How To Register And Authenticate Art With The Blockchain Art Collective

Jacqueline O'Neill
Dec 18, 2018 · 4 min read
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Since the Blockchain Art Collective’s (BAC) app and products launched a few months ago, we’ve been hearing from artists and institutions who want to use the platform to authenticate artwork.

It’s been a great response, but we have been fielding questions about how it works for both for current artists and for institutions who may have artwork from deceased artists’ estates.

The two tracks — one for living artists and the other for the secondary market — are similar. But both do bear some explaining. So, I’m deep diving into our process to explain how it works and why there are so many benefits to registering art on a blockchain:

Living artists can easily authenticate work themselves.

The goal of our work is to connect artists and their works to both the digital and physical world.

Living artists can work directly with us to authenticate existing pieces, or they can reach out through the gallery or institution representing them.

Artists simply have to connect with the BAC team in order to validate their identity beyond an email. We want to have a conversation with the artists, get to know them and make sure they have the authority to make authorship claims about their artwork. We do like to meet with as many artists as possible, but a phone call, combined with an online portfolio, gallery website, references, or published helps to establish a trusted social identity.

Artists that have already gone through this process and are using the platform include Nanu Berks, cryptograffiti, and RFX1, among others.

The point of this background research is to make sure all artists feel certain that their identities are correct and secure.

Incorrect identity information can be amended and thus, voided, if necessary, but we like to spend the time upfront to avoid those situations altogether.

Once the artist’s identity has been validated, we send them a certificate of authenticity (COA) — a tamper-proof, adhesive seal to attach to the artwork. From there, they can use the mobile app to interact with the COA, enter information about the artwork, and submit the piece to the Blockchain Art Collective permissioned blockchain.

Currently, all the information registered to the blockchain about the artwork is private to the individual. But ultimately, there will be options to make certain information public or private in order to allow people to search for artists and view their work.

We also encourage any artist using the BAC blockchain to reference their method of authentication on their website or social channels. Spreading the word helps people understand what to look for when attempting to discern if a piece is authentic by tying it back to the source in multiple ways.

We also work with galleries representing living artists, such as Krypto Studios in the Wynwood Design District of Miami. We vet the gallery to make sure they have the same authority and proper relationships with their artists to facilitate the authentication of those artists’ works.

Authenticating the work of a non-living artist, or in the secondary market, follows a similar process.

Of course, when the artist is deceased, the authentication process is slightly different.

Without the artist to vouch for the authenticity of their pieces, we work with authenticators, collectors, and the artist’s estate. We want to get as close to the source of the artwork as possible to ensure no false information is registered.

The great thing about this process is that it doesn’t cut out traditional forms of verifying authenticity.

We still need the authenticators. We still need the people who can give a piece of art a stamp of approval before it’s placed on the blockchain. We really do rely on the human element.

Our goal is to augment what the art industry is already doing to authenticate by creating a physical-digital link for the artwork that stays with the piece from that point on. This opens up great possibilities for collections management for art institutions and the artists themselves.

The aim of BAC is to lay the foundation for the future of art authentication — and to create seamless integrations with existing practices.

We already have the Starter Kit available to artists and institutions who want to begin testing authenticating their work on the blockchain. But we’re also calling on artists, galleries, collectors, and people from every corner of the art world to join the working group as many already have. This is serving a critical role by helping new technological developments create real value across various sectors of the art world, while leveraging and integrating with what is already in place.

Together, we can increase trust and transparency in the art space, so artists and organizations can gain more value from their art through protected attribution and ownership data, and better management of precious assets.

Thanks for reading!

Our team at the Blockchain Art Collective wants to make sure art world changemakers and innovators — whether individuals or institutions — are having an impact on this growing ecosystem.

Sound like you? Fill out the form to apply to the Blockchain Art Collective Working Group.

Blockchain Art Collective

Art Provenance in the Digital Age

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