NFTs Are Not a Business Model
No, it is not because you mint an NFT that you will become rich. No, it is not because you digitize one artwork and drop it on a blockchain that you will see your life change. No, it is not because you say it is NFT art that collectors will start buying from you.
Since March, there isn’t been one week where we can read newspaper headlines with the word NFT and a large figure next to it. When looking at the NFT space from this perspective, it seems the only stories being told are the extraordinary sales made by different auction houses, museums or marketplaces. But, what we often forget is that they are extraordinary. Organised by the same institutions who are running the traditional art market, this kind of sales could be compared to an auction selling a Van Gogh or a Monet.
So if you put the extraordinary on the side and start diving into the daily life of the NFT space, you’ll see that it is much more than a new business model for the arts.
The NFT space is one step into the wider movement of crypto art.
Starting around 2014, the blockchain and art community is this huge laboratory searching for ways to certify digital art and bring more transparency, security and legacy to the art market. Check this very good article by Artnome “What Is CryptoArt?”.
The NFT space is a new space in the art world.
You could compare it with the way the digital art festivals and immersive art spaces found their place in the arts and culture sector. It has its own culture with a specific form of art, a new vocabulary, new habits and places to visit, curators and historians, art critics and historians, model of production and distribution. Like in any other part of the arts sector, the NFT space has its own NFT art historian, curator, advisor, museum, collector, events, shops, and much more. Read the ‘About’ section of alterHEN which is also expressing this view.
The NFT space is a social space.
In the NFT space, people are meeting, debating, creating, collaborating, imagining new ways of doing things through hackathons and other opportunities to shape the future together.
For years, it has been a very exclusive space. Application forms, private invitations and a first financial investment were required to join a marketplace. Most of them are still working on these principles. But fortunately, new marketplaces are celebrating inclusion and diversity by welcoming any artists wishing to mint NFTs. With the arrival of low gas fees to mint NFTs via Proof of Stake’s protocols, the NFT space is now democratic. The best example is the Tezos-based marketplace hic et nunc. Born in Brazil, a huge part of the community comes from South America (especially Brazil, Columbia and Argentina), South Asia (Malaysia and the Philippines) and Europe.
As it is becoming easy, accessible and affordable to mint and to collect, we see a huge community of artists becoming art collectors and accelerating the secondary market. While the traditional art market was often about competition and exclusion, the NFT space celebrates support and togetherness first.
The NFT space can be a purpose-driven space.
And, as in any social space, people are expressing loud what they think and request for change. For instance, the heavy carbon footprint of Ethereum’s NFTs created a beautiful counter-movement of cleanNFTs on environmentally-conscious chains. Donation campaigns to support social and environmental causes are also something at the heart of the NFT space, and especially on the marketplace hic et nunc. For instance, the account SOS Columbia has been created to support the protesters during the strikes in Columbia, people donated to hic et turco to support the local communities in Turkey devastated by the wildfires.
Of course, being able to sell your NFTs is still one of the main motivations in the NFT space. And of course, most NFT artists are making money for the first time in their life by finally finding an industry wishing to see them. So here are 3 insights to understand if you want to avoid being forgotten in a corner of a blockchain.
After spending these few last months being fully immersed in the NFT space, I can assure you that it requires work if you want to start earning something. NFTs are not magical, and if you don’t work, you won’t sell. And even more than working, you need to remember that:
- quality is key — as in any other market, the NFT space is highly competitive and saturated with more and more marketplaces popping up every day on different chains. Of course, it is attractive to produce fast in order to mint more, but this should not be at the expense of quality. Respect your art and respect your collectors. I’m not saying that you should restrict yourself when you want to create, but the quantity should not be a goal. Maintaining a certain level of quality and a coherent style or message will help you find your collectors.
- regularity is key — minting one NFT or a small series is not enough. As in any online space, we are facing a low attention span so the more you are present, the best it is. It will also provide us with new content to activate your community and experimentation fields to test your style, your prices, number of editions, etc.
- community is key — being part of a community means contributing to it as much as you could benefit from it. So having a friendly, receptive and active community will ensure you find your audience each time you mint new NFTs, want to share ideas or have a question. If you don’t have this community yet, don’t worry you can create one by joining a few Discord or Telegram groups or starting to be active on Twitter. Another big point is that most marketplaces come with their own community. It could be attractive to mint in the various platforms at the same time, but by doing so, you divide your potential to truly connect with one or two communities.
- time is key — and as always, good things require time. As I said earlier, this is not magical, work is required and dedicated time and effort even more. Whether it is to find your style, build your community, find your marketplace, the journey is long.