Digital Gold? What Artists Need to Know about NFTs
On May 5, 2021 The RISD Alumni Association and RISD Families Association welcomed all members of the RISD community to a moderator-led panel discussion on the rapidly expanding and evolving landscape of NFTs.
Even before Everydays: the First 5000 Days fetched $69.3M in March 2021, a new technology called non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, was prompting questions (and sometimes intense debate) in the art world. What are these tokens? Where did they come from? What do they mean for current and future forms of digital and traditional art? How can a signature so dramatically affect the market value of a work of art?
NFTs have existed for nearly a decade. They may still be a complete mystery to many practicing artists, but it’s pretty clear they will remain an important part of how the art world is going to work in the years ahead.
Watch the video below and hear from experts who will address this conversation of ‘why NFTs’, and “why now’ head on.
Want to learn more about NFTs? Our moderator and panelists have provded some sources to consider:
Anne Spalter, “I’m an Artist. Should I Make an NFT?”
Memo Akten, “The Unreasonable Ecological Cost of Crypto Art”
Shanti Escalante-De Mattei, “Should You Worry about the Environmental Impact of your NFTs?”
Everest Pipkin on the environmental impact of NFTs
SuperRare editorial, “No, Crypto Artists Aren’t Harming the Planet”
Theory, Criticism, and History
Brian Droitcour, “How to Look at NFTs”
Tina Rivers Ryan, “Token Gesture”
Anuradha Vikram, The NFT’S Promise of Control
Jason Bailey, “What Is Crypto Art?”
Sterling Crispin, NFTs and Crypto Art: The Sky is not Falling
Rachel Hawley, Sorry, but NFTs Are Not Design’s Democratizing Savior
Rea McNamara, How Crypto Art Might Offer Artists Increased Autonomy
Martin Lukas Ostachowski’s Timeline of Crypto Art
Tim Schneider, The Gray Market
Joshua Caleb Weibley, “A Non-Fungible Treatise”
Collection of research and programs from London-based arts organization Furtherfield
Set up for Making NFTs
Dean Kissick, "Downward Spiral of Popular Things"
Brian Droitcour is associate editor and online editor at Art in America. Digital media and internet art have been frequent topics of Brian’s writing, which has appeared in several publications besides A.i.A., including 4columns, Parkett, Artforum, and Rhizome. He has also undertaken several projects exploring the relationship between institutions and their audiences that are based on an understanding of the viewer as a creative interlocutor with artworks. From 2012 to 2014, Brian wrote criticism on Yelp, adopting a voice specific to the platform in order to explore it as a place for nonprofessionals to engage with art and its venues. In 2015 he edited The Animated Reader, a poetry anthology accompanying “Surround Audience,” the New Museum’s third triennial, which included social media posts alongside poems using strategies of translation, rewriting, and appropriation, aiming to convey a contemporary experience of media. In collaboration with artist Christine Wong Yap, he produced The People’s Guide to the Queens International (2018), publishing audience responses to the Queens Museum’s biennial exhibition of Queens-based artists.
Amanda Truelove Fairey is a founder and partner in creative agency Studio Number One, art and project space Subliminal Projects Gallery and Obey Giant Art, the art and design of husband, Shepard Fairey. A vocal advocate for artists' rights, the arts, and education, she is currently on the board of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and served three years as the chair of the Young Literati. This past month, she directed Shepard Fairey's inaugural NFT sale and collaboration with SuperRare and Verisart, which raised over $40,000 for Amnesty International.
RISD alumni Shepard Fairey is a contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator, DJ and founder of OBEY Giant Art and OBEY Clothing. In 1989, while still a student at RISD, he created the Andre the Giant has a Posse sticker, which later evolved into his OBEY GIANT art campaign. In 2008, his portrait of then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama became an internationally recognized emblem of hope. Since then, Fairey has hand-painted more than 105 public murals across five continents, becoming one of the world’s most provocative artists and changing the way people view the urban landscape. Fairey’s stickers, guerilla street art presence and public murals are recognized globally. His works are in the permanent collections of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and many others. Born in Charleston, SC, Fairey now resides in Los Angeles.
Tina Rivers Ryan is a curator of modern and contemporary art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Her particular area of expertise is the intersection of art and technology since the 1960s. Her exhibitions include the first solo museum show of Aria Dean (2018) and the upcoming survey “Difference Machines” (2021), co-curated with Paul Vanouse. She also is a frequent contributor to Artforum, which is publishing her article on what NFTs mean for the field of digital art in its May issue. An art historian by training, she holds five degrees in art history, including a BA from Harvard and PhD from Columbia.
Digital mixed-media artist Anne Spalter is an academic pioneer who founded the original digital fine arts courses at Brown University and The Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the 1990s and authored the internationally taught textbook, The Computer in the Visual Arts (Addison-Wesley, 1999).
Her artistic process combines a consistent set of personal symbols with a hybrid arsenal of traditional mark-making methods and innovative digital tools. A new body of work, further developed at a Winter 2019 residency at MASS MoCA, combines artificial intelligence algorithms with oil paint and pastels. She is currently creating work for the blockchain.
Spalter is also noted for her large-scale public projects. MTA Arts commissioned Spalter to create a 52-screen digital art installation, New York Dreaming, which remained on view in one of its most crowded commuter hubs (Fulton Center) for just under a year. Spalter’s 2019 large-scale projects included a 47,000 square foot LED video work on the Hong Kong harbor.
Spalter’s work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK); the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY); the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (Providence, RI); The Museum of CryptoArt, and others. Alongside her studio practice, Spalter continues to lecture on digital art practice and theory.
Anuradha Vikram is a Los Angeles-based writer, curator, and educator. Vikram is co-curator (with UCLA Art Sci Center director Victoria Vesna) of the upcoming Pacific Standard Time: Art x Science x LA exhibition Atmosphere of Sound: Sonic Art in Times of Climate Disruption (opening 2024), and guest curator for The Craft Contemporary (fka CAFAM) of the upcoming solo retrospective Jaishri Abichandani: Flower-Headed Children (opening 2022). Her book, "Decolonizing Culture," is a collection of seventeen essays that address questions of race and gender parity in contemporary art spaces (Art Practical/Sming Sming Books, 2017). Vikram is faculty in the UCLA Department of Art and at USC Roski School of Art and Design. She is a member of the editorial board for X-TRA, an advising editor for Curationist, and an editor for X Topics, an imprint of X Artists' Books.