If you’ve spent any time on the internet over the past few months, you’ve probably heard about NFT’s, and if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t understand a word of it.
Against my better judgment, I let curiosity get the best of me, and spent hours doing research on what exactly NFTs are, and I’ve come to impart this wisdom onto you (I’m sorry).
This post will give you an easy to understand summary of the basics of NFTs and how anybody can become a part of this emerging art form(?). And if you are wondering what the world of crypto and finance bros has to do with the world of poetry and sad romantics, keep reading.
(Image from https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/12/15/sothebys-sells-record-7-3b-in-art-this-year-nfts-fetch-100m featuring artwork from Sotheyby's 'Bored Ape Yacht Club' NFT collections currently valued at 24.4M USD)
DEFINING OUR TERMS
Before we begin, let’s define some relevant terms.
Fungible: A property describing a commodity that is interchangeable with other instances of the same commodity. For example, the US Dollar is fungible, because all dollars are worth exactly the same and have no unique properties. You can exchange one dollar for another dollar, and it wouldn’t make any difference.
Cryptocurrency: A type of digital currency that does not have a central authority, as compared to regular currency, who’s central authority is a government or bank. Cryptocurrencies are traded and go up and down in value daily depending on the market in a similar fashion to stocks.
Ethereum: One of the most popular cryptocurrencies today, being valued at 2,635.88 USD at the time of writing this post.
Blockchain: A list of records that every cryptocurrency transaction is recorded on, aka, a digital ledger for cryptocurrency. Every time a crypto transaction is made, all of the information about the transaction is stored in a dataset called a block. After a certain amount of transactions, the block gets filled and a new block is created. Consecutive blocks are then “chained” together, creating a permanent and chronological link of records that is virtually immune to hackers.
SO WHAT IS AN NFT
NFT stands for non fungible token. They are any kind of digital media such as images, audio, or video, (usually art) and they are sold through the Ethereum blockchain. The most important separating feature of NFTs as opposed to, say, Ethereum, is that all NFTs are one of a kind, aka, they are non-fungible.
You can think of NFT’s as digital, one of a kind art forms, that can be bought and sold in a similar fashion to stocks and cryptocurrency (though of course there are differences, I’m just giving you the big picture).
HOW DOES IT WORK
To create an NFT, or “mint” an NFT as it is called, artists choose an NFT platform, create their art file (these can be drawings, music, videos, poetry, etc.), upload it to their chosen platform, and put a price on it. After that, it becomes open for anyone to purchase.
When somebody purchases an NFT, they become the owners of the original artwork, and with that, can have special privileges in regards to it (though the artist still retains rights to the work). The buyer can then choose to keep the NFT, or flip it, meaning, selling it for a higher price and profiting.
NFT platforms also offer the option for the artist to receive royalties on their work, meaning that each time an NFT is sold, the artist receives a commission of the sale, providing a stream of passive income to the artist.
FOR THE BOOMERS
You can think of NFT’s in the same way as regular, physical art, just digital. For example, let’s say an artist creates a painting. They can then sell it to an art collector who deems it to be valuable. That art collector can then choose to keep the painting because they enjoy it, or they can try to sell the painting for more money than they originally paid for it. Of course, with modern technology, anybody could make a replica or picture of the painting and have it for themselves. However, only one person can have the original, and that is the only painting that is actually worth something.
NFT’s work in the exact same way - just on your computer. They are a way for people to buy, collect, and sell virtual art, with the ability for people to own “originals” though anyone can own a duplicate.
THE BENEFIT TO ARTISTS
NFTs can be a great tool for artists as the potential for profit is in theory much higher than that of traditional publishing or doing freelance work, and they can be minted with little to no cost to the artist.
Because NFTs exist in the space of cryptocurrency, they are primarily bought and flipped by extraordinarily rich crypto traders who invest thousands of dollars each day, which means they can very quickly become worth a lot of money.
Small unknown artists have in a matter of months grown their NFTs to be worth hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. Now of course, there are no promises, and just because you mint an NFT does not mean you are guaranteed to make anything, but the potential is there with the right marketing.
Another major benefit to selling your work as an NFT is that you get to retain rights to the work and have the choice to collect royalties on it. This is not always the way with traditional publishing outlets, as you often have to sign away the rights to your own work.
THE VERY BASICS OF WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MINT AN NFT
An NFT platform: An NFT platform is what actually allows you to create your NFT and sell it. I don’t know enough about any platforms to feel comfortable endorsing any, but if you made it this far into this blog you probably know how to use google.
A crypto wallet: A crypto wallet is an account that keeps track of all of your crypto-related transactions and you need one in order to create an NFT. Once again, I don’t feel comfortable endorsing any particular ones, but you know, google.
Software to create your art: Of course you will need to create your digital art and this can range from being completely free to costing lots of money depending on the kind of art you make and the software you use. Popular software include Adobe, Canva, GarageBand, and DaVinci Resolve, to name a few.
A file containing your completed artwork: Your art work will need to be in an acceptable file format in order to become an NFT. The acceptable formats are: JPG, PNG, GIF, FVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, CLB, GLTF and must be under 100mb.
A Discord page and other social media presence for marketing: Having a discord page with an active and excited community is absolutely crucial if you want to sell NFTs. Discord is used by crypto traders to discuss NFTs and judge whether or not specific NFTs are worth buying based on how active the community surrounding it is. It is also a good idea to have other social media outlets to market your NFTs, particularly twitter, as it is also one of the biggest platforms used by traders.
THE IMPLICATIONS AND FUTURE OF NFTs
Because NFTs are such a new and bizarre phenomenon, there’s no knowing what the future holds or what implications they have for the world of art. Some believe that the NFT world could turn into a serious and prestigious way of collecting art, just like museums out here in the real world.
Others believe NFTs are nothing more than Pokemon cards if Pokemon cards were made for trust fund babies and Elon Musk. But as of now, I think it’s safe to say it's a some-from-column-A and some-from-column-B situation, and there are people with a genuine interest in buying and keeping art from artists they want to support, and those just looking to make a buck (or 50,000).
A POET’S NFT STORY
While doing research I found an interesting article from a poet who sold her work as NFTs, and it actually inspired me to make this post. Please check out the story here.
I know this post isn’t the typical content you see here on The Poetry Cove, but I thought it was really cool and wanted to share. Even if you don’t plan to get involved with NFTs yourself, I hope you all found this article interesting or that you at least learned something. I would love to hear in the comments what your thoughts are on the subject, don’t hold back.
(Update: Since writing this blog a week ago, Adam and I created our new series of NFTs available to purchase at https://opensea.io/UglyPussies. Follow us on twitter @NftPussies and instagram @UglyPussiesNFT xoxo)