A Turkish artist in the NFT world: How did Tarık Tolunay sell his works digitally for thousands of dollars?

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A Turkish artist in the NFT world: How did Tarık Tolunay sell his works digitally for thousands of dollars?


The illustrator Tarık Tolunay, who signed the ‘living’ maps of Istanbul, NFT to the world.

The artist Tarık Tolunay, who defines himself as the ‘urbanizer’, completed the quarantine process and depicts Eminönü, the historical Galata Bridge and Karaköy ‘Pandemic‘his work was recently sold to an Iranian collector for about $ 36,000 (about 260,000 TL).

“Haydarpaşa Panorama”, which is about Haydarpaşa Train Station and its surroundings, one of the symbolic buildings of Istanbul, completed in late 2019, received an offer for approximately 90,000 dollars.

These sales are among the first large-scale NFT sales from Turkey. Digital works sold over the Internet are certified through NFT, in other words, with ‘non-fungible tokens’ in English.

NFT came to the fore with the sale of the artist named Mike Winkelmann, also known as ‘Beeple’, for 69 million dollars.

NFTs, which can be defined as certificates representing the existence and authenticity of the works in the digital environment, also represent rarity and ownership.

Tarık Tolunay, who lives in Istanbul and has been drawing in various newspapers and humor magazines for many years, combines historical details in Istanbul and details of the daily life of the city with stories, and transfers the Istanbul maps with his own interpretation and figures, with his works in ‘Fractal Istanbul’. combines in the project.

Tolunay states that he plans to sell his other works as NFT soon:

“Fractal Istanbul is a project prepared for many channels. Actually, it was not produced as NFT, but it was very suitable for that medium. I have been watching the crypto world for a long time. For the last 2-3 months, I have researched this NFT world, absorbed it and started it. I am thinking of putting it up for sale gradually. “

‘NFT promises a fairer system’

NFT, as it is used today, provides artists with many advantages both economically and in terms of accessibility.

For example, thanks to this system, the artist can reach the buyers directly by eliminating the auction companies or art galleries, as well as getting a share in varying percentages when the sold digital artwork changes hands again.

Tolunay welcomes all these developments:

“We get rid of middlemen such as gallery owners and publishers. These kind of intermediaries deem the creator who is the main actor worthy of very small numbers. Galleries get 60-70% commission. But now 15% commission has been received from me on these new platforms. Not less, but according to the commission rates in the current system. “It’s less painful than we do. NFT promises us a fairer system, that’s a good proposition.”

NFTs use blockchain technology, just like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and transactions are recorded using this technology.

Tolunay also emphasizes that the sale of ‘Pandemic’ work on blockchain is important in terms of proving the value of art:

“With this sale, the value of Fractal Istanbul has also been proven in daily life and my name is well established in the world of digital art. This is a proud thing. Of course, there was anxiety. When you enter that channel, you may not be able to meet your expectations and you may experience disappointment. I feel well positioned and have met with a result I expected. “

Saying that his ‘Pandemic’ piece found buyers a few hours after it was put on sale, Tolunay attributes this success to Istanbul as a city.

“Istanbul is so known and a magical city that it attracts attention wherever it shows itself. If we look at it from another perspective, putting sesame-scented Istanbul with its mosques and bridges among the futuristic works in the NFT world distinguished it from the others of course.”

‘NFT is a tool, not a purpose’

Tolunay, who told the story of the ‘living and timeless’ Istanbul maps, which he completed with months of work in an interview he gave to BBC Turkish last October, thinks that it is important to keep up with the times as an artist, and says that NFT is not a purpose but a tool:

“I still express myself as an urbanizer. I am not an NFT artist, I am an urbanizer. NFT should be a tool, not a purpose. I would paint on the cave wall if I lived in primitive ages, I would paint oil painting in the Middle Ages. “I live in this age and today a new tool came out, and I use it. All of these are tools. The wall was a tool when the picture was drawn on it, and now NFT is a tool. The goal is not to make money, the goal is communication,” he says.

‘Visual arts took on the role of icebreaker’

Tolunay also argues that this innovation in the digital world is an important development for the visual arts:

“The music and cinema sector is generally leading in these matters, but we are now positioned as a pioneer in this field, which is a great chance. As visual arts, we have assumed the role of a kind of icebreaker. Turkish artists have adapted very quickly in this rising trend in the world,” he says. .

Two Turkish artist who has made a name as Refik Anadol and Murat Pak names in the world of art crypto.

Recently, different comments have been made on the future of NFTs. The opinion that NFTs are triggered by being in the digital world more due to the pandemic and that this enthusiasm will fade like a ‘bubble’ is quite common. However, the number of those who believe that the NFT rush will continue is not few.

Tolunay thinks that NFT will affect many sectors as well as the art world, but it is necessary to be cautious about this change.

“It is clear that NFT is an innovation, it can be said that it works more fairly than the current system. But we should not see it as a sacred savior, or call it a ‘revolution.” “But we shouldn’t believe in this sweet dream right away. We will see how it will take shape in real life in the coming days,” he explains.

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