I’ve finally listed an NFT artwork for sale. What is an NFT art, you ask?
Now that I’ve been wandering around in that strange world for a little while, maybe I can try to shed some light on the whole, confusing topic.
Before I get to explaining, I want to show you my first one out the gate:
You can see all of my NFT art projects at my art portfolio site: https://www.madisonwoods.art
What is NFT art?
By now you’ve probably heard what the acronym stands for, but just in case you haven’t, it’s Non-Fungible Token. It doesn’t have to be art to be an NFT. But the only part of it I’ve tried to understand is the NFT art, so that’s what this post is focused on.
In layman’s summary, it’s an artwork that exists in a documented digital format. It’s the ‘documented’ part that makes it an NFT. So, you could just save an image as a .jpg and it’s digital then. But that’s not NFT art. To document it it means you have to do something more. The something more is called ‘minting’. A programmer can write the script that allows them to mint anything for themselves using certain applications that programmers use to run the programs they write. Github is one such platform.
Non-programmers use platforms designed for people without the programming knowledge. If you think of how websites are created, this is the same sort of way average people might have a blog using WordPress or Blogger, but people with HTML, CSS, and php knowledge can write and run a website from scratch or take advantage of other features on WordPress that many can not.
I fall into the non-programmer side of NFT creation. I know just enough about how to do it by programming to get myself into a lot of trouble. So I went with two different platforms to create my NFT artworks: Opensea and Async.
The Currency of NFT Artwork
Most of the NFT’s are created on platforms that use the Ethereum blockchain. But there are also a lot of other currencies for NFT art, too. Polygon, Solana are just two others I can think of at the moment. The blockchain is what makes the documentation I mentioned earlier possible. This is the part of the whole system that is a bit mysterious still to me. I believe Bitcoin is also a blockchain, distinct from Ethereum, and many of the other cryptocurrencies out there. Let me go look this up and make sure I’m getting that right…
I looked it up, but it’s still a bit confusing. I think they’re both blockchain technology except bitcoin is only a currency, whereas Ethereum is a currency and a platform onto which other technologies exist (such as smart contracts – which is the heart of the documentation part of NFT’s).
It costs money everywhere you turn when it comes to creating a work of NFT art. First of all, you’ll need to buy some Ethereum. ETH for short. There’s lots of ways to do that. Many different trading companies are out there. I’ve used Coinbase but now I use Binance. I also use Binance to offer crytocurrencies as one of the ways to pay for items at my Wild Ozark online shop.
Oh, and another important thing to know. 1 Ethereum DOES NOT equal 1 dollar. In fact, there are only a few cryptocurrencies that do. At the moment I’m writing this, 1 ETH = $4110.84 USD. It fluctuates just like the stock market does.
I’ve done a little more exploring and decided to mint something over at hic et nunc (HEN, for short). Those words are Latin and mean ‘here and now’. I also bought an artwork I liked and one of the other artists I follow at Twitter gifted me one of hers. It’s a LOT less expensive to mint and buy on the Tezos networks. As I experiment with other platforms (I’d like to try Solana), I’ll let you know how that goes. I loved the ease of using HEN. If I can manage to sell some things over there, I’ll love it some more. If you want to read about my first NFT sale at Async.art, follow this link.
You’ll need a different wallet for the Tezos currency, though. I bought a hardware wallet (Ledger) and connected the Temple browser wallet to that and it works great.
Stay tuned! As I learn more, I’ll come back to update again.
Cost to Mint
It turned out to be a lot more expensive than I thought it would be to make NFT art, so the progress forward will be slow with this. I’m not sure I want to mint any more of them until I see if there’s at least some interest in the kind of art I make. Is nature art NFT even a thing? And if not, do I want to put the work in to try and make it become a thing? I’m not sure yet.
So, the first step is to deposit money from your checking account into your trading account (this is exactly how it works for trading stocks with Ameritrade, too). Once the money clears in your trading account, you can buy your coin with it. The trading account takes a fee for that transaction.
Then you’ll need a wallet. The wallet and the trading platforms are both free to use. But anytime you make a transaction, there is a fee. It costs a certain small amount to send money from your trading account to your wallet. Here’s where it gets even more confusing. There’s a fee called a ‘gas fee’, and this amount varies according to… something. Maybe it’s trade volume? I don’t know, but it goes up and down like the stock market does. It seems to be lowest at the wee hours of the mornings, so I try to get up early when I know I want to make transactions. I don’t know who collects this fee, but it seems sort of like a toll to cross a bridge that no one in particular owns.
You can also just get a wallet and skip the trading platforms. But I think the fees are higher to get the coin into your wallet directly from your debit card than it is to send it from a trading platform. I’m not sure about that, though.
I put $200 into my Binance account. After fees, I had $191 USD. I bought as much ETH as I could with that, and ended up with 0.04691 ETH valued at $190.04 USD. I lost another .96 cents in that transaction to another fee. So, the ETH was valued at 4051.1618 ETH/USD when I bought it. That can change quickly, from the time the order is placed to the time it goes through, it can rise or fall considerably. It’s great to buy low and trade high, just like with stocks. Next, when I was getting ready to mint my NFT art, I ‘froze’ the metadata on that piece so it would be ‘documented’. That was $53.82. To actually ‘mint’ the art, it was another $142.24. Those last two charges are ‘gas fees’, not fees from Opensea.
Altogether it was close to $200 to be able to get my NFT art listed for sale. And so, for any of you artists out there thinking of getting into this, it’s important to put a high enough price on your artwork to recoup your costs plus make some money (if you’re in it to make some money). My art business is a business, so it needs to earn. I don’t know yet if I’ll incur MORE fees when it sells (if it sells), so I’m not holding my breath on that part.
At Opensea.io you can lower the price but you can’t raise it. So I put what I think is a high price and will be open to lowering it if someone offers less. But there’s the ‘rest of the story’. This art has to be marketed just like any other art or product someone wants to sell. People don’t just come and find it just because it’s available.
What’s the Attraction?
There’s something very liminal about the entire virtual aspect of NFT artwork. That’s the attraction to me. I just want to play in that world for a little while… maybe a long while. I’m not sure yet. I’ve never enjoyed video games and I don’t like a lot of what I’ve seen as NFT artwork. And I’ve seen a lot of very beautiful and fascinating ones. But I like the world it lives in. And so here I am. One foot in another, strange new world, and one foot in the real world of nature where I normally stay.
See My NFT Art
Here’s the page about my Bird Head collections. And here’s my online portfolio of all the NFT art that I’ve done. And don’t worry, my main focus is still in the REAL art world and I’ll continue making my paints and painting the nature around me!
Oh, Another Mystery
So all the while I was learning about cryptocurrency, how to buy it, how to spend it, and how to not have it stolen or wasted along the way, I wondered another thing. What do NFT collectors DO with their NFT art?? That was perhaps the hardest mystery to solve! Thanks to a programmer I spoke with in Conway, Arkansas, now I know.
They keep the artworks in their digital wallets. It works sort of the same way it works when you look at photos on your phone. Just open the wallet and look under the ‘Tokens’ tab to see the images. You can also take the files and use them as your avatars on Twitter and other places.
And there’s another type of application for NFT artworks that I just learned about. This one intrigues me even though I don’t play video games. But you can buy things for your character. Like fantastic swords or creative body armor, or probably just about anything an artist can think of. So, since I have a real-life love of swords, I may design a line of NFT Sword Art 🙂