The Ambivalence of NFT’s

Beeple’s Everydays fetched $69 million dollars at an auction by Christie’s in March 2021, and brought the world’s attention to NFTs. Since then, their popularity has grown exponentially. Soon after Beeple’s auction, anyone and everyone seemed to be jumping in with the idea that there were millions of dollars to be had. The volume on marketplaces seemed to reinforce that: in August 2021 the monthly volume on Opensea (the most popular NFT Marketplace) reached a record $5 billion dollars.

I’ll be honest, the idea of a new way to monetize work appealed to me and was what drew me to the NFT space initially. I too, jumped in and shilled experimental work (very different from the images I usually publish) under a pseudonym in the hopes that it would bring financial appreciation for work that was otherwise just sitting on a hard drive. And like many others, I too learned that it was not that easy. I did not feel (at that point) that there was room for documentary work (I’ll elaborate on this later on) in the world of NFTs and so, with my tail between my legs, I stepped back from the marketplaces and chose to observe rather than participate. 

Like anything in the art-world (and in life more broadly), no success is without its critics. As more and more artists/creators found success in NFTs, more and more outside of the community called NFTs a scam, a fad, or worse. In more than a few cases, these criticisms were true; billions of dollars have been lost in cryptocurrency scams and rug-pulls. However, alongside these horror stories there were photographers, graphic designers, and artists that had found their work generating a new stream of revenue (and in some cases a very large one). 

Since I’ve starting, one welcome and unexpected consequence from joining and engaging with the community is that I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of photographers (and become acquainted with their work)—something that would not have happened if I hadn’t started engaging with the space that is still very much in its infancy. 

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