NFTs and the New Age of Digital Art

One of Brandon Waite’s defining characteristics as an artist is his ability to find inspiration everywhere. ​He constantly sketches out fresh ideas on napkins, notebooks, and even walls, showcasing his passion for creativity and willingness to explore different mediums. ​This diverse range of mediums allows him to bring his unique style to any project that comes his way.

“Williamsburg NFT Wall” by Scott Beale is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. and includes the murals of CryptoPunk #4596, Bored Mummy #631, and Pudgy Penguin #63, among others.

Traditional Mediums Still Matter

Brandon, an Oregon-based designer and illustrator, began his career as a t-shirt designer. He worked in a screen print and embroidery shop for seven years after graduating from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, with a BA in Studio Art and Design. He is now the Creative Manager at Two Towns Ciderhouse and finds creating and seeing designs become tangible products deeply fulfilling and meaningful.  

“Stickers are like portable artworks, turning the world into your gallery,” he says. Like T-shirts, they bring joy, spark conversations, and add beauty and fun to our lives. Sharing stickers and T-shirts spreads art to the masses, and much of Brandon’s work aims to do just that. 

“I’ve always loved skate art for its bright colors, expressive graphics, and lack of boundaries. You can see Monet, Picasso, or Van Gogh reproductions next to works by pop culture artists like Wizard Skull and Jimbo Phillips. With its unconventional names and authentic voice, skateboard branding also fascinates me.”

Brandon Waite

Brandon’s journey to starting a skateboard company began as a joke in his design studio, where they created a fake brand called “Not Skateboards” to showcase rejected designs. This playful idea stuck, leading to the creation of “Not Really Skateboards.” Wanting unique products, he sold only individually hand-painted decks, avoiding mass production. Despite initial intimidation, he started painting blank decks with acrylic markers, finding the medium flexible and easy to use, combining humor, creativity, and a commitment to bringing unique designs to life.

Despite his expertise in digital art and design, Brandon currently chooses not to sell digital copies of his work, preferring to keep his pieces in the physical world. Physical artworks allow the artist to showcase intricate details, textures, and craftsmanship that can be experienced firsthand. This direct interaction between the viewer and the artwork creates a more profound and emotional connection, which can be more satisfying for both the artist and the collector.

Yet, in a rapidly evolving art market, a new digital frontier is capturing the imagination of artists and collectors alike: NFTs. These unique digital tokens are revolutionizing how art is bought and sold, offering artists an innovative platform to monetize their creations while reaching global audiences. As the popularity of NFTs soars, artists are increasingly turning to this technology to showcase their work, secure their intellectual property, and explore new creative possibilities.

Enabling Secure and Transparent Digital Ownership

Blockchain technology has revolutionized the digital art landscape by enabling the creation and distribution of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. These digital assets allow artists to authenticate, sell, and trade their unique works securely and transparently. By leveraging blockchain’s decentralized ledger system, artists can ensure the originality and ownership of their creations, providing a new revenue stream and broader market reach. This technological advancement protects intellectual property and empowers artists to monetize their digital art in previously unimaginable ways.

Blockchain technology traces back to a whitepaper published in 2008 by an individual or group using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto (Liebkind). “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” introduced Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, and outlined a decentralized system for recording and verifying transactions. In January 2009, the Bitcoin network went live, marking the birth of blockchain technology. The blockchain, a distributed ledger technology, is a transparent and immutable record of transactions organized into blocks linked together in a chronological chain (Nakamoto).

An artist painting the Ethereum logo. “ETC Wallpaper – Ethereum Classic Design” by EthereumClassic is marked with CC0 1.0.

Over the years, blockchain has evolved beyond cryptocurrency, with the development of various platforms and applications exploring its potential in finance, supply chain management, healthcare, voting systems, and more. Blockchain technologies promise efficient transactions, greater trade accountability, and increased/direct payment for creative enterprises. They continue to undergo innovation and adoption across industries, shaping the future of decentralized and trustless systems (Patrickson).

Blockchain technology has revolutionized the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) world by providing a secure and transparent infrastructure for digital ownership. Through blockchain, NFTs have transformed how digital assets are created, verified, and traded. “In terms of NFTs, blockchain systems attach scarcity and uniqueness to digital objects (Binns).” Smart contracts enable the automatic execution of transactions, royalties, and other conditions associated with NFT ownership, empowering artists with greater control over their work and revenue streams. 

Additionally, blockchain-based NFT marketplaces provide artists, collectors, and investors with accessible platforms for buying, selling, and trading digital assets, fostering a vibrant ecosystem of creativity and innovation. Blockchain technology has democratized digital ownership and revolutionized the digital art market, unlocking new opportunities for creators and collectors alike (Rivero-Moreno).

