Token tattoos at Tokyo’s premier crypto art fair

TOKYO: Tokyo tattoo artist Ichi Hatano’s usual activities declined during the pandemic, but now he wants to extract a new stream of income from the first crypto art exhibition in Japan.

Hatano’s ink featuring Japanese folk creatures was especially popular with foreign visitors until Japan closed its borders to tourists due to COVID-19. Hatano has now gone digital, selling his designs as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), virtual items that have taken the art world by storm.

“It’s great for artists to have a new market, it opens up a lot of possibilities,” said the 44-year-old, who has five digital works of art for sale at the show, which opened on the weekend. -end last in Tokyo.

Ichi Hatano Now Offers His Japanese Folk Tattoos As Digital Artworks Protected By Blockchain Technology AFP / Philip FONG

Using the same blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies, NFTs turn everything from artwork to memes into virtual collectibles that cannot be duplicated.

They have become popular this year and are now traded at major auction houses, generating several hundred million dollars in transactions each month.

Although he traded his familiar canvas of human skin for pixels, Hatano said the creative process was the same.

“This is the emergence of a new economy, a new way of valuing art,” he told AFP, saying he hoped that technology would allow creators like him to reach a wider audience.

Hatano hopes to get around $ 1,400-2,400 for digital versions of his famous Japanese folk art tattoos

Hatano hopes to get around $ 1,400-2,400 for digital versions of his famous Japanese folk art tattoos at CrypTokyo AFP / Philip FONG

His work is one of 150 NFTs by dozens of artists exhibited at the “CrypTokyo” exhibition in the trendy Harajuku district of the Japanese capital.

Screens on the walls show a rotating selection of the works, the NFTs of which can be purchased online with Dai and Ethereum cryptocurrencies for amounts ranging from a few hundred dollars to around US $ 50,000. Hatano hopes to pocket between $ 1,400 and $ 2,400 for each of his offers.

Some of the most expensive works are by Maxim, frontman of British electropunk group The Prodigy and recently converted to NFT art.

“PART OF EVERYDAY EXISTENCE”

Any digital creation can be marketed virtually as an NFT, allowing artists to monetize digital art by giving boasting buyers unique property rights – even though the work can be reproduced endlessly online.

Classic elements of internet culture, from GIFs to home videos, have been auctioned off for huge sums. In March, American digital artist Beeple became one of the world’s three most valuable living artists when an NFT of one of his works sold for $ 69.3 million.

But in Japan, there is still a way to go before crypto art becomes a mainstay, said Yasumasa Yonehara, 62, an artist exhibiting at the show.

“NFTs are known in Japan for selling tweets by famous people for astronomical sums of money, and few know what it really is,” he said.

Artist Yasumasa Yonehara said Japan has been slow to embrace crypto art, with CrypTokyo organizers

Artist Yasumasa Yonehara said Japan has been slow to embrace crypto art, with CrypTokyo organizers hoping to dispel some skepticism towards NFTs AFP / Philip FONG

An authenticated version of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet – the very first on the social network – was sold in March for $ 2.9 million.

Japanese buyers always approach the format with caution, agreed exhibition curator Sascha Bailey, 27.

“The problem that a lot of people have with NFT art is’ how do I live with it, how do I interact with it in my everyday life,” Bailey, who runs the platform, told AFP. Blockchain Art Exchange international sales office.

“What we’re trying to do here, at least in the proto-stages, is show how it can be part of your daily existence.”

Some digital works shown at CrypTokyo have augmented reality features, coming to life when viewed

Some digital works on display at CrypTokyo have augmented reality features, coming to life when viewed through a smartphone screen AFP / Philip FONG

Some of the static works have augmented reality features – coming to life when viewed through a smartphone screen – and discussions with artists are also scheduled during the three-week exhibition.

French artist Botchy-Botchy, 48, sold his first NFT at the Tokyo show.

“The real plus is that the artist receives royalties for each resale of his token,” he said. And in the art industry, “it’s really new.”

Bailey said he sees Beeple’s massive sale as “an exception” and believes that greater value lies in the potential of NFTs to spark wider creativity.

“Maybe (the sale of Beeple) was important in showing the traditional art world that it’s a competitive thing… I see crypto art as the most powerful and the most meaningful when it helps people. small artists, ”he said.


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