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NFT Art vs Traditional Art: 14 fundamental differences

When comparing NFT art vs traditional artworks, the first thing that comes to mind is that the regular artworks are usually aesthetically pleasing, while NFTs are characteristically ugly.

This is not the only difference between physical artworks and NFT artworks, as the main ones are technical. For example, unlike the physical, traditional artworks, NFT arts are digital assets that are both unique, non-fungible, non-transferable, and stored in the blockchain.

The fundamental difference between NFT artworks and traditional artworks is that on the one hand, NFT arts are digital, they live on the blockchain, and you can only have them in your digital wallet. On the other hand, traditional art in this case refers to material (not digital) objects of art displayed, transacted, and stored in a physical form.

NFT artworks can’t be duplicated, and the rarer the NFT, the more valuable it is. This post compares NFT art vs traditional artworks.

NFT art vs Traditional art

nft art vs traditional art mona lisa
People scrambling to take a picture of the Mona Lisa

Traditional art implies art that is produced in the present period but represents culture and belief and utilizes drawing, painting, and sculpture. Further, regular artworks are means of expressing human feelings and are based on the beauty of balancing external reality with the innate conscience that is driven by emotion.

The NFT art ecosystem benefits the digital artists themselves. It simplifies the process of digital asset creation and increases transparency and the ease at which an NFT art can be sold in the marketplace.

NFT artworks defy the traditional art market barriers and improve the liquidity of art trading while also enabling the artists to benefit from the innovative blockchain technology.

These digital assets have been around since 2014 but didn’t come to prominence until 2021. After that, we have seen the rise of NFT artworks in form of music, images, drawings, and so on. Now, the once new technology has become incredibly popular with tons of investors and creators.

NFT art trading volume has been increasing by over 38000% year after year and there were over $23 billion in NFT trades in 2021.

NFT art redefines the relationship between art and money by removing the friction in the traditional art market and closing the gap caused by the existence of different currencies.

Traditional art is a physical form of art, NFT art is a digital art that can only operate on a blockchain. NFT arts are also unique, authentic, and verifiable.

It’s been impossible to miss the growth in sales of NFTs and the exorbitant fees at which they have been sold have made them the major talking point in the world of art.

Interestingly, NFT art is far more inclusive of newcomers than traditional art. NFT artists can easily connect with buyers while there is a market barrier with traditional art.

With traditional art, you require insiders and big auctions/exhibition houses to sell your art. Interestingly, an NFT artist doesn’t require all of that.

NFT stands for non-fungible token. Tokens refer to cryptocurrencies or like NFT art, digital assets that operate on cryptocurrency blockchains.

14 Main Differences Between NFT and Traditional Art

  • NFTs are completely digital items and can only exist in digital forms in a digital wallet and on a specific blockchain while traditional art is simply a non-digital art and only exist in a physical form.
  • Traditional art unlike NFT or crypto art is housed in physical structures. NFT artworks, on the other hand, do not require a physical location for storage.
  • NFT arts are non-fungible and non-transferable. Traditional art, on the other hand, is fungible tokens; hence, they can be reproduced or substituted. To understand fungibility, take an example of a dollar bill. All $1 bills are worth the same. NFTs are the opposite, meaning that no two NFTs are identical.
  • It is easier to verify the ownership and authenticity of NFT art. In contrast, traditional art uses physical certificates that are usually signed by the artist. However, as with every certificate, it can be forged and the high cost of authenticating a traditional artwork is discouraging.
  • It is much easier to access NFT art than it is to access traditional art. For instance, with traditional art, you need to be at the auction to buy art and if the exhibition house is out of town then you need to travel. With NFT art, it is much easier to buy and sell any art. Because all you need is a computer that is connected to the internet.
  • Traditional art unlike NFT art is more difficult to create in mass.
  • Traditional art can only be in one physical location at a time, while NFT art is digital and anyone can create art from his home.
  • It is also easier to sell NFT art than it is with traditional art.
  • the entry barrier is high with traditional art and that limits circulation. however, there is no entry barrier with NFT art. that is because everyone can be an NFT artist.
  • Most NFT artworks are ugly compared to traditional artworks that are usually aesthetic.
  • NFT artwork values are based on rarity, unlike traditional art which is based on insider connection, artist popularity, and the auction house.
  • NFT art integrates the use of the internet and can not be minted without it while traditional art doesn’t require the internet.
  • NFTs are status symbols. this implies that they are bought to gain status
  • NFT artworks are preserved on blockchains while traditional artworks are preserved in-house.

Do NFTs Have A Limit like traditional art?

