Dave, assuming our readers haven’t been living under a rock and have some idea about the surge of the infamous NFT in almost every culture-led industry in the world right now, tell us what you make of it?
It’s a completely new concept and space and I think we’re all trying to understand the possibilities and how we can best use them. There is a lot of silliness out there in terms of financial worth and a lot of confusion about what this new technology will mean for all of us. The bottom line really, is that no-one has any real idea of what is ahead for NFTs, the Metaverse and crypto. I’ve chosen to simply focus on the idea that I can sell digital art which has genuine rarity and celebrate the fact that there are collectors out there who are willing to invest in artists and visual art.
NFT marketplaces – what has your experience been with the different digital marketplaces for crypto collectibles and non-fungible tokens?
I have two current collections, my first is simply titled ‘Urban Decay’ (the project name I go by in the NFT space). Foundation and I set that up very early on, before I had any real understanding of the communities or the platforms themselves. It’s a great platform for 1/1 artists and is set up on an invitation-only model. I launched my second collection named ‘The Rogue Elements by Urban Decay’ on Opensea in February. They are both quite similar, I’d say that Foundation is a little more exclusive – the gas fees are a bit higher and therefore my prices are a little higher over there. Opensea seems to be a little more affordable in terms of gas fees and is the predominant platform in terms of the general public. Opensea has had its issues with some bugs and reliability but I really think that is going to be the experience across all of the platforms at this early stage. Both Foundation and Opensea use Ethereum and there are many others that use alternate crypto currencies, but I haven’t dipped my toe in any of those just yet.
Why is 10,000 the sweet spot for most of these computer-generated NFT collections and why have you chosen to go with individual pieces over minting a whole collection at once?
Good question! I think the first really big projects like Crypto Punks and Bored Ape all launched using the 10,000 piece model so it seems that set the benchmark for a lot that followed. I don’t know how long that will be sustainable though as people and teams are now exploring different project models as we try and discover what works well and what doesn’t. I have chosen to be a 1/1 artist, meaning that each piece I create is 100% unique and doesn’t rely on the use of traits. Basically I am just an artist selling art. I didn’t really make a conscious decision to do it this way, it’s simply who I am. The big 10,000 projects usually have a team of devs, vcs etc. all contributing to the projects, whereas I am just one artist making work and selling it in a completely new and exciting marketplace.
Contrary to the typical artworld/gallery model (and years of lobbying by famous artists back in the day) – artists may see onsale earnings, as the works grow over time in value and change hands to new purchasers of your NFT. Can you explain how creator earnings works through the blockchain system?
THIS is the game-changer in my opinion. As a creator, you get to set the percentage of any future on-sales that you want to receive. I’ve chosen 10% which means that every single time that one of my pieces gets traded from one collector to another, I get my 10% split. It’s built into the blockchain smart-contract and is therefore impossible for purchasers to avoid. This is huge for artists, every single time one of my works gets traded, I am paid as the creator and owner of the IP. Never before has this been the case, and this is what I am most excited about. As artists, we have traditionally been left out of the future investment possibility of our own work and this is going to change artists’ lives.
What are the highs and lows of producing NFT artworks? Is there any actual money to be made in all this fabulous flurry of getting our art into the meta, or are we seeing the bigger brands drowning the smaller players with bigger exposure?
There certainly is money to be made. However, when I first entered this space