In this final column, I’d like to discuss how blockchain benefits the collectors.
Of course, there is a considerable overlap – for example, when creators can invent new kinds of art, the collectors and fans of the work benefit – amazing work is a win for the audience, the same or even moreso than it’s a win for the artists.
Now, right up front it’s worth addressing what is probably the most common misconception around collecting digital art: the claim that you could simply right-click and save these incredible works. This is one of the fascinating parts of blockchain: you actually can’t right-click and save and claim you own a digital artwork any more than you could take a picture of the Statue of Liberty and say you own it – the blockchain permanently records ownership, providing proof of which copy is genuine.
The difference is even more stark as works take more and more advantage of the digital medium – if a work morphs or changes over time, or if a work reacts or interacts with the collector, then the right-click / saved copy doesn’t capture the full work. Only a genuine verified work would experience the full artistic performance over time, while the right-click/save copies just end up with a pretty screenshot.
Benefits to Collecting Digital Artwork
With that out of the way, let’s look at some of the many other benefits to the collector of digital artwork.
One of the biggest advantages is the ability to reduce the cost of authentication. This makes it significantly cheaper to verify a work of art as true, genuine, and original. By extension, that makes it possible for far more people to participate in art collecting.
Traditionally, the cost of proving provenance, or authenticity, can be significant. Only the most expensive or important works of art are verified. This means you need significant amounts disposable income and assets to purchase verified original works, and the pool of buyers is always a tiny fraction of the public. With blockchain, that’s no longer the case. Anyone anywhere can become a collector, and at Three43 we’re working hard to make that a reality.
Traditional title is also inherently inexact. Though the sellers and authenticators are experts and they do their best, using loads of innovative methodologies for proving a work’s history, there is always a risk that the documents have been tampered or the chain of ownership is muddy or the origin of a work is simply unprovable.
Contrast this with blockchain where there’s only one point of failure – the original input of the record. Once a work is minted and agreed as authentic, going forward there is a chain of title that can’t be altered, and one that is permanently and publicly viewable. And this is all done for as little as fractions of a cent.
This opens the ability to create verified original limited editions at a a massive range of price points. This allows the artists to operate in different ways while still maintaining exclusivity and rarity.
For example, at Three43 our limited editions are priced around $20 each, which enables a far broader range of collectors. It also allows individuals to collect a lot more art – our buyers often say why buy just one when you can complete a full set of an artist, or build a collection of a particular theme, or even collect one from every single release in the Three43 series. Even at $20 each, the blockchain records still prove each work to be genuine.
Interestingly, by expanding to limited editions and bringing in more collectors of each piece, the work becomes more relevant as well. If you collect a one-of-a-kind art that nobody else has ever heard of, it may be really interesting and speak to you, but there’s truly something special about owning a piece that’s recognized all around the world. It’s revolutionary and exciting for collectors, both old and new!
Beyond the provenance and titling, blockchain also creates an exciting new world in which you can experience and engage with your art in unheard of ways. With physical art, a specific piece is on display in one location – your home, your office, etc. With Three43 we’re making work that is not only digital, but we’re doing it all on mobile. You get to build your own personal art gallery right in your pocket, always with you, always available.
Even better, you can show off and share your collection – someone doesn’t need to visit your home or office to experience your art with you. You can show it off right from your mobile, at any time. Many of the works are even designed to change their appearance at different times, or to interact, or evolve over time, so each time you or your friends view them, it may be a different experience.
Experience and Engagement
This brings us to a final point – since the ownership is provable, certain artworks could continue to deliver new and unique experiences and engagements, all based on what you own. Imagine you owned a full set of a certain artist’s work and one day, out of the blue, a new work by the artist arrived in your personal gallery as a thank you gift, only available to the biggest fans. Or imagine that you collected a certain set of work, only to find out that you unlocked a game or a puzzle or a real world opportunity. Blockchain challenges everything about traditional art collection and allows for a new kind of experience.
When some hear about the ongoing evolutions and interactions, they may ask why an artist would continue to engage with their art long after they’ve already sold it. This is another incredible feature of the blockchain – the technology is developing ways to pay royalties to artists. Each time a work sells, the creator can receive a portion of the sales price. You pay a tiny slice of each sale, but those tiny slices add up in a meaningful way, uniquely incentivizing the artist to continue to interact with the work and with the collecting base. This keeps the art relevant, interesting, fresh, and engaging, so everyone wins with a new ecosystem of creativity.
Blockchain enables brand new kinds of art, unique ways of collecting, democratized access, and fascinating new models of what it means to create and collect art.