Established Pop Artist Steps into the Metaverse: Sandy Cohen on NFTs

Recent academic research has been conducted on the impact of NFTs on the art market. This research was conducted by Sheila Bsteh from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Bsteh begins by noting that, “Non- fungible token (NFT) became somewhat of a buzzword in the spheres of digital art within the past year: With record- breaking sales, developments around NFT artworks have garnered significant (financial) attention in the past few months” of 2021. She continues by pointing out the fact that beginnings of the NFT market have already begun to affect the art market in general. This is accompanied by new forms of supply and demand which are appearing on online platforms as the result of this new technology. The developments which have accompanied NFT artworks such as blockchain technology and crypto currencies will likely have a substantial impact on the dynamics of the art market. This is despite the fact that these dynamics have not changed much in recent decades.

History of Sandy Cohen

Sandy Cohen is an established pop artist in the New York art scene. She works in a variety of mediums including oil paintings, charcoal drawings and mixed media. Cohen displayed an affinity for art at a young age and began creating artworks when she was still an infant. At the age of eight, Cohen was the youngest student at a college art programme which was hosted at the Museum of Modern Art. Even at this young age, her skills were highly advanced and the instructor of the class asked her to teach the other students. With this strong early background she was able to sell her first artwork at the age of 13. Only a year later, Cohen was granted admission to the Fashion Institute of Technology. She would then go on to complete her highschool education at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art.

After her graduation from high school, Peter Max expressed an interest in Cohen as an artist. As she was about to begin her promising career as a young artist she fell seriously ill as the result of side effects from a combination of medications which were prescribed to her for food poisoning. These side effects created a multi-systemic collapse in her health which was accompanied by the development of ME/CFS and Dysautonomia. She spent the first five years of this harrowing period bed-ridden as well as going in and out of hospital so that she could fight for her life. This period was followed by seven years in a wheelchair. She would continue her passion for art and would often draw from her bed when she was physically able to do so. Her illness made it impossible for her to live a normal life that so many take for granted. As a result, she escaped into art to avoid the reality of her physical confinement. 

Sandy Cohen on NFTs 

Cohen would subsequently re–emerge onto the art scene in 2017 as her illness became more manageable. This was after an almost 20 year battle with her sickness. The scene which she emerged into was vastly different from that which she was familiar with before. However, she did not let this stop her from making a name for herself. Her style is vibrant and often bursting with color and compelling iconography. She often infuses her art with political and social commentary. This is partly due to the difficulties she experienced with the medical establishment during years of fighting for her health. 

Cohen had often engaged with digital art during the period of her sickness because this made the process of art creation more accessible for her. This would be the beginning of her foray into the world of digital art. However, it was not until NFTs began to make big waves in the art world that Cohen would grasp on to their potential. Now she has sold multiple NFTs and was commissioned by Judith Kasen-Windsor to create the first NFT of Edie Windsor who was a prominent LGBTQ+ activist. Cohen herself is an LGBTQ+ activist and has her own series on gay art. 

Final Thoughts

Cohen views NFTs as one of the next big things to happen in the art world. This is the case because they have the ability to drastically change the manner in which art is bought and sold. This in turn can empower artists to become independent from the gallery system which can so often push bright, young talent away. NFTs also provide artists like Cohen with another means of monetizing their craft. This allows her and other artists to continue to explore their mediums, push boundaries and comment on the world around them.