- TikTok held a live painting workshop last week.
- Artist Franky Aguilar tokenized his painting on the Ethereum blockchain.
- It's up for sale for 50 ETH ($54,000).
A graphical artist painted a still of a golden boombox at a live painting workshop in the Los Angeles offices of TikTok last week. Yesterday, he minted a single cryptocurrency token to represent the artwork.
Should anyone buy the painting, which is going for 250 ETH ($54,468), they’ll also receive the token as a certificate of authenticity, which contains metadata around the location, size, and materials used.
“I'm really trying to create scarcity in my work, so that the people that own one of my pieces are like, ‘Yo, like this guy only ever made twenty of these, ever,’” the artist, Franky Aguilar, 33, of Las Vegas, told Decrypt.
Aguilar paints outside the TikTok headquarters. Image: Rick R.L.
To link the paintings to the blockchain, Aguilar videos himself painting (he calls its “proof of work”) and scribbles the token ID for each token on each painting.
He’s been minting digital tokens of his artwork since 2017, and has sold 10 paintings on the blockchain art platform, KnownOrigin, to date.
Unlike his painting, Aguilar’s thinking isn’t entirely original: the world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) is based upon bestowing uniqueness upon digital assets. CryptoKitties, for instance, hashes its cats’ genetic code into the blockchain; each virtual cat is unique, and—like trading cards—that’s how they get their value.
Aguilar celebrates with a dab. IMAGE: Rick R.L.
The move toward scarcity is at odds with the principles of the internet, which since its conception has provided unlimited amounts of free, duplicable art. Digital ownership stopped making sense as soon as streaming services became a viable alternative. Aguilar, too, used to make his living by selling millions of digital stickers and emojis as a graphic designer.
“I was working for Zynga at the time and I started building my own mobile apps that would allow users to put artwork on their photos,” he said. “The idea was quite simple: I would let users purchase my digital artwork and stick it all over their photos.”
But Aguilar sees worth in fine, one-of-a-kind art, and he sees the copy-paste stuff as nothing more than marketing. “A painting is unique. It's one of a kind. You can see all of the brush strokes; you can see the pencil marks; you can see everything that makes it raw and analog and organic, and it lives in the physical space,” he said.
He calls his art style “high resolution,” since the colors he uses are “near RGB, and the black lines that I use are so tight that they’re basically retina display.” He said, “For me, it's less about emotion; it's more about the approach and [a] mastery of materials and skills.”
The final painting, now selling for 50 ETH. Image: Rick R.L.
In the future, Aguilar considers playing with the idea of integrating blockchain further into his paintings, like writing code on the canvas that, if someone illuminated it with a black light, would link back to the token. “Then you get into like some DaVinci code, national treasure stuff where people find a painting and do forensics on it and they're like, ‘Oh, check it out. There's actually a token on the Ethereum blockchain for this painting.’” he said.
Perhaps the plot for Dan Brown’s next book?
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