Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Fine and Decorative Art and Design

First Advisor

Brendan Burns

Second Advisor

Lawrence Motz


Prior to 2014, the art industry did not know a lot about NFTs and the benefits of
blockchain technology. That is because when the technology was created in 2008,
it had nothing to do with art. In fact, it was primarily developed as a way to
decentralize a broken financial system.1 And, even when the art industry began
successfully using the technology in 2017, it was the digital art world and not
traditional artists, galleries, auction houses, or dealers who first recognized the
benefit of using digital tokens to represent ownership of a unique asset. So why
now are NFTs getting so much attention with more traditional art segments?

You may have heard the phrase, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Loosely
interpreted, there are times in life, like during a crisis, that you need to find
innovative ways to survive. For many in the art industry the latest crisis began in
2020 when Covid-19 single-handedly, and without much warning, caused art
galleries across the globe to close their physical spaces, lay off employees, and
cancel art fairs and exhibits for the unforeseeable future. The outlook was dire.
Then, within a year, a ray of hope emerged in the art world in the form of Non-
fungible Tokens (NFTs).

This paper will illustrate how NFTs became the latest in a long line of technology
innovations to breathe new life into the business of creating, selling, and buying art just when the world was shutting down. Not only did interest in NFTs explode during the past two years among collectors, but NFTs also gave artists and galleries a new way to meet the demand of current clients, reach a whole new audience of buyers, and protect the true value of their work at the same time.
My research shows that the Covid-19 pandemic was the catalyst for a new
generation of innovation in the art sector, and a turning point for the previously
digital adverse art community. I will also provide evidence to support how Non-
Fungible Tokens became the latest disruption in the business of creating,
showcasing, owning, and trading art in a way that will have lasting and positive.