Learn how blockchain is being used in the art world and which artists are experimenting with it. Plus, understand if it's the right move for you and your work.

Art is one of the most sought-after items in the world. And surprisingly, more works of art than you may think have been stolen over the years. So much so that there’s even an FBI Art Theft Team! 

Due to these thefts, people have begun looking for ways to encrypt their artwork so that it cannot be replicated or stolen.

Surprisingly enough, one way that they can do this is through blockchain technology (yes, the same thing that runs Bitcoin). This article will show you how art can be encrypted, why people encrypt their art, what the benefits and drawbacks are to doing so, and more.

What is blockchain, and how does it work?

Using Blockchain To Encrypt Art: Everything You Need To Know - What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is an online database that records transactions of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Dogecoin. Blockchain works by creating individual blocks that contain the information about a transaction, which is then added to the chain. Many individuals control this data and add new transactions by solving complex math problems.

When money is sent from one person’s wallet to another, it must be verified with an algorithm before being accepted as valid and stored in the database. So if you are trying to send money but cannot solve the puzzle fast enough, other people will verify your transaction for you.

Blockchain can also store non-financial records like contracts or agreements between two parties on its ledger; these pieces of evidence can only be edited if both sides agree and sign off on changes first (which makes many businesses prefer using blockchain over traditional databases). This means that each block would need approval before being encrypted through blockchain tech.

How is art encrypted through blockchain?

Art is encrypted through the blockchain by using a technique called hashing. Hashing “encrypts” the art so that forgers cannot reproduce it without access to the original artist’s private key.

Hashing is used in blockchain because of its ability to create an irreversible mathematical relationship between data and a large number of bytes: every time you add any new piece of data (e.g., another transaction), your previous hash changes.

This means that anyone who tampers with any part of the database will change their own hashes, which would then alert everyone else using this ledger and cause them not to trust either version anymore, leading to total system failure.

This ensures greater security since altering even one bit within a block can undo all cryptographic protection on any future blocks.

Consumers can also feel more secure knowing that blockchain provides a clear audit trail of their art’s history. Now they can trace every work back to its original creation, even if it has been sold or borrowed.

For artists who want the best protection for themselves and their creations, this technology is liberating in many ways when compared to traditional methods.

Why people encrypt art through blockchain

Artists are starting to encrypt their art through blockchain due to several reasons:

  1. Security. Using blockchain for encryption provides greater protection than other methods.
  2. Transparency. Blockchain offers a clear audit trail of your artwork’s history so that you can trace it back to its original creation. This adds an additional layer of protection that wasn’t there before. Now consumers can see where their work came from and how many times it changed hands before purchasing or borrowing it.
  3. Faster transactions. Rather than waiting on banks or other parties to approve transactions (which could take days), artists can accept payment instantly with cryptocurrency, Bitcoin in particular – a convenience both buyers and sellers appreciate. In this way, cryptocurrencies help speed up transactions and offer peace of mind when it comes to security.

Additionally, some artists want to tap into new technology and be ahead of the curve of where they think art (particularly digital art) is going.

The pros and cons of encrypting art through blockchain

Using Blockchain To Encrypt Art: Everything You Need To Know - The pros and cons of ecrypting art through blockchain

Like any other way of securing and selling an asset, there are pros and cons to encrypting art through blockchain.

Pros:

  • It’s an extra layer of protection for art owners. Most artists will love having an additional layer of protection that they can’t get with other methods.
  • It’s a very modern, up-to-date way of storing and selling art digitally. Historically, selling digital art has been challenging and less regulated. This gives artists a new way to sell their work and do it in a way that others haven’t done before.
  • It’s easier to find an interested buyer if you’re using blockchain. Many artists find it easier to locate buyers if they’re using blockchain because consumers who are up to speed with the technology enjoy the peace of mind and security it provides.
  • No middlemen. Encrypting and selling art through blockchain requires no middlemen. For artists who want to take more control of their work, this is a huge perk.

Cons:

  • It’s a complicated process to set up and manage. Once you get the hang of it, encrypting art can be simple. But getting started with doing this can be time-consuming and confusing if you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • It’s one more thing to keep track of in your life, which may seem like too much for many artists. Rather than selling art on their website or at a local fair, artists using blockchain now have one other thing to worry about, which may be a deal-breaker for some.
  • Needs to be a mutual understanding of blockchain. There needs to be someone who understands blockchain technology to sell their piece on the blockchain platform, discouraging potential buyers/artists from selling via these platforms.
  • Fees. Blockchain companies take fees out of every transaction, which could result in less money being made when you’re trying to make a profit off your work.

Should all artists use blockchain?

The short answer to this is no. Encrypting art through blockchain certainly has value, but it’s not for everyone. You’ll need to make sure you understand how blockchain works and how you can connect your artwork to it for encryption.

It may also not work as well for artists who are not making digital art. While you can encrypt a physical artwork through blockchain, it requires several additional steps to become encrypted.

Can I turn my art into an NFT?

Yes. Many artists (even some who I wouldn’t consider an “artist”) are tapping into the hot NFT market right now.

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are what many blockchain projects are using to tokenize their digital assets. Non-fungible tokens can represent anything that has value, such as in-game items, charitable donations, or even artwork pieces like those made by CryptoKitties.

By creating an NFT for your artwork, you can do things like establish a secondary market for your pieces and then sell them for digital currencies.

However, you may need to pay hefty fees to create the NFT token on platforms such as OpenSea or Rarebits. And not all blockchain projects have an art marketplace built-in yet (e.g., CryptoKitties).

In addition to that, if you want people outside of your social media circle to see the tokens and buy them from you, they would first need to go through KYC with any given platform.

This is why many artists are sticking with selling their artwork directly at higher prices than it might be worth. This eliminates those extra steps in between buying and owning one of their works.

Summary

If you’re an artist, now is the time to consider encrypting your artwork through blockchain technology. It offers many benefits that artists have not had before. Namely, protection against copyright infringement and offering buyers a way of knowing that what they’re purchasing is legitimate work from the original artist.

This new tech can help make sure that no one else profits from your hard work without giving you credit or money in return. 

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About the author

Chris Muller picture
Total Articles: 197
Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter.