If you have been in the crypto space for long enough, you must be aware of the name ‘Beeple’. With mentions in international media and a huge Christie’s art auction, Beeple is arguably a modern-day genius.
If you didn’t know who he is, he is a digital 3D artist who is known for his daily Instagram art posts. Over time, he has made it a ritual to post great art daily, for 14 years now. That is no low feat in itself! Because of his epic artworks, he was already very popular in the Instagram art community.
A while into his career, he even got to work with big brands like Louis Vuitton for their clothing and bag designs- which featured his signature dystopian commentary artworks.
But what catapulted him into international fame was when he auctioned off his Everydays (aka all the digital paintings he had worked on over the years) for a whopping $69,400,000.
The reason this is a huge feat is that for the longest time, people belittled digital art as ‘non-tradable because it was seen as less valuable than real, physical artworks. However, with this, the world understood the potential of not just digital art, but NFTs in general.
So how did Beeple sell his digital artworks? He did it by converting them into Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs.
What are NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens)?
To understand that, we need to understand what fungible tokens are. Money, for example, is a fungible token. This means that every dollar is equal in value to another dollar, no matter what. But a non-fungible token is where each unit in a currency holds a different value than the other. That is, each unit has its very own unique monetary value. This is why artworks are best sold as NFTs, because each artwork is seen as a non-fungible unit of value, making it easily actionable.
So do NFTs sell the rights of the artwork to the buyer? No. Surprisingly, you do not own the artwork if you own an NFT. All you own is a certificate of authenticity, much like what you would get if you tried to buy a traditional artwork at an auction.
The NFT marketplace isn’t like the traditional auctions and art galleries where the artist never makes a dime off his/her artwork after it is sold off. In fact, in NFTs, the original creator of the NFT gets a 10% commission off each transaction concerning his/her artwork. In short, this 10% that he makes is honored in regard to every transaction in which the artwork changes hands.
A brief history of NFTs and how they led up to Beeple’s successful run
Believe it or not but NFTs have been around since the early 2000s. But they only built up steam when an artist called Murat Pak (or Pak for short) popularized the NFT scene in the underground art scene. Back in 2020, Beeple spoke to Pak to understand what NFTs are and how he could turn his artworks into NFTs. Well, the rest is history.
In his early days, he did something called ‘One dollar drops’ where he gave away one of his artworks to a fan or follower for merely one dollar. He received a lot of attention at the time because these lucky people were then seen flipping this artwork and selling it for 300,000+ USD.
These were just the early sprouts of potential that his artworks showed. Over a short span of 2 months, his meteoric rise in the art world began as many celebrities chimed in on the NFT trend and hopped onto the bandwagon.
Right after Beeple showed the world the potential of NFTs, the Twitter CEO sold his first tweet as an NFT for millions of dollars. Not just that, but Nyan Cat, Micky Mouse, and many cartoon characters (and even memes) saw a huge surge in their valuation in the NFT marketplace. Soon afterward, people like Paris Hilton, Eminem, Logan Paul, Snoop Dogg, etc began collaborating with digital artists to release their own NFT drops. This brought new buyers into the market and attracted upcoming talented artists to enter the NFT space.
Although there is a degree of speculation doing the rounds regarding the risks of investing in NFTs, it has huge potential. It is arguably the most disruptive change in the art world since the discovery of colored pigments. And we owe a lot of its popularity to Beeple.