BeinCrypto spoke to artist Thrush Holmes on his journey with a non-fungible token (NFT) drop and how they offer artists unparalleled control.
NFT art has gone from rising star of the crypto world to a significant player in auction houses to meme-able joke on social media in under one year.
Thrush Holmes is an established artist who has added NFTs to their collections. His recent drop Mangum is a “collection of generative works that fuse the physical and digital worlds.”
With an already established career, Holmes dove into the NFT space with enthusiasm for the wider values and opportunities it represents.
Advocating for artist control
Holmes stepped into NFTs after initially hearing about others entering the space.
“I’d been thinking about it, and I needed to better understand it. I’ve always gone against the grain with the way I’ve always represented myself. This just seemed like a huge opportunity to have control. I’ve always been an advocate for artists’ control. This is the very place to be with respect to that, so it was interesting to me,” he explains.
From his own experience, the ability to identify originals and have the ability to remove concerns about copies is a game-changer.
“I think from day one when I started making paintings, I was concerned about people replicating or copying it and people who did close to that. But I’ve always made it so that you can’t understand how the painting was made. That was a big goal for me. You can’t physically make it again, it would be almost impossible. So that’s why this was like, this is like a timestamp. And I think that’s where the real features on this stuff are. It’s copywriting everything you make.”
Ensuring continous compensation with an NFT
In addition to identification and control, Holmes’ considers the ability to continuously profit from your work a huge benefit for artists.
In the physical world, an artist sells their work, which transfers ownership and rights to the owner. Should the work sell for thousands more, the artist doesn’t receive any benefit from that.
All of this has been considered perfectly fine, even though it leaves the artist out of the picture past their creation and first sale.
“We put everything into an order or sculpture, visual arts, whatever it is. There are no royalties like with music. With art, you do it, you surrender it, and then that’s how you get paid for the painting. The gallery will take 50% of that. Then it’s resold many times that people profit from it. But the artist doesn’t ever get any of that. If you look through history, artists sell it for $100, and then it’s $100 million, and they’re poor, like with Van Gough. It’s what’s happened for time immemorial,” he explains.
“It’s time for that to change. Things are traded constantly. Artists going to auction especially with, high-performing artists, and it’s appreciating, their careers are going up, but there’s no compensation. That the person who buys it as if it’s a stock is then benefiting without any compensation going to the artists. That is what’s most interesting to me. I think it’s been like it’s long overdue, and this is the perfect time to make that correction.”
A developing NFT art world
However, it’s not all highs. For Holmes’ the current NFT, space is still in early development. He sees this specifically with the kind of work being sold on these marketplaces.
“I think there can just be a little more substance. I’m coming at this as an artist and you know in these spaces, the majority of people aren’t artists. I’m not pretentious, whatsoever, but I think being an artist is kind of like a sentence like you’re born into this thing. It’s irrevocable is something that torments you. So I think that’s still to come across in this space because it does cater to real art. But a lot of it is pretty vapid. There can’t be a lot of emotional response to some of this content that is being offered. I don’t want to be negative about it. It’s an interesting space. I just think that it’s going to develop.”
In addition to the development of more mature NFT artwork, Holmes’ sees more growth as the traditional art world moves past their apprehension to the space.
“I’m deeply connected to the art world, and my sense is that every gallery, every artist who’s operating anywhere, operating a high level, is afraid of this. A lot of that is due to the current inventory. What is seen, what it represents. But that’s also just the old guard. They just feel they’re afraid of change. So it’s going to take some time, but I think in the next few years, it’s going to really have a massive switch. Because artists and galleries will realize that this is the new place to be, it’s endless the possibilities on a presentation side and then also with respect to royalties and insecurity of intellectual property,” he says.
Letting people in behind the curtain
Currently, Homles’ appreciates the longevity and insight NFTs provide to users. While NFT artwork is placed in online “galleries” like OpenSea, most drops often extend beyond that into community building.
Drops are often accompanied by access to Discord groups where users can interact with the artist. Communities are formed around the artwork and the artist, with subsequent drops cementing supporters and bringing in new fans.
Holmes’ sees this as an improvement on the old exhibition, creation, exhibition cycle.
“I would have these exhibitions with galleries and parties, and then I never was excited about that really. But then I would have parties at my studio to have studio parties and have six or 800 people over, and it was like having dinner with a lot of your friends,” he explains.
“Cut the pretension out and have these people see behind the curtain. That was more interesting to me, having people come to my studio and meet me to see how I make the work, see the dirty stuff, see the failures, see all the paintings of the workout. That’s more interesting to me. So I think the community is it’s what is the big attracting factor for me in this space.”
While his NFTs are significantly cheaper than his physical paintings, Holme’s wanted to make NFTs a vehicle through which more people could own his physical work.
His works already have impressive collectors, with celebrities like Elton John and Halle Berry owning his paintings. However, with the NFT drop, Holmes sees it as an opportunity for a wider audience to participate in his work.
“What is exciting about this is that I wanted to do a physical element to add some value. So because a lot of young people can’t afford my work, the expensive physical paintings I’m releasing twenty-four physical paintings in this drop,” he explains.
“So it’s a lottery. If you buy one of these NFTs you have a chance of getting a real painting. It’s important to me that element because someone who would not have a chance is able to have that opportunity. I want to continue on that path with more of my drops. I want to maintain that.”
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