Warning: what follows is a grumpy rant and a lot of exclamation points.
NFTs are often heralded as transformative, innovative - the future of art. They’re not. The growth of the market for NFTs reflects nothing more than the continued devaluation of art by the oppressive forces of capitalism. Creating art ‘for the market’ is crushing enough for artists. Now we’ve taken it to the extreme.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Luddite and I value digital art as a form of artistic skill and expression as much as sculpture, oil painting and calligraphy. But NFTs are not digital art, they’re an investment vehicle. No one who invests in or creates NFTs gives a shit about art. Their main concern is money. Particularly the earning of money without the exchange of labour. Nasty. Just nasty.
The true power and meaning of art continues to be minimized as we try and rationalize it through an economic lens. But that’s not where the value of art lies. Someone recently wrote about whether we should encourage NFT creation in art classes for young children. Could we? Should we? NO! This isn’t open to debate. There aren't two sides to this argument. It is simply morally wrong. Trying to conflate art and finance as part of a foundational artistic education for children? Have we lost our collective minds?!?
Still don’t see the problem? Let me put it the other way around. Imagine if someone suggested teaching young children the spiritual healing power of stock picking. You’d make that scrunched up WTF face because it’s ridiculous. That’s not why you play the stock market. You know this in your soul without anyone having to explain why. Trying to teach children the monetary value of art is equally ridiculous, because that’s not why you create art. Art is individual freedom of expression, it is how cultures proclaim their humanity, it is transformative, it is healing, it is a way to reclaim space for marginalized people.
But because our society puts so much value on wealth above mental health, freedom, the environment, everything, the idea of art as a financial vehicle has become so normalized that it seems natural. But it’s not natural, it has just been normalized through decades of constant messaging that tells us that a thing’s inherent value is commensurate with the amount of wealth it creates. By this logic making buttloads of money through creating and selling NFTS is a good thing. Oh, but your soul is dying? Eh, who cares? It wasn’t worth any money anyways.
But we live in a capitalist society and if you’re an artist you must sell art to pay the bills, isn’t that a contradiction?
NO! It’s not the same thing at all. Collectors purchase art because they value its beauty, its messaging, its reflection of humanity, etc etc… This symbiotic relationship between artist and collector helps the arts flourish and allows society to develop and diversify. Investors on the other hand, buy and sell NFTs to make money. People create NFTs to make money. It’s that simple.
So please stop talking about NFTs as if they’re art. If you want to talk about them, don’t talk to me, or any other artist. Go talk to your financial advisor.