Opinion: The NFT space is a mess and it’s not just the artists it’s bad for

By Danny Franklin
November 22nd, 2021

You may have heard of the rising trend of people selling NFT art. Originally, this was a great idea as it allowed artists to get money from digital art. It also allows people to get a sense of ownership from digital art that we had never seen before. It is however filled with issues. There are copyright issues all the way through to quality issues. This is the rise of the NFT world.

The NFT space is a mess. An image representing this of man graffitied onto a wall.
Not NFT artwork, but the best I can display for legal reasons.

NFT art is all over Twitter and various other social platforms. There are videos on TikTok with people claiming to have turned $250 into $370,000 by buying and selling various pieces. We have never quite seen anything like this since the introduction of art itself. There are many issues posed by NFT art though. The first and largest, is the huge depreciation in quality we are starting to see. Yes, it is not for me to say what constitutes as art, nor is my opinion likely to be shared by everyone, but we have moved away from timeless classics that require painstaking lengths of time to paint, all the way to cartoon characters that are being solid for much more than they are worth. It isn’t even like you own the NFT artwork afterwards either. Unless it explicitly says so in the agreement, the rights to the work belong with the artist.

The above examples show giveaways that are currently running on Twitter (or at least were). I do not endorse these giveaways. They are only there to show the kind of art that is available within NFTs.

What went wrong with NFTs?

Well a lot went wrong. These became too mainstream with too many people trying to make their own NFT art. It has lowered the standard of all art and inflated the prices of awful content. Owning an NFT does not give you the rights to the image and often the NFT is bundled with some kind of package/offer that is the sole reason for buying it. A big player in this field is Gary Vaynerchuk (or simply Gary Vee). I am a big fan of Gary Vee and admire a lot of what he does, however, I do not like the direction he is leading his own NFT space. He is selling drawings of different characters (which are showcasing traits and messages he admires) and bundling some of them with the ability to get a FaceTime call or some other perk with him. Not only do I feel that this devalues the art and art in general, but I also feel like this gives a good reason to overly inflate the price of something we would have once said was too high.

How much would you pay to have a FaceTime call with Gary Vee? Okay, so how about a five minute FaceTime call with him? As I doubt you would pay $73,444.32 (about £54,844.55) – which is the current asking price for the cheapest NFT from Gary Vee that grants a FaceTime call. I would say that with regards to a five minute FaceTime call with someone as famous a Gary Vee, anyone would struggle to push that more than £1,000 but now that it is an NFT of a frog (click here to see it), that of course, is easily worth over £50,000(!) This is exactly what went wrong. There is no care or concern for the art, this is just another way to make more money and to inflate prices that were already too high anyway. This can then be spun as a way of delivering content. Sure, Gary Vee’s NFTs (with extra “things” bundled) do provide more value than equally expensive NFTs that have no additional “things” bundled. I can’t help but feel that over £50,000 for a five minute FaceTime call (albeit one per year for a few years) is anything less than daylight robbery.

I don’t blame Gary Vee for creating VeeFriends. If I would in his position of influence, I too would have equally created a similar service. What I do blame is the mass movements of people who have got into creating NFTs and just generally engaging with all of this. What is the obsession that has formed with us wanting to own things? Why does it matter if we own a piece of digital art? There is a common joke to just screenshot an NFT and I really believe that highlights just how ridiculous this whole thing is. If the intentions of NFT art were to sell a piece of digital art for a reasonable price to someone and provide them with full rights to the art – then I could back this. For some reason, people are both buying and selling NFT art way into the thousands and I can’t help but feel like that is completely wrong.

My own NFT art

My own NFT art I made on Microsoft Paint

In order to try and understand how NFT art works, I actually made my own art using Microsoft Paint and listed it available to buy (click here to see it). This was not intended as a mockery of NFT art, this was merely me trying to understand the process. This has since been formed into a kind of mockery with it being renamed to “The Lines of Hope”. This is available to buy for about $734.44 ($548.37) – which is quite reasonable if we are going off the price of Gary Vee’s. I guess if you can’t beat them, join them. That still doesn’t mean I am a fan of the idea.

© Danny Franklin 2017 - 2023