Over the past two weeks, the art world has been rocked back and forth by an unprecedented emergence NFTs. NFT stands for “non-fungible tokens”, which are unique digital files and artworks that are stored on a blockchain. Just last Thursday, March 11, Christie’s auction house closed their first digital NFT artwork by artist Beeple for a whopping 69.3 million US dollars. This body of work titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days” is composed of 5000 works ranging from scenes of children skateboarding whilst drinking cranberry juice, to Pikachu holding onto a goat. Within all this craziness, we spoke to Sage Willows about his take on this market and the body of work he will be auctioning off tomorrow.
What do you think about the current state of the NFT world?
First off, I think we are living in such a fascinating world today. The rapid rise of NFTs are undeniably challenging the traditional ways of the gallery system. I know the technology is here to stay, but I do think that we are in a bubble when it comes to acquisitions that are being made in the NFT world. What I am saying is, a lot of money is getting poured into garbage.
What do you mean “a lot of money is getting poured into garbage”?
The ecosystem of the NFT market is very “monkey-see monkey-do” at the moment. Graphic designers are making open editions of 5000+ works that are being completely sold out within minutes. Everybody wants a piece of this hot cake, and everybody is getting it. That is surely not how works become valuable. It is simple economics and human nature to desire something you cannot have, and in this current market, everyone’s getting what they want. I think it is completely okay to openly talk about economics even as a fine artist.
Why are you planning to release NFT works when it sounds like you are against them?
I still believe paintings should be tangible, and experienced in real life. There is something so special about forming an emotional and spiritual connection with a physical body of work. You see, I never really wanted to make any digital NFT works.
However, upon late nights of deep thinking, I came to a conclusion. I am promising to only make 4 digital NFT works ever in my career. As an artist, it is important to comment on the current society we are living in, to document this ever-changing simulation. With that being said, I felt the desire to make this series of works titled “Doesn’t” “Even” “Exist”, to poke fun at the NFT market and the nature of all of these works not existing in the physical world. I want my collector to sit in front of their computer screen looking at their acquisition, reading, “Doesn’t Even Exist”. I think it’s quite funny while simultaneously challenging perspectives and pushing boundaries.
Why are you limiting yourself by promising to only make 4 digital NFT works?
This is an interesting topic I want to play with. In the physical world, I have some collectors that have come into my studio to buy over 10 works at a time. Next thing you know, the works are delivered to them, and they get driven straight into their vault. Not onto their walls. That raises an eyebrow for me. It is almost as if they want me to pass away, so that the value of my works can exponentially appreciate. Anybody who has studied art history knows that there is a very curious economics to the value of fine artists’ works after they decease.
With this in mind, I am essentially killing myself from the NFT world after I release my 4 works. I don’t feel as if I am going to miss out on anything because I am more interested and fulfilled with creating works that can be physically experienced rather than digital works anyways.
So here’s to those collectors waiting for me to die. Have fun with these NFTs, because in that world, my death is certain, and its approaching quick.
Where will you be releasing your NFT works?
I will be releasing this series on the Foundation platform on Thursday March 18th (tomorrow) at 3:33PM PST. The series will be minted one by one and placed on auction for 24 hours. I suggest you join the platform tonight and get your account all set up so you can join the madness tomorrow.