What the hell is an NFT? I had no idea. So I went through the process of making one myself. This is my experience as a photographer, completely new to the NFT space. NFT, as you’ve probably heard or seen those three letters recently, especially if you’re on Twitter. NFTs have been picking up a lot of attention on Twitter, but NFTs have actually been around for quite some time.
I was pretty confused about what they were like everyone else. So I decided to do a little digging on the topic and see what the process was like to make one as a photographer and whether or not this is actually the future for artists like myself to digitize and sell our work. On a preface this video by stating that this isn’t going to be a tutorial or kid kind NFT because quite frankly, I am still learning about the subject myself, so I’m definitely not qualified to be that resource about NFT.
But this is going to be more like an introduction to what they are in the best way I can describe it to someone else who might not know what they are either. Also talk about what my experience was like creating photography for NFT and putting one up for sale. Okay. So what are nfts? Well, nft stands for non-fungible token non-fungible.
Meaning non interchangeable. If you’re familiar with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or Etherium, nfts are similar in the sense that they live on a blockchain network. I’m not going to go into what exactly a blockchain network is because God who I know. But there’s actually a good video on YouTube by simply explained, and it’s essentially a chain of information that lives on a very, very secure network that is open to everyone.
So like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is after is live on the blockchain network. But cryptocurrencies are fungible, meaning that they can be interchanged for other currencies. So you could trade bitcoin for U.S. dollars, for example. And Nfts, on the other hand, are not fungible, hence the word NFT nonfungible token so they can’t be exchanged for another NFT. There’s a very limited supply of them and they’re very unique in that.
Scarcity thus makes Nfts somewhat valuable, at least in the eyes of some people. What actually can be an NFT is really up to the creator of the NFT. It’s essentially a digital asset or a digital item. It can take physical form, but also along with some digital token that symbolizes it. But for the most part, it’s a digital asset that can actually take the form of an artwork, which is what I think a lot of us watching this video are more interested about, especially me, because I’m a photographer.
Digital art, digital paintings, video clips, photographs, all of these things and even more can become Nfts in the actual process of making an NFT is pretty simple. I mean, once you’ve actually made the artwork itself, that might not be simple, but it’s a matter of just uploading that file to the NFT marketplace and setting your price and getting someone to purchase it and setting up an account on these marketplaces requires some identity verification.
You also will need an Etherium wallet, which is essentially an account to hold your Etherium. But once you have those things settled, it’s a matter of really just uploading your art onto the platform. I’ll get into more of that process later on in the video when I talk about my experience. So once you make an NFT, you’ve uploaded it.
You’re basically listing it for a set price or you’re putting it up for auction. When someone out bids everyone else or successfully buys your NFT, they essentially become the prime single owner of that NFT and all of that is verifiable through the blockchain network. So it’s essentially declaring that everyone accepts that this person is the sole owner of that NFT, this form of verifiable ownership that lives on the blockchain, something that’s incredibly secure and almost impossible to hack, is one of the important qualities of nfts that make it really valuable in the eyes of a lot of people and could potentially change the way we authenticate ownership of art.
As the new owner of that NFT, they have the option to sell it again at a set price that they place. And the original creator of the NFT say you the artist, would get a percentage of that sale. That actual percentage can be chosen by you on some platforms. So as an example, I could place an NFT up for sale.
Someone buys it, I get 100% of the sale minus service fee and I’ll get into fees later on in this video. And the person who now has it could later on sell it at an even higher price and successfully sell it. And I would get ten or 15 whatever percentage I chose of that sale. That same percentage will continue for every future sale.
So it sort of acts as like a royalty in a way for the artist. This is another big quality of nfts that makes it really intriguing for artists. Okay, so that’s cool and all, but why would I buy an NFT when I could just screenshot it on my computer or download that artwork straight from the platform itself? Well, you obviously could do that, but there is no verifiable ownership, nor is there any scarcity to it.
That’s scarcity. And verifiable ownership on the blockchain network is essentially what gives Nfts its value. It’s weird, and it’s one of those things that I think makes a lot of people skeptical about. Nfts a common analogy I see used is you could take a picture of a Picasso in a museum, but do you really own it? Maybe that analogy didn’t really help prove anything to anyone, but I don’t think we as artists should really be all too concerned about why we would buy an NFT because there’s already a market for them and people who really believe in what they can potentially become and want to therefore collect as many as they can.
