BY ANDREW NICOTRA REILLY
Twenty twenty-two has proven to be a highly economically volatile year, and the NFT market has been no exception. In fact, the NFT market has seen a dramatic downturn from its previous high-water mark. Art collectors, however, should not shy away from dealing in digital artforms simply because the market is prone to fluctuation. The modern art market has always been a home to adventurous taste makers and risk takers, alike.
Sure, there are plenty of NFTs creators and investors who entered the market for reasons beyond a desire to make and curate exceptional art. But there are plenty of others who entered the space with both the intention and artistic acumen to create meaningful art and push the boundaries of the screen. It should not be forgotten that plenty of artistic movements before have seen their forms scrutinized; Dadaism, the first cinema creations, and grunge fashion as art all come to mind. All of those have seen their stock within the established and Avant Garde art worlds come to full acceptance. Moreover, NFTs are a newer method of transmission of digital artforms; but digital art is not new. Even if you feel skeptical at this time about some of the new looks of NFT-based art, there is also a burgeoning scene of more established digital art media being shared as NFTs (both legally and illegally).
So, where does all of this place would-be collectors? In many ways, it leaves them in the same position as with any other art form. The most important thing for collectors is to think through their reasons for buying the art in the first place. Following your artistic, aesthetic and value-based judgment still remains the gold standard practice for longtime collectors and enthusiasts alike. While the NFT art market continues to expand, develop and to grow—to work through itself to its ‘best self,’ so to say—it doesn’t mean it’s not exciting and ripe with opportunity for those looking for gems during this pioneering time. Whether a novice collector or longtime patron, if you are thinking about a more diversified portfolio of art as a form of investment, then beginning your journey into digital and NFT art presents potentially fertile ground for exploration.
It’s worth remembering that although NFTs are a relatively new form of transmission, certification, and storage for digital art, the market for digital has existed for decades. In fact, it is likely the case that there is a depressed value to digital art precisely around some of the concerns that NFTs transmission and storage seek to solve, namely protection of the digital asset from piracy, copying and other forms of devaluation. In some ways, the technological protections that the blockchain behind NFTs provide makes them more akin to purchasing editions of prints rather than just screen grabbing images on the web. For NFTs with a limited or even exclusive production, they are like artist-produced pieces of visual art. (Not sure what this means)
Time will tell how the art market fully reacts to NFTs. That does not mean that art consumers should exclusively shy away from them. Art is always a matter of taste, and valuation turns on a multitude of often opaque and even seemingly mystical reasons. This is not a call to definitively make purchases of NFTs, but rather a starting point to open up the conversation around the possibilities presented by digital art to make for a more unique and diverse collection.