Learn about what is a Trash Art that uses remixing to create digital art for NFT projects.
Creating art from trash is in itself not a new movement; people have been creating art from discarded plastic bottles, scrap metal, and aluminum cans for decades.
Trash Art in the crypto community is different from the original recycling movement. Instead, trash artists are part of a movement that questions the status quo of art through trash-themed gifs and memes, sending a clear message to the art world that anyone can be an artist.
This article will explore what trash art is, the art movement’s history, the top trash artists, the controversy facing trash art, and the most successful trash-inspired crypto art.
If you want to learn more about NFT art types, you’ll also enjoy our guide explaining what is generative art?
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A Brief History Of NFT Trash Art
Although crypto trash art is a 21st-century movement, it’s linked to the 20th-century artist Marcel Duchamp who shocked the art world when he flipped a porcelain urinal upside down, signed it, and claimed that it was a piece of art.
Marcel Duchamp forced the art world to think about what ‘art’ really is and whether it can be confined to predetermined parameters. Trash art has built on Marcel’s controversial work by pushing the boundary of what we call art.
The term Trash Art is believed to have been coined by the digital artist Barbara Tosti who saw the movement as a bit of fun and where people created low-effort gifs and memes using apps like PhotoMosh.
The little-known art movement gained traction following the suspension of the crypto artist known as ‘Robness’ from SuperRare for his trash gif called ‘64 Gallon Toter’, which sold for $250,000.
The SuperRare CEO John Crain told CoinTelegraph that the animated gif of a 64-gallon toter was a re-designed version of a Home Depot trash can, which meant it was not ‘original’ and therefore breached the site’s standards.
The suspension of the artist Robness caused an uproar in the NFT trash art community fuelling the art movement’s success. The market was flooded with crypto artists creating digital art based on the now symbolic 64-gallon toter.
The Trash Art Rebellion
Robness’ animated Home Depot trash can became a martyr in the trash art movement’s battle against consumerism and the fine art world.
Let’s look at some other big names in trash art that rose from the ashes of the 64-gallon toter suspension scandal.
GANG GREEN is a colorful and bold illustration of a hairy ankle. The piece is considered classic trash art as it takes something that usually wouldn’t be considered art and turns it into something beautiful.
The most significant contribution Jay_Delay made to the trash art world hasn’t been an illustration but his ‘trash art manifesto.’
The 16-page manifesto is minted onto the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain and details the importance of not limiting art by preventing new movements such as trash art from success.
Jay Delay’s manifesto codified the movement’s commitment to taking an open approach to art, especially in the NFT space.
Kamisama’s digital art project, titled ‘the wearable 64-gallon toter,’ was directly influenced by the crypto artist Robness.
Kamisama, like much of the NFT community, was outraged by the attack on trash art following the Home Depot debacle and decided to bring the symbolic trash can back onto the blockchain.
Kamisama decided to create a wearable version of the trash can for the Cryptovoxels metaverse game.
The metaverse ready trash can has been a hit with Voxels users who have proudly equipped their avatars with the historic Home Depot style trash can.
CryptoVoxel players who want to spread the word about trash art can get their virtual hands on the trash cans on OpenSea for around $1,500.
Max Osiris is a crypto artist who focuses on transdimensional artwork, and he regularly mints his work on the ETH blockchain.
Max minted and sold an NFT depicting a blank white page with the words ‘low effort NFT’ scribbled on in black ink.
The ‘low effort NFT’ was sold for 1 ETH ($2,900) on the Foundation marketplace last year. The site moved quickly to ban Max from the site for his low-effort NFTs, but much like the Home Depot trash can, the ban only spurred the community to create more trash NFTs.
Max Osiris took the ban of his ‘low effort NFT’ in his stride and went on to pay homage to both Marcel Duchamp and Robness by minting an NFT of a Duchamp urinal marked with Robness’ signature.
Bitjamin claims to be a true trash artist who felt that the traditional art world shunned his work while this new crypto movement embraced him.
Bitjamin has sold over 40 NFT trash art pieces, with his most notable piece being ‘Prayer at the Mound,’ which depicts a shadowy figure praying to a trash can.
The Prayer At The Mound has religious overtones both in its title and depiction; it’s clear that Robness’s trash can is not going anywhere despite being banned from SuperRare.
CryptoYuna, a traditional artist turned NFT trash art enthusiast, has shown her support for the movement with various trash-can-themed works of art.
Yuna’s most notable piece is titled ‘Illegal TRASH quarantined,’ which was created to protest the removal of Robness’ 64 Gallon Toter.
In addition to the Illegal Trash, NFT Yuna has also created a wide array of Trash Art memorabilia on Fineartamerica.com, including greetings cards and phone cases featuring pictures of the trash can.
Copyright and Remixing in Trash Art
The trash art movement has been an enormous success for many artists. Still, the issues of copyright that ignited the movement by killing Robness’ trash can continues to haunt the movement.
At the core of trash, art is the concept of ‘remixing’ everyday items to create art which can often result in people claiming their copyright has been infringed. Infringing copyright can lead to an artist being suspended from centralized NFT marketplaces.
A high-profile example of copyright issues bringing down a trash art piece was Crypto Tonya’s ‘BTC Bitch Remix #1’ from Rarible.
Tonya was approached on Twitter by Miss Al Simpson, who claimed that the BTC Bitch Remix was a copy of her Bitcoin Bitches design.
Rarible investigated the case, and Crypto Tonya’s work was subsequently removed from the site.
Max Osiris has also found himself facing copyright infringement claims over his ‘I1O I1O I1O LOVE’ illustration on SuperRare.
Osiris’ chaotic piece that mashed together extremely bright and dark colors turned out to be very similar to a piece by the Brazilian Artist Nino Arteiro.
SuperRare took up Arteiro’s complaint, and Osiris’ digital art was removed from the site. However, Osiris has since re-uploaded an edited version of the illustration on OpenSea with the title ‘I1O I1O I1O [EDIT] LOVE’.
The BTC Bitch Remix and I1O I1O I1O LOVE incidents reflected the issue of copyright and the general criticism trash art faces from people who see the movement as a lazy approach to art that simply copies ‘real’ artists.
A Successful Remix: Unofficial Crypto Punks
Although remixes often result in a backlash, one particularly successful collection is the Unoffocial Punks project.
The Unofficial Punks collection is a collaborative trash art project that remixes the legendary CryptoPunks.
Eric Paul Rhodes, a trash art pioneer, and Unofficial Punks developer, created the collection primarily for those who had been priced out of buying an original CryptoPunk, which can cost over $1 million.
The movement grew as digital artists jumped on the opportunity to create their own Unofficial Punks for the collection.
Eric said in an official blog post that the future of the project in terms of copyright is not clear, but for now, the collection is enjoying a lot of support from the NFT community.
The Final Word About Trash Art
Trash art is a somewhat bizarre counter-movement that has found its home in the crypto community. Even though the success of trash art is intertwined with copyright controversy, it has found a permanent home in the NFT community.
Crypto embraces the idea that anyone can get involved; this is a world that isn’t going to be dominated by the old gatekeeping artists and critics, and trash art embodies this more than most art forms.