Beeple’s opus: taking over 5,000 days to be created, this monumental collage was the first purely digital artwork (NFT) ever offered at Christie’s
In May, 2007, Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple in digital art, started posting a new art work online. He did the same day after day, creating and posting new digital pictures which he called “everyday”. The process took 13 and a half years or about 5000 days. Later, in March 2021, he brought up all the pieces together in “Everyday: the first 5000 days”, which is known as a unique work in the history of digital art.
The art work was minted exclusively for Christie’s and offered as a single lot sale. Christie’s introduced it as a purely digital work with a unique NFT, a guarantee of its authenticity, and accepted cryptocurrency, Ether here, to gain the payment. It was sold for $69 million. It is worth noting that Christie’s had never offered a digital artwork before, though Beeple was a unique opportunity to own in a blockchain as it was developed by the world’s leading digital artist.
Beeple: from simple drawings to life in 3D
The ongoing Everydays series began as a personal project for Beeple to improve his own technical and creative skills. Users of the Internet are already familiar with this South Carolina-based graphic designer and motion artist known as Beeple. His digital pictures have directed him to the top of the digital art world, and today his Everydays have attracted 1.8 million followers on Instagram and high-profile collaborations with global brands ranging from Louis Vuitton to Nike. Also, he worked with performing artists from Katy Perry to Childish Gambino which made him more and more well-known in art world.
In “Everyday: the first 5000 days”, the artist tried to stitch together recurring themes and color schemes into a digital piece whole organized in loose chronological order: zooming in reveals pictures by turn abstract, fantastical, grotesque or absurd, deeply personal or representative of current events. The main themes here included society’s obsession with and fear of technology; the desire for and resentment of wealth, and, surprisingly, America’s recent political turbulence.
‘Beeple is looking at his whole body of work as it’s presented on Instagram as a kind of Duchampian readymade’ — specialist Noah Davis
There are notable differences between the early and later pictures which indicates Beeple’s enormous evolution as an artist. “Everydays” were developed as basic drawings. When Beeple started working in 3D, however, these basic drawings took on abstract themes, color, form and repetition. These 3D works have become increasingly timely, reacting to current events during last five years.
“I almost look at it now as though I’m a political cartoonist,” Beeple explains. “Except instead of doing sketches, I’m using the most advanced 3D tools to make comments on current events, almost in real time.”
Five key pictures in Beeple’s evolution: Everyday, the First 5000 Days
05.01.07: ‘This was my very first everyday. It’s a picture of my Uncle Jim, who I nicknamed Uber Jay. I probably would have spent more time on this, if I had known it would eventually be part of a piece auctioned by Christie’s!’
09.18.13: ‘I did this image very quickly, in about three minutes at 5am, right before driving my wife to the hospital to have our first child.’
11.27.14: “This is a picture from when I had horrible food poisoning. It obviously didn’t take more than a few minutes to create, but this project is about more than any one single day.”
10.07.20: “This was done in about an hour immediately after the 2020 vice-presidential debate, when then US Vice President Mike Pence had a fly unexpectedly land on his head. I think this picture clearly shows there was a bit more to the story.”
01.07.21: “I made this on the 5,000th day. It incorporates a lot of the characters and themes I’ve touched on over the past few years, depicted as muses around a child drawing — as a reference back to my first everyday drawing. It honestly is still truly mind-boggling to me what this project has become.”
Beeple’s art craft stems from education and empowerment. In his art, he made use of the power of practice to show us that how much can be achieved in a single day. His “everyday” journey serves as a major source of inspiration and motivation for aspiring creative individuals everywhere; he also provided tangible proof of how hard work and persistence can elevate ones’ practice. The obvious differences between Day 1 and Day 5000 highlighted Beeple’s supreme evolution as an artist, in terms of technical skill, composition and creativity. Furthermore, Beeple NFT provided the digital art community with a wide range of free Creative Commons visuals rooting from his decades of design experience which helped him master his art.
The route for digital art collecting
Establishment of digital art goes back to 1960s. however, due to ease of duplication, it was almost impossible to assign ownership and value to the art. But nowadays, the introduction of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and blockchain technology allows collectors as well as artists to verify the rightful owner and authenticity of digital artwork. Therefore, Everydays: the first 5000 days was delivered directly from Beeple NFT to the buyer, accompanied by a unique NFT encrypted with the artist’s signature which is uniquely identified on the blockchain.
In December 2020, Beeple’s offered a 20-piece art work The Complete MF Collection which gained $3.5 million in a single week.