The Bitcoin artists on minting NFTs and OpenSea

The Bitcoin artists on minting NFTs and OpenSea
The Bitcoin artists on minting NFTs and OpenSea

“Art is not a thing, it is a way,” said the American writer Elbert Hubbard. For Bitcoin (BTC) artists, the way is inspired by Bitcoin, its code, its philosophy and its images. In some cases, it’s even inspired by memes. Bitcoin has become a “lifestyle”, for some Bitcoin artists, that inspires the way they do business, accept payments and interact with customers.

Cointelegraph asked Bitcoin artists what inspires them about Satoshi Nakamoto’s 13-year-old invention, and whether minting a non-fungible token (NFT) would complement their “way” of making art. After all, an NFT is a unique, digital receipt for proving ownership of a purchase that lives on a blockchain. Surely artists would want to prove ownership of the art they struggled with?

Lena poses with one of her artworks. Source: justlenasart

Lena, a Bitcoin artist who recently moved from Germany to crypto-friendly Dubai, began creating, painting and printing Bitcoin artwork after diving down the Bitcoin rabbit hole in 2018. She says that while she started her crypto career as a crypto-agnostic, Bitcoin changed approach and eventually took over. She now runs a Bitcoin “maxi-style” portfolio:

“My tea set changed and I started working on myself, asking myself what I should do with my life because of Bitcoin. Bitcoin became like a lifestyle, so I should put all my savings into Bitcoin.

When talking to people in the crypto community, she explains that she is a Bitcoin artist, to which crypto lovers ask, “oh, so you do NFTs?” She told Cointelegraph that she responds with, “No! Physical art!”

“OpenSea is full of art that isn’t art – I mean, art is always up to the person, but it was too much for me.”

See also  Calder Foundation wants to Gamify art history with a new Web3 experience that awards official NFTs to winners

However, countless artists make a living by generating artificial artwork and selling or minting them as NFTs on platforms like OpenSea. The biggest stories in 2021 involved collective cartoon chimps – the Bored Ape Yacht Club – and CryptoPunks, further digitally rendered images or art.

In the bear market of 2022, the hype around NFTs has reportedly died down. Still, big brands like Starbucks continue to jump on the bandwagon, while luxury jeweler Tiffany caused a 1,700% increase in trading volume after an NFT move in August.

When asked if FractalEncrypt (an anonymous Bitcoin artist) would release an NFT of their art in the future, they told Cointelegraph: “Absolutely not.” FractalEncrypt sculpts large, impressive and time-consuming Bitcoin full node structures, which he has hidden in locations around the world:

“I created NFTs in 2017/18 and the deeper I researched them the more disillusioned I became. They felt inherently fraudsters, and for me to continue down that path would make me a fraudster in my eyes.”

FractalEncrypt explained that the link between the art and the token was “volatile at best and an outright misrepresentation/fraud at worst.” They liken the issuance of NFTs as akin to centralized companies’ issuance of tokens, which can be problematic and even litigious.

But that doesn’t mean that FractalEncrypt wrote off NFT technology at its inception. Like Lena, the two artists were curious about the Ethereum-based technology when it first arrived:

“An artist issuing an NFT token and selling it to others in the hope that it may increase in value puts the artist in a situation of possibly issuing securities.”

In fact, Wikipedia explains that an NFT is a “financial security consisting of digital data stored in a blockchain.” The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is focused on certain crypto projects during the bear market. At the same time, the case between the SEC and Ripple (XRP) regarding the latter’s XRP token is raging.

See also  Upstream's new vault could help NFT holders sleep at night - TechCrunch
One of FractalEncrypt’s sculptures. Source: Twitter

BitcoinArt, who chose to remain anonymous, is among the few Bitcoin artists Cointelegraph spoke to who had also dipped their toes into the NFT world. He told Cointelegraph that he managed to sell a few NFTs of his Bitcoin-related artwork, but that he didn’t like the medium or the concept:

“I made some amazing Bitcoin images and wasn’t sure how to make them and someone asked me to make them on OpenSea, unfortunately they use ETH… But good news is that I sold my nfts through Twitter for SATs in the place and I cut the middle man out. I hate ETH.”

A recurring theme at this time, BitcoinArt prefers to have one-on-one interactions with potential customers; he enjoys the back and forth that comes through discussing artwork.

One of the pieces of BitcoinArt, an astronaut in the Bitcoin universe. Source: Twitter

Lena also prefers the personal approach; she builds a connection with her clients and spends hours sketching, painting and painstakingly perfecting her clients’ visions. In Lena’s words, the time spent on her art is a reflection of proof-of-work, the consensus mechanism that underpins the Bitcoin protocol. She told Cointelegraph that the process of creating one piece of art is unique and limited — much like Bitcoin — so there is no need for an NFT. Here Lena makes a statement with one of her pieces:

Lena makes a statement with her art. Source: justlenasart

FractalEncrypt mocked the “holiday preference culture” assumed in NFTs. In fact, many of CryptoPunk’s biggest proponents quickly traded allegiance to BAYC before jumping on the next shiny new collection.

See also  NFT stamps and utility items, crypto taxation in UK, frozen USD 85 million + more news

Related: NFT Art Galleries: The Future of Digital Artwork or Another Crypto Fad?

Bitcoin, conversely, is a movement. Lena stated: “Bitcoin changed my way of thinking, Bitcoin changed me, […learning about Bitcoin] was a very, very meaningful chapter in my life.”

Interestingly, a search for “Bitcoin NFT” on OpenSea returns more than 70,000 items. For Lena, the door is still open: “NFTs could have use cases in the future, but the way NFTs are right now, it doesn’t feel right,” she admitted. OpenSea has been subject to hacks and wash trading, but jpegs of pixelated images valued at seven figures continue to sell. “It feels like a bubble,” sums up Lena.

Conversely, Bitcoin is down over 50% from its blistering highs of $69,000 and the “tourists” have checked out. Additionally, Bitcoin received as payment for a work of art will likely never be hacked or “emptied” from a wallet.