Unscripted Twillingate: Digital Arts Festival | Digital Art and NFTs - Unscripted Twillingate: Digital Arts Festival

Digital Art and NFTs

The Emerging Business of Art
Post date:
October 31, 2021
Category:

The Unscripted Festival asked Cory Babstock, one of Twillingate’s 2021 Digital Artist in Residence (DART) participants, to tell us more his foray into the emerging world of art and NFTs, or non fungible tokens, and the opportunities it is opening up to digital artists:

“Mention NFTs in most conversations and you get one of two reactions. First and most common is, what are NFTs? The second is a reluctance to even TALK about them.
So, here I am going to deal with the first reaction, and touch maybe a little on what the second reaction is about.”

What are NFTs? Well, they are Non-Fungible Tokens written on the block-chain. These tokens, which are unique, are bought and/or traded by collectors and speculators for a cryptocurrency, most commonly Ethereum.

Clears it right up doesn’t it?

No?

Of course it doesn’t clear it up. Unless you live in the world of finance, collectibles or tech you likely are as lost now as you were before you read that, or even more so.

So, I’m not even going to bother trying to explain what the are from a technical standpoint. There’s a ton of very well written articles that approach it from that angle, as well as a wealth of videos etc. I want to talk about what they mean to me as an artist, and why I personally think they could be good for the arts community.

Old stories through a new lens. Images captured by Cory Babstock in Twillingate

Old stories through a new lens. A composite of images captured by Cory Babstock during his arts residency in Twillingate in 2021.

Join a Global Community

Firstly, they are a gateway into an amazingly deep and talented global community. I have never, in my artistic career, felt so welcome and protected as I have in my short time as part of the global NFT photography community. I have learned so much about the craft in a very short time from some of the best photographers in the world, from places like Sweden, India, Russia, Iceland and more. These are people who are 100% invested in the growth of photography as an art not only for themselves, but for all practitioners. It has been the single most rewarding and life changing outcome from my foray into this.

Reach out to Collectors and Investors

Secondly, it is a means to get your work to a network of global collectors and investors. I have had my work collected by fellow photographers who really admired the work, and also by collectors who’s collections are large and diverse. In both cases, these are markets and opportunities that would never have arisen if I hadn’t stepped into the platform.

Showcase Your Place

Thirdly, it affords an opportunity to showcase your work, and in my case, more importantly WHERE I work, to the world. There are photographic hotspots in the world, places people flock to, like Iceland, the far North, the Grand Canyon, cities like NYC and Dubai. Posting work from right here in Newfoundland that gets exposed to so many eyes will help create a buzz about our place and what we offer. My dream is to have photographers not just fly over Newfoundland and Labrador en route to somewhere else, but for this to be a destination for photographers as well.

NFTs and the Environment

There may be hesitance in entering this space, of that there is no doubt:  it’s new, there’s a lot of BIG money being thrown around and as a result, there are a number of participants in the space as well, just looking to turn a quick profit. This is true of ANY space.

There is also the question of how large a carbon footprint the NFT market produces. It does require a ton of energy to process and maintain the blockchain. That being said, companies are making efforts to move to more energy-efficient methods and we as artists can always take steps to offset our footprint. I try to give a percentage of my sales to environmental causes and look forward to greener ways of doing business.

A close-up view of a digital image by Cory Babstock that was sold through an NFT. It is composed of photographs he took during his arts residency in Twillingate in 2021.

A close-up view of a digital image sold through an NFT by Cory Babstock.

Control of Copyright

At the core of it for me as an artist, its been simply life changing. I haven’t made a huge amount of sales, but I’ve made enough to know it can be profitable. But beyond that, the items I laid out above makes it 100% worthwhile.

There is also the fact that I retain copyright of my work. The collector is simply buying a verifiably unique digital work. I can still print and profit from those works. The original collector can resell the NFT, but because of the nature of the digital fingerprint, I am aware of the sale AND I also make royalties from that sale. I have control of my work, something that wasn’t always the case and I love that.

NFT’s are ever going to be for everyone, and there will always be people who will be sceptical. I understand that completely. However, this is an emerging platform and like any new economy, there will be growing pains. I am very happy to be an early adopter and I am here for the long haul.

I suggest following the hashtags #nftcommunity and #nftphotography on Twitter. I am always happy to chat about this and any other related topic! 


 

Cory Babstock is a fine arts photographer and digital storyteller that has been capturing forgotten relics from Newfoundland’s past and giving them new life through his lens and screen. Follow Cory Babstock on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Cory_Babstock.