Something happened recently, which I still don’t completely understand, but I’m doing my best to figure it out. My mind is starting to wrap itself around the idea that someone paid over seven hundred thousand dollars for a digital art collection through Nifty Gateway. The digital artist known as Beeple sold a collection of his “Everyday” creations, and the auction results were incredible.
Who Is Beeple, What Is Beeple?
Beeple is Mike Winkelmann, a digital artist in Charleston, SC, who creates dystopian themed graphic artwork using Cinema 4D and Octane software. He’s created short films, Creative Commons VJ loops, everydays, and VR / AR work. His following is enormous and growing rapidly by the day. In fact, the artist’s portfolio also grows by the day, thanks to his “everyday” project, where he’s created one piece of art every single day for over ten years.
It’s not easy to describe the work of Beeple. Dystopian, post-apocalyptic, satirical, futuristic, weird, grotesque, these are all attempts to define Beeple. But there’s no simple way to explain his creations.
Some creations seem to simply appear in front of us, and we forget the long story leading up to their appearance. Mike Winkelmann wanted to get better at drawing, so he figured the best way to accomplish his goal was to do one sketch every day.
Pretty simple idea, but over the course of over 12 years now, his one sketch per day idea morphed into some of the most unique digital art creations ever made.
There was an illustrator named Tom Judd who Winkelmann noticed doing a sketch-a-day way back in 2007. Winkelmann would also begin one sketch a day and post it online, even though nobody could see it. He had zero followers. There was no Twitter. It was just, in his words during a recent interview, “a good way to get better.”
In the same interview found here at School of Motion, he said his drawings still “sucked” after a year, but there was an improvement. “Everydays” were never part of a master plan or marketing catchphrase. There was no focus group or target market where a digital product would be rolled out to the masses in some grand scheme. Beeple Everydays began as a guy trying to learn something and doing it every day.
The School of Motion podcast interview continues. The host begins to inquire about certain skills Winkelmann might be able to share with listeners interested in learning and creating digital works. They discuss Cinema 4D and other super-powerful software applications used to create art and short films. Finally, the interviewer asks, “do you have any system?”
Winkelmann gives his answer, and it’s a common theme found in great artists of any kind. There is no magic bullet, no secret formula, no hidden trick for huge success. He simply says, “The system is doing something every single day.”
Chances are, if you are new to the idea of digital art, you still don’t know what Beeple Everydays are. I could go on and on attempting to explain more, but I’ll give up, for now. Watch the Instagram clip below and watch the man himself try to explain his creations.
So if you’re Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, with creative artwork millions of people seem to enjoy, why not sell a couple, right? That’s exactly what he did. One problem, how do you sell a digital creation?
Long story short, you can create a copy of it in the physical form, much like a baseball card, and sell it. There, now people can purchase your digital art and keep it on their bookshelf. But wait, there’s more.
Winkelmann decided to auction part of his Everyday collection as non-fungible tokens on Nifty Gateway. A non-fungible token is a unique, digital item with blockchain managed ownership recorded in a smart contract. Everything from digital art to domain names to physical assets can be tracked through this technology, proving ownership to the world for the rest of eternity, theoretically.
The auction was a success, to put it mildly. Over one weekend, Beeple sold $3.5 million worth of Everydays. Demand was off the charts, and sales continue in the aftermarket with prices even beyond the original sales prices.
Nifty Gateway and Beeple have officially announced their arrival to the digital art world and the art establishment as a whole. Many collectors are starting to recognize buying and selling art in non-fungible token form might be a train that’s just starting to roll.
Beeple Is Real, Folks
With news of his multi-million dollar sale recently on Nifty Gateway, some people say Beeple is the new craze among art collectors. Once you take some time to learn more about this latest and greatest fad to make a splash, you realize it was the daily grind of more than a decade that slowly sharpened Winkelmann’s skills day after day. There was no epiphany. There was never a groundbreaking event or sudden discovery that launched Beeple into legendary status. Just hard work applied diligently, one day at a time.
Even after doing your own investigation on digital art and NFTs, you still might be wondering if this is real or just a crazy marketing ploy or promotional stunt? It’s real and here to stay. The technology supporting digital artists and how their creations are bought and sold is massively growing with each passing day. It’s not only very real, but it’s also, in the words of creator Mike Winkelmann, “pretty fuckin cool.”