And I think that’s why it’s important for us as artists to start a conversation about what this is and whether or not this is really something we should be getting involved in. So to save you the trouble, I went through the process myself of making an NFT as someone who didn’t know too much about it just to see how it would go.
It went poorly. Okay, I’m joking, but it’s definitely not all sunshine and rainbows. So I was already familiar with what cryptocurrency is. I have an Etherium wallet, so the process of me setting up an account on one of these marketplaces was pretty easy for me. It’s just a matter of finding what market place to set up my NFT on, which was a bit overwhelming.
There’s a bunch of different places that you could potentially sell your Nfts and I settled on one called Rarible Rarible and it’s open to the public, which made it really easy for me to get on it because there are some which are invitation only where they curate the artists for the marketplace. This way I could easily get on and sell my work right away.
Or at least I thought it would. I linked my wallet, which is my Ethereum wallet, which is essentially where you store your Etherium cryptocurrency. And I was pretty much ready to upload my NFT from there onto the marketplace. Ended up settling on choosing this image as what I would make into an NFT. On Rarible you have the option of making a single or multiple collection of nfts.
This kind of got my attention because I thought the whole point of NFT was that they’re scarce. So. Well, I guess if you made a thousand copies of your NFT that would still be scarce in the grand scheme of things if you’re comparing to things like cryptocurrency. I decided to go with the single collection for maximum scarcity. There’s also a 30 megabyte max file size requirement on this platform.
I’m assuming this varies on other platforms, so I upload the file and done. Nope, not done yet. You have several options about the sale. You can have an instant buy out price, which you can select. You also will notice that says Page that stands for Etherium, and you are essentially buying and selling your NFT through Ethereum cryptocurrency because Nfts they live on the Ethereum blockchain network and that’s why we’re all dealing with Etherium.
The thing is, Etherium fluctuates in price throughout the day, so this price that it states here isn’t actually a guarantee. And, you know, I could sell my NFT at one Etherium, which has it stands it’s about 1500 dollars. If Etherium plummeted to say, $5 next week, probably unlikely. But if it did, someone could easily just buy my NFT for $5.
And you also notice that there’s a 2.5% service fee. So you would technically be making 97.5% of the profit. And that’s still extremely good considering the other alternatives where you would be selling your art. No sale normally on other platforms. Here you can see in the bottom I can choose the percentage of the royalties that I would make if someone were to buy and then sell my NFT later on.
Parable suggests 10, 20, 30. I did 15 because I’m cool. All right. Create item and this is where things got a little more questionable. So after selecting create item, RARIBLE pushes a request to my Etherium wallet, asking for my fingerprint verification to prove that it’s me and to accept a $40 miner fee. What is a minor fee and why is it $40?
It seemed like a lot, but minor fees are essentially fees or service fees that you pay to keep the Ethereum network running in a way, it’s essentially a service fee, but for the Ethereum network. However, that fee will go up in price as the price of a Etherium goes up. And not only that, if there’s a lot of traffic and a lot of demand for, say, nfts the price of the miner fee, that service fee is going to go up as well, depending on the amount of traffic.
And so I think that is sort of why that fee was so high, because a lot of people are interested in Nfts right now. I tried making another one this morning and at 7:30 a.m. in the morning the fee was about $50. I quickly canceled out. But hey, if someone buys my NFT for the price that I have it, etc., I’m going to quickly forget about that service fee.
Right? But who’s going to buy my art? That’s another aspect of Nfts that I think a lot of people, especially those who don’t really know too much about them, can definitely overlook and easily end up losing money instead of making money. The marketplace I put my NFT up on is huge. There are thousands of artists uploading thousands of different nfts almost every day.
So what’s going to make me stick out of that huge sea of NFT is why is someone going to buy my work over someone else’s work? And as it currently stands, the amount of people who are actually interested in buying in Nfts to begin with is already really small. So this whole process isn’t just, you know, uploading the work and forgetting about it.
You’re going to also have to put a lot of extra time in marketing your NFT in the hopes that some collectors going to see it, find value in it and potentially buy it. And even that isn’t a guarantee either. So in my case, I currently have zero bids on that picture I uploaded. And, you know, I don’t think I ever will.
