How NFT startups are changing the art market

NFTs are changing the art market at a breathtaking pace, so start-ups like Pinsl from Stuttgart want to make NFT trading more accessible and more secure. But the hype also attracts dubious providers.

Vinzent von Witten is a founder throughout. He has been active in the start-up scene for about seven years. He talks quickly and in a structured way about topics like AI or blockchain. But when it comes to art, his voice becomes quiet. Then he takes plenty of time to philosophize about the value of works of art. For a long time, von Witten was looking for a way to combine his passions – to start a company, crypto, technology and art. He found him in April 2021: he founded the Stuttgart start-up Pinsl. This is intended to connect the traditional art world with the NFT market.

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. They present an object such as an image on the blockchain. They allow people to own, buy and sell digital files, especially works of art. Each NFT is considered unique. People can still download this, but only the buyer appears as the owner. This should, at best, make trading in works of art much easier. Just creating your own NFT, marketing it and finding a suitable buyer is not that easy. And there can also be problems as a buyer – for example, if you are unsure whether the NFT seller really has the rights to the offered work of art.

Among other things, Von Witten used to work with Hollywood director and Oscar winner Costa-Gavras as a video producer before moving into the start-up world. Since 2015, he has founded several of his own companies. As so often, these did not lead to success, but they teach von Wittem much about foundation. He has been on the move in the crypto scene for a long time: he also set up the Stuttgart Blockchain Future Festival and took care of digitization projects at the financial group W&W, such as a blockchain strategy for board members.

Now he wants to bring order to the wild NFT world with Pinsl. “We are building a user-friendly, serious and legally compatible platform for NFTs in the arts,” von Witten explains. This is expected to be launched in June. By January 2022, von Witten had built the company on his own. Then Nils Dürr joined as co-founder. The founding partners and the first business angels in the project are Johannes Graf Strachwitz and Oliver Rebner from the communications agency 0711, the lawyer Martin Rath and the artist Sebastian Priester. Other start-ups such as Artéq from Vienna and Digitalstage.io and Fanzone from Berlin are also dependent on the NFT market, partly for works of art, but also for music or collectible cards for fans. But can it really work, or is the hype soon over?

Pinsl wants to give artists “water to swim in”.

“Our platform is primarily aimed at traditional actors in the art world,” says von Witten. His team verifies artists, gallery owners and buyers to ensure there are no financial, copyright or other issues. “Artists and retailers should and want to concentrate on art – and not on business and formalities,” von Witten explains. ‘But everyone needs water to swim. That is why we offer the art world a secure framework for NFT trade. ”

Pinsl wants to take over this complicated part – and also offer a platform where people can exchange ideas and act. The start-up also wants to offer social functions: “In this way, the artists can also get to know new potential buyers.” On the one hand, artists can sell so-called “repro NFTs”: scans or photographs of physical works of art as NFTs. On the other hand, they can sell NFTs of digitally created artwork.

“I came up with the idea for Pinsl because I’m friends with a lot of artists, I’ve been interested in art for a long time – and I create art with my favorite media,” von Witten explains. He has already had a small commercial success: In 2012, the famous London museum included Tate Modern T-shirts with collages of him in his artist shop.

Art Market Expert: Artists should definitely deal with NFTs

Art market expert Arne Freiherr von Neubeck is one who believes in the future of NFTs: “For artists who have mastered the ability to market themselves, there is a great opportunity due to the greater reach of digital art,” he says. As someone who has been involved with art since 2008 and is a major player in the German art market with his company The Global Fine Art, he also knows: “But most artists will fail with it, just as they do in the analog world. . “

Von Neubeck believes that “platforms with a boutique character” like Pinsl can certainly play an important role, “allowing artists to position themselves beyond mass-produced goods.” However, these could only help if they “generate enough traffic”. For the very large NFT markets that Opensea has a problem: “The platform is huge. You meet millions of users – but at the same time you also risk getting lost. ”

In any case, von Neubeck strongly advises artists to deal with the NFT case: “If I do not deal with it, the train will roll by.” The current moment in the market is particularly interesting: “The train is already rolling, but the tracks still need to be laid. It is happening at full speed at the moment.” As is so often the case: the early momentum on the one hand carries the risk of failure and setbacks – but great opportunities on the other. However, one should not be junk: The processes are not easy to understand, “scammers lurk and volatility is significant. “

NFTs will find their way into the art market

According to von Neubeck, the NFT hype was so great because the art market came under massive pressure from the pandemic: Fairs, face-to-face auctions and cultural events were canceled. “NFTs have attracted attention as revenue generators,” he notes. People who had not previously been involved in art also expected sales from NFTs: “With them, a completely new target group was introduced to the market. Young people who have earned their fortunes primarily through cryptocurrencies. ”

For there are still some uncertainties with NFTs: physical art is usually more constant in price. And whether the price level of NFTs will remain the same is uncertain: “The market is risky and volatile.” The poor environmental record of the NFTs can also ruin the party in the long run: it already has many NFT critics. At the same time, according to von Neubeck, there is no going back: “The trend is irreversible. NFTs will find their way into the art market. “

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