Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sept 2021

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j u ly • a u g u s t • s e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 1 c g w 5 9 A year or so ago, few had ever heard of the term "NFT," or non-fungible token. So, what is it, and better yet, what impact, if any, does it have on today's digital artists? An NFT is oen described as a one-of-a- kind digital asset that can be exchanged on a blockchain. It can assume many forms: a graphical element (filmed, photographed, or craed), a musical element, a URL, a Tweet, and far more. I knew very little about NFTs outside of the headlines that peppered the news outlets of late. "Everydays: The First 5000 Days," digital artwork from Mike "Beeple" Winkelmann, sold for $69.3 million at Christie's. It was not his only NFT sold to date, either. "Crossroad" sold for $6.66 million initially, and "The Com- plete MF Collection" brought in $777,777. An NFT version of the first Tweet on Twitter, by Twitter Cofounder/CEO Jack Dorsey, sold for $2.9 million. Randomly generated Cryp- toPunks characters have sold for $7.5 million, $1.54 million, and $1.3 million. Those are just some of the top earners — for now. However, the dollar amounts may be a bit deceptive, as those sums will not show up in a Wells Fargo or Chase bank account. Rather, the bidding amounts are in ether, and the cryptocurrency actually credited to a digital wallet. Welcome to today's world of hard-core NFT collectors who own prominent crypto tokens — the modern-day rare books and masterpiece paintings of yesteryear. Providing information on this growing trend and what it might mean for digital artists is Christopher Nichols, director of Chaos Labs, whose CG Garage podcast series recently focused on the subject. In this exclusive Q&A with CGW Chief Editor Karen Moltenbrey, Nichols discusses NFTs, their history, and why digital artists need to educate themselves about the crypto world in order to make an informed decision as to whether entering this market is right for them. What exactly are NFTs? NFT means non-fungible token, which can be broken down into three words. Let's start with "token" and move backwards. A token represents something of value. For example, a subway token represent one ride on the subway. A dollar bill is a token that represents $1 of value. In the crypto world, a token is created by a piece of the blockchain (a digital database of records, or blocks, linked together using cryptography). So, the block is the token. You can own that piece of the blockchain by having it in your digital wallet. Fungible means something that's able to ONE OF A KIND DIGITAL ARTISTS IN THE AGE OF CRYPTO ART BY KAREN MOLTENBREY CG portrait ©Ian Spriggs.

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