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NFTs for Fine Art | Built on Stacks
by Sarah Satoshi on November 10, 2021
NFTs are emerging as an increasingly mainstream, permissionless asset class. But for most artists and consumers of art, NFTs and blockchain technologies are a dauntingly complex new way of accessing art and digital ownership. In order to onboard this massive fine art market seamlessly, startups like Open Art Source are helping connect artists and art lovers alike to the blockchain.

Open Art Source Connects Artists to the Digital Art Market
People buy everything online these days, including artwork. However, it's often hard to confidently determine if the physical painting people receive is actually the painting they purchased. By acting as the transparent source of truth for a physical painting's authenticity, Open Art Source (OAS) onboards this massive industry of physical fine art to the digital ledger.

Open Art Source is one of the first startups to bridge real-world art and the digital NFT ecosystem. By tokenizing physical art, OAS will allow underrepresented artists and art collectors of all calibers to participate in a system that is currently inaccessible to them. At the same time, they are providing a platform that helps individuals secure their ownership of art onto the blockchain.
Like a security tag attached to an expensive dress, NFTs are the digital tags attached to the digitized art, serving as a certificate of originality with a recorded history of ownership. While the security tag prevents robbers from taking the dress out of the store, NFTs prevent others from claiming ownership over a piece of art they don't actually own, since anyone can publicly verify true ownership on the blockchain.

Open Art Source Increases Art Market Accessibility
For fans, art lovers, and collectors, it's hard to access and purchase fine art unless you're part of the ultra-wealthy class. For an up-and-coming artist, their showcase potential is restricted by the subjective artistic rulings of local galleries and auction houses. With so many artists unable to take control of the "business side" of things, this broken system is responsible for coining the demoralizing term: starving artists.

When it comes to NFTs, however, users can access selections of artwork in any price range, from anywhere in the world. Acquiring, selling, or transferring an NFT is as easy as buying something from Amazon. But unlike Amazon where fake products and reviews run rampant, you can always be confident about the authenticity of an NFT, since there is a transparent blockchain ledger that allows you to look up the entire history of transactions, timestamps, and prices.
As such, every subsequent sale and transaction is tracked and recorded as well, securing royalties for artists as their work is resold and appreciates in value.
With this guarantee of authenticity comes the guarantee of ownership that can't be corrupted; you won't need to worry about corrupted data and fake ownership claims due to the secure and decentralized nature of the blockchain ledger.

Bringing NFTs to Bitcoin via Stacks
While NFTs are mostly transacted on Ethereum at the moment, it's not an optimal ecosystem.

One of the biggest issues with minting NFTs on Ethereum is the exorbitantly high and unpredictable "gas fee" that comes with each transaction and NFT genesis.
To quote Cecil Pang, Open Art Source co-founder: "it doesn't make sense to spend $200, for example, to create an NFT for a $1000 piece of art. It just doesn't make sense."

The Stacks blockchain bridges the ecosystem of smart contracts and dapp capability with the security, capital, and network of Bitcoin. This way, applications like Open Art Source can be built for Bitcoin and bring the decentralized internet over to the most secure blockchain, while simultaneously lowering gas fees for users.

Can Physical Art Really be Secured onto the Blockchain?
The criticisms of physical items being secured by the blockchain have their valid concerns. For instance, a blockchain, by itself, currently cannot tell the difference between a real vs a fake physical painting. However, OAS’s AI-driven software is helping curb this issue of fraud and the fake art marketplace. This is done in a few ways.

First, OAS allows for transparent and trustless sourcing of art. As a buyer, you can't always tell if the art you're buying online is being sold legitimately; if the art is minted as an NFT, however, you can publicly confirm on the blockchain that the piece of art being advertised traces back to the original artist and that the person or gallery you're purchasing from does actually own the art.
Secondly, OAS is developing an advanced AI system that will be able to detect with high accuracy whether the physical art that customers receive in hand is the actual art that is represented by the NFT. When sellers want to list a piece of art on OAS, they upload photos of the artwork in question to OAS, and OAS's AI verifies the piece as authentic or fraudulent.

While this doesn't prevent fraud 100%, OAS's ingenious system cuts out the bulk of it while bringing digital provenance to the physical art world.
By having a transparent and openly accessible blockchain ledger that each piece of art is tied to, collectors and auction houses can make data-driven decisions and track the developing careers of artists as they create new work. In addition to transaction history, buyers can access information about the artist such as past exhibitions, critic reviews, and planned future works.

NFTs are already revolutionizing the digital art market, but Open Art Source is specifically bridging this capability with the existing world of physical fine art that hasn't been introduced yet, en masse.

Getting Involved
Open Art Source is creating a global, transparent, secure, and fair marketplace for artists. By applying this emerging technology to a sector with outdated operations, they are revolutionizing the way that artists, collectors, and general consumers of art can participate in the world of fine art.

OAS plans to launch their beta platform this fall. If you're an artist, collector, or dealer interested in participating in the bridging of fine art with Web 3.0, sign up for their early access program here. Additionally, OAS has launched their own NFT collection, Arties, to help fund the technical development of the platform. As an NFT holder, you can gain special privileges and accesses to the platform, from discounted commission fees to features in curated art shows.

While OAS is just one of the many startups building on Stacks to secure NFTs onto the Bitcoin blockchain, they uniquely solve the real-world issues that come with the existing fine art market as well. Accessibility to fine art and verifiable ownership is just the beginning for this budding blockchain application. As new teams continue to build Bitcoin-secured NFT platforms on Stacks, we'll see NFTs play an increasingly important role in the realms of digital ownership and the decentralized creator economy.
Sarah is a writer, community organizer, and active member of both the Bitcoin and Stacks communities. She has written for Bitcoin magazine and reports on crypto in her personal newsletter, The Share.