Art & Culture

Can Hong Kong Catch the Coming Waves of NFT Art?

Editorial Team·6 October, 2021

Although conventional art auctions have been severely impacted by the pandemic, this may not necessarily mean the end of the world for people in the creative industry. However, no one would have quite realised the attraction of Digital Arts if it weren’t for this event: “Everydays – The First 5000 Days”, a collage piece created by artist Beeple over 5,000 days was sold for close to USD 70 million and it was the first purely digital artwork ever auctioned at Christie’s. At this juncture, Heiman Ng said his team decided to co-launch Digital Art Fair Asia (DAFA) with a partner, blending the realms of the physical and digital worlds for this new era of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) art.



NFT art: born out of an era

The idea of NFT art was not born out of thin air but a product of young people’s changing perception towards arts. “For a very long period of time, traditional art forms dominate our art scene. But in recent years, the new generation seems not to be as interested (as before) in visiting a gallery for art pieces, and of course the pandemic has exacerbated this situation. But this difficult period of time has spawned this new hybrid way of showing physical and digital arts,” said Heiman, citing that being the natural reason for him to organise Hong Kong’s first DAFA.


“It was co-founder Gillian Howard, whom I met at an exhibition in London, floating the idea of having this kind of event. We spoke on March 11. You may ask why I could remember the exact date. That’s because an incident had rocked the digital art world on that day – Beeple’s giant collage piece was auctioned and sold at about USD 70 million through NFT. That made us think: what are we even waiting for?” Clearly the eye-catching transaction amount for the art piece has demonstrated the potentials of NFT art even to outsiders.



Hong Kong art scene to gather pace in NFT

Comparing with other places in Asia, Hong Kong is still at the starting line for holding digital art exhibitions, even though the city itself is famed for hosting large-scale international art events. “We have spent almost a year to understand how this trend came about in the United States domestically. And our mainland Chinese counterpart has already been experimenting such, and in March the first NFT art exhibition was already held, quality of the works aside, at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. In comparison, Hong Kong still has the relative freedom, advantages, and better facilities when it comes to curate an art exhibition. Like this time, when putting this exhibition together, we have combined the forces of finance, technology, crypto-currencies, gaming, and arts. So, we’ve got everything. Although we aren’t the first, if we benchmark ourselves with other places in Asia like Japan and South Korea, we actually are a forerunner.”



Reception remains split among creatives

There is always tension between the new and old. For organisers, it is hard to convince others when there is no precedence. “I think the biggest challenge in organising this exhibition is to bridge the gap between different parties. To have people from finance, technology, art, etc understand each other in terms of languages and thoughts as well as to forge a consensus among everyone is certainly a daunting process.”


Understandably, the advent of crypto currencies has fundamentally changed the ways artists and designers create and sell their works, including the format in which the pieces are sold. At present, artists and designers are split on the subject of NFT, after all it’s a new thing. “Some creatives are hesitant about jumping onto the bandwagon, or even think it’s disruptive and overhyped, bringing no benefits to creative arts. At the same time there are more and more new-generation artists riding the waves and adapting. In my view, practitioners will need to have foresights and move with the times, as it’s utterly important to be the first-wave pioneers. Of course, for traditional artists, the skills required by NFT (such as coding knowledge) can cause obstacles to them. Conversely, even though some artists maybe more willing to try new things, they may not know how to promote their work. This is where we come in as a connector.”



Creative possibilities brought by immersive experience

For art lovers, this exhibition certainly provides a fresh experience, featuring 360-degree immersive arts, virtual reality pieces, and a (digital) art gallery, etc. What we are going to see here is the blending of Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality with physical exhibits, and this sends out an important and intriguing message about possibilities of things, especially in the post-pandemic world. “If we look at how the three major auction houses are doing currently, the results clearly show we are stepping out of the shadow of the pandemic. Auction sales of the year already surpassed what’s before the pandemic. The unexpected protagonist of this rebound has been digital arts. Hot words like NFT and immersive experience are actually uplifting the fog hanging above our local art scene, and this new creative form will take us to a new horizon that we haven’t seen or imagined before.”


Read more: Inside China’s Crypto Art Market




Co-founded by Gillian Howard and James Neary, DIGITAL ART FAIR was created for every demographic, especially the young generation, that wishes to appreciate, create and collect digital art, embracing the use of digital technology in a constantly evolving times, as well as enabling a healthy and sustainable growth for the art circle.


Five Zones at the Art Fair


PRESTIGE: showcasing the works of some of the world’s most influential digital artists in this new era of art and technology


PIONEER: explore some significant NFT art pieces and artists here


INSPIRE: discuss the possibilities of art and technology as well as their future with brilliant minds from arts, finance, technology, etc.


IMMERSE: letting the audience immerse themselves in exhibits, music, virtual reality and augmented reality


VIRTUAL: DSL Collection of Virtual Reality Art Museum


Exhibition period: 30 September 2021 – 17 October 2021

Official website: