Why buy and trade crypto art?


On March 11, 2021 Mike Winkelmann a.k.a Beeple, a computer science graduate auctioned a piece of crypto art for $69 million.

Buying crypto art means nothing more than being able to say that you own the work. You won’t own the copyright, there’s no physical artifacts, and is freely accessible as an image on the web. There is but a record in a public database saying that you own the work – and to be exact, it just says you own the work at a specific URL. So why buy crypto art – technically spending millions on what’s basically just a link to an image file?

Art is Social

Think of crypto art in the context of why people buy art in general. Some people buy art for their homes, to decorate or to be inspired. The art in your home communicates your interests and tastes. People talk, get together and form communities around their passion for the arts, whether it’s through museums and galleries, or magazines and websites. Buying supports the artists and the art itself.

Then there are art collectors, hunting all sorts of art worthy things - rare, odd or old. Finally, many people buy art strictly as an investment, hoping that it will increase in value.

Crypto Art

If you apply the reasons stated above why people buy art, just one of those – buying art for decoration – has to do with a physical piece. The rest can apply to crypto art. You can build your own virtual gallery online and share it with other people online. You can communicate your tastes and interests through your virtual gallery and support artists by buying their work. You create and flourish in and around communities. Some crypto artists, who have been sidelined by the mainstream art world, or don’t fit, have found more support in the crypto community and can now earn a living making art.

Most crypto art is affordable, in the tens or hundreds of dollars. This is inclusive of a much larger community than just a select few artists and their rich patrons. And resale values have gone up as well.

When purchasing crypto art, it is an implicit contract that what you’re buying is unique. The artist makes only one of these tokens, and the one right you get when you buy crypto art is to say that you own that work. No one else can. Note, though, that this is not a legal right, nor is there any enforcement. Nonetheless, the value comes from the artist creating exclusivity and uniqueness.

As an analogy, in the world of photography, a limited-edition print is considered more valuable than an unlimited edition; the fewer prints in the edition, the more valuable they are. Knowing that you have one of a few prints personally made and signed by the artist gives you an emotional connection to the artist that a mass-produced print doesn’t.

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