiverse artists. A new perspective and world of art are discovered, and artists with disabilities no longer must worry about the barriers in the art world. The website explains, “The traditional art world is inaccessible — from physical inaccessibility to venues, to social exclusion from the elite circles of the art world and even the task of filling out lengthy applications to be considered by art institutions.” Just another way representation is leading to bigger and better — art!
The stats and the numbers don’t lie. This digital art movement in the Web3 space is a space for all to be included. Of course, there’s always room for improvements, and NFTs are not replacing traditional art, but they can certainly set a standard for the demand for diverse artists.
The good news is NFTs don’t just stop there. Brands, content creators, and artists are exploring NFTs and educating their audience in the space. While practicing inclusion and diversity in branding, why not explore this opportunity that allows anyone to join a creative community?
Today, large brands are already using NFTs to connect to their audiences and promote their support for diverse causes by adding digital collections and loyalty tokens that lead to an exclusive experience or product. Coca-Cola, a brand already known for its nostalgic collectibles, released an NFT collection called Coca-Cola’s Friendship LootBox. It auctioned for more than $575,000 on OpenSea Marketplace to benefit The Special Olympics. Givenchy Parfums launched an NFT in support of Le MAG Jeunes, an association in support of LGBTQ+ youth. They partnered with Amar Singh, an activist artist and member of the Kapurthala Royal Family, then raised $128,000 in just 2 seconds after listing the collection.
Artists are invited to explore the opportunities in the NFT space and finally have a chance without barriers. Businesses like Coca-Cola and Givenchy can introduce their brands into a more sophisticated digital art space, support diverse causes, and help popularize something that will shape the digital art culture as we sit it today.