Art and the Blockchain

It’s Ben Franklin with a key and a kite! You see it, right?   – Hamilton

Sometimes an idea comes along that connects your multiple identities. The one that tries to keep up with emerging technologies, with the one that defends and touts the value of the liberal arts, and with the one that wants to fight for equity and equality for all.

So, blockchain…art…I’m here for it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Amy Whitaker out here in San Francisco at a dinner for Williams women, and our discussion of her book Art Thinking was one of the most powerful examples of cutting through the b.s. with new people that I’ve ever experienced. One small exercise and I was sharing with strangers one of my most inherent truths and fears.

But I digress.

After seeing Amy’s name pop up in a blockchain newsletter I read this week, I caught up on some of the work she’s been doing to advance a very powerful idea: a blockchain registry that lets artist keep an equity stake in their work, letting them share in the gains if their works go up in value.

“We’ve democratized creativity, but we haven’t democratized ownership,” says Whitaker, an assistant professor of visual arts management at NYU Steinhardt.

She’s proposing a way to do just that. By registering artworks with blockchain to establish authenticity and create property rights which can then be split off and traded, artists can retain an “equity share” in the works, much like the founder of a startup retains an ownership stake that grows in value as the company expands.


I love the idea of helping artists share in their own success. But equally, I love how this example has the potential to make the concept of blockchain more accessible to people.

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