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Decrypting the Medium: A Report on the NFT Market

Decrypting the Medium:
A Report on the NFT Market

OCAD University’s Cultural Policy Centre and Super Ordinary Lab have collaborated to develop a report for Canadian Heritage on non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Research Team: Suzanne Stein, Miriam Kramer, Crystal Melville, Amreen Ashraf, Eric Leo Blais

The report, titled “Decrypting the Medium: A Report on the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) Market,” is the product of a collaborative and structured approach to research that involved a literature review and strategic foresight methods including a horizon scan and an expert panel workshop with scenario planning.

Guiding research questions, addressed in the report, included:

  • How does the NFT art market work?
  • How do artists, sellers and buyers access the market?
  • Is the market an extension of an existing art market or something new?
  • Do artists see NFTs as a new form of artistic creation, a new medium, or a new method to monetize existing artistic practices?
  • What are the hurdles and advantages for Canadian artists entering the NFT market?
  • Have other countries regulated in this space and how?
  • What does the Government of Canada and Canadian Heritage need to consider as they strive to continue to support and protect creatives?

What are non-fungible tokens?

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital files that have stirred up considerable interest from investors, artists and governments globally. The underlying technology of NFTs—more specifically cryptocurrency applications—challenge not only how art markets operate but how both the government and the sector provide support and protect creatives. This research highlighted that the NFT market is rapidly evolving, and that understanding NFTs, and their overall ecosystem will require ongoing research and study. The following key findings were highlighted:

  • NFTs change how the art market works
  • Blockchain and smart contracts support more equitable copyright legislation and protect creators
  • NFTs create new marketplaces for artists to present their work
  • NFTs both create barriers and reduce barriers

NFTs have the potential to increase diversity and inclusion in the Canadian art market The NFT art market poses an opportunity to rethink and reduce the inequities posed by the traditional art market. NFTs allow equity-identifying artists and artists marginalized by location a platform to monetize their work and to survive and advance as an artist. By regulating parts of the underlying NFT technology, Canadian artists are positioned better to securely, and equitably advance and thrive.


Ongoing research will be critical to track drivers of change, ongoing associative drivers and new market pathways that will guide policy decision-making. Monitoring the media and industry resources for developments regularly will be central as will tracking legislation from countries around the world.


This research and report were led collaboratively by the Cultural Policy Centre at OCAD University and Super Ordinary Laboratory.

Cultural Policy Center at OCAD University (CPC)

The Cultural Policy Centre is Canada’s first national cultural policy centre working to expand the arts and culture sector’s capacity in policy research, program development and advocacy. Convening academics, industry experts and not for profits from across Canada, the Cultural Policy Centre at OCAD University will provide crucial direction and support for Canada’s arts and culture sector as we adapt to and thrive in the ever-changing environment that characterizes the twenty-first century.

The Super Ordinary 

Super Ordinary Lab at OCAD University looks at emerging technologies to understand their social significance and tracks broad-based trends for the purposes of meaningful innovation in technologies, ethnographic methods and cultures of production as well as potential users of these technologies.

Funded by the government of Canada.