What do art, blockchain technology, and Cape Town have in common? Aside from the city’s love of tech innovation and the creative arts… not very much. Until now. Artboardz has brought NFT art – the creative technology craze that is rocking the digital world – into the real world.
NFTs have received a lot of press lately, both good and bad. You’ve probably heard about how Grimes got millions of dollars for NFTs, and how ape art has sold for huge amounts of money. You’ve probably also heard about expensive NFT hacks and lame corporate initiatives as the world tries to get to grips with the explosion of worldwide interest in NFTs.
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So, what exactly is an NFT? And why all the hype?
NFT stands for non-fungible token, fancy techno-speak that tells you the item or token is one-of-a-kind. There is only one original asset that can be owned. It can be bought and sold and traded. Think of it like physical art… like a painting. There is but one original, even if there are many reproductions.
Almost anyone can own a reproduction; they may be cool, but they’re common and cheap.
For example, there are millions of copies of Warhol’s “Marilyn Munroe”. You can buy the poster for maybe $20. But the original, the unique, one of a kind original, is worth $200 million. That’s a key point of value that NFTs bring to digital art.
With normal jpegs you can take a screenshot, or right click and save it at your leisure. With NFTs there is only one original piece of work, with metadata and a timestamp to prove its authenticity. On the Cardano blockchain, the digital asset (also known as artwork) is securely stored on the blockchain.
NFT art is good for artists as well as collectors. For artists, it gives them a way to sell their creations to a much wider and more diverse global audience. While it might seem intimidating at first, you can create NFTs on various platforms with relative ease. You can even earn royalties on your NFT art, so that every time it is resold, you get a bit of additional revenue.
Platforms like The Art Bank invest in artists and art. The ArtBank favours the Cardano blockchain because it is actively investing in furthering social and economic development in Africa.
For collectors – aside from the bragging rights you get for owning the original – you can use and display the NFT art in many ways. For example, NFT art can be used as your profile pic, or in your own custom 3D online art gallery that you share with your friends. You can sell it just as you would other real-world and crypto assets. You can even have it printed and hang it on your wall.
So, what does this have to do with making Cape Town beautiful?
Here is where things get real.
The artist is an award-winning Cape Town graffiti artist, SergeOne. The Original: Battery Park Waterfront, Cape Town. The Art: Origins, a collection of vibrant aerosol art connecting South African tribal art with the modern world. The NFT: Will be minted on Cardano 7 October 2022.
Artboardz is the initiative turning digital art into street art, promoting and selling the works globally to fund more street art and artists. We found the idea of filling up cities with art rather than billboards appealing, so we caught up with Patrick van Rensburg and Dee Boshoff of Artboardz to find out more.
“Art is too important not to share,” says Patrick. “That’s a quote from Romero Britto, a very vibrant, playful and colourful Brazilian artist. And we couldn’t agree more. Few things are as eye-opening and engaging as thought-provoking art. The passion that drives the Art Bank is connecting with and working with inspiring artists to beautify cities around the world.”
While urban art is not a new idea, what is unique about this initiative is that it is fully funded through the sale of Cardano NFTs. For SergeOne, this is a whole new experience. “I never thought my passion – my graffiti – could become a digital piece of art, let alone an international collection! I am really excited about the potential for me and other aerosol artists and muralists.”
“We help the artists turn their artwork into digital assets on Cardano,” continues Patrick.
“One of the great aspects of the approach is that even after the physical images have faded, the digital versions will always survive on-chain. Plus, these amazingly talented local artists now get exposure to audiences and buyers from around the world. With the digital sales model they are paid for the initial purchases but can also receive royalties on secondary sales as passive income.”
While this is good for the artists, it is even better for the city.
“We love seeing local artists celebrated this way,” says Dee, a resident of Cape Town.
“Urban environments can be grey and lifeless. Art like this improves the landscape and improves quality of life. Art beautifies and humanises like nothing else.”
The Cardano blockchain is the platform of choice for this urban beautification project. But, why Cardano? Why not better known blockchains like Ethereum?
Well, simply put, Cardano is one of the few blockchain platforms aimed at serving underdeveloped nations. Cardano’s founder, Charles Hoskinson, believes that “Africa is a rising power when it comes to technological development.”
Hoskinson built Cardano as the first peer-reviewed third generation blockchain. IOHK, the company responsible for developing the Cardano platform, has articulated a vision to engage local stakeholders, promoting technology adoption by everyday users and businesses, and solving real-world problems.
So, aside from replacing grey cityscapes with vibrant art, the Cardano Foundation hopes to solve other real-world challenges like supply chain management, land fraud, and financial solutions for the unbanked.
Disruptive, brave and curious, Cape Town waves the hard-earned flag of “start-up capital” of South Africa. As Cape Town and South Africa continue to lean into the future of art and technology, Patrick and Dee are confident that urban spaces across the nation will become canvases for more bright stars, and the pride of global digital art collectors.