The technology sounds useful, but why should artists pay attention?
Good question. First of all, NFTs are primed to become a leading emerging asset class for the virtual economy. For The Next Most Famous Artist, the value that NFTs add to digital art was what attracted him to create them in the first place. He shares: “In the past, I could only sell my artworks as physical prints. But with NFTs, my works can now be animated and sold to a wider audience.”
Moving beyond the medium of digital collage, the artist can also delve into other artistic styles such as animation, 3D art, art collectibles and other forms of digital art. “It allows me to push myself creatively and collaborate with digital creatives of different mediums, both locally and globally,” he enthuses. “The onset of NFTs have combined various creative sectors together to form a new contemporary movement that is driven by collaboration.”
Additionally, the built-in royalties mechanism in NFTs enables him to set fixed royalty rates on resales of the NFTs that have been sold.
So NFTs provide more autonomy for artists?
Absolutely. “NFTs have empowered artists like myself to be more autonomous in showcasing our work,” shares The Next Most Famous Artist. “Artists can control the price of their work as well as the resale profits made by collectors in the secondary market.”
According to Khai, this new asset class is a great alternative for artists interested in diversifying their income source and exploration of new technologies where their practice can sit. It also helps that the community supporting NFTs is an international one, allowing artists to go beyond their local perimeters to engage in elevated conversations to better their practice. “Self-marketing is a big part of being successful in the metaverse. Through this, many artists also better understand the unseen work of gallerists through behind-the-scenes networking and promotion of art and artists.”
Where do galleries fit in then?
“Artists, gallerists, art dealers and collectors could mutually benefit from being in this space,” Khai expounds. He believes that there’s longevity in tokenised art, and contrary to much unfounded fear on NFTs, it’s imperative that everyone gets a better understanding of how smart contracts work first. “There is still so much to explore in terms of the tokenisation and co-ownership of art. For example, if we could imagine a shared ownership or appreciation of art just like how we enjoy, share and ‘acquire’ the rights to music on digital platforms today, then tokenised art will have a future.”
Surely NFTs come with their fair share of risks right?
The extreme volatility of cryptocurrencies impacts the value of each NFT. Burks admits that “given the big explosion of NFTs this year, the market can be a little speculative as more opportunists looking for a financial windfall instead of genuine collectors to purchase these digital assets.”
There is also a common misconception that an artwork’s value increases as long as it’s minted as an NFT—this cannot be further from the truth. Khai sums it up, “Just like any form of art, the investible value of an artist and artwork is dependent on the continuity and commitment of practice by its artists, as well as validation by critics, institutions, respectable curators and demand by collectors and fans.”
I think I’m ready to make my first purchase. How can I get started?
Prior to heading to an NFT marketplace to bid on your desired assets, you’ll first need an Ethereum wallet. All you have to do is install a browser extension on your desktop—MetaMask is a common option—or download the Coinbase Wallet app for mobile use. It only takes under a minute to create a wallet, and doing so enables you to buy and transact ether in no time.
Now that you have access to the Ethereum blockchain, there are several platforms for collectors to acquire NFTs. Mintable, the Singapore-based NFT marketplace, is one of many. It was created to give newcomers an opportunity to enter the blockchain space, and its easy-to-use function was designed on a simple baseline: can my mother use this?
“We designed Mintable to make it extremely easy for folks to get started that even my mother could do it,” says Burks, who founded the company in 2018. The platform also boasts a gasless minting feature, allowing folks to mint an NFT with no cost and no environmental impact at all—the latter poses as a hidden yet major downside to the digital phenomenon due to the overall carbon footprint created.
There is a myriad of NFTs sold on the platform as well, from houses listed for sale to films and documentaries.
“You name it,” enthuses Burks, who goes on to highlight that they’ve had utility‑driven NFTs (which are essentially technical working files that unlock exclusive perks) sell for $2 million in the past. “We’ve done some really cool drops in the past, but the most popular is definitely artwork. If you have amazing works of art or a big fan base, you can end up with hundreds of thousands of views on your NFTs in a very short amount of time.”
Other prominent NFT marketplaces include OpenSea and Rarible, where you can get started on bidding for your desired NFTs.