written by Maurice Cardinal …
Crypto Art took off like a SpaceX Rocket and overshot the MOON
In part one of this series, we did a low-level flyover to show you how NFT crypto art developed and why it’s important.
In this post I’ll give you an overview of the components you’ll need to navigate the complex crypto world, whether you’re an artist or art collector.
NFT – non-fungible tokens are generating incredible visibility in the art world right now. Mark Cuban recently said “It’s like the early days of the internet when a lot of people thought we were crazy”. Elon Musk also helped push crypto frenzy over the edge by contributing $1.5 billion Bitcoin to a rally that was already red-hot. Elon’s tweets alone send prices soaring and plummeting.
Non-fungible tokens are digital assets that represent a wide variety of unique tangible and intangible objects, from art, to sports cards, and even real estate.
Each NFT, non-fungible token, contains unique information that distinguishes and certifies it from other NFT items. Each item can be easily traced back to the original issuer of the NFT. The record is immutable for a number of reasons, but mostly because it resides on the distributed web. It can’t be changed or removed without everyone in the respective blockchain knowing about it immediately. There are legal ways to make changes as long as 51% are in agreement, but it’s impossible to hack.
NFTs differ from regular cryptocurrencies because an NFT can’t be directly exchanged with another NFT. No two tokens are alike even if they are on the same platform or network. Think of a NFT like a ticket for a concert. Each NFT contains specific data that includes the owner’s name, date of the concert and where the show is presented. All this information resides on the blockchain on the distributed web, which means it could be resident on hundreds or even thousands of computers in different countries. To change this virtual ledger, you’d have to change the files in every computer.
Before you mint or purchase NFTs you’ll need a few tools. Your first step should be to register a WALLET.
Upfront you’ll have to decide whether you want a mobile or desktop wallet, or both, and go from there–protection of your crypto assets is your main concern, which means you’ll also need to know the difference between a HOT and COLD wallet . You have options like Metamask, Portis, Fortmatic and a few more. You’ll have to decide which is best for you by doing a little personal research, especially in forums. Look carefully at compatibility with the blockchain gallery you want to use. It’s an important decision, so go slow during this phase. Here’s a good crypto wallet overview from TheBalance.com that will also explain how to load your wallet. Loading means putting fiat or crypto in it–fiat is old school money.
For art collectors, you’ll need to know basic things like what ETF and NFT mean respective of the art market. The topic is fast-moving and an evolving target, so it’s not something you read once and store for future reference. ETF regulations change and it’s up to you to keep track of the best ways to leverage the change to your advantage. It helps to have someone with experience who knows the traditional trading market and ETF–Exchange Traded Funds.
Once you have a wallet you connect with your bank and exchange to load it. You can then decide, if you haven’t already, on which blockchain platform to host your art. There are many you can choose, with more coming online regularly. It’s a bit of a challenge because each has slightly different features, plus, a few are so radically different it’s sometimes hard to fully appreciate the concepts. You also have to consider reliability and whether their features align with your goals–for example does a virtual gallery allow an artist to benefit financially from their art when it is RE-sold?
If you’re researching on your own, it’s a good idea to look at each offering individually and ask a lot of questions. Many crypto forums are hosted on networks like Telegram, Discord, or Redditt–each cryptoblock company has their own preference for communication apps. It is in these forums and threads where you can communicate with not only the company, but also artists and collectors who already use the respective systems. FAQs aren’t as prevalent in this arena as one might expect because things change so rapidly. Valuable information is often generated on the fly. You can look at something today, and two weeks later discover a brand new solution that is considerably better. Twitter is also a great place to hang out because most of the art, FinTech, and cryptoblock writers have active accounts.
You next need to find a place to host your art, or if a collector, where to buy it.
Virtual galleries open every day–some are even owned directly by artists. When old school contemporary art galleries closed during lockdown virtual galleries quickly filled the empty spaces.
NYC is no longer the center of the art universe, and neither is London, Paris, Berlin, or Tokyo.
Today, corporate virtual galleries like SuperRare, KnownOrigin, MakersPlace, OpenSea, NiftyGateway and AsyncArt create new opportunities for artists and art collectors, with many more in the pipe. MintBase is another serious contender (no minting fees), while smaller networks like Zora also offer innovative NFT ideas.
*A word of caution, just because you’ve minted NFT art on one of these crypto networks doesn’t mean your work will be seen by buyers, or that it will sell. Creativity, promotion, visibility, and credibility are still the cornerstones for marketing art. Cryptoblock platforms are interesting, but the process isn’t plug and play. Artists still have to do an enormous amount of work to publicize themselves and their art. If you don’t know how to effectively promote your career you can either learn, or contract someone to do it for you.
Even with the crypto basics in place, there are many smaller art issues to consider regularly.
The last big question you’ll have as an artist is to decide how your particular type of art fits into the crypto market, and which pieces you’ll want to mint as a token. Crypto art is a perfect fit for DataMosh, Fractal, Generative AI, 2D, 3D, Pixel art, video, gif, etc., plus as importantly, digital photography, and more. You also have to take a close look at macro-trends and who else is in your market–or who is about to be. It’s a game of strategy that moves incredibly fast–CryptoKitties is a good example.
WHALES, which could be one person or a company, and with a name or anonymous, can send prices rising and falling wildly overnight with no easily discernable reason except that they bought or sold in huge proportions. Whether artist or art collector, you need to be tapped in 24/7. It’s not something you can just breeze into once a month to say hello. Setting up alerts on your phone is critical.
Even though digital art is the backbone, traditional analog also has a place.
CryptoBlock purists misleadingly argue that digital is the only art format worth leveraging. It’s not. That’s just protectionism promoted by a very competitive group of artists and companies trying to control the market. Collectibles are collectibles no matter the type. It’s a wild west of ways right now, for example, Scarcity Obscura, an idea we’re developing is just one type of process that makes it possible for traditional artists like painters and film photographers to enter and compete in the NFT virtual gallery space. Once your work is scanned and digitized, it can be minted. Where you take it creatively and artistically after is wide-open. Large format film especially holds collectible value far beyond anything the market has ever seen. When you digitize film and promote minted copies it drives interest to the original film or transparency. The same goes for canvass paintings, drawings, or sculpture.
Here’s a completely different version of the scarcity process by artist Michah Dowbak and Jonathan Simpkin of 604 Records called Crash + Burn.
Always keep in mind too that in the 1800s, General Stores made their fortunes selling picks and shovels, and not by mining gold. Even though crypto galleries have cool virtual spaces to hang your art, not everyone is as invested as you are in actually selling it. An artist’s reputation is always at stake and it’s always the artist’s prime responsibility to protect and promote it.
So … that’s the overall gist of the mambo required to get on the crypto art dance floor. Do it diligently, but do it quickly, because like always, early adopters and first-to-market are usually the groups that do the best economically. The big players like Mike Winkelmann – BEEPLE, that you see crushing it in the NFT crypto art arena have been successful working and full time digital artists for many years. They didn’t just show up. Thankfully though, they’re forcing radical change and disruption, and opening doors to new art opportunities for everyone, creator and collector, whether you’re emerging or a veteran.
Crypto art is here to stay regardless of what happens regarding the pandemic. Contemporary art galleries will still be players, but we’ll never go back to where we were pre-lockdown. We all realize that many traditional galleries will never reopen, which means virtual galleries and NFT Art, are art’s new normal. Ignore it at your peril, or register a wallet and get in the game.