Is digital art a good investment?


More than moving pictures

As a savvy investor, you likely live by the classic rule of diversification (you know, lots of eggs, lots of baskets). It isn’t uncommon for investors to add art to their investment portfolios. But what about digital art?

In short, digital art refers to pieces that not only require digital technology to be created, but rely on tech to exist, and be displayed. “Digital art is like taking a leap into the future and bringing audiences with you,” says Shannon Linde, Art Curator at Equitable Bank. Unsurprisingly, digital art is generating more buzz in 2021, whether that’s because screen time took a major leap, or because artists were faced with more time to work on their craft, along with some interesting sources of inspiration. Either way, this rich medium speaks to our engagement with the digital world.

Getting in on the ground floor?

Investing in art is not reserved for the uber-wealthy. So, can digital art be acquired at a more accessible price point? According to Linde, it depends. “Digital art can be pretty comparable to physical art. It really depends on the artist and the work itself. There are very accessible price points out there.”

Here’s the thing; your art investment isn’t going to skyrocket in value as fast as some of your other investments; you’re playing the long game here. That said, financial motivation should be one of several reasons you invest in art. “Regardless of the medium, you should want to invest in the artist, and have an affinity with the work you’re collecting. Your money is supporting the arts, when it could go to so many other things. So hopefully you’re bringing a piece of art into your home which is enriching your day to day life,” says Linde.

For those who prefer ethical investing, collecting digital art can be a no-brainer to add to your portfolio. If you’re someone who wants the arts to thrive, you’re putting money towards what you want the future to look like.

Virtual reality

A question that comes up for many collectors is one of authenticity, and that’s where the NFT (Non-Fungible Token) comes in. Fungible, according to Miriam Webster, is “something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account”. If you’re still scratching your head, this blogger did a deep dive into NFTs for you. NFTs are just one way digital artists are ensuring the originality of their works. “I compare it to when people buy photography, something that in theory is infinitely reproduceable and was itself an emerging medium for a long time in comparison to painting,” says Linde. “Theoretically, someone could reproduce it, but there’s documentation that exists indicating you have one of a limited number of copies. Whether you do an NFT or not, there are ways to authenticate your investment.” Many digital pieces can also come with a certificate of authenticity from the artist, ensuring your ownership of the original.

Supporting emerging artists

Artists who work in the digital space are up against some unique hurtles. This isn’t a new media, but there is significant growth that has yet to be achieved. Digital art isn’t always provided the same gallery space as physical art, so it can be difficult to make a name for yourself. That’s one of the many reasons EQ Bank founded our Emerging Digital Artists Award (EDAA) in 2015 and partnered with Trinity Square Video in 2017 to expand outreach to the art community. The EDAA is Canada’s first digital art award designed to foster experimentation in the work of emerging artists and create opportunities for those working in digital media.

The bottom line? Is digital art an investment that’s going to yield returns? It depends. Could it be a worthwhile investment? Absolutely. Like any other investment, adding digital art, or any kind of art, to your portfolio requires thoughtful research and planning. Think about the non-financial reasons you want to invest in the arts, and start there.

Image credit: Shonee, Field of Reeds, 2021, Video, 6:08

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