Let's Talk Simply About NFTs and CryptoArt
NFT's (non-fungible tokens) are an amazing new technology that gives artists and art collectors a new way to buy, display and sell editions of their art. They're digital collectibles similar to sports cards that are minted to the blockchain where they can be displayed, traded, and sold for cryptocurrency. I stumbled upon these things earlier this year while researching ways that crypto and blockchain technology could benefit an independent artist. I remember reading articles about groundbreaking ways blockchain technology could influence art but I never had time to personally explore any of the methods myself. This weird year gave me enough free time to explore the world of cryptoart and so far this has been a pretty amazing experience! It's almost like a creative digital universe where digital art, programming, and new financial technology outshines the abilities of physical artworks, the restrictions of physical galleries, and physical fiat currencies.
The Digital Art Exchange
The life of a digital artist can be pretty profitable at times, but most of the time we create for the love. We give a lot of our hard work away for free. Maybe not physically distribute high resolution art for free, but we display and expose our creative selves free of charge. We upload works to Instagram and Facebook where they can be shared, downloaded, and copied in exchange for a few likes. If someone wanted to buy a copy of our artwork, we'd have to print and ship it. If it's a video, then we could sell a copy of the HD file, but there's no visible proof of ownership unless we draft up some kind of letter and badge of authenticity and embed it onto the corner of the video. With physical art, when you own an original, it's obvious. The art is physically on display in your personal space and it's probably in gallery records that you are the current owner. With digital art outside of the crypto universe, ownership is not that obvious. When you mint art to the blockchain it's on a permanent and public record that you are the true creator. After it's purchased, that token transaction and transfer is public record on the blockchain. Now you can flaunt your ownership of a $10,000 piece of digital artwork to the millions of crypto users on that blockchain. Not only can you show it off, but you can resell it for a profit and depending on where you purchased the art, the original artists could receive a percentage of sales automatically- no accountant necessary!
One of my artworks on an invite-only NFT platform called SuperRare. I am not the creator but not the current owner.
How to Check all of This Out
Now I know this all seems pretty complicated (and it definitely can get complicated) but I'm going to try and paint a simple picture of how all of this works. If you want to know a bit more about the technical sides of everything, check out this article explaining NFTs. Ok so let's talk a bit theoretically...
You Just downloaded a new digital wallet. This wallet is kind of like PayPal, but it's just an app or plugin in your desktop browser. I recommend MetaMask. In this wallet you can hold your Ethereum, Bitcoin, and any other coins you'd like to hold and keep safe. You can also access a browser that has a list of dApps (decentralized apps) for you to check out. These apps can be accessed through pretty much any web browser, but you can't access the features unless you are connected with your wallet. One of these apps is Rarible, an NFT marketplace. You check it out and wow, this would be a great place to post and potentially sell art for ETH (ETH is ether, the currency for Ethereum) that you can stash in your wallet. How do you do that? Well like with any website, you sign up and get your profile set up. You click to upload art, list the price, and verify the transaction in your wallet. When trying to verify, your wallet will prompt you to pay a usually small fee. This fee is a "gas" fee that covers the processing costs to mint your artwork to the blockchain. Make sure you have some ETH available to pay for gas. When the network is busy the fee goes up, on lite days the fee is low. Pay the gas, verify, and wait for the transaction to complete and BAM, you've minted your first token. Now instead of just uploading directly to social media, share this link. If someone wants to buy the artwork, it's potentially available for them. It's all pretty easy once you understand crypto wallets and how crypto transactions work.
My virtual residency in Cryptovoxels.
Another layer to the world of CryptoArt and dApps is the Crypto Metaverse! The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. Basically it's a virtual world, like Second Life or GTA Online. In places like Cryptovoxels and Decentraland you can spend cryptocurrency on virtual plots of land and build pretty much whatever you want. It could be a massive palace to display your art collection, a small storefront to sell your collection, and event space to stream live events, or a virtual meeting space for your friends and colleagues. Events and art openings are happening around the clock in the crypto metaverse! People from all over the globe can gather and see your digital creations. It's all pretty amazing. You can access these places the same way you access other dApps, with a browser linked to a crypto wallet.
Check out my podcast interview with D-SANe8 about CryptoArt and NFTs
There's even more to NFTs and cryptoart that I'm not going to cover here simply because I want you to take the time to go and explore yourself. If you want to know more, I recently did an interview on a cool gaming and tech podcast where I talk about this technology and how to access it. If you want to know more check out the podcast episode on Spotify.