Automating NFT Sales and Royalties 

Michael Halstead, a systems operations engineer at the Linux Foundation, has been monitoring emerging blockchain technology for some time.  He explains NFTs like this, “An NFT is a distinct token on the blockchain ledger that links to a specific website or URL, potentially conferring certain rights under contract law outside the network. It is akin to writing ‘whoever holds this banknote owns the sweet painting I created’ on a $2 bill and then selling that bill. The enforceability of such an arrangement is limited without a supporting legal framework. This is where smart contracts come into play; they automate NFT ownership and royalties, ensuring that creators receive compensation each time their NFT is sold.”

Diagram of an NFT’s internal structure. “NFT diagram” by Vectorization: Alhadis is marked with CC0 1.0.

Smart contracts are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code. These digital contracts run on blockchain technology, ensuring all transactions are transparent, irreversible, and secure. For digital artists, smart contracts facilitate the sale of NFTs by automating the process of verifying ownership and transferring rights. When an artist creates an NFT, the smart contract defines the terms of sale, including royalty arrangements. Each time the NFT is sold, the smart contract automatically enforces these terms, ensuring the artist receives their stipulated compensation. This automation streamlines the sales process and protects the artist’s intellectual property and financial interests, providing a reliable and efficient method for monetizing digital art.

Revolutionizing the Art Market

In March 2021, digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, made headlines by selling a digital artwork titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” as a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) for a staggering $69 million at Christie’s auction house (Russell). This groundbreaking sale marked a historic moment in the art world, demonstrating the potential of NFTs to redefine the concept of ownership and value in the digital age. Beeple’s artwork, a collage of 5,000 daily digital illustrations created over 13 years, garnered widespread attention and a bidding frenzy fueled by its rarity, provenance, and the artist’s reputation (Binns). The sale showcased the power of blockchain technology and NFTs in democratizing art ownership and empowering creators, sparking a surge of interest in the burgeoning NFT market among collectors, investors, and artists worldwide.

Sculpture by American artist Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple. It was first exhibited in 2021 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center. “Beeple, Human One” by Beeple is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Christie’s Auction House played a crucial role in establishing the legitimacy of NFTs through its involvement in the sale of Beeple’s artwork. ​ With its 255-year-old reputation as a trusted institution in the art world, Christie’s brought credibility and validation to the NFT market. ​ By embracing NFTs and auctioning Beeple’s digital art, Christie’s expanded its scope beyond traditional art, signaling the acceptance and recognition of NFTs as a legitimate art form. ​

Christie’s expertise in art valuation and its team of specialists further solidified the legitimacy of NFTs. ​ The auction house’s ability to accurately assess the value of Beeple’s NFTs demonstrated its understanding of the emerging digital art market. Christie’s meticulous approach to promoting the NFT space, described as “extremely thoughtful,” ensured that the integrity and credibility of the NFT market were upheld and aimed to foster meaningful and sustainable growth of the NFT market by working with digital artists and exploring alternative art history. 

NFTs and blockchain technology are revolutionizing the art market by providing artists with new opportunities to monetize their digital creations and establish ownership, offering a secure and transparent platform for buying, selling, and trading digital assets. This technology allows for the democratization of art ownership and empowers artists to explore new creative possibilities. ​ With smart contracts automating processes and ensuring artists receive compensation, these innovations and their potential to shape the future of creativity. ​

Works Cited:

Russell, F. “NFTs and Value”. M/C Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, Apr. 2022, doi:10.5204/mcj.2863.

Binns, D. “No Free Tickets: Blockchain and the Film Industry.” M/C Journal, vol. 25, no. 2, Apr. 2022, doi:10.5204/mcj.2882.

Rivero Moreno, Luis David. “Blockchain Culture and Digital Image Precariousness. Questioning NFTs as an Art Preservation Strategy.” Artnodes, no. 33, 2024, pp. 1–8,

Patrickson, Bronwin. “What Do Blockchain Technologies Imply for Digital Creative Industries?” Creativity & Innovation Management, vol. 30, no. 3, Sept. 2021, pp. 585–95. EBSCOhost,

Calvo, Patrici. “Cryptoart: Ethical Challenges of the NFT Revolution.” Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 2024, pp. 370–10,

Nakamoto, Satoshi. “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.”

Kastrenakes, Jacob. “Beeple Sold an NFT for $69 Million.” The Verge, 11 Mar. 2021,

Liebkind, Joe. “Bitcoin Years Later: Was the Nakamoto White Paper Right?” Investopedia, 23 Mar. 2024,

By arteblanc

Natasha Ashworth writes about art, fashion, and design regarding culture and society. She is a student of digital communications at Oregon State University.

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