How to become an NFT digital artist

Artist Trevor Andrew sold his 'Gucci Ghost' NFT, an image similar to this ghost in Andrew’s twitter display photo, for RM15,202.80. Think you might want to try your hand out at becoming an NFT digital artist too?

By SOFIA SHAMSUNAHAR

Recently, Malaysian artist Red Hong Yi sold her art piece Doge to the Moon for RM325,000. The piece – a large printed Chinese Yuan, with Mao Zedong replaced by viral internet meme Doge – was a non-fungible token (NFT). With Doge to the Moon auctioned off on  cryptocurrency exchange Binance, to the highest bidder who bought the piece in Ethereum, we have been left wondering if NFTs are something more artists should consider.

If you’re a digital artist who feels his/her art is being undervalued, and if you’re tired of creating constant content for Instagram in the hopes that it could make you some money, perhaps NFTs are the solution. 

So…what are NFTs?

For cryptocurrency noobs, an NFT is a unit of data that is stored on a blockchain that is not interchangeable. Confusing, we know. So let’s break it down:

In digital art, think of NFTs as a digital file that gives exclusive ownership of a digital art piece to someone. In real-life, when you buy a physical painting, you own it. Sure, there may be rip-off paintings, just like how you can get cheap prints of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, but there is only one original. 

Similarly, with an NFT art piece, you are the owner of the NFT.  The owner of the NFT has the original, which is why the NFT is worth more than a jpeg version of the digital art piece. 

Another thing to know is that, just like with physical art pieces, the artist still owns the copyright of his NFT art unless there’s an agreement between the buyer and the seller that says otherwise. 

Why are NFTs a hot topic?

NFTs are revolutionising the world of digital art, and perhaps, it’s a little bizarre. Artists who used to put things online for free on platforms like Instagram and Facebook are now selling their work for thousands on NFT selling platforms. 

Take Malaysia artist Ronald Ong, for instance. Ong is a visual artist that creates surreal, often whimsical, digital artworks, mainly composed of nature and animals, which he posts on Instagram (@ronnaldong) for anyone to view. However, he sells his NFT pieces for thousands on sites like SuperRare and Foundation.app; his piece ZEBREO, for example, was sold close to RM85,000. 

Things you didn’t think could be sold for large sums of money, such as GIFs, music, avatars, articles and even tweets [the creator of twitter sold his tweet for RM12bil (US$2.9bil)!], are now turning into high-priced commodities. Tangible and even intangible items can be sold as digital objects. 

The bizarre part is that NFTs can usually be viewed and even saved for free, like how I just hit right-click-save-as Ong’s ZEBREO piece. But what NFT collectors are interested in is becoming the official owner of the piece.​​

How do I become an NFT artist?

There’s different websites that sell NFTs, and you’ll have to pick a platform you wish to sell on. On more popular sites that sell NFTs, such as OpenSea and Rarible, there may be some payment involved in order to create or sell your NFT. The cost of minting could be anywhere from less than RM4 to over RM4000. The price of minting could fluctuate depending on the time of day and which day you are trying to mint your piece.

In some cases, in order to create an NFT, you will need to pay to mint your art on the platform on which you’re selling. This basically means turning your art into an NFT by registering the information about ownership of your art onto a blockchain. Minting your item also means writing a contract with terms you set about selling your NFT. So if someone buys your NFT, he or she agrees to the terms set in the contract.

How do you mint your art? Some platforms that sell NFTs will help you mint your NFT, leading you through the process. In some cases you need to set up a cryptocurrency wallet in order to pay for the minting process. 

There’s also a chance you will need to pay the platform for selling your NFT. This is because sellers may have to pay a “gas fee” when they sell, which is the cost that goes into creating and executing a contract between the buyer and the seller. The website that hosts the NFT may also charge other fees as well. 

However, there are sites where you can mint and sell your NFT for free. Mintable is a site you may want to check out.

Usually, NFTs are sold in cryptocurrency, but it’s up to the seller. You could negotiate a deal that sells in whatever currency you prefer.

To all artists wanting to explore this whole new world, good luck and be safe! Do your research, find out what platform suits your art best, and be mindful about protecting your artwork and earnings. 

Sofia Shamsunahar is a doodle artist and writer.

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