The term NFT has been soaring lately on the internet. Almost hand in hand with the NFT conversation has been NBA TopShot, as it seems to be one of the easier ways to understand what an NFT is and how it works, without ever really using that terminology on their front facing interface.
However, to understand NFT’s is to understand the current creator economy we’re in the midst of. A cultural Renaissance, if you will. One where creators and artists take back their power as the democratization of expression is at an all time high, and so are ways one can monetize it.
But what exactly is an NFT?
During Brainwork Conversations on Clubhouse, I had the chance to speak with quite a few amazing creators and collectors in the space. WhaleShark, one of the speakers and the #1 NBA TopShot collector, on the show and he gave his concise answer as to what an NFT is.
Let me add this quick digression, because we briefly mentioned it, that is NBA TopShot.
NBA TopShot is an NFT marketplace licensed by the NBA where users can buy packs of video highlights (otherwise known as moments). It is just like buying a pack of trading cards, except it’s all digital.
I’ve been dabbling here and there with TopShot, taking a lot of L’s, but also made a few bucks here and there buying and selling in their marketplace.
The marketplace is massive. Take a look at these numbers. This data from evaluate.market shows the size of the marketplace in a matter of a month. The entirety of the marketplace has grown 400% since late January, with little sign of regression.
A New Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period.
Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in art, architecture, philosophy, literature, music, science and technology, politics, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry.
Additionally, the Renaissance was quite literally born from the plague. The bubonic one to be exact.
Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art. This fueled a human-centric approach to life in fields like art and science.
The parallel is eerily similar to 2020. A year that saw the world economy’s halt and life change on a scale we haven’t seen since the World Wars.
With lockdowns all over the globe, human interaction is at a premium, and community is more important than ever. People have connected with their online friends deeper than ever before.
During the Renaissance, the Medici family of Florence were great patrons of the arts. Additionally, and rather serendipitously, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Michelangelo were all born in Tuscany.
Could there have been other great artists around the globe? Certainly.
Were they provided the same opportunity as those in Florence at the time? Without getting too deep here, no.
So, uh, where do NFT’s come in here?
NFT’s allow for the democratization of things we often times reserve for the select few. An elite group of creators or thinkers.
So, what if the Renaissance wasn’t born in Florence, rather, all over the world. At the same time?
That’s exactly what NFT’s are doing.
Art itself is already subjective.
Why is a banana taped to a wall worth anything at all?
Why does one artist’s work make millions while the majority can never make ends meet?
The NFT Renaissance will alleviate, and maybe solve that. At first it will be difficult to wade through the pieces that hold value and the pieces that are just noise. Hell, I’ve minted some stuff myself that I can’t see the value in.
Even art auction house, Christie’s, can’t seem to find a valuation for digital art. Beeple’s work, above, is the first NFT to ever be offered on auction at Christie’s.
And here’s something even more wild to think about.
Bidding started at $100 with an estimated value “unknown. That’s how new this is. The experts have no clue. But they realize the potential.
Just like the original Renaissance, no one may have called it that, but they knew something was afoot. While we may struggle to grasp exactly what is happening, there is excitement, there is creation, there is a community of people that want to help people.
The limit is your mind. However you want to express yourself is possible. The imagination will be put on display and monetized.
And that’s exactly what this Renaissance is all about.