Memes from the early 2000s pull in millions whilst some artists are still struggling to find their place in the crypto-sphere and some collectors still aren’t sure exactly what they’re buying. 

It’s undeniable that in 2021 NFTs have seen an unprecedented rise to fame. What is normally a predominantly male dominated space and widely regarded as ‘nerdy’ as it falls under the umbrella of cryptocurrency and the blockchain, saw an influx of mainstream users attracted by influencers and celebrities releasing their own NFTs. Worldwide interest in NFTs peaked in March of 2021, around the same time that award winning music artist Grimes released her own line of NFTs. Hers in particular made $5.8 million in under 20 minutes.

Since Grimes, many other pop culture celebrities have created their own NFTs, Paris Hilton, Kings of Leon, Snoop Dogg, and Lindsay Lohan to name just a few. The amazing thing about NFTs is their potential, you can tokenize anything from music, art, live experiences, even homes and properties.

Google searches of NFTs shot up during February and March of 2021

Many famous memes have received the NFT treatment and have done amazingly well financially. Turns out the idea of physically owning an iconic piece of pop culture is invaluable, with popular memes such as Disaster Girl and Charlie Bit Me reaching $500,000 each. Whilst this is really exciting for the meme creators, it can cast a shadow over the NFT industry and the hard working artists behind it, meaning it’s not taken as seriously as it should be as people cannot understand how something they saw online years ago can now sell and be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It could be argued that this change in the industry is a bad thing, as many hard working artists who have been working within the industry since the beginning back in 2012 still haven’t ‘broken out’ or had their chance at success, and it has now been drastically reduced further due to the introduction of celebrities. The shadow that they cast over smaller artists can be simply too much for everyone to achieve success equally, which is a big aspect of the blockchain and crypto technology, to decentralize assets and give everyone power back when it comes to their finances. Now, the rich and powerful are staying rich and powerful by using the tools and community developed by hard working crypto creators. Whilst not necessarily ‘fair’, it’s happening, and there are a few good sides to this too. 

For one, simply having more people in the crypto space ensures its future, mass adoption and trust is key to the future of the blockchain, without it, the links could break down. Celebrity endorsement will naturally create more trust and use within their audience. As mentioned before, the crypto community is predominantly white males and it’s seen as a techy nerdy subject, with the endorsement of the likes of Paris Hilton, comes a lot more people thinking “Wait a minute, I can get involved with this too” and thus becoming part of the community and expanding the blockchain.

We spoke to photographer and digital artist Susana De Dios who has a successful and expansive career in print photography and decided to mint some works as NFTs but has struggled to break through yet. “I think celebrities and influencers joining this space is inevitable” She said “We have to respect it, they have their own audience that they bring to the community, so I’m hoping that it’s not necessarily a bad thing as it can bring a lot of new people to the space and makes them aware of NFTs who may have always thought the crypto world isn’t for them.”

An example of Susana De Dios work

These people aren’t just going to be coming to the NFT and crypto art industry, but also the crypto currency industry meaning that the market could rocket, and potentially newer lower priced cryptos will rise to fame as a way to avoid the current sky high gas fees and market prices for Bitcoin and Ethereum. Truly, NFTs are just the tip of the crypto iceberg, there are companies within the crypto world offering IDO launchpads to crypto token start-ups. Take for example; Next-gen IDO launchpad Scaleswap. They operate on level 2 so the gas fees are much lower and the security is higher. It’s possible that level 2 will become the industry standard, thus making room for someone other than Bitcoin and Ethereum.

“The industry is very fast paced and it’s very much a full time job keeping up with your timeline and social media. This is a revolutionary industry and I really hope it can survive and to do so we have to keep up and adapt” Susana De Dios added. 

Despite NFTs rising to fame in 2021, they have actually been around since 2012 so they’re not a new concept as much as they are newly popular and more readily available. The first NFT is widely regarded as ‘Coloured coins’ which were a token to summarise an amount of bitcoin, whether it be a whole bitcoin, or a single satoshi (the smallest measurement of Bitcoin). These had their downsides as it wasn’t backed by the blockchain, so if one person decided that their coloured coin did not equate to money or property, then the whole system would fall apart.

Three of the coloured coins that started this all.

The public is yet to widely accept NFTs as commonplace in society as there’s still widespread confusion on rights to ownership, and what you are actually buying or paying for. As with crypto, governments will have to catch up and set out guidance on NFTs, because it is a new and very fast paced industry, no standards or law have been set at this time. Ways that the government can set guidelines is by introducing trading standards and tax on sales made on the blockchain.

Overall, what benefits the NFT industry is the unpredictability and excitement of it all. It’s a market that some artists are literally begging to be in, as some platforms are invite only. No one really knows what’s in the future for NFTs, but before it can be widely accepted there needs to be more education and transparency in the industry so that the people who haven’t yet been convinced in 10+ years of Bitcoin and cryptos can be welcomed into the Blockchain world.