A French Street Artist Made $1,000 After Adding a Bitcoin QR Code to His Murals
Have a smartphone and a bitcoin wallet? You can donate to this street artist directly.
Even if you don’t quite understand cryptocurrencies, you’ve probably heard that Bitcoin and its many siblings are the way of the future. Now, one artist has come up with a new way to benefit directly from this still-nascent technology by inviting passersby to donate to him using a Bitcoin QR code, which he affixed to his murals.
The brainchild behind the idea is French street artist Pascal “PBOY” Boyart, and the artist’s embrace of the digital currency is already paying dividends. As of this writing, Boyart has made 0.11 Bitcoin (about $1,000) from 23 donors thanks to his clever embrace of cryptocurrency. The feat has even caught the attention of Reddit.
Boyart was intrigued by the idea of being able to connect directly with the public and to receive money for his work without going through a middleman. So, he took six months off from painting to learn about this new technology. The donation process that resulted is decidedly simple: Anyone with a smartphone and a Bitcoin wallet can scan the QR code on the mural and make a digital payment that goes directly to the artist.
“I think that the times we are living are difficult for free-minded artists,” the artist told artnet News in an email. “It looks like the Impressionist era, with an official art of academic artists and the others that you have not much chance to see in an international art fair.”
One of Boyart’s recent murals shows Rembrandt van Rijn reading through a large tax bill—the celebrated Dutch Gold Age master struggled to make money throughout his career, despite creating some of art history’s best-known works. The piece is titled Rembrandt dos au mur, or Rembrandt Back Against the Wall, a pun on the artist’s financial situation and the work’s wall mural nature.
The work can be found on the Rue Riquet, where an over 1,640-foot street art wall was created in December 2015, on a bridge going over the railroad tracks. The artist created his addition to the outdoor display without permission, having previously painted Vincent van Gogh on the same wall three years ago. He has described his style as blending the Pointillism of Georges Seurat with Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.
Before the Rembrandt mural, Boyart’s first QR-tagged work was painted last November. It shows a boy’s face with the caption “Papa, c’est quoi l’argent?” or “Dad, what is money?” Setting up the Bitcoin account was easy, so all he had to do was order a laser cut stencil for the QR code.
Boyart isn’t sure whether other artists have tried this before, but he thought it could be a good way to offset the considerable costs for materials and supplies for his street art. “I diversify my sources of income,” he said. “Sometimes I do live painting performances on events, collaborations with brands and storyboarding… Occasionally, I sell some artworks and I organize my own art exhibitions. Most of the time, my street art pieces are made without remuneration, just for the pleasure to paint and share with the people.”
With Bitcoin, the artist has an easy way to set up direct financial transactions with the people. “I think it’s great news for the future and it will bring more sense, talent, freedom, and creativity from the artists,” Boyart said.
“The most interesting aspect is decentralization—a peer-to-peer horizontal system,” he told the Next Web, which first wrote about the project. “Art and creation need that, I believe.”
Boyart, who is now planning an exhibition of cryptocurrency art, is thankful for the donations he’s received so far. “I’ll use this money to purchase more art material and ‘hold’ another part because Bitcoin’s value will surely increase in coming years,” he said. Who knows—cryptocurrencies might not only revolutionize the world. If we’re lucky, they may also end once and for all the tired trope of the starving artist.
You can find Boyart’s Bitcoin address here. And below are more photos of Rembrandt dos au mur.
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.