Cointelegraph Exclusive: artist Damien Hirst says NFTs are like ‘the invention of paper’

Damien Hirst, a contemporary artist known around the world, talked about similarities and differences between artwork and fiat currency as he prepared to drop 10,000 NFTs tied to his physical paintings.

Speaking with Cointelegraph’s Andrew Thurman at his London studio in May, Hirst answered questions in a magic 8-ball fashion, by opening up one of the boxes containing hundreds of sheets of his The Currency artwork collection and reading a sentence off the back of the paper. Though the immediate answers were not always on topic — is Satoshi really a cliche? — the artist laughed at the absurdity continued to voice his thoughts on money and art.

In particular, Hirst said people believe money has value because it gets “a little leg up with art,” an argument similar to what many critics have discussed about social media pumps and dumps of tokens: some prices only rise because of inflated value driven by high profile figures, i.e. giving a project a little pizazz. The artist said he would “love it” if someday someone were able to use his The Currency artwork as actual currency given its value as a nonfungible token, but believes most people will choose to keep the physical painting. With this view, he still sees the technology as eventually revolutionizing the art world.

“I just saw [NFTs] as a really amazing thing,” said Hirst. “I saw it like the invention of paper.”

He added:

“We already live in a world where you can have artworks, prints, and editions, and then it seems like you can have artworks, prints, editions, and NFTs […] with NFTs I think it’s changing the world, and it will change the world.”

Hirst created the physical paintings behind The Currency in 2016, long before many in the crypto space or art world were aware of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. He plans to allow art enthusiasts to purchase each “Tender” — a high-resolution photo of one of 10,000 unique paintings featuring a pattern of colored dots — for $2,000, giving them the choice to keep the NFT or trade it in for the physical version.

Related: British artist Damien Hirst uses NFTs to blur the boundaries between art and money

The British artist didn’t hold back expressing his views on creators maintaining control of their work, saying he was annoyed by apps like iTunes seemingly taking ownership from musicians. However, he said NFTs allowed artists to own their creations:

“You can own something digital, and it can be yours,” Hirst said.

The Currency opened for users on Wednesday, allowing people to apply for a chance to purchase one of the 10,000 NFTs. Applications close on July 21.