“Art is not a thing, it is a path”, said the American writer Elbert Hubbard. For Bitcoin (BTC) artists, the path is inspired by Bitcoin, its code, its philosophy, and its imagery. In some cases, it is even inspired by memes. Bitcoin has become a “lifestyle” for some Bitcoin artists, inspiring the way they do business, accept payments, and interact with customers.
Cointelegraph has asked Bitcoin artists what inspires them about 13-year-old Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention, and whether the minting of a non-fungible token (NFT) would complement their “way” of making art. In the end, an NFT is a unique digital receipt to prove ownership of a purchase that lives on a blockchain. Artists will surely want to prove ownership of the art they are working on.
Lena, a Bitcoin artist who recently moved from Germany to crypto-friendly Dubai, began creating, painting, and printing Bitcoin artwork after diving down the Bitcoin rabbit hole in 2018. She says that while she began her cryptocurrency career as a crypto-agnostic, Bitcoin changed its focus and eventually took over. She now operates a “max-style” Bitcoin wallet:
“My mindset changed and I started working on myself, wondering what to do with my life thanks to Bitcoin. Bitcoin became a lifestyle, so I should put all my savings in Bitcoin.”
When talking to people in the crypto community, she explains that she’s a Bitcoin artist, to which crypto friends ask, “oh, so you do NFT?” She told Cointelegraph that she responds with “No! Physical art.”
“OpenSea is full of art that is like non-art – I mean, art is always up to the person, but it was just too much for me.”
Nevertheless, Countless artists make their living by generating AI artwork and selling or minting it as NFTs on platforms like OpenSea. The biggest stories of 2021 involved collective cartoon chimpanzees – the Bored Ape Yacht Club – and the CryptoPunks, plus images or digitally rendered art.
In the 2022 bear market, the hype around NFTs would have evaporated. Nevertheless, Big brands like Starbucks continue to jump on the bandwagon, while luxury jeweler Tiffany sparked a 1,700% surge in trading volume following an NFT move in August.
When asked if FractalEncrypt (an anonymous Bitcoin artist) would release an NFT of their art in the future, they told Cointelegraph: “Absolutely not.” FractalEncrypt carves out large and imposing structures from Bitcoin full nodes, which he has hidden in locations around the world:
The Bitcoin Full Node Sculpture, A Cypherpunk Chronometer.
#5 of 10 was hand delivered yesterday & I wanted to compile a GIGA-THREAD compiling photos, videos, explainers, and podcasts all into one place
Let’s go back into time and down the rabbit hole and see #1 -4 pic.twitter.com/8IcGnl0tyE
— FractalEncrypt ∞/21M (@FractalEncrypt) March 29, 2021
The Bitcoin full node sculpture, a cypherpunk stopwatch.
#5 of 10 was hand delivered yesterday and I wanted to make a GIGA-THREAD by collecting photos, videos, explanations and podcasts all in one place
Let’s go back in time and get down to the heart of the matter to see #1-4
“I created NFTs in 2017/18 and the more I delved into them, the more disillusioned I became. They felt inherently scammy, and continuing down that path would make me a scammer in my eyes.”
FractalEncrypt explained that the link between the art and the token was “ephemeral at best and a total misrepresentation/fraud at worst.” They compare the issuance of NFTs to the issuance of tokens by centralized companies, which could be problematic and even litigious.
But that doesn’t mean that FractalEncrypt has ruled out NFT technology from the start. Like Lena, the two artists were curious about Ethereum-based technology when it first appeared:
“An artist who issues an NFT token and sells it to others in the hope that its value will appreciate puts them in the position of potentially issuing securities.”
In fact, Wikipedia explains that an NFT is a “financial value consisting of digital data stored on a blockchain.” The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is focused on certain cryptocurrency projects during the bear market. At the same time, the case between the SEC and Ripple (XRP) regarding the latter’s XRP token continues.
BitcoinArt, who preferred to remain anonymous, is one of the few Bitcoin artists Cointelegraph spoke with who have also immersed themselves in the world of NFTs.. He told Cointelegraph that he managed to sell a couple of NFTs of his Bitcoin-related artwork, but that he did not enjoy the medium or the concept:
I made some awesome drawings of Bitcoin and wasn’t sure how to mint them and someone told me to mint at OpenSea unfortunately they use ETH… But the good news is I sold my nfts via twitter for SATs instead and removed to the middleman. I hate ETH.”
A recurring theme at this point, BitcoinArt prefers to have one-on-one interactions with potential clients; enjoy the back and forth that occurs when discussing the art pieces.
Lena also prefers the personal approach; she establishes a connection with her clients and spends hours painstakingly drawing, painting and refining clients’ visions. In Lena’s words, the time she spends on her art is a reflection of Proof of Work, the consensus mechanism that underpins the Bitcoin protocol. As she explained to Cointelegraph, the process of creating a work of art is unique and limited -just like Bitcoin-, so an NFT is not necessary. Here Lena makes a statement with one of her pieces:
FractalEncrypt poked fun at the “culture of time preference” sensed in NFTs. In fact, many of the CryptoPunks biggest proponents quickly switched their allegiance to BAYC before jumping on the next shiny new collection.
Bitcoin, by contrast, is a movement. Lena stated: “Bitcoin changed my thinking, Bitcoin changed me, […aprender sobre Bitcoin] It was a very, very significant chapter in my life.”
Curiously, a search for “Bitcoin NFT” on OpenSea returns over 70,000 items. For Lena, the door is still open: “NFTs could have use cases in the future, but the way NFTs are right now, it doesn’t look good to me,” she admits. OpenSea has suffered from hacks and wash trading, but jpegs of pixelated images valued at seven figures continue to sell. “It looks like a bubble,” summarizes Lena.
In contrast, Bitcoin is down more than 50% from its bubbly highs of $69,000, and the “tourists” have left. Furthermore, the Bitcoin received as payment for a work of art is likely never to be hacked or “emptied” from a wallet.