Although one can say that NFT is an evolution of traditional art, what is even worth saying more than anything is that it is becoming widely accepted and as a result of that is here to stay. NFT can be anything from music to drawing and even more.

NFT is getting rave reviews because you don’t require auction or exhibition houses to sell your artwork.

Over the years, man has tried to replace parts of traditional art that were lost or destroyed. The downside with the traditional art is that it can be reproduced several times; hence, it takes a keen eye to spot the difference between the original artwork and the counterfeit or lookalike. Hence, one can say that traditional art is perhaps fungible.

NFTs are non-fungible, and what that means is that it is unique and cannot be traded for something else. For instance, all $ 100 notes are the same and have the same value but no two NFTs are the same or have the same market values.

Comparing NFT With Traditional Art

Sale Process

The sales process refers to the ways these arts are sold in the market as well as the nitty-gritty that comes with that.

NFT ArtTraditional Art
No pre-requisites are needed for an NFT to be listed on big NFT marketplaces.Difficult for artists to be successful by just doing art.
Other platforms require an invite or application process. Not extremely difficult like with traditional art.They need a gallery that is willing to promote and sell their art.
Artists would primarily use social media pages like (Instagram, Twitter, Discord, and TikTok) to promote and market their art themselves.If successful, further investments would be made to get in an exhibition and eventually at the big auction houses.


The cost at which an NFT can be created and that at which a traditional art can be created are anything but similar. NFT art requires high gas fees depending on the blockchain on which an artist is minting.

However, traditional art can be created with pencils or less costly materials.

NFT ArtTraditional Art
Gas fees for minting and listing replace traditional verification costs, as proof of authenticity and ownership are assured on the blockchain.Authentication is costly and time-consuming.
Fees are relatively high if the artwork is priced low, but not if the artwork is priced at a price beyond what was spent in creating the art. Interestingly, with more platforms emerging, NFT has seen an increasingly low cost of creation.low cost of creation as traditional art can be created with pencils and even sand.
You don’t need to travel out of town to sell an NFT art because that can be done from the comfort of your home.Personal traveling expenses to said events are by traditional artists.
Consultation is not required to have an NFT art listed.Consultancy fees’ for key decision-makers to display your art are costly.


The commission is the amount charged by galleries to exhibit art. The commission could come from two ways. The commission is paid by both the seller and the buyer. However, in most cases, the buyer pays a higher commission fee while in certain cases the seller is not required to pay a commission fee.

NFT ArtTraditional Art
NFT blockchains have low commission fees which make up for the high cost of minting.Galleries typically charge between 20-50% commission on sale price.
2.5%-15% depending on the platform used.You have to balance the cost of sending your artwork to an auction house with the possible sales value. however, negotiation power is hinged on the importance of the artist or collector.


Royalties are earned by an artist when his art is resold on the market. With NFT, royalties are usually set by the creator during the minting process. Royalties give the original owner of an art a fixed percentage of the resale value of the art.

NFT ArtTraditional Art
Up to 10% royalty for secondary sales. However, OpenSea advises a royalty fee of 2.5% while Binance NFT advises a basic royalty of 1 – 10%.No royalties are given to the artist for secondary marketplace sales.
Ability to split royalties and sales made between 2 or more artists by smart contract thus ensuring that there will be no messy arguments in the future. 


Valuation implies the value of any given art. The value of traditional art hinges on the art dealer and galleries that are representing the artist. In the case of NFTs, the most crucial factor that determines the price of an NFT is the NFT’s rarity.

You may also want to read our post on How to price your NFT art collection.

NFT ArtTraditional Art
Rarity, market demand, trends, real-world use, potential, and ownership perks determine the value of an NFT art collection. The value of traditional art is influenced by cultural belief, the popularity of the artist, and the auction/exhibition houses.
NFT simply require the best marketing strategy and internet exposure and not the best gallery or auction houses.For max valuation, artwork needs to be in the best galleries/exhibitions/auction houses.
The value of an NFT is not reliant on connection but the creativity of the artist and the ingenuity of the art.The values of art rely on close, long-term connections with key decision-makers for a chance to have art displayed.


With Traditional Art it is a challenging process to get your art noticed by top-level collectors and is also costly to promote artwork at exhibitions/museums, it often requires industry insiders to get your artwork noticed by top-level collectors and there are is no opportunity for royalties.

Unlike traditional art, with NFT it is easier to get on the same platform as top-level artists. However, it relies on the quality of art and social media to be noticed by top collectors.

Again, it offers a fast process from completion of artwork to the display of art for sale as well as offering royalty income opportunity to artists, and discrimination is eliminated.

Overall, the NFT market is amazing and it provides artists with more opportunities to monetize their work as well as take control of promoting their art than traditional art.

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