Understanding Digital Art & Blockchain — the basics for digital artists

A look at the fundamentals behind blockchain technology’s impact on digital art and how it can work for digital artists

5 min readNov 27, 2019


Digital art itself is not a new medium, artists have been creating art digitally for years. Since Apple released the Lisa in 1984, users have been able to “paint” works digitally with far less material and money than many traditional mediums had allowed. Over the past couple of decades, the art world has seen a proliferation of projects, exhibitions, institutions and sales arise around digital art.

If you’re an artist interested in blockchain, this article can serve as a guide to understanding the significance of the technology.

How does blockchain add value to digital art?

The thing that makes blockchain revolutionary for digital art is the ability to prove authenticity and scarcity for digital artworks. Before blockchain, a digital artwork could be copied identically, making it difficult to build a market around digital art. If one could very easily make an identical copy of a digital artwork, how was the artist expected to prove his or her work was the original and sell it as a unique piece?


Blockchain’s ledger technology, which acts as a public record tracking system, makes it possible for anyone to track the history of an artwork. This allows you (the artist) to show the entirety of the artwork’s life on this publicly trackable database, therefore proving the authenticity of a digital artwork in a way that was impossible to do before. An artwork has value when it is unique or authentic, and now digital art can be measured within the same parameters as physical or traditional art.


Not only does tracking a digital artwork via blockchain allow you to prove a work is authentic, but it also allows you to prove its scarcity. Provable scarcity are buzzwords around digital art and blockchain, but what do they really mean? Through blockchain capability, you can create a work on a token called a non-fungible token (NFT). Only works that are tracked on the blockchain as unique tokens are the originals, meaning you can prove which works are original and therefore create scarcity for your digital pieces.

What is an NFT?

Non-fungible tokens, or ERC-721s, are tokens that represent a unique asset and therefore are not interchangeable. In the case of Codex, every Codex Record is a unique NFT. Which means every artwork you create and register on a Codex Record is provably unique, creating a much more valuable digital asset.

Creating rare, digital art on Codex

As we’ve established, a Codex Record is a unique token on the blockchain that can be used to prove authenticity of a digital asset. You can register your digital artworks onto Codex Records and then sell the Codex Record as it holds the artwork’s image and the entire history of the work. Just as one would buy a painting in a gallery and receive a receipt and any provenance documentation the gallery has, the same is all aggregated directly on the Codex Record.

Here’s how that process actually works:

  • An artist creates an account on Codex, either through their email / gmail account or through a MetaMask wallet. The artist now has a unique identity on Codex and the Ethereum blockchain known as a wallet address
  • The artist creates a Codex Record and uploads the artwork onto the Record with any accompanying files, descriptions and title
  • The Record’s creation and any modifications are tracked on the blockchain and the hashes of those actions are recorded on the Codex Record, allowing viewers to verify the authenticity of the artwork. For an in-depth explanation of the hashes and recording provenance on the blockchain, read this article.
  • The Codex Record, which is now the artwork’s fingerprint on the blockchain, can be bought and sold as a rare piece of art. All Codex Records are automatically indexed onto OpenSea Marketplace, where the works can be sold. Rare digital can also be bought on other digital art marketplaces, like SuperRare, KnownOrigin and Rare Art .

If you’re an artist and want to learn more about creating a gallery on Codex and securing your art digitally on the blockchain, check out this informational article or email corinne@codexprotocol.com!

Written by Corinne Moshy

About Codex

Codex is the leading decentralized asset registry for the $2 trillion arts & collectibles (“A&C”) ecosystem, which includes art, fine wine, collectible cars, antiques, decorative arts, coins, watches, jewelry, and more. Codex will be adopted by the Codex Consortium, a group of major stakeholders in the A&C space who facilitate over $6 Billion in sales to millions of bidders across tens of thousands of auctions from 5,000 auction houses in over 50 countries.

To learn more about Codex initiatives, visit our white paper. To inquire about partnerships and developing dApps using the Codex Protocol, please contact us via Telegram or Twitter




Codex is the leading decentralized registry for the $2 trillion arts & collectibles ("A&C") ecosystem. Our Publication: https://medium.com/codexprotocol/latest