Art on Ethereum: a Beginner's Guide to Cryptoart Platforms

William M. Peaster on 08 Apr 2020

I’m William M. Peaster, and I’m a writer who’s been tracking the Ethereum beat in recent years. Like many others, I’ve thought non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, were really interesting ever since CrypoKitties mania first kicked off in 2017. Yet it wasn’t until late 2019 that I started going deeper into the NFT sector, and since then I’ve been blown away by all the teeming activity I’ve seen across the board.

With that said, I personally think one of the early bright stars around Ethereum and NFTs is the rising cryptoart scene. Its fledgling success is worth cheering on by Ethereum proponents and art fans alike, and I’ve personally had a lot of fun participating in the young arena so far. For any newcomers who are curious and want to know more, I’ve created a brief rundown on the top cryptoart platforms so you can wrap your head around the space more quickly.

Before moving on though, here’s a few pointers worth keeping in mind:

  • Having ether (ETH) and a wallet like MetaMask is your starter pack.
  • Investing in art in general, even in mainstream markets, is at the “high risk” end of the investment spectrum, and the same’s true for cryptoart. Tread cautiously if you do tread, in other words.
  • The handful of pieces I’ve personally bought so far I really enjoy and would be fine with never reselling. In that way, I’m more of a collector or enthusiast type. The space has plenty of opportunities for speculators, too, so the ones who’ve done their homework and made sensible strategies will naturally do best.
  • Why are NFTs valuable? Because they’re rare digital art in being verifiably scarce on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s true that you can download pictures of the art, but these copies can’t be sold for 0.07, 7, or 70 ETH. The originals potentially can be.
  • There is a diverse range of very talented artists currently releasing amazing work atop Ethereum.

With those preliminary insights out of the way, let’s briefly survey the top cryptoart platforms …

SuperRare

The two-year-old SuperRare platform – “Instagram meets Robinhood”– is the biggest art enterprise on Ethereum to date. The curated platform has facilitated nearly 4,000 ETH in NFT art sales so far, with the average sales price of an SR piece currently at around 0.79 ETH. Notably, the first piece minted on the platform, Robbie Barrat’s “AI Generated Nude #1,” sold for 75 ETH in a secondary sale earlier this year. The platform has fostered a high quality community of artists and collectors.

KnownOrigin

Known Origin, which also just celebrated its second birthday, is another Ethereum art platform that’s seen a promising flash of early success. The platform is approaching 1,000 ETH in total sales, and on average one of its pieces goes for 0.23 ETH right now. Like SuperRare, Known Origin has also fostered a strong community of creators.

MakersPlace

MakersPlace is Ethereum’s third-largest art platform and is currently nearing 500 ETH in total volume. The average sales prices of one of its pieces is 0.21 ETH presently. I think there are extremely talented artists putting out stunning strong work on MakersPlace, so don’t overlook this platform just because it’s smaller.

OpenSea

OpeanSea is the “largest marketplace for rare digital goods.” You can buy SuperRare, Known Origin, and MakersPlace pieces on OpenSea, as well as other kinds of NFT collectibles like CryptoKitties and beyond. Also, anyone can easily mint their own NFT art using the marketplace’s simple minting dashboard. It’s a great project. Personally, OpenSea is probably my favorite Ethereum dapp … period.

Other Rising Upstarts

There are a handful of newer cryptoart projects you might want to put on your radar, too, including:

  • Nifty Gateway - acquired by crypto exchange Gemini last year, recently activated 2.0 reboot.
  • Mintbase - MetaCartel-backed NFT minting and market platform.
  • Async Art - a marketplace for programmable art pieces that are constantly in flux.

The Metaverse Factor

Cryptovoxels and Decentraland are two virtual world projects built atop Ethereum. One popular early use case for these worlds’ digital parcels has been NFT art galleries, which is a dynamic that’s led to some really cool innovations and something of a symbiotic relationship between Ethereum’s top digital world projects and the cryptoart space. If you’re interested in cryptoart, be sure to check out Cryptovoxels and Decentraland, too.

DeFi Meets Cryptoart

MetaCartel DAO operations specialist Alex Masmejean spearheaded the launch of Rocket in early 2020. The project offers Dai loans backed by NFTs, e.g. cryptoart, and its first art-backed loan came in February 2020, when entrepreneur Rene Schmidt received 1,000 Dai over a six-month term using two NFT works by cryptoartist Josie Bellini as collateral. It’s an early taste of what may be to come.

About the author
William M. Peaster
William M. Peaster is a writer and curator of the DeFi Arts Intelligencer, a newsletter tracking Ethereum’s digital collectibles arena. He is not a financial advisor. The thoughts shared in this guest post are his opinions and reflect his personal experiences and personal optimism around Ethereum. He currently owns some cryptoart and ETH.

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