How much can you earn from a selfie? Singaporean influencer Irene Zhao and Indonesian student Sultan Gustaf Al Ghozali will answer: “millions”.

Zhao and Ghozali are the hottest names in the cryptocurrency world, as NFTs in the form of their pictures rake in over $7.5 million and $1 million respectively.

NFTs, non-fungible tokens, is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain. However, it isn’t just a means for individuals to earn quick bucks. It stores and protects digital content- such as songs and images- in cryptocurrency blockchains, providing opportunities for artists to showcase their artworks.

JABA during LIMITS semi-finals

JABA, a Singapore-based artist who have won the recent NFT-integrated art championship organised by LIMITS, believes that NFTs is an element that will be unavoidable in the art scene.

NFTs versus traditional art

JABA, formally known as Didier “Jaba” Mathieu, finds NFTs an interesting concept.

As a graffiti writer, Mathieu experiences the disparity- the rationale and conditions- between creating art for the streets and the meta world.

Interacting with the passersby while painting, or simply allowing them to visually enjoy his work, is all part of the process. On the other hand, his computer screen is his only audience when he creates NFTs.

Despite his preference of creating art in the real world, Mathieu acknowledges the immense potential NFTs have on the art scene.

JABA. Flatten (2020), JABA

Not only does it provide artists the opportunity to showcase their works, due to the traction NFTs are gaining, it is a new marketplace for them. Artists can even label the same artwork with different underlying codes, allowing duplicates of the original work.

“This would not be seen in my street art. Imagine seeing two identical artworks on two wall murals, with nothing to differentiate them.”

While there is some buzz about NFTs replacing traditional art, Mathieu sees it as an enhancement instead. For instance, it allows him to integrate his street art into NFTs. Street art lasts as long as the buildings they are created on and there are only a few organisations that preserve them by converting them into digital copies and minting them as NFTs.

“I believe through the use of NFTs to promote traditional art, we street artists can revitalize the art scene in Singapore, and even across the global art industry.”

INKSHEPHERD. Alien Invasion (2014)

Meanwhile, the first-runner up of LIMITS, Aaron Lin, finds no trouble integrating his work into an NFT. Lin, with the alias INKSHEPHERD, spends most of his career in the digital art world as a game character designer.

When creating NFTs, Lin creates a theme for his artworks, so that they can be sold as a collection.

Doubling up as a Game Art Lecturer in Nanyang Polytechnic, Lin notices that his classes are getting bigger. Similarly, Mathieu has noticed more people painting in the streets.

The global art scene has been growing steadily, and both artists believe that NFTs will continue to enhance the industry. Lin notices that companies have been hiring artists for NFT projects. Furthermore, artists like himself have also been more motivated to create art due its profitability.

“I believe we are living in times where art and the artist is a very important way or role to influence people to reflect our way of life and the difficulties we are going through as a society,” said Mathieu.

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