NFTs And The Creative Economy: What’s It All About?
If, by now, you haven’t come across the phrase ‘NFT’, chances are that you don’t spend much time on the internet. It’s become something of a buzzword of late and is being bandied about here, there and everywhere… so if you haven’t discovered it just yet, it’s really only a matter of time.
But what exactly is an NFT anyway and why would you, a creative professional, find it of any interest whatsoever?
Quite simply, NFT stands for non-fungible token, which probably still doesn’t mean very much to you! Just think of an NFT as a unit of data that can appear in the form of a photo, a video, an audio file and so on.
This unit of data is then stored on a blockchain (which is a type of digital ledger), along with information relating to identity and ownership… so whoever owns the NFT enjoys total security - and there can be only one owner of each individual NFT at any given time, so they represent an amazing investment opportunity for anyone keen to amass a private art collection.
But what about from a creative perspective? We all know how hard the last few years have been for artists, musicians and others in the creative industries, with the pandemic forcing them to find innovative and alternative ways of making a living, with so much of the world shut off.
And it is perhaps because of the coronavirus crisis that NFTs have come to the fore so quickly, providing people with a new way to generate some income when other avenues were out of reach.
As an artist, it can be incredibly difficult to have your voice heard above the clamour, to ensure that your creations get the attention they deserve - but with NFTs, it’s become far easier to find that audience, to garner recognition, to really make a name for yourself.
Of course, you don’t have to just focus on NFTs exclusively and just because you decide to prioritise digitalisation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to operate in more traditional spheres… but technology can certainly help give you a boost and allow you to continue creating, no matter what happens in the ‘real’ world.
Another interesting point to bear in mind when mulling over whether or not NFTs are right for you or not is that you’ll be able to enjoy a greater level of control over your artwork, control that you would never be able to have otherwise… at least, not without a lot of effort.
Because NFTs are stored on the blockchain, you’ll be able to keep track of your creations no matter what happens and track ownership over the years… as well as potentially even earning some cash on future sales, depending on the type of NFT marketplace on which you sell. So there’s even greater opportunity for recognition and reward!
When art meets tech
Taking a look at other artists to see how it’s done is a great place to begin when searching for inspiration where your own NFT ambitions are concerned… and it certainly makes for very eye-opening reading indeed, with some artists making their millions - and then some!
Ever heard of digital artist Beeple, for example? Last year, the creative - real name Mike Winkelmann - saw an NFT of his work go under the hammer at Christie’s auction house for an incredible $69 million. Up until that point, the most he’d ever sold a print for was $100… facts that, quite simply, speak for themselves.
The artwork in question was EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 Days. Back in 2007, Beeple decided to create and post a new piece of art online every day - and he ended up creating a new image every day for 5,000 consecutive days. The end result? One of the most unique collections of work ever to have been created in the history of digital art.
As the auction house observes, the collection is “organised in loose chronological order, zooming in on individual pieces reveals abstract, fantastical, grotesque, and absurd pictures, alongside current events and deeply personal moments.
“Society’s obsession with and fear of technology; the desire for and resentment of wealth; and America’s recent political turbulence appear frequently throughout the work”.
Need further inspiration for your NFT creative ambitions? What about FEWOCiOUS, one of the elites of the NFT art world? Real name Victor Langlois, the artist - who’s not even 20 years old, by the way - broke into the NFT market back in 2020 and since then has gone on to earn himself $18 million or thereabouts.
According to Esquire, he’s the youngest artist ever to be featured by Christie’s, with his digital artwork The Everlasting Beautiful selling for $550,000… and he’s also the first artist ever to crash the auction house’s website - both of which are amazing accolades for a teenager to claim as their own.
The auctioneer’s site crashed during the sale of Hello i’m Victor (FEWOCiOUS) and This Is My Life, five digital and physical paintings that documented his difficult childhood and gender transition.
But even he had his doubts about the NFT marketplace, listing his first painting i Always Think of You in the summer of 2020 following the suggestion of one of his customers. It sold for just over $1,000, quickly followed by two further sales - and he’d made himself $3,000 in just one day!
As Langlois says of NFT, “it completely changed my life”.
Now it’s your turn!
If you’re looking for a game changer where your work is concerned and if you want to start looking for new markets for your art, NFT could well be the perfect choice for you. But where do you begin with it all?
Making your first NFT might seem a little daunting but rest assured, the hard part isn’t actually coming up with a creative idea. Most of the work you’ll put in at the beginning is working out all the more technical aspects of uploading and selling your creations.
Once you’ve got a piece of art you think would make an amazing NFT, you’ll then need to choose a blockchain on which to host it. This part definitely requires a bit of thought and research, as there are lots of different blockchains available and they’re not all created equal.
Ethereum is the original NFT blockchain and it’s the most well known, so it could be a good place to begin, as it’s got a solid reputation for reliability and security - so perfect for beginners and those dipping their toe in the NFT waters.
Other options that could be right for you and your artwork include Tezos, Immutatate and Polygon… but make sure you take the time to research the pros and cons of all of them, so you know you’re making the right decision.
Once that’s all sorted out and you’ve authenticated your artwork on your choice of blockchain, you can then turn your thoughts to the marketplace.
Again, there are various options available to you so research them all and decide which one you like the sound of.
Check out OpenSea, which is the biggest NFT marketplace in the world, so a great place to begin. It’s also free to sign up to (so perfect if you’re new to all this and don’t want to invest too much too soon) and it’s peer to peer, so anyone can sell and it’s very quick to get going with it all.
Rarible is another marketplace you might find attractive, which has some excellent features for those new to selling, such as code-free minting… one less thing to worry about! A range of different NFTs can also be uploaded so you can easily diversify your creative portfolio and make changes based on what’s popular and what’s not quite selling as well.
Once you’ve got to this point, you can start thinking about setting up a digital wallet where you’ll store all your cryptocurrency tokens. Make sure you check the compatibility between your digital wallet and your chosen marketplace, as they don’t all work in symbiosis. Verifying this beforehand can help save you a lot of time and effort.
The good news, however, is that it’s very easy to set yourself up with a digital wallet. All you have to do is download the app and set up an account… and then you’re ready to rock and roll!
Get ready to mint!
So, you’ve got your blockchain sorted, you’ve chosen your marketplace and now you have a digital wallet. What’s next?
This is the part where the rap breaks down somewhat, as you’ll actually need to spend a bit of money. You need to mint your NFTs, which is the process undertaken to authenticate artwork on the blockchain - and this will cost you some cash. Once this has been completed, your NFT will be on the public ledger, enjoying all the benefits that this brings.
Unfortunately, minting is necessary if you want to sell NFTs but, as the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money.
You’ll likely find that you’ll have to pay the gas fees upfront in order to get blockchain validation, but you could also see if you can find marketplaces with lazy minting processes, which allow NFTs to be minted when they’re actually sold, rather than before.
In order to mint, you’ll need crypto tokens but make sure that you check which kind of tokens your particular marketplace accepts before you spend any money. The most common cryptocurrency is Ether (which you’ll also see referred to as ETH) and you can usually just use your debit card or Apple Pay to buy, so it couldn’t be easier to get started.
That’s all the relatively tech-focused stuff done and dusted, so you can really start getting all excited about selling your artwork and potentially making your millions.
Now’s the time to upload your file to your chosen marketplace and see what happens. This is where it’s really time to sell yourself and what you’ve created.
Remember - it’s a very competitive world out there and NFTs are only growing in popularity, so you’ll soon get lost in the crowd if you’re not careful and don’t take the time to really market your work in an effective way.
Make sure you devote sufficient time to writing compelling titles and descriptions of your work to really draw in the crowds. What’s particularly great about selling artwork in this way, rather than in a physical gallery space, is that you’re not restricted when it comes to the numbers of people you can attract… you’ve got the entire world to play with!
Something else to consider when uploading your NFTs is how exactly you want to sell them. You can go for a fixed price and see what happens (don’t worry, you can drop the price later if you need to), or perhaps you’d prefer to have all the excitement of an auction instead. It’s just a matter of deciding what’s right for you.
You’ve also got to think about royalties - another key benefit of selling creative work as an NFT. Just take a bit of care here, however, as if you set your royalties too high you may make it less likely that it will be resold later down the line.
But you also want to maximise the amount you could potentially earn in the future, so it’s something of a balancing act and it may take some time to perfect.
Away you go!
So there you have it! A very comprehensive guide to getting started with NFTs if you are a creative and are looking for new and exciting opportunities for your masterpieces.
We’d love to hear how NFT selling is working for you, so get in touch to let us know! We may feature you and showcase your work on the blog!