It is an uncontested truth that NFT Art plays an increasingly important role in the overall art market today.
Not only has the total number of worldwide sales involving a non-fungible token in the art sector grown considerably. In 2021, OpenSea which is a peer-to-peer marketplace for NFTs generated over $23 billion in sales – a meteoric rise from 2020’s $21.7 million. What’s more, renowned international auction houses like Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips have jumped on the hype train.
To quote Cassandra Hatton, Sotheby’s global head of science and popular culture: “Everybody wants to sell an NFT.”
Why are NFTs attractive for artists?
The reasons why the youngest blockchain application attracts so many artists right now are many-faceted:
For starters, market transparency. In a previous article we already got the basics down on what NFTs are: NFTs are unmistakable certificates. All the information about the creator of the item, present and subsequent owners and price development travels with the token and can be looked into anytime.
Furthermore, by programming royalties into the NFT artists are automatically given a share of the revenue every time the artwork is sold on a marketplace – thus gaining a passive income. A percentage of 5 to 15 % is considered standard in the industry.
Lastly, because it (mostly) cuts out the middleman, the trade of NFT art allows for the artist to keep a significantly higher profit than usual. They do not necessarily need to spend money on art galleries and auction houses. Nonetheless, there are some expenses an artist has to be aware of, e.g. for promotion and marketing. We will come back to this later on in the article.
The good news for rising NFT artists and art lovers like myself is, however, you can still get in early-adopter-style. So, for all who want to know, here’s what I learned about how to create NFT Art step by step.
1. Choose your artwork
As easy as this might sound, choosing the right piece of original art can be crucial if you want to succeed as an NFT artist. Pretty much every category of art (videoclip, images, even tweets) can be turned into NFT art.
A futuristic, psychedelic, sci-fi-themed aesthetic seems to be prevalent when scrolling through the virtual showcases of markets like OpenSea, Rarible, and others. But the sky’s the limit when it comes to NFT art: Already, baseball cards, albums, java-script code and performance art have been tokenized.
2. Choose a marketplace
There are a number of marketplaces out there that differ in terms of their services, fees, supported format types, accessibility and market size. The most popular ones run on the Ethereum network which has established as most common standard for the storage of NFTs.
All in all, you can differentiate between curated and self-serviced platforms.
The most established NFT marketplace OpenSea runs on Ethereum (but lately also Polygon and Klatyn). It accepts over 150 cryptocurrencies, is free to join for everyone and supports a variety of file formats.
On the downside, it charges high gas and carbon fees for ETH mints. Those can be avoided by the turning to the more sustainable and cheaper Polygon Network to mint an NFT. Instead of gas fees between $70 and $150 per transaction, Polygon takes just some fraction of a cent. It can also be challenging to become visible on OpenSea because of the sheer number of art displayed.
To name just a few more platforms:
To join Nifty you need to have accreditation. You can’t showcase alongside well-established creators like the infamous FVCKRENDER and Canadian musician Deadmau5 if you haven’t gotten a creator’s invite and passed the audition process. In return, Nifty offers a carefully curated selection of what is considered high-class art pieces, managing a moderated release schedule for its clients.
For a transaction on Nifty gateway, you don’t necessarily need to own crypto coins. The platform accepts your standard debit and credit cards (and therewith non-crypto currencies).
Rarible is a network built on Ethereum (Flow and Tezos integrated). It is oftentimes compared to OpenSea with the major difference being that Rarible claims gas fees upfront.
The cryptocurrency of rarible is called RARI.
While platforms like OpenSea and Rarible allow for more than just NFT trade – you can also buy and sell domain names, metaverse lands, wearables, and more – Superrare specializes exclusively in NFT Art. It is invite-only meaning you have to get accepted in order to be listed. The marketplace strictly monitors the number of contributing artists as well as collectors. That said, Superrare has hinted at being willing to open up more fully in the future.
