Nowadays, people can scroll through websites like Rarible to browse through collections of art. Not only that, but anyone can upload a work of art onto Rarible and set it for sale. Rarible creates another pipeline of access into the art world, since anything can be considered art, and everyone can create art now and upload it to the website. Not only that, but people are now able to bid in online auctions, and quickly complete transactions. These processes which used to be completed completely in person are now much faster and have increased the number of art sales globally.
Prior to the internet, people used physical materials, like oils on canvas, to create art pieces. Art isn’t a new phenomenon, in fact, ancient civilizations created art on cave walls, on papyrus, and even in clay or stone. Art, one can argue, is a form of technology humanity has used to carry meaning through the millennia, even prior to the invention of writing. How did people buy or sell art just before the internet, however?
Buying and selling art used to be a VIP experience due to the reliance on a network of relationships between auction houses, art dealers, gallerists, collectors and advisors, and artists, which presented a huge barrier to entry. Since personal relationships between art collectors and the rest of the art community can only be forged over a long duration of time, it was nearly impossible to enter that realm quickly or as someone who wasn’t a famous person or had political or social influence. The lucky few had access to auction houses or art galleries where they could browse through collections of art (in-person, of course) and buy artwork through those institutions. However, paying for an art purchase was time consuming, since buyers had to wait for clearance from banks or other third parties to validate the transaction. To sum up, prior to the internet, there have been many hurdles the average person had to overcome in order to participate in the art industry.
Despite the promise the crypto-art industry shows, the world continues to remain dominated by elite art auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Despite the fact that the art industry doesn’t feel threatened by websites like Rarible or OpenSea (another NFT trading platform), there is definitely a new ease of access for the average person who does want to invest in art. Blockchain has sped up transactions and reduced the amount of time it takes to authenticate a work of art, as well as protects the privacy of its users and authenticates transactions quickly. Augmented reality allows people to preview how the art piece will look like on their wall before buying it. These new technologies have definitely improved a lot of road-blocks people were facing with the way that art was being bought and sold in the past.