Traditional Art vs NFTs

While many critics, curators, artists, and other activists within (and outside) the traditional art world have a radical negative opinion on “NFT art” , we should not close to the escalation that digital art has since Beeple sold his NFT work. $69.3 usd million at Christie’s auction house. Thinking about the pop culture that permeates crypto art and its link to society, I remember when Andy Warhol made his Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1962, thus far resisting the definition of a modern artist pre-established by critic and dissolving the boundaries between high and popular culture. Like Duchamp said: If a man takes fifty Campbell’s Soup Cans and paints them on a canvas, it is not the retinal image which concerns us. What interests us is the concept that wants to put fifty Campbell’s Soup Cans on canvas.

Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962, Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987). Synthetic polymer paint on thirty-two canvases, Each canvas 20 x 16″ (50.8 x 40.6 cm). Overall installation with 3″ between each panel is 97″ high x 163″ wide. Digital Image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Skala, Florence ©. The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Licensed by Dacs, London.

Following Duchamp’s logic, what interests me about NFT art? In particular, and for the first time I see a decentralized art market where artists can sell their works directly to the client and earn a commission on each resale. Whether the work is “art” or not depends on the person making it and the buyer, and to be honest, I don’t think it differs much from the traditional art world in terms of plagiarism and copying. Throughout my experience as a curator, I have heard complaints from artists whose works have been marketed at a lower price without their consent.
I am also aware of cybercrimes that threaten the stability of works and their market. I am still not convinced of the limits of protection offered by platforms and the complete security of wallets. Hackers have always existed, and we are all vulnerable to theft. To know more about crimes against traditional art, I invite you to read the journal of the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA).
Regarding the morpho-conceptual level of the works, the answer is simple: there are many pieces that do not transcend the jpg “aesthetic” and others that are interesting due to their form and content. My choice specifically leans towards generative art. I am not worried about the ego of some or not being accepted in the “clubs”, but I do believe that for months the inclusivity and equality that was the initial idea of a community-autonomous ecosystem has been at risk. I understand the NFT as a technology that allows creating bridges towards creativity, interconnection, and decentralization of art. If the human being is not perfect, why does a community have to be?
If artists are selling their work more easily in NFT than in the traditional market, it is because it obviously works for them to do so. The inflation that may exist right now with some pieces, like Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) has also existed for years in traditional art where the Blue Chips get richer, and the emerging ones survive thanks to grants from some governments or funds. In this point I agree with Daniel Van Boom: “What makes BAYC or any other NFT collection valuable is highly subjective. Broadly, it’s a mix of three things. Influencer/celebrity involvement, community strength and utilities for members.”
NFT is not just about CryptoPunks and Bored Ape, there are many more artists releasing projects every day, some of them shows that it’s not all about money and ego but about collaboration, while others fall short of the dream of becoming millionaires. The gap, as it happens in the world of traditional art, grows daily. Hopefully traditional art and NFT collaborate more, barriers are broken, and new doors continue to open towards a metaverse without a Machiavellian plan. I do not think it is fair to judge NFT art only by the attitude of a celebrity club and, I do not deny that there are already differences between the positions of the NFT community and the way they conceive a project.

A collage featuring a selection of the Bored Apes offered in Lot one, Sotheby’s. Source ARTnews.

I am more worried by the environmental contamination than by the aesthetic quality of an NFTs work. And I hope that urgent solutions will be found to these problems that have been affecting human coexistence in nature for decades.

According to Eric Dunne, contributor to Inside Bitcoin “The Aviation Industry is responsible for around 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, as per the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The amount of emissions caused by this industry is equivalent to the overall emissions of Germany. 900 million tonnes of CO2 were produced by flights around the world annually. Though the exact figures regarding the total carbon emissions made by all NFT transactions in a single year, however, it is estimated that the carbon emissions concerning NFTs- Ethereum transactions produce a carbon footprint of 260 MWh, 160 tonnes of CO2 within six months from an artist’s multi-edition NFTs. These data show if millions of NFT transactions take place in a year, then they have the potential of crossing the total carbon emissions caused by the aviation industry.”

What are the general differences between traditional art and NFT?

Traditional art uses conventional mediums that have existed, been developed, and expanded over time. Digital art uses digital technologies to make art, including NFT blockchain. 


TA – Original work can be reproduced as many times as possible the artists, or the market decide

NFTs- Unique certificate of authenticity

Production location

TA – Digital / physical space

NFTs – Blockchain (Ethereum has the largest NFT ecosystem)

Visibility (Hybrid)

TA – Physical and Digital space

NFTs – Physical and Digital space


TA – Primary and Secondary Market, intermediaries. Generally, once the artist sells the artwork (s), they will not receive any further payment for the resale of the piece (s) by other auction houses, dealers or collectors, with some exceptions such as the UK’s implementation of the EU Artist’s Resale Right Directive, living artists are entitled to receive a resale royalty each time an art market professional sells their artwork in the UK, subject to certain conditions.

NFTs – Direct sales through platforms such as Foundation, Open Sea and Superrare. The artist always receives a percentage of the resale of the work. In the primary market, the artist receives a 90% commission and the platform 10%. In the secondary market, the artist receives a minimum of 5% for each sale of his work, another 5% is divided between the platforms and 90% to the collector or reseller. These agreements may change depending on the work contract.

Payment method

TA – Traditional ways of banking (Centralized)

NFTs – Digital wallets on a specific blockchain (Decentralized)


TA – Physical space to keep the artworks

NFTs – Digital media


TA – People need to visit a museum or gallery to see the artwork: not everything you can find on Internet.

NFTs – People can access to the artwork with a laptop, telephone, tablet and others digital media.


TA – Physical certificate of authenticity (Generally auction houses share the Provenance of the artworks so the client can see the ownership details).

NFTs- Smart contract (Everyone can see the ownership details from the beginning clicking the contract address, some community members claim that this method is more transparent).


TA – In order for a work of authorship to meet the requirements for copyright protection, the work must satisfy two basic criteria: originality and fixation.

NFTs – NFTs are likely not protected by copyright, because they do not meet the basic criteria for copyright protection. Selling an NFT is not transferring or assigning copyright to the buyer. However, it would be possible to do so if it was expressly agreed by both parties in a written contract.


TA – The interests of each artist vary and there are communities of artists or independent artists who work in the community.

NFTs – Currently the community is large and “inclusive” and has different communication and debate platforms such as Discord.

Favorite Social Network

TA – The favorite network to share and promote the work is Instagram.

NFTs – Twitter is the platform chosen by the NFTs.

Artist’s profile (You don´t become an artist, you are an artist)

TA – With some exceptions like Banksy, they have an outside profile and people can know who it is.

NFTs – Not all the artists can be easily identified and remain undercover.


TA – In general, to get success needs the intellectual or expert validation of the art world.

NFTs – Some projects collaborate with critics or curators, but it is not indispensable to be recognized.

by Maylin Pérez


[1] Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs are crypto assets on a blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other. Unlike cryptocurrencies, they cannot be traded or exchanged on an equivalent basis. This differs from fungible tokens like cryptocurrencies, which are identical to each other and can therefore be used as a medium for business transactions.

[2] Van Boom, Daniel: The Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection: Everything you need to know,