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How NFTs are fueling a digital art boom – CNN



Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

When graphic designer Mike Winkelmann started producing a drawing a day in 2007, he was simply looking for a way to improve his art skills. At best, the resulting “Everydays” project would help him promote his freelance work, which includes creating concert visuals for the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. But selling the digital images was not on his mind.

This week, a compilation of over 13 years’ worth of the artworks, collectively titled “Everydays: The First 5000 days,” will sell for millions of dollars via Christie’s. With more than a day of the auction still to go, the highest bid sits at $9.75 million, putting Winkelmann’s name among some of the art market’s most valuable.

Beeple (b. 1981), EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, 2021. Non-fungible token (jpg). 21,069 x 21,069 pixels (319,168,313 bytes). Minted on 16 February 2021. Estimate: Unknown. Offered as a standalone lot as part of First Open | Online from 25 February to 11 March

A multi-million-dollar auction for Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 days” is set to conclude this week. Credit: Beeple/Christies

“It’s a bit surreal, because (digital imagery) wasn’t really something that I pictured, in my lifetime, being able to sell,” said Winkelman, who goes by the name Beeple, in a video call from his home in South Carolina. “So it (has) come out of nowhere. But at the same time, I also really feel like this is going to be the next chapter of art history.”

Virtual art has been created, and talked about, for years. But now, thanks to endorsement from celebrities as diverse as Elon Musk, Lindsey Lohan and Steve Aoki, online buzz in art and cryptocurrency circles, and, perhaps most importantly, blockchain technology, it has not only entered the mainstream — it is generating huge sums of money for digital artists and online collectors.
Beeple’s latest sale comes just weeks after his animated work “Crossroad,” which imagined Donald Trump’s naked, graffiti-strew body slumped on the ground, was purchased online for $6.6 million. Elsewhere, a digital animation of the “Nyan Cat” meme — a flying cat with a Pop Tart for a body — earned its creator Christopher Torres almost $600,000 in a virtual auction. The musician Grimes meanwhile made a reported $5.8 million in under 20 minutes selling a range of collectible digital artworks.

At the center of this explosion in transactions are non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Acting like virtual signatures, they address concerns that digital art’s value is diminished by the ease with which it can be copied or lost.

While an oil painting can only be displayed in one place and has a definitive owner, a digital image, video or gif can be infinitely duplicated and enjoyed on screens around the world for free. This has often posed problems for prospective collectors, who don’t know how to price digital art and fear it will lose resale value. But now, NFTs are offering two things that the physical art market has always depended on: scarcity and authenticity.

The rise of ‘non-fungible’ tokens

NFTs are built on blockchain technology, which — just as it does with Bitcoin — offers a secure record of transactions. This digital ledger serves as incorruptible proof of ownership, meaning that “original” artworks and their owners can always be identified via the blockchain, even if an image or video is widely replicated.

A “fungible” asset is one that is that can be replaced with another identical one of the same value, such as a dollar bill, while non-fungible one, like NFTs, are tied to unique goods and are not mutually interchangeable.

Like bitcoins, the tokens can be kept in a virtual wallet. They can then be sold or traded, often gaining value in the secondary market. This makes NFT artworks similar to physical ones — or any other real-world asset, according to Duncan Cock Foster, co-founder of Nifty Gateway, the platform behind Beeple’s and Grimes’ recent multi-million-dollar sales.

“We have systems for collecting paintings, and we have systems for collecting sculptures. But until now, people hadn’t figured out a good way to collect digital art — and NFTs allow you to do that,” Cock Foster said on a video call, adding that buying tokens is easier and “a lot more accessible” than traditional art collecting.

Related video: Just how much has the internet changed art?

On Nifty Gateway, artists set the number of editions for any single artwork by deciding how many accompanying tokens will be made available. This can range from one-offs, where a piece is sold to a single collector, to open-edition “drops,” where tokens are made available for a limited period of time.

The sale of Grimes’ “WarNymph” collection, for instance, allowed up to 9,999 purchases of various artworks within a seven-minute window. Several of the creations were listed for just $20 per token, some of which are now selling for thousands of dollars.

By connecting artists directly to collectors, NFTs effectively cut out galleries and other traditional gatekeepers. While Cock Foster would not disclose the size of Nifty Gateway’s cut, he claims it is “far less” than what a gallery would usually take.

