No more starving artists

Jackie DiMonte
6 min readMay 27, 2021

Are creators the new capitalists?

The artist Beeple made history selling an NFT for $69M. Mainstream interest in NFT Art exploded.

Before jumping in, a few notes: If you’re not familiar with NFT basics and their place in culture start here then come back. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll talk about NFTs as digital art or a digital asset that represents physical art. Now back to regularly scheduled programming…

After being non-existent in 2019, NFT Art trading hit $115M in 2020 and has already 7x’d in the first 5 months of 2021.

Even more extreme, consumer interest went from 0 in Q2 2020 to 100 a year later (as measured by Google search volume).

This growth comes with lots of hype, scams, and quick money schemes. It also comes with a paradigm shift in how we think about artists’ and other creators’ part in the economy.

Traditionally, artists part with their work when it’s sold. Even if they sell prints, those prints are in the hands of the buyer who can display or sell at will. The artist would never know.

When artists mint NFTs, they specify parameters that change this paradigm. For example, an artist can choose to take a percentage of every transaction subsequent to the first. If they sell their NFT for $100 but it later transacts for $1M they could pocket $200K.

This new structure is closing the space between creators, consumers, and capitalists.

NFTs create marketplace fluidity

NFTs combine siloed markets into a single ecosystem. In an analog world, you needed to be in a different place to buy different art. For example, you went to a sidewalk sale to buy local art. Galleries curated art from professionals. Auction houses delt accomplished (and many times dead) artists. The former two consist of primary sales while auction houses specialize in secondaries.

In the “first” digital age, these lines held when we moved online. Etsy and Shopify brought primary sales online. Platforms like Masterworks innovated by fractionalizing ownership of fine art.

NFTs span these categories. You can buy primary or secondary. Art ranges from $5 to $50M. You can buy parts or…

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Jackie DiMonte

Early stage venture investor at @chicagoventures. Formerly @hydeparkvp, #IoT at @silverspringnet, and #tech at @Accenture