NFT are the three letters on the mind of artists and collectors all around the world. The system of certifying digital art now allows artists to sell their digital creations, and the art market is fully invested. We talk to muralist and early adopter ElTono about his experiences with NFTs.
ElTono made his name as a street artist and muralist during spells in Spain, China and his native France. Over the past few months, he has been particularly active in producing NFTs, digital artworks that can be sold for a fixed fee or sold via an online auction. The increasingly mechanical nature of his work has meant he is the ideal candidate to enter in this new way of producing and selling artwork. As part of #mtnartmonth, MTN-World caught up with him to find out why the graffiti community should be keeping tabs on this new phenomena.
When and how did you find out about the new market for NFTs?
A friend mentioned something about NFTs in a chat group that we have and the same day I started to investigate. It was early January. On January 4, 2021, I “minted” my first NFT, a digital generative drawing like the ones I draw on paper with my CNC (Computer Numerical Control – an automated drawing machine). I followed the same protocol to create the design but instead of drawing it with the machine, I generated digital work that I put up for sale as a token, creating a new collection that I called ADD (Aleatory Digital Drawing).
‘There are many useful applications for NFTs being created. But as I said, for art, I think this new technology is more interesting applied to all kinds of art that is natively digital.’
ADD (Aleatory Digital Drawings)
From the point of view of someone with roots in graffiti, why would you advise us to pay attention to the NFT market?
Graffiti has led me to paint murals, murals led to generative art, generative art to digital generative art and NFTs. It is interesting technology for any artist that produces digital work, by that I don’t mean scanning a physical piece, I mean using technology that natively produce digital work. The big difference is that now you can have proof of ownership of the work, something that was lacking for digital work, and that now allows you to collect digital art just like real art with all that it entails: hype, price, investment and speculation.
It is interesting to compare the NFT market with the traditional art market, it’s very similar in many respects but one of the big differences is that it runs at a much higher speed. There was an “anything goes” boom in March and everyone, artist or otherwise, began to create NFTs. Fortunately, that wave is passing, things are calming down and opportunists are gradually leaving the game. I believe that from now on, the ecosystem will be consolidated with serious proposals and with a long-term vision.
Does the art that is sold in this way have to be 100% digital?
For me, totally digital formats are more coherent to create NFTs, but there are hybrids: for example, when you buy the NFT, the artist can send you a print or the original work. I think that this new technology represents something different and does not have to copy the IRL art market system and allowing us to innovative. That is where the potential lies.
In the long run it will form part of the traditional art market. It will also most likely be used to certify actual works very soon. There are many useful applications for NFTs being created. But as I said, for art, I think this new technology is more interesting applied to all kinds of art that is natively digital.
‘ What I do know is that all the people in the ecosystem are aware that the energy costs of blockchains can be reduced, and the protocols are being updated so that it is done quickly.’
Is your interest in this market economic, or has it opened up new ways of expressing yourself?
Both. There are a lot of new collectors and a lot of movement, so it seemed interesting to find out about the ecosystem and make a space for myself. On an artistic level, it has interested me from the beginning because it has a great potential for generative art. I have been painting generative murals for years. To prepare these murals, I use codes that generate possible results, or iterations, and when I like all the results that come out, I write down the protocol and paint the mural applying those rules. All the results are different and only one will be painted and made public.
Each mural is a version of what that code allows and no one can ever see the other versions. Now what NFTs have allowed me to do is to generate, display and sell many versions of the same code and not just a single iteration. The more results that are generated, the better the code is understood. Digital generative art makes a lot of sense with blockchain technology.
Have you bought or traded artwork?
Yes, very soon after my first sales I started collecting. My small collection focuses almost exclusively on digital generative art, I was lucky enough to enter relatively early, at least a few months before the media boom, and I got some work that have increased in value a lot since then.
What do you think of the criticism of the sustainability of blockchains?
I have read everything on the matter. I haven’t found an objective article that does not defend one position or the other, so at the moment I don’t know how to answer that question. What I do know is that all the people in the ecosystem are aware that the energy costs of blockchains can be reduced, and the protocols are being updated so that it is done quickly. According to what I have read, with these changes, energy demand should be reduced by 90% in the coming months.
This month we are pushing all forms of art stemming from graffiti in our blog and social media. Search for #mtnartmonth to check all our content covering the latest trends in visual arts.