Why NFTs are a Great Opportunity for Artists
A primer on NFTs for Creative Entrepreneurs
Many creative people don’t understand NFTs, and they’re missing out on big opportunities.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to claim everyone should be using NFTs to try to get rich quick. However, I do believe crypto & NFTs present many amazing opportunities for artists, designers, and other creative people.
In this article, I’m not going to go into the technicalities of, “What is a blockchain?” “What does NFT stand for?” or, “How do I set up my crypto wallet?”
Instead, we’ll explore NFTs and blockchain technology (Web3) from a strategic standpoint, and we’ll discuss some of the ways NFTs change the online landscape for creatives.
Own your Art
Do you know why so many sites nowadays are trying to collect your email address? It’s because collecting email addresses is the best way to directly connect with customers.
Instagram & Facebook can decide NOT to show posts to some of your followers; or even worse, they could suspend your account and isolate you from your hard-earned audience. Most big brands are wary of this dynamic, and that’s why they spend so much time and money trying to get your direct contact information.
As an artist, you’re often held hostage by the same problem: platform dependency. You depend on IG or TikTok to show your work to the right people to build your following on those platforms. Then, you depend on the platform to communicate with your followers.
Crypto art flips the script by making the platforms dependent on creators, not the other way around.
Let’s go back to email addresses & email marketing. You don’t care if your favorite writer uses Mailchimp or Constant Contact to send their newsletter emails — it still reaches your inbox, right?
The creator isn’t dependent on Mailchimp to reach their audience. If they no longer want to use Mailchimp, they can move their email list (which they own) to any other tool or platform. This puts power back in the hand of the end-user and encourages the platform to provide good experiences for its creators.
The crypto ecosystem gives artists a new protocol for buying and selling art without depending on any particular platform. Sure, platforms like OpenSea and Foundation help facilitate transactions; but as soon as the creators decide to move to another platform, OpenSea can’t stop it.
Royalties are often part of the conversation about NFTs and artists’ compensation. Many NFT marketplaces support a royalty percentage on secondary sales, which means you get paid every time your art is bought and sold.
The problem is, there isn’t yet a standard between marketplaces. Transactions on OpenSea might grant royalties, while the same item sold on Rarible would NOT.
Many people bring up this cross-compatibility problem as a reason not to adopt NFTs, but this is a small technological hurdle; not a core issue. Universal standards are already being proposed on the Ethereum network.
As this technology improves, we’ll see greater and greater incentives for artists and creators to use NFTs as a vehicle for their digital art.
The blockchain will always be able to track an NFT back to the original source, so you’ll never have to wonder if you have a real copy or an authentic version of a token.
Maybe one day, this technology will replace the watermark completely, since the art is digitally signed by the creator.
For now, we’re still working through the problem of art theft and copyright infringement. Since anyone can create and publish an NFT, there’s no barrier to ensure you actually own the art you’re publishing.
Long term, I hope big NFT marketplaces can develop a standard method of reporting infringement & punishing offenders.
New Markets & Technologies
A New Asset Class
NFTs create new digital markets by securing reliable proof of ownership for digital goods.
For a fair transaction to take place, the buyer needs to be sure the seller actually has authority to sell the goods in question. NFTs have this security built-in, via the blockchain.
Additionally, NFTs are breaking the existing models of finance and investments. Are they collectibles? Are they currency? Something in the middle? No one is quite sure yet.
This gray area means there’s room for innovation and opportunity. In some ways, it feels like the Wild West — but in other ways, it’s the gold rush. Maybe it’s something in the middle?
We Need Creative People
NFTs are such a unique marriage of creativity and technology in the digital world. The “smart” nature of NFT contracts allows for some super cool technological upgrades. For example, artwork that’s constantly evolving, combinable and upgradable tokens, or a rare NFT that generates other crypto tokens.
The best part is; we’re not even CLOSE to fully exploring the limits of Web3 & NFT technology. Right now, the ecosystem is full of people who work in tech or finance. Creative professionals are few and far between.
We need the imaginations of artists, designers, and creative people to shape the future of the internet. Beeple’s accomplishments at Christie’s launched the NFT space into the public eye, after all.
A New Frontier
I’m not the first person to compare Web3 to a new frontier. Check out this Crypto.com commercial with Matt Damon if you haven’t seen it yet. NFTs are exciting for many reasons, and crypto in general is attracting many pioneers and adventurers.
Just like any frontier, there are risks and rewards. I’m not trying to say the risks don’t exist, but I do believe the risks can be WORTH it.
Anything can happen! A project you purchased months ago could suddenly skyrocket in value. A random viral tweet could pump (or crash) the market for your particular crypto token or NFT project.
It’s a thrilling game, for those who are willing to play.
The Future of the Internet
A Place for Creatives
Imagine a world where creatives run the internet, not corporations. An independent internet where Facebook, Google, or Apple aren’t constantly influencing your behavior with algorithms.
Decentralization is eating the world. Uber owns no cars, and AirBnB owns no houses. Web3 technology enables peer-to-peer transactions without a middleman; trustless interactions where both parties can be confident in the security and validity of the transaction.
For creatives, this means freedom from intermediaries. Reducing bureaucracy and middlemen means more money and greater control for the actual creator.
If we can correctly take advantage of this opportunity, our industry can launch the internet into a new phase of existence — where big corporations have less influence over how we create.
When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone in 2007, it was impossible to predict the full impact of the technology. No one could have known how our culture would be affected by the invention of the smartphone; the rise of social media, and the dominance of ultra-targeted digital advertising.
In some ways, we’re in a similar situation with the launch of Web3 technology. NFTs, blockchains, decentralized finance, trustless transactions, smart contracts… each piece of tech unlocks new opportunities for creators & inventors.
We’ve barely begun to scratch the surface.
The Great Online Game
There’s a great article on Not Boring called The Great Online Game. The author identifies the internet as a giant game that we’re all playing, each time we log on.
“We now live in a world in which, by typing things into your phone or your keyboard, or saying things into a microphone, or snapping pictures or videos, you can marshall resources, support, and opportunities. Crypto has the potential to take it up a notch by baking game mechanics — points, rewards, skins, teams, and more — right into the whole internet.”
In this article, I’ve outlined a few ways I believe NFTs are providing new opportunities and advantages for artists & creative people. From ownership rights to new technology; and even to the future of our digital society, NFTs are a powerful force in today’s world.
The internet is an amazing place, and it’s a technology unlike anything we’ve ever seen in all of human history. Don’t miss out on new opportunities. Instead, take the time to explore and engage with NFTs.
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