Towards the end of last year we saw the emergence of NFTs and NFT art. NFTs quickly became popular amongst art collectors, artists and other digital creatives. And this shows no signs of slowing down.
But is NFT art simply a fad or does this represent a new possibility for artists everywhere? Is this the beginning of a digital renaissance?
Maybe you’re still a little confused as to what NFT art actually is (I know I was!). How does NFT art work? How can artists make money with NFTs? Can you really make millions of dollars with a digital file?
Let’s explore this new opportunity together.
What is an NFT?
An NFT is a non-fungible token. Ok great, but what does that mean?
Essentially, an NFT is digital art plus a contract. So hidden inside an original piece of NFT art there is a unique unit of data that uses blockchain technology to establish ownership. This data cannot be copied or replicated (unlike the piece of art itself).
Just as physical art holds value, NFTs are collectible digital assets that hold value.
Similar to Bitcoin and Ethereum, NFTs are a lot like cryptocurrencies. The key difference is that an NFT is totally original.
While most kinds of digital files can be easily replicated or reproduced, an NFT identifies the original copy. It’s much like how anyone can buy a print of a Picasso, but only one person has the original painting.
So instead of buying a physical piece of art, an NFT is a digital file that proves you own the original copy of the work.
What can be sold as an NFT?
Digital files essentially. Most commonly; JPEGs, Virtual Reality Files, PDFs and MP3s.
Now you might be wondering: Can I make an NFT? And in short, yes anyone can create a piece of NFT art.
The process is fairly straightforward. You create a piece of digital art and then turn it into an NFT on the blockchain. This is a process called minting. Then it’s a matter of uploading it for sale on your platform of choice. Popular NFT selling platforms for artists include; Opensea, Rarible and SuperRare.
It’s also possible to attach a commission to your NFT art. That means that every time your art is bought and resold, you’ll receive money.
There is one catch though – you’ll need to have a digital ‘wallet’ set up, and it’ll need to already have cryptocurrency in it. This condition of money upfront is where complications come into play. Essentially the platform wants to make sure that you have enough funds to cover their fees if you end up selling your art at a loss.
NFT platforms also charge hefty fees for transferring ownership on top of their commission. And because conversion fees can vary dramatically depending on the time of day, your profits may be very modest at best.
Benefits of NFTs for Artists:
Now you might be wondering whether it’s worth creating NFT art? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of NFT art for artists.
New opportunities and markets for artists
This new digital medium certainly lowers the barriers of entry for artists and creators. It’s a way to sidestep the gatekeepers in the traditional art fair world. Just like when creators started publishing their own books and music online. Being able to sell your work digitally is a new opportunity for most artists, providing access to markets that you may never have had access to otherwise.
Artists receive royalties on the secondary market
Most artists typically get paid the first time they sell a new piece but miss out on any other commissions if their piece is sold on. Not so with NFTs. Artists can attach a commission of 10-20% on all future sales of their work!
This is a total game changer in the art world. Since most art only gains its true value years after it’s initial creation, this ensures that artists continue to receive royalties every time the piece of NFT art changes hands.
Convenient for Collectors
A key selling point whenever anything goes digital is the convenience factor. It’s no secret that digital files are a lot easier to create, sell and distribute as an artist, but they’re also a lot easier for collectors to acquire, exchange and share. Win win.
Drawbacks of NFTs:
But what about the downsides to NFT art? There are definitely a few to consider before you start creating NFTs.
Negative impact on the environment
Cryptocurrency consumes a tremendous amount of electricity to create or transfer ownership of an NFT. Platforms are passing this fee onto creators as part of their commission.
That being said, blockchains like Tezos are developing low energy alternatives.
Extreme volatility of the currency and the market
As I mentioned earlier, cryptocurrency and conversion rates can vary wildly throughout the course of a day. The market is still extremely volatile.
This means that if your art sells at a downturn in the market you may not end up with much of a profit once the associated fees have been deducted from the sale price.
The landscape is still dominated by white males
The world of NFT art and cryptocurrency is still emerging and I certainly wouldn’t call it mainstream just yet. However, for the moment at least, this new digital landscape is predominantly populated by white males.
But if you’re interested in NFTs don’t let that stop you! Every challenge can be turned into an opportunity with the right mindset.
Can you make money more easily with NFT Art?
You might have heard stories about artists making hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) for pieces of NFT art. And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking this might be an “easy” way to sell your art online.
But when you dig a little deeper into these NFT success stories you’ll find that the artists who have found massive success selling NFTs have actually been prolific artists for years. Most have already put in the hard yards developing a loyal fan base. Unfortunately there are no shortcuts to success in the art world!
There’s one thing that hasn’t changed though. The art world is still all about relationships, and the NFT world is no different.
And these days, relationships tend to be primarily online. If you’re keen to start creating and selling NFT art, you’re still going to need to promote it somehow.
Twitter is a great option for discovery, sharing and promotion. Clubhouse is a good choice for having conversations with other artists and art world insiders. And of course, Instagram is still the platform of choice for most artist coach sharing their portfolios.
NFT art is a really interesting development and I personally find it exciting. If you think that your work translates digitally and you’re comfortable with risk, I encourage you to dig deeper into this new opportunity.
But don’t feel that you’ll be left behind if you decide to continue working in analog! There will always be a place for real world objects in the real world.
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