Will NFTs turn tattoos into bankable art?
The best tattoo artists are in high demand, their work is displayed on some of the most visible real estate in the world: LeBron James shoulders, Scarlett Johansson’s back, Post Malone’s face.
But you can’t hang tattoos in a gallery or auction them off at Sotheby’s. They live and die (unless removed first) with their owner. It also means that the most in-demand tattoo artists are always paid by the hour, just as many were when they were learning to decorate the biceps of sailors and bikers.
Artists don’t usually get paid by the hour, said Scott Campbell, 44, a Los Angeles tattoo artist who inked Robert Downey Jr., Jennifer Aniston and Marc Jacobs. “Musicians are not paid based on the time it takes them to create a song. You would never go into a gallery thinking, “How long did it take the artist to paint it?” I’ll pay him for his time. ”
Mr. Campbell, working with fellow tattoo artists like Mark Machado (known as Mr. Cartoon) and Brian Woo (Dr. Woo), wants to change that equation.
This week, Mr. Campbell opens an online marketplace, All our best, where tattoo artists can offer their designs as permanent and tradable products in the form of NFTs.
To refresh: an NFT, which stands for non-fungible token, is essentially a digital seal of authenticity that can be bought, sold, or traded like cryptocurrency on a blockchain. We are far from the world of tattooing, where stars in the field see their income capped at around $ 1,000 per hour for a session of one to three hours, even when working on Hollywood stars.
In this new market, customers will buy the exclusive rights to the tattoo design, rather than the tattoo itself. “I’m selling you an idea, instead of a few hours of my life,” said Mr. Campbell, who has blurred the line between tattooing and fine art for years, showing his tattoo-inspired sculptures and paintings in pictures. galleries and art fairs. . “The NFT is essentially a digital baseball card.”
As a property benefit, buyers get a guaranteed spot with the tattoo artist – that’s no small feat, as the best tattoo artists can be nearly impossible to book for those outside of the celebrity orbit.
But it is not obligatory. Some owners may choose to preserve their virgin skin.
In theory, owners of NFT tattoos could even have a different tattoo artist apply the ink, while still claiming the work as a genealogical original. (Copying tattoos without the artist’s permission is an endemic problem.)
Initially, All Our Best will only feature a handful of well-known artists: Mr. Campbell, Mr. Cartoon, Dr Woo, Dirt, Sean from Texas and Tati Compton. Mr Campbell plans to expand the list and eventually open up the market for any tattoo artist to sell their work.
He’s not the only tattoo artist who sees an opportunity in the blockchain. An artist from Portland, Me., Named Brad wooten, for example, sells photos of digitally designed tattoos in NFT form.
The earning potential is considerable. The prices for the first set of NFT tattoos on All Our Best will range from $ 1,000 to $ 10,000. Blockchain technology also allows artists to collect a 10% royalty each time a work is resold.
Customers also benefit if the work is appreciated, unlike the current setup where “the only thing they take away from the deal is an Instagram post and some bragging rights,” Campbell said. “They actually have something that they can keep and pass on to their children, who have a life beyond just being that thing on their arm that in 10 years will be sunburned and blurry anyway.”