For Beeple, this represents a “democratization” of the art market. “Now I have direct access to my audience,” he said. “I don’t have to go through an intermediary.”

And there’s another benefit for digital artists: They can continue making money on their work, even after it has been sold. NFTs can allow creators to receive a cut on all future transactions — on Nifty Gateway, this is typically set at 10% — breaking with the centuries-old model whereby artists do not directly benefit when sold works grow in value over their lifetimes. (For instance, when a David Hockney painting sold for $90.3 million in 2018, setting an auction record for a living artist, the British artist didn’t receive a single cent from the sale. His dealer had sold it for just $18,000 in 1972.)
Beeple (b. 1981), EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS, 2021. Non-fungible token (jpg). 21,069 x 21,069 pixels (319,168,313 bytes). Minted on 16 February 2021. Estimate: Unknown. Offered as a standalone lot as part of First Open | Online from 25 February to 11 March

One of digital images that Beeple produced daily from 2007. Credit: Beeple/Christies

So, while Beeple made less than $67,000 when he originally sold his “Crossroad” animation, he pocketed a further $660,000 when the initial buyer sold it on.

“The royalties are definitely something that make this much more sustainable and equitable for all parties,” the designer said.

New breed of collector

The collector behind the $6.6 million “Crossroad” sale, Pablo Rodriguez-Fraile, said that supporting creators is one of the unique benefits of investing in NFTs. While there is money to be made, and plenty of speculation happening in the crypto art market, the 32-year-old said that collecting digital works is about more than money.

“I try to look into the life and career of the creators. I like to get in contact with them and meet them … for me, it’s important to see consistency and thoughtfulness about everything outside the art as well,” said Rodriguez-Fraile on the phone, adding that he is drawn to works that are “masterfully executed.”

Beyond “Crossroad,” Rodriguez-Fraile said he has collected hundreds — perhaps thousands — of NFT artworks, selling only a handful so far.

Beeple's art often plays with pop culture icons in grotesque and unexpected ways.

Beeple’s art often plays with pop culture icons in grotesque and unexpected ways. Credit: Beeple/Christies

While the Miami-based collector was previously interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, were it not for NFTs, he said he would not be involved in buying art. His experience, like Beeple’s, suggests that the tokens are empowering a new breed of artists and collectors rather than taking a slice of the existing art market.

“The analogy I like to make is Uber,” Cock Foster said. “When they were trying to make a forecast for Uber’s market size, they looked at the amount of money people spent on black cars (private car services). But because it’s so much easier to call an Uber than it is to call a black car, the actual market ended up being much larger than that. I really think we’re seeing something similar with NFTs.

“They are lowering the barriers to collecting significantly,” added Cock Foster, whose platform operates under the ambitious tagline, “We will not rest until 1 billion people are collecting NFTs.”

Future prospects

Nifty Gateway may be a long way from its goal of 1 billion collectors, but the platform’s growth nonetheless reflects exploding interest in crypto art. In March 2020, the site recorded monthly transactions of $30,000; last month, this figure was up to $75 million, according to Cock Foster.

This jump broadly coincides with another major force in the art world: Covid-19. With galleries and auction houses shuttered around the world — and people spending more time browsing the web or shopping online — NFTs have offered a new outlet for art enthusiasts.

According to Beeple, this is why interest in the tokens has skyrocketed in recent months, even though the technology has been available since 2017.

“You keep hearing that Covid has pushed things 10 years forward, and I think this honestly is a big part of it,” he said. “Everybody was sitting at home over the last year — so while I think this was inevitable, it really got accelerated.”

Why is art so expensive?

The use of NFTs is now stretching far beyond the art world. DJ and musician Deadmau5 has used the tokens to sell digital merchandise, while the new Kings of Leon album is being released as an NFT. Nike is even reported to have registered a patent for tokenized shoes, branded “CryptoKicks.”

This rapid growth has led to fears of an NFT bubble — one that may burst when the world emerges from pandemic-era restrictions. While collector Rodriguez-Fraile believes that “NFTs are here to stay,” he accepted that “we might be going through a period of hype … and I think the general ecosystem might slow down a bit when it comes to pricing.”