Foundation is yet another exclusive (accessible) marketplace. A listed Foundation creator needs to send you an invite before you can start to showcase your work. Another way to make it onto the platform is to get voted on – a loyal and supportive Twitter community can mean your breakthrough on Foundation. Be aware of high commission charges, gas fee, minting and listing fee as well as an auction settlement fee.
OBJKT is all about Tezos-based NFTs. Lower transaction costs have convinced many creators to choose the Tezos blockchain rather than Ethereum. OBJKT started out as a platform that offered special tools to Hic et nunc (HEN) – a successful Tezos marketplace. You could also trade your HEN NFTs on OBJKT while enjoying the latter’s much more comfortable user interface.
3. Create a crypto wallet
No money, no shopping spree: As an NFT artist you need a place to store your earnings. If you start your journey on the Ethereum blockchain you can set up a MetaMask wallet.
Another simple and user-friendly option would be Venly. With Venly you would create an account with little more than your designated email address. It’s important to know that different wallets support different currencies, so keep an eye on that.
Fund your wallet in order to have a balance that you can start minting with. Just be aware that the currency you acquire is supported on the marketplace you’ve chosen. For example, the core currencies on OpenSea are Ethereum (ETH)/WETH, USDC, and DAI. Non-crypto currencies like FIAT, EUR or USD are usually not accepted.
Having a crypto wallet set up, you can now start an account on your favored marketplace and link those two together.
4. Create your NFT
Now that you have successfully done the preliminary work you can upload your artwork of choice onto the marketplace. There you’ll be able to fill in all the information and a description about the NFT art piece, set a pricing and decide on royalties. But before you can sell it, you need to mint it. Minting describes the process of actually creating the non-fungible token which is stored on the blockchain and will from now on unmistakably represent your artwork. All you have to do to get the minting party started is click on one little button – it’s that simple.
And just like with selling traditional art you would now need to promote your work and gain your following.
5. Promote your NFT
As the crypto market has low entrance barriers making it relatively easy for artists to join in on the NFT game, naturally it is jam-packed with creators and art pieces that range from dubious and amateurish to exceptional and one-of-a-kind. In order to stand out you need to promote yourself. This is how you can get yourself in the spotlight:
Curated platforms form closed, exclusive havens where artists are promoted and supported. After having been accredited by a marketplace (i.e. Nifty, Superrare, Foundation), you benefit from special treatments, promotion and a strong network within the “inner circle”.
Even with a self-serve marketplace like OpenSea you have the option to get verified. Collectors can thus ensure that they are dealing with the real artist. We are only talking about an approximately five days process here.
Build a social media presence
The major drawback from cutting out the middleman (i.e. art galleries, museums and auction houses) is that artists need to take responsibility for marketing their work. That’s when social media networks come in handy: On Twitter, Instagram and Discord, creators can get in contact with fans, supporters and future buyers and collectors. They can announce when’s the time for the next drop. As important as growing the number of likes, shares and followers is the open dialogue with fellow creators – to share the passion and stay up-to-date on the industry.
Engage in Networking
A strong network offers a lot of opportunities. It can greatly benefit the sales and raise awareness for its members. As an NFT artist you have chosen at least one marketplace to feature your art. Make use of the media channels and news outlets that the platform has to offer. Most of them have some kind of featured drops section. Try to get in. Or else, contact the platform provider and ask for a promotion in their newsletter or on their social media pages. You can also have other NFT artists share your work with their community. They will be happy to do so especially when you return the favor.
To sum it all up, platform providers such as OpenSea, Rarible, and others, simplify the process of creating NFTs for your artworks.
If you are a budding artist with a small to no following don’t go overboard spending high minting fees for your work of art. Go for a solution that offers little to no minting fees like OpenSea (using Polygon) or Rarible with their no-fee minting feature.
Also, the technical skills needed to create an NFT can be daunting. The good news is that you don’t need to be a skillful developer. All of the platforms mentioned above offer services that undertake the coding for you.
Become part of a tight-knit community of artists that support, inspire and respect each other.
In the end, the devil is in the details: Take the time and really do your research until you find the marketplace that best fits your needs. Then there is little that can stop you from joining the realms of crypto artists.