By Richard Nieva
Artist Ryan Maloney had planned a conventional launch for his latest project, a series of collector cards called Beastly Ballers that feature cartoon creatures decked out in football gear. The New Canaan, Connecticut-based illustrator was going to use a Chinese printer to package the cards; then he'd market them online and sell them at $4.99 for a pack of 10.
Instead, Maloney skipped the physical product all together. He listed the card images on the online marketplace OpenSea as NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, the digital assets that are upending the art world. Maloney had followed the rise of the technology and decided to give it a try...
In a way, NFTs restore a dynamic that's sustained the art world for centuries...
"Humans put real meaning on the original," says Coye Cheshire, a social psychologist at the UC Berkeley School of Information. "There's a connection. It connects them to a time and place."
Coye Cheshire is a professor in the UC Berkeley School of Information.