Blockchain For Art: What Everyone Is Preparing For In 2019

The blockchain hype cycle is finally dying.

To be honest, that’s a good thing. Those in the industry who are left are actually going to stick around for the long run and continue building the applications everyone has been talking about.

When it comes to what’s being built for the art world, I see blockchain tech diverging into three areas.

  1. First, there will be a fun, project-based sector. This space will be similar to game studios — very focused on the fun and artistic, making use of gamified platforms where people can invest, play around, get educated, and test out different ways blockchain can be incorporated into art.
  2. The second area will concentrate on building out more user-friendly applications. These will use blockchain tech “under the hood” in the way we think of internet-based apps today like Twitter or Instagram, just with different means and ways of handling the storage and transacting of data.
  3. The third area will encompass companies that are building heavy-duty infrastructures, like the protocols, networks, and different kinds of software and hardware that are necessary for blockchain implementation. Much of this infrastructure will focus on the technology surrounding authentication and interoperability, as that’s where some of the most intractable problems in the art world exist.

All three of these segments will open up a wealth of opportunities for those interested in art and blockchain, so now is the time to learn more about how the technology — and the companies using it — are adding real value.

Here’s what to expect from the space over the next year:

There will be more user-friendly distributed ledger technology-based products and solutions.

For blockchain to be worthwhile, it has to get to a tipping point of technological development.

In the past, people have been wary of using decentralized technology at the consumer level due to its nascency and association with the volatility of cryptocurrency markets. Now that we are a few years into its development and socialization, and the fact that just about every large company that touches tech or supply chain has a blockchain-focused arm, the larger public is getting more comfortable with the idea of mainstream adoption.

But we’re still waiting for blockchain to become better integrated with other technologies, which will allow companies and their products to survive and thrive.

While we may not see many new use cases this year as we did in 2018, the exciting part is that we’ll actually see more and more usable solutions from companies like Snark.Art, Swarm, DADA, and our own team at Blockchain Art Collective.

A lot of products out there now, and what will eventually get built, will end up dying.

This will leave space for the important, long-term projects to grow.

And consumer-facing applications and related infrastructure will continue being developed, deployed, and adopted by people who want to support the redistribution of power as it relates to Internet-based products and services, data ownership, and peer-to-peer transacting.

Private implementations of art-based technology will persist.

Due to the potential for major changes in the art world, large players like Christie’s have gotten involved in the blockchain with companies like Artory — and that trend will continue to play out.

People are realizing that new methods of ownership are going to change the art market, and traditional players need to be on their toes to respond successfully. Larger enterprise and more traditional companies will focus on private and hybrid solutions employing blockchain to create business value through interoperability, automation, and data security.

The art world also will start to explore the formation of larger industry consortiums from an academic perspective while building out their own solutions. Just as we’ve seen with urban planning, the art industry has the opportunity to start coordinating at the infrastructure level now instead of having to retrofit and connect disjointed components after everything has been built with different goals in mind.

The art market will grow due to lower barriers for investing and liquidating, and increased trust between buyers and sellers of art.

Fractional ownership through tokenization is opening up investment opportunities for individuals with a variety of net worths, but it’s also changing the investment landscape for those who already have the means to speculate on artworks.

That may also increase the already commodified state of art, which has its positives and negatives.

Yet, more artists will be able to fund the creation of new artworks with more liquidation events, and more museums and galleries will be able to fund new acquisitions or capital projects for those same reasons. And buyers and sellers of art will have increased access to authenticity and provenance records as ownership data becomes directly connected with artworks over time.

All these changes simply mean more people will be drawn to the art community, investigating its potential and trying to find how they can become involved or continue to evolve with the space.

Digital, crypto, and AI-generated art will become accepted as the next genre of art to proceed the post-internet and contemporary art waves.

As an industry, we’ll see more integration of new technologies into the actual creation of artworks from tokenization, gamification, and a new class of computer artists that are producing auction-worthy artworks via machine learning algorithms.

On the creation side of the art world, the use of digital platforms will continue to grow, and that will have an effect on how artwork is purchased and viewed. Art investors and collectors will require new ways to display their art — which is going to create a demand for improved digital displays in lieu of the more traditional painting or print.

The demand for these new art mediums have even gotten to a point that there will be the first Crypto and Digital Art Fair (CADAF) held this spring in New York City by New Art Academy. Platforms like Artnome exist to serve as a critical and objective voice in examining the successes and areas for growth of technological integration with art.

Companies old and new will use more traditional ways of funding and resourcing.

While the ICO hype was booming in 2018, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into a company launching one of these.

I’m using the term “company” loosely here.

A lot of blockchain projects were made of smoke, mirrors, and an exciting white paper — nothing more. But now that the hype has cooled off and the SEC has stepped in, we’re going to see companies that are in it for the long-term looking for more traditional funding. Funding through initial public offerings, secondary public offerings, venture capital, and security token offerings will be seen as viable options.

With that return to more traditional funding, blockchain companies are going to continue adding real business value.

We’ll see the rise of independent or autonomous working groups —and previously mentioned industry consortiums that will find tools to work together. The incentive for individual parties to join these working groups will likely be linked to real solutions in supply chain inventory, financial tracking, and insurance for art.

As these groups evolve, they will slowly learn new practices and carve the path forward for the industry as a whole.

There will be increased technology and business integration.

Mediums and art forms are always evolving, and the addition of blockchain, machine vision, AI, VR, and AR will contribute to that change.

For a long time, we’ve been able to point our phones at QR codes and get more information about them. But what if we could instead use them to scan an image or an artwork and immediately get all the information about that particular piece?

Artist, time period, history, valuation range — it could all pop up on your phone right then and there.

Companies like Smartify are already working on that use case, and there are many others creating exciting solutions for the art world. Cre8.xyz is another platform that allows you to build an integrated reputation across different creative spheres, such as freelance design and community building work.

All in all, if you’re a fan of art with a predilection for tech, it will be worth paying attention to what’s happening in the coming year.


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.