For Cock Foster, however, the return to normality presents opportunities rather than threats — not least because galleries offer ways to experience digital art beyond a computer screen.

“Digital art is very, very immersive,” he said, adding that displaying art is still important to online collectors. “So, I think we can build some really cool physical experiences.”

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Imaginations, creativity of Mountview students on display at Cariboo Art Beat



Creative, imaginative artwork of students from Mountview Elementary School will be on public display at the gallery of Cariboo Art Beat until April 9.

“The students of Mountview elementary were all invited to participate in an art contest,” Tiffany Jorgensen said, an artist at Cariboo Art Beat.

Each class was separately judged by three professional artists at Cariboo Art Beat, Jorgensen said, based on the students’ creativity, techniques, use of space and originality.

“It was extremely difficult to select pieces from the abundance of beautiful art presented,” she said. “There is so much talent and fantastic imaginations.”

The artist of each selected piece was given formal invitations to their art show to distribute to whomever they choose, and Jorgensen said anyone is free to view the beautiful artwork throughout until April 9.

Honoured at the show were works from local artists Ryker Hagen, Annika Nilsson, Rylie Trampleasure, Angus Shoults, Izabella Telford, Isabella Buchner, Kai Pare and more.

“Come view their wonderful pieces to get a glimpse into the minds of our creative youth,” Jorgensen said.

“It’s been so fun. The kids have come in and seen their work on display with their grandparents, parents, and they’re all so excited.”

Following up on the success of the Mountview art show, Jorgensen said more elementary schools have been invited to participate.

April will feature the works of Nesika and Big Lake, followed by Marie Sharpe and Chilcotin Road next month.

Cariboo Art Beat is located at 19 First Ave., under Caribou Ski Source for Sports’ entrance on Oliver Street.

Rylie Trampleasure, Grade 2, has her work on display at Cariboo Art Beat. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Angus Shoults, Grade 4. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 3 student Izabella Telford. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Grade 6 student Kai Pare shows off her artwork. (Photo submitted)

Isabella Buchner

Isabella Buchner

Source:– Williams Lake Tribune – Williams Lake Tribune

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Launching the conversation on Newfoundland and Labrador art history



ST. JOHN’S, N.L. —

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is a book that has been a long time coming, Mireille Eagan says.

While working at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Eagan curated an exhibition marking the 60th anniversary of Newfoundland and Labrador joining Confederation with Canada.

“As I was researching, I noticed that there was very little that existed in terms of the art history of this province,” she said. “There wasn’t even a Wikipedia article.”

Noticing this large gap, “Future Possible” was a book that needed to exist, she said.

As the 70th anniversary approached in 2019, Eagan, now living in St. John’s and working as curator of contemporary art at The Rooms, envisioned filling that gap.

Over two summers, The Rooms held a two-part exhibition. The first looked at the visual culture and visual narratives before the province joined Confederation and the second focused on 1949 onward, Eagan said.

“At its core, it was asking, what are the stories we tell ourselves as a province? It was looking at iconic artworks, it was looking at texts that have been written about this place, and it put these works in conversation with contemporary artworks,” Eagan said.

In the foreword to the book, chief executive officer of The Rooms Anne Chafe described it as a complement to the exhibition and a project that “does not seek to be the final say. It seeks, instead, to launch the conversation.”

History and identity

One example of that conversation between the past and the present mentioned by Eagan is the work of artist Bushra Junaid, who moved to St. John’s from Montreal as a baby. The daughter of a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, Junaid said her experience growing up in the province in the 1970s, where she always the only Black child in the room, was not like most.

“All of my formative years, my schooling and everything, took place in St. John’s,” she said. “It’s very much shaped my current preoccupation.”

Her interest in history, identity and representation led her to making “Two Pretty Girls…,” which used an archival photograph of Caribbean sugarcane workers from 1903 with text from advertisements for sugar, molasses and rum from archived copies of The Evening Telegram collaged over the women’s clothing.

In her essay “Of Saltfish and Molasses” published in “Future Possible,” she described the work as “(allowing) me to place these women and their labour within the broader historical context of the international trade in commodities that underpinned Caribbean slavery and its afterlife.”

It’s a direct connection between Newfoundland and people in the Caribbean, a historical line not often drawn through the context of the transatlantic slave trade, but one she knows personally through the stories told by her mother, Adassa, about their ancestor, Sisa, who “as a teenager, survived the horrors of the Middle Passage, enduring the voyage from West Africa to Jamaica in the hold of a slave ship (Junaid).”

A book like “Future Possible” allows people to interpret themselves and their past, present and future, Junaid says.

“I appreciate the ways in which they really worked to make it as broad and diverse as possible,” she said. “It’s also striving to tell the Indigenous history of the place, the European settler history … and then also looking for … non-Western backgrounds such as myself. It’s enriching.”

What shapes us

St. John’s writer Lisa Moore contributed an essay called “Five Specimens from Another Time” that weaves together moments from her own life, the province’s history and current realities and the art that has inspired her over the years.

“It’s really interesting to me to see all this work of people that I’ve written about in the past and whose work influenced me, even in my writing of fiction, and then newer artists,” Moore said. “I just think that the book is a total gift.”

With such a rich cultural history ready to be written, she imagines “Future Possible” is just the first of what could be many books about art in the province now that the “ice is cracked.”

“The writers that (Eagan) has chosen to write here are also really exciting critics from all over the province, talking about all kind of different periods in art history,” she said.

As time passes, the meaning of the works in the book becomes richer, she said.

Mary Pratt’s 1974 “Cod Fillets on Tin Foil” and Scott Goudie’s 1991 “Muskrat Falls,” for instance, are two images with seemingly straightforward and simple subject matter. But any viewer looking now, who is aware of the cod moratorium and the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric dam, would find it difficult to see and interpret these images outside of those contexts.

“Artists, writers, filmmakers … they’re keen observers of culture and the moment that we live in,” Moore said. “They present things that are intangible like the feeling of a moment, or the culmination of social, political and esthetic powers that come together at a given time and shape us.”

“Future Possible: An Art History of Newfoundland and Labrador” is available online and in stores.

Andrew Waterman reports on East Coast culture.
[email protected]
Twitter: @andrewlwaterman



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Parrott Art Gallery goes virtual to help flatten the curve – The Kingston Whig-Standard



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Feeling stir crazy because of COVID and the latest lock-down? Take a virtual trip to Morocco!

On Wednesday, April 14 at 2:30 p.m., the Parrott Gallery will host Lola Reid Allin’s Armchair Traveler online presentation: “Morocco: Sea, Sand and Summit”. Allin is an accomplished photographer, pilot, writer and speaker. Travel with her through the land of dramatic contrast and hidden jewels, busy markets and medieval cities, and enjoy some virtual sun.

For more information and to register for this free online event, please visit The Armchair Traveller Morocco photography exhibit is also available to view through the Parrott Gallery website until mid-May.

Even though our gallery is currently closed to the public, our exhibitions are all available to view online. Sam Sakr’s show “The Housing Project” is certain to bring a smile to your face. His collection of mixed media artwork will take you to a playful land of fantastical creatures that inhabit imaginary, stylized cityscapes. If your spirit needs uplifting, you need to see to see this show. I hope that everyone will be able to view Sakr’s work both online and then in our gallery after the lock-down ends in May. Without a doubt, it will be worth the wait to see it again in-person when we re-open.

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Another exhibition that you can currently visit on the Parrott Gallery website is the group show “Spring Sentiments: a Reflection of Art in Isolation”. This was a collaborative effort by the 39 artists who submitted their work, our staff who put the show together in the gallery and online, and our guest curator Jessica Turner. We are thrilled that Jessica was able to transcribe her experience with this show into a final paper for her Curatorial Studies BFA degree at OCADU.

The fact that we have had to close our doors just as this show was opening is a sad reflection of the theme as the audience must now reflect on this artwork at home, in isolation. The up-side to viewing this exhibition online is that one can read the artist statements that accompany the work and get a more in depth view of the artists’ perspectives. We encourage viewers to support our artists by sending in their comments and to vote for their favourites in the show by following the appropriate link on the webpage.

When you can’t come in to our building, the Parrott Gallery will bring the artwork to you. And then when the sun and flowers come out in May, and when it is safe to return to our gallery on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library, we hope to see you all again.

For questions about our online talk, our shows, or to purchase any of the artwork please call us at 613-968-6731 x 2040 or email us at

Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator at the John M. Parrott Art Gallery.

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