Becoming a Crypto-Artist (Is Much Harder Than I Thought)
If you gravitate around the fields of 3D design, blockchain or digital art in general, you might have at times encountered the puzzling concept of NFT and crypto-art — generally in the context of heated online arguments and frenzied media reports.
I won’t make in this article any attempt to give a comprehensive explanation of the phenomenon (others have already done a much better job at it). But in a nutshell, a NFT (for Non-Fungible-Token) is a piece of digital art that is publicly made available to purchase, using the technology of blockchain to certify the authenticity of the artwork and the legitimacy of its sale.
When I discovered this new venue of monetisation for artists a few months ago, I quickly got fascinated by what I considered to be a real game-changer.
Although I considered myself a budding artist with little to no recognition or blockchain knowledge, I decided to hop on the bandwagon and try to find my own success in this brave new world.
6 months later, after much procrastination, I minted my first 3 artworks, went through a heap of ups and downs, read a lot of articles & conversations on NFT, and realised my point of view on this platforms had clearly shifted since my initial enthusiastic discovery. I started forming a pretty solid opinion on what I considered to be the Good and the Bad aspects of NFT and crypto-arts for the aspiring artist, which I thought I’d share in this article.
I hope this (very subjective) list of Pros and Cons will help other fellow artists get a decent idea of what entering the NFT marketplace entails, its joys, its frustrations, and make a more informed decision on whether they should dive in or not 🚀 Let’s take it away!
The Good 🙂
- NFT solves the problem of selling digital art. While the technology and its current implementation are far from perfect, I still truly believe that the concept itself is sound, and allows artists to effectively sell and resell their production by introducing scarcity in the world of digital artefacts, and removing the mandatory step of the physical reproduction of the artwork.
- I discovered a ton of amazing artists. Getting into NFT meant diving in a seemingly infinite pool of incredible talent and getting out of my usual stylistic bubble. It definitely broadened my horizon and gave me a ton of sweet, juicy new art accounts to follow on Twitter. It helped me identifying new emerging trends and visual languages, and provided an almost non-stop stream of eye-popping artworks and technical tours de force.
- Creating NFT gave me a renewed drive to create art, quite simply. Posing myself the challenge of crafting and minting artworks gave me an objective, a goal. I always struggled in the past to motivate myself to push my artistic practice, and this kind of new marketplaces gave me a renewed stimulation to do so. For the sake and excitement of novelty, yes, but also more pragmatically because of the potential remuneration they promise — whereas Dribbble or Instagram can only at best provide visibility or exposure.
- The feeling of participating to something new and exciting. While my gaze now on NFT is a bit more critical than when I first discovered it, I still remember fondly the excitement I felt when I first ventured into this futuristic, cutting-edge universe. I believe it’s healthy for artists and designers to plunge themselves in the unknown from time to time, and try to get familiar with new technologies while they’re still in their infancy. And I’m glad I took the plunge in it, if only for the sake of curiosity and breaking the routine a bit.
The Bad 🙃
- Achieving success as a NFT artist is Harrrrrd. I know it will probably sound obvious to a lot of folks, but I honestly thought that attaining a modest but satisfying volume of sales and recognition would be much, much easier than that. Let’s face it, there’s a LOT of talent out there, and it’s a very competitive industry. A huge chunk of the cumulated sales of NFT are generated by a few famous and installed artists. Without a god-like talent, large following or social media clout, my candid smile and White Male’s Confidence™ clearly aren’t enough to compete.
- The environmental impact of NFT is, at the very least, quite problematic. The main trading platforms are using the Ethereum blockchain and its corollary Proof-Of-Work mechanism, whose yearly power consumption regularly raises concerns and outrage. While I may not be the most eco-conscious citizen, this point alone is enough for me to stop minting artworks, and wait for a better, greener alternative to hit the market.
- For a crypto-art beginner like me, the technical aspect of NFT has been awfully confusing and stress-inducing. As it is now, NFTs are intimately linked to the world of crypto-currencies, and trying to understand their underlying mechanism gave me at times a sense of feeling like the dumbest dude in the room, battered with obscure jargon, puzzled by the esoteric and irrational fluctuations of numerous fees (looking at you, gas price), embattled with opaque platforms with a terrible UX… there is, hum, substantial room for improvement on those platforms to make them user-friendly and understandable for the masses, and making NFT a more welcoming and accessible scene.
- You can quickly develop a huge FOMO and anxiety when navigating the NFT space. Seeing successful and installed artists publicly achieve tremendous (and often entirely deserved) success and hype up their next drop, witnessing designers producing and selling gorgeous artworks like clockwork while you seem to tinker endlessly on your own humble artwork can sometimes be truly depressing and give you a sense of artistic worthlessness, to the point where I’ve seen some creators just give up entirely and quit Twitter for a few days or weeks, exhausted by the constant frenetic buzz around NFTs. The adverse psychological impact of this hectic hype is real, and you’d better brace for it if you intend to give NFT a shot.
- NFT are, by and large, at the center of a rabid speculative bubble (who’s apparently expected to burst any time soon). While on the surface, NFT platforms profess a discourse of empowering artists, creating communities of like-minded art aficionados and fostering a new golden age of artistic expression powered by futuristic tech, the reality is much bleaker; the huge bulk of the purchases are performed by investors eager to make a quick and juicy ROI on some hot artwork released by an en vogue creator. On the other side of the gun, marketplaces are flooded with thousands and thousands of daily new pieces, often hastily slapped together by members hoping to make a quick buck by copy/pasting a Youtube tutorial in Blender. I even received a DM recently from an obscure crypto-financial actor to create some NFT for them to sell 🙃 So much for the love of art.
Was it worth it? 🤔
I wanted to become an NFT-artist, gave it an honest try, and didn’t quite succeed (yet). But — I learned a lot along the way, and I’m glad I ventured into it, if only for all the awesome artists I’ve discovered and the fascinating discussions I’ve witnessed around this complex but exciting topic.
I do hope that despite its very problematic current implementation, the concept of NFT and what it brings to the world of digital art will stick around, and progressively be improved and refined to make it more eco-friendly, more accessible, less frenzied and hectic — for it brings to the table a truly exciting promise of revolutionising the very concept of selling digital art.
In the meantime, I’ll keep working on my art and trying to find new platforms to mint new pieces — like a proper artiste scouting new galleries to feature their work 👨🎨🍷