NFTs and the Future of Digital Art

How are NFTs redefining the art world? Are blockchain powered marketplaces empowering artists or harming the environment?


Craig Blackmoore, digital artist, founder House of Blackmoore

Jaysson Guerrero, senior research consultant, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

Producer/presenter: Julia Carr-Catzel

Article by: Zoe Stojanovic-Hill

Detroit digital artist Craig Blackmoore has revolutionised the way he works by transforming his art into NFTs – into cryptoart.

In this episode of Think: Digital Futures, 2SER producer and presenter Julia Carr-Catzel investigates how NFTs could help support art on the internet, speaking with Detroit NFT artist Craig Blackmoore and Senior Research Consultant at UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures Dr Jaysson Guerrero.

Non-fungible tokens or NFTs are unique digital assets – they are not fungible, meaning that they cannot be exchanged in the same way money can.

NFTs are coming to be seen as a way for artists to control and make money from their work online. Images, music, videos and other forms of art can easily be pirated on the internet, and more often than not, creators are paid nothing or very little for their work. These digital tokens can place power with artists by recording proof of authenticity and unique ownership on the blockchain.

“As a digital artist, it’s a way I could finally lock in a value to an animation,” Craig says.

NFTs are selling for a lot of money online. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet from 2006 as an NFT for over $2 million. One of Craig’s pieces sold for the equivalent of about A$6000.

As for the money, Craig says, “It’s a ridiculous price point”. So why are people spending so much on these digital tokens? He has an ‘NFT-friendly answer’ and a ‘realistic answer’.

“The NFT friendly-answer is that it’s scarce, it’s rare, it’s minted to the blockchain.”

“The realistic answer is that it’s hype…One of the best things about NFTs is flexing on your purchase…It’s a lot of ego pushing.”

Despite this potential, some artists are turning away from NFTs because the process of authorising transactions takes a lot of computational power, which uses lots of electricity, and fuels climate change. For example, Bitcoin mining currently generates 37 million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

“You are rewarded if you actually solve the mathematical puzzle,” Dr Guerrero explains. You can solve it faster if you increase your computational power “And that is going to result in this big impact on the environment.”

Ethereum has committed to developing a more sustainable model, Ethereum 2.0, which aims to reduce emissions through a method where blockchain miners do not have to compete to be rewarded for authorising transactions.

This model is already in use in some online circles. Some digital artists would like to make the switch but it is always difficult to change a system. Dr Guerrero has faith that blockchain technologies will become more sustainable over time.

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