It's a question that comes up often, especially from people new to the NFT space: Why would I buy a piece of digital art on SuperRare when I can just download the art file for free? Am I missing something?
The question brings to life one of the biggest differences between the traditional art world and the emerging digital art world. With traditional art, when you buy a painting you have the ability to control who else sees and enjoys it. But is that what art should really be about? Since digital art lives mostly on the internet, it’s difficult to prevent others from screen-shotting or downloading the art file to view and enjoy for themselves. That being said, why would you even want to prevent this when these metrics (views, shares, downloads, etc) are also one of the best ways to value digital art.
The creation of the internet made it nearly impossible for digital artists and creators to 1) prove they created a digital work and 2) monetize these digital creations because everything could be freely downloaded. Ethereum, and the non-fungible token standard (ERC-721) has made huge strides towards solving this problem. For the first time ever, digital creators now have the ability to tokenize their digital artworks as 1 of a kind assets that can be bought, sold and traded, with the provenance of ownership and previous sales/bids being forever recorded on the blockchain.
On SuperRare, each tokenized artwork is created directly by the artist, using their cryptographic keys to create the NFT. Thus, it is the artist’s intent that the original, collectible, digital artwork is the token. Yes, anyone can download and view the image for free, but they don’t own it and they can’t gain any value from it without owning the NFT as well. As a collector you want as many people as possible to be downloading and enjoying the artworks that only you provably own because this is how the artwork gains value. Imagine if one million people around the world were featuring an artwork that only you owned on digital frames in their houses. THAT is a piece of art that has real value.
Hackatao, one of SuperRare’s most successful artist duos said it best — “Everybody sees it, only one owns it”.