Is digital art going to change the way we create, consume and commission artworks?

Is digital art going to change the way we create, consume and commission artworks?

It’s Nice That: I’d be interested to know what your first opinions were of NFTs specifically?

Trevor Jackson: I think if I’m honest, my initial impression was seeing people make a shit load of money from what appeared to me as doing very little. Beyond my design ethos, my ethos in life is to try and work as little and earn as much money as possible – I say with a heavy touch of sarcasm.

But fundamentally, I am always excited and interested in new mediums. I’ve had a fascination with digital art since I was a child, which up to very recently had been shunned by the art community completely. It’s quite interesting how the digital art space is becoming a bigger thing, and I think that to be honest I wanted to be involved due to my love of digital art.

David Rudnick: Although it’s strange to say, certain ideas of the blockchain, or that there was an emergent space ahead of us, like a virtual Library of Alexandria where our works would end up, has almost haunted me. It always felt like we were in the last days of something, that we were these dinosaurs who made physical work. It’s the same way that opera is a legacy institution. I say this with no disrespect to opera, but it’s a performance of rituals which makes people feel comfortable because they meant something to people before, but they no longer actually mean something now. We all love this work, there are cultural rituals that mean a lot to us, but there’s always been this fear within me that for the next generation it may all be like opera to them.

In the last couple of years I’ve been interested in what those systems might be and maybe had a trigger reflex to look out for moments that could be a major shift. Then, in early 2021, some people I knew launched a marketplace called Zora. I watched a deluge of mostly horrific work appear in the space, but also conventions that were brain-breaking: Zora didn’t take commission and people were bidding with these exotic cryptocurrencies and the amount it equated to was astronomical.

INT: Were you concerned?

DR: Well, around that time two marketplaces, Zora and Foundation, came online and others like Nifty Gateway and SuperRare were beginning to increase in volume. It hadn’t quite hit the peak of NFT buzz yet but it was like, okay, as people who make work in the cultural sector, we’ve been through this before. I’d been through the last ten years with these fears and was very sceptical of what social media, or Web 2.0 models, would do to our work – to a point which really alienated me at the start of my career. As time went on, people realised these things were damaging their practices, the monetary value of the thing they made, their mental health, their democracies. We reached a point, where, with this new paradigm emerging, it was logical to ask not what is this space going to offer us, but what is it going to destroy?

I made the decision to move into the space as I felt that what we might be seeing is a platform emergence that might be the baseline around which certain types of culture organise. I think some of the things it offers are generally remarkable; the way you can distribute equity, for example. The first piece of work I put on chain sold and it was pretty mind-blowing for someone who works in graphic design, a field where we’re so used to the value of our work being totally exploited. With the amount of mood boards created, it’s actually easier for other people to make money off my work than me once it’s publicly on the internet. To see a platform where you’re being assigned some of the value was exciting, but it didn’t feel like it had solved the problem.

TJ: As for the work I’ve done in the space, a lot of it stems from feeling totally overwhelmed by the increasing amount of media, information and news I’m bombarded by on a daily basis, whilst working within a variety of different mediums, all with their own diverse challenges. Due to this, I’ve been striving to simplify and refine many areas of my life and practice – both creatively and practically. Getting actively involved in a new space that is initially complex and difficult to understand and to fully navigate, that somewhat conflicts with my attempts to reduce all the noise. I’ve tried to approach it cautiously, regardless of how exciting the potential may be. I’m also fully aware that I am entering a “world” I’m not necessarily part of and have consciously tried to enter it bearing that in mind.

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