How To Sell Art As NFTs
Over the past two years, a new marketplace has emerged to sell digital art with a record of ownership validated using the same system used to validate the ownership of cryptocurrency tokens.
Ever since the landmark sale of Beeples’ digital art collection at the Christie’s auction house for over £60m, non-fungible tokens have been one of the hottest talking points amongst digital artists, with a common question asked about how they can sell their art as NFTs.
This is a question that can be taken in two very different directions; the first is the mechanisms for taking digital art assets, minting them as NFTs and selling those NFTs on a marketplace or to buyers as NFT drops.
The other side is the question of how you sell NFTs to people, and the latter question has seen a tapestry of answers as rich as The First 5000 Days itself.
Nearly every single approach possible has been taken to sell NFT art, with different trends increasing and decreasing in popularity over the last year as the market for NFTs has grown and matured.
In this guide, we are going to answer the two different parts of selling NFT art; the process of minting a piece of art as an NFT and selling it on the open market with an appropriate smart contract, as well as the ways in which NFT art is marketed, sold and given added value.
Part One: The Mechanics Of Selling NFTs
Selling NFTs is a deceptively simple process that starts with a piece of art, which can be one of many different formats, as the token itself does not contain the work of art, but instead a certificate of ownership for an artwork that is displayed elsewhere.
This helps to reduce the costs of minting an NFT, as the size of an NFT on the blockchain is small and thus takes less time to process and validate on the Etherium blockchain compared to having even a small image.
It also allows for versatility, with not only image files being supported but also music, video, animated GIF files and 3D models being supported by marketplaces such as OpenSea.
Once you have your art, either get your crypto wallet or set up an Ethereum-compatible wallet such as MetaMask, and buy some Ether tokens, as this cryptocurrency is used to pay for some of the fees that are part of the NFT minting process.
Once you have those tokens, go to a marketplace (for example, the advice we will be presenting will be for the popular OpenSea platform) and click create. You will be asked to provide your piece of art (regardless of type), as well as a name, item description and a link to an external website if you have one set up (which we will explore in part two).
There are other aspects you can modify as well, such as adding it to a collection, the traits in the case of a procedural NFT (to be explored in part two) and unlockable content. Once you are happy, click create.
After this, the next step is to take the NFT you have just made and click Sell on the item page. This will allow you to sell it either at a fixed price or in a timed auction with a fixed or starting price, as well as a duration, as well as reserving the NFT for a specific wallet number if a sale has already been agreed to.
Finally, you will be asked to confirm the transaction fees, which involve one-time fees, minting costs and gas fees for transactions.
Once it is listed, someone can find your NFT and buy it using Ether.
Part Two: The Art Of Selling NFT Art
The easy part of selling an NFT is the mechanics of a sale, but this is only a tiny part of what selling NFTs is all about.
Initially, the main focus of the NFT market was on individual art sales, similar to Beeples, with some being digital art and others being somewhat more abstract.
For example, the first tweet was sold as an NFT, as was the source code of the internet and the first text message.
Several popular internet memes were sold as NFTs, allowing the owners of often replicated images to make money off of their notoriety, such as Bad Luck Brian, Overly Attached Girlfriend, Disaster Girl, the maker of Nyan Cat and many other examples.
However, as the initial wave of NFT mania dissipated, the value of NFTs and how it was determined changed considerably, led by procedurally generated collections such as CryptoPunks and particularly Bored Ape Yacht Club.
These are NFT artworks bought not necessarily based on their artistic merit as a whole but based on the rarity of individual traits, similar to the secondary market of trading cards.
Some NFT projects took this connection to trading cards and video games further and had traits which not only led to different-looking NFTs but also provided functionality, most notably in play-to-earn games such as Axie Infinity.
There, an NFT is not only an asset that can be bought or sold on a marketplace but also has a tangible use as an item, a block of land or a playing piece in a game.
This concept of adding value is a major point of consideration when it comes to selling NFT art, and as a result, most popular collections such as BAYC will have a roadmap where owning a Bored Ape provides added explicit functionality and ownership.
If you own a Bored Ape, the terms of service agreement state that you own the intellectual property of that particular Bored Ape, leading to several art projects and even derivative NFT projects tethered to the ownership of that specific ape.
The key is clarifying what an NFT confers ownership of besides itself, and more recent collections are aware of the importance of ensuring people know what they have bought, particularly if there are physical as well as digital assets involved such as land ownership or access to exclusive clubs and events.