To me the blockchain technology is still very new and I am completely overwhelmed by this very unique and different universe that is opening up to me. What it’s for, why it’s used, how did it become a platform to sell art? These are all questions I am still asking, while at the same time finding the opportunities on offer incredibly exciting! Blockchains are servers that create, record, and store transactions of cryptocurrencies. They make use of so-called blocks of encrypted data that include information from the previous block, hence ‘Blockchain’. The data in these blocks cannot be rewritten, so transactions are inscribed within the data the block contains, meaning that the chain of transactions is trackable. All of this information is available to everyone and this clarity and authenticity of data is what makes this platform so tempting and important for artists. The blockchain associated with the cryptocurrency Ether is the Ethereum Blockchain, and it is here (but not exclusively here) that also supports trade of NFTs.
NFTs are another ‘what on Earth?!’ moment as they stand for Non-Fungible Token which is not any more helpful… If you’re unfamiliar with NFTs, as I was until not too long ago, fungibility is a good place to start. It is the property of an item such that it can be replaced by similar items of equal value, for example replacing a £10 note with two £5 notes – it is worth the same. An item that is non-fungible however is unique, there is only one and it cannot be equally traded for anything, as nothing is the same. Take an original Monet painting for example – there is one and only one. Its value is subjective and variable, and nothing is of equal value. Much in the same way that these one off physical art pieces are rare, making them incredibly desirable, the uniqueness of every NFT factors into why people want to buy them, and why they can form art collections, and are considered investments – you have something absolutely nobody else has. Artists and creators can sell NFTs as part of a series or collection, creating a community for the people that have one. You may have heard of the Bored Ape Yacht Club for example, where a limited number of NFTs are generated with a variety of features, some of which are rarer than others. Having one of these grants access to a digital community where your NFT is your avatar and you can interact with other members. For Art for The Endangered, this offers an opportunity to create a community of like-minded individuals to come together to find out more, be inspired and support endangered animals.
Storing such vast amounts of data uses a lot of energy however, and this was a massive factor to consider when deciding whether to make the leap into this digital world. There is a lot of pressure on blockchain technology to become greener, and Ethereum has said they will make the move to a far more energy efficient security system, which will dramatically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with trade of NFTs. Many conservation programs accept donations in Cryptocurrencies and benefit from donations from NFT trade, as the exposure these programs can get from entering this world is massive. Millions of people are already on the blockchain, and it often is the case that these charities and organisations reach people that otherwise would not have come into contact with them. With this in mind, and considering that Art for the Endangered can donate 80% of the proceeds to conservation charities, it seems an opportunity not to miss. For customers, the added transparency of where their money is going, and the security as an artist that your work will retain its authenticity makes this switch very exciting.
Whenever we donate to organisations or charities, it is incredibly difficult to know where our money is going. In most cases, all you can really do is hope for your money to be used effectively and in the way you imagined. Using blockchain technology makes it really easy to trace your money and know exactly what is being done with it. In purchasing artwork from ‘Art for the Endangered’, you will not only have complete transparency when it comes to donations but you will also be invited to a personal group chat with one of the amazing wildlife conservation organisations mentioned in the ‘Give Back’ section. Here you can find out more, ask questions and learn about the organisation you’re supporting.