But, you know, I’m already a net negative of $40. So so far I’ve lost money. And I’ve also spent the extra time in, you know, learning about nfts, sharing it on different platforms and all of this extra stuff that, you know, I wanted to make sure I did before making this video. So I’m personally wondering if this is all really worth it for us or for me, if this is all worth it for potentially making that pretty penny.
And that sort of brings me back to this other topic surrounding NFT is regarding, you know, the commercialization of our art. You may have seen in the news that a blockchain company bought a $95,000 Banksy artwork and burned it. They filmed the video of them burning it and made that into an NFT. There’s a lot of different ways you could look at this, and I think it’s easy to question what we’re really doing to the value of art when we’re buying a physical art piece just to burn it and to turn it into a digital asset.
I do know that Banksy has actually destroyed his own artwork as performance art in the past. The actual burning part might actually be an ode to Banksy, but this is besides the point. They destroyed the art piece. It no longer exists. Those who burned it claim that, and I quote from them. If you were to have the NFT and the physical piece, the value would be primarily in the physical piece.
By removing the physical piece from existence and only having the NFT, we can assure that the NFT, due to the smart contract ability of blockchain, will ensure that no one can alter the piece and it is the true piece that exists in the world. By doing this, the value of the physical piece will then be moved on to the NFT.
Maybe it’s just me, but that quote terrifies me. As an artist, I do realize I’m still not fully knowledgeable of this topic, so maybe someone can explain it further for me and why this is good for us. It does raise a ton of questions, and I think it’s smart to, you know, have conversation about this. Yes, we might be protecting the originality of the piece in that, you know, no one can alter it anymore because it now lives on this digital network that will last forever.
But we did alter it. We literally destroyed it. So what is this trying to say about physical art in our world? Are we really making art more valuable or are we promoting the devaluation of actual physical art? Art that we can touch, hold, see in a museum, hang up on our walls, you know, really appreciate in its physical form.
What are we saying about that kind of art? Are you instead of placing all the value on something that we can’t do all those things and fully appreciate, are we putting its value on to some digital network that not everyone, let’s be honest, has access to? Because you do need an Internet connection, you need a digital device to do that.
So these are things that just come into my mind. And who’s really profiting from these nfts? Is it really the artists who’s profiting off of it, or is it these huge blockchain companies like the one that just bought a $95,000 Banksy piece, destroyed it and is probably selling it for an even higher price. I do think the investing world in the crypto world sort of get intertwined with each other because, you know, it does involve money and trading and all that investors might see nfts digital artwork as potential investment opportunities, and they might think that buying your art is a way of them investing in you as an artist in hopes that you’re going to
grow in value in that art piece is going to grow in value. And let’s be honest here. And why do they hope that because they want to later on sell it at a higher price to make a profit. So our NFT is just a way for, you know, our artworks to become these tradable assets. And what does that say about the appreciation of art?
Are we buying the art piece because we actually appreciate the art and everything that goes into it? Or are we buying it because we want to make money off of it? Maybe it all comes full circle because the original incentive for an artist to make an NFT in the first place is for them to make a profit. I mean, I didn’t spend $40 just to have my piece live on forever in a blockchain.
I did it because I’m hoping someone’s going to buy it for a crazy, ridiculous amount of money, and I would then make a profit. And I think that’s where a lot of the craze is coming from. They’re seeing all these people sell their digital art pieces for crazy amount of money. That kind of cash is going to raise a lot of attention, especially in a lot of artists.
So what do you guys think of all this? Is this the future? Is this how we are going to authenticate the originality or, you know, verifiable ownership of who owns art? Do you think this increases the value of art for artists, or do you think it devalues, you know, physical art pieces? And what do you think of investors potentially using your art as, you know, a tradable asset for them to make money?
Do you think this is a worthwhile way for artists to make, you know, an extra buck, maybe as a supplementation to, say, selling prints? And what is even the difference between selling an NFT and selling a physical print? The artist is trying to make money either way. I don’t think the creation and sale of NFTs is a perfect system, and with time it may evolve. Coupled with other revenue streams, the creation and sale of NFTs seems like a great way of creating an extra income stream for both amateur and professional photographers alike.