Posted on Jan 12, 2021Read on

NFT subculture

Established art cultures online and in the physical world won't be early adopters of NFTs. A crypto-native subculture will emerge around the medium first.

Let's look at two subcultures that may provide inspiration for how NFTs might evolve:

  • Photography as an art form
  • Streetwear as fashion

Photography was rejected by the art establishment until late in the 20th century, almost a century after it was invented.

They saw photography merely as a thoughtless mechanism for replication, one that lacked, “that refined feeling and sentiment which animate the productions of a man of genius.” source

Streetwear, similarly, was seen as a low form of fashion consumed by a low-brow audience.

Some important properties of disruptive subcultures:

Practiced by outsiders

  • Photography: Camera equipment tinkerers
  • Streetwear: Skater kids

Considered culturally inferior

  • Photography: Not art, but the output of a "machine"
  • Streetwear: Logos on sweatshirts, no appreciation for craft or materials of fashion

New marketplaces and connoisseurship criteria

  • Photography: Collector community outside of “art world”
  • Streetwear: Bespoke online and retail marketplaces

Both result in controversy and a rejection of the new form among the old guard. Both are initially adopted by outsiders to the dominant culture.

Eventually, the old guard starts to slowly embrace the new medium, because the economic and cultural opportunities are too big to miss out on. Finally, the new culture is merged wholesale into the old.

NFT culture will evolve following a similar trajectory. NFT art won’t be taken seriously by the art world at first. Crypto-natives will blaze their unique path and create a new culture.

The best example of NFT culture today may be community "portraits" of crypto founders. Every civilization valorizes its heroes through art, and crypto is no different.