How NFTs Changed Digital Art And The Fine Art World 

How NFTs Changed Digital Art And The Fine Art World 

Digital art has existed for decades and outside of commercial work has been massively undervalued, unappreciated and excluded from the fine art market. All that is now changing. Despite their brief history, NFTs have changed digital art and the fine art world at large.

According to a report published by that was supported by research firm L’Atelier; NFTs made up some 16% of the Global Art Market in 2021.

In this article, we’ll be looking at how NFTs have changed digital art, the art market and the art world.

Are NFTs A New Form Of Art?

No. NFTs are not in any way an artistic medium or a new art form. Even digital art, which is most commonly represented by NFTs has pre-existed NFTs for decades.

Non-fungible tokens are used to establish ownership and create scarcity, assigning value to the asset being represented.

What are NFTs?

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) can represent ownership in almost anything but are typically tied to digital assets.

Each NFT holds unique data that is stored on a digital ledger that establishes a transparent proof of ownership on the blockchain network. This enables anyone at any time to trace who owns a particular digital asset.

To learn more about NFTs, see our article - What Exactly Are NFTs - Fungible Vs. Non-Fungible Tokens

Fine art NFTs are simply a non-fungible token that represents ownership of a digital piece of fine art, this can be either a digital artwork or a physical artwork that has been converted into a digital format.

How NFTs Changed Digital Art

Digital art is the category of any artwork produced or created using digital technology as part of the process. Digital art examples include photographs, animations, digital paintings, drawings and illustrations, and videos.

Despite being an art form that’s existed for several decades, digital art hasn’t until the use of NFTs been collected in the same way as traditional art has. In part, this is because it was impossible to distinguish an original piece of digital art from a reproduction.

Digital art has always suffered from a lack of recognition from the fine art industry, but NFTs have caused that to change.

Became a valuable asset and collectable commodity 

Before blockchain technology and the ability to clearly authenticate and establish ownership, digital art was easily replicated and as a result, wasn’t classed as valuable.

This lack of value in digital art meant there was no mainstream global market for collecting or trading digital artworks.

NFTs have been the most effective tool for attaching value to digital artworks in the history of the art world. By enabling ownership to be clearly and publicly established and proven, digital art can now be viewed in the same light as any fine art piece in terms of evaluation.

Recognised as art by the establishment

Another downside to the lack of value associated with digital art gave rise to the opinion that it wasn’t classified as ‘real art’, this was especially true within the fine art industry.

One problem with this lack of recognition is that digital art requires the same creative vision and skill as the more traditional art forms. With the basic definition of art being the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination in a typically visual form, it seems ludicrous that digital art wasn’t recognised as real art.

So despite digital art requiring an artist to master his medium and the tools of the trade to effectively express his creative vision, without value in the art market this art form was massively underappreciated.

Since NFTs have been used to attach true market value to digital art, however, the fine art world has been forced to recognise digital art and we’ve even seen some history-making digital art sales, including from big-name auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s.


In summary, NFTs have changed digital art by introducing a way for them to be established as a valuable asset and collectable commodity and as a result, forcing the fine art establishment to recognise digital art as real art in its own right.

How NFTs Changed The Art Market

The biggest reaction to NFTs changing digital art and assigning value to goods that were never previously considered assets is the huge changes NFTs have brought to the art market.

The traditional fine art market has largely relied on paper trails to establish the provenance of artworks and in some high-profile cases throughout the market’s history, there have been forgeries that have managed to slip through the nets and enter the market.

Another common method in the contemporary art market is to issue a certificate of authenticity when a collector purchases an artwork. NFTs function in the same way as a certificate of authenticity but they rely on the cryptographic protocols of blockchain technology instead of paper documentation.

The non-fungible token doesn’t only authenticate the ownership of the artwork, but also records every transfer of the artwork from one owner to another, documenting provenance.

Easily verifiable provenance and publicly-listed transactions remove a lot of uncertainty and this brings about a huge change for the art market going forward. After all, the monetary value of an artwork rests in its authenticity which can be established through the clear documentation of its provenance.

Gave rise to a global art market for digital art

As a result of NFTs introducing a way for digital assets to be owned and the newly associated value of digital art, NFTs have given rise to a global art market specifically focused on the trade and collection of digital art.

The existing art market has adapted and transformed as a way to keep up with this paradigm shift and the digital art market is now widely accepted as being part of the art market as a whole.

Brought a new generation of collectors and investors

The rise of a new global market and the increased value of digital art has also ushered in an entirely new generation of investors, traders and collectors.

This new generation of art market clients is typically made up of a younger generation of tech-savvy collectors that previously had little or no interest in the fine art market.

In summary, NFTs have changed the art market by giving rise to a new, global market focused solely on the trade of digital art, as well as giving rise to a new generation of investors and collectors.

How NFTs Changed The Art World

As well as changing digital art and transforming the art market, NFTs have brought massive changes to the entire art world, and this is especially true where the public is involved.

Because of the value assigned to the established ownership and irrefutable provenance of a fine art NFT, despite the artworks being widely accessible and publicly available, this doesn’t mean the artwork depreciates in value.

All NFTs are publicly available

Another huge change brought to the art world via NFTs is that the digital artworks being represented by the NFTs themselves are publicly available and free to access, whilst still keeping ownership scarce and clearly established. 

The public availability and accessibility of NFTs mean that people benefit from the collective experience of an artwork for educational, social, political and inspirational purposes.

Merged the many private and public benefits of art

Traditional art has numerous practical benefits both privately and publicly, but it also has a number of limitations too, due to its physicality.

Fine art NFTs have taken both the private and public benefits of art and merged them, as well as coming with additional benefits previously unrealised by traditional artworks.

For instance, a private benefit for a traditional art collector is the feeling of ownership and the status that comes with it. A public benefit on the other hand is the collective experience of an artwork. 

NFTs merge these benefits because the associated artwork can be viewed from almost anywhere whilst still being owned by one individual. There are many more instances in which NFTs benefit private owners whilst also having a global public benefit too.

You can learn more about this from our article - The Private And Public Benefits Of NFT Art

In summary, NFTs have changed the art world simply by being publicly available and merging the many private and public benefits of art.

The Takeaway 

It’s clear just how NFTs have changed digital and the fine art world in recent years, and the future is looking promising for this continuation of digital art retaining its recognition as real art and having value.

With digital artworks now being displayed in art galleries in the same manner as traditional fine art, the medium has become more accessible than ever, as well as appealing to the existing audience that enjoys the physical experience of art.

It’s also worth noting that as our world becomes more and more digitised and virtual, there will be a growing demand for digital and virtual commodities, such as fine art NFTs.


Learn More About Fine Art NFTs

Zeno Fine Art is a pioneering art publishing house, connecting galleries to artists and providing a quality worth collecting. 

If you’re an art gallery, business or collector looking to learn more about NFTs as well as discover Zeno Fine Art’s exclusive NFT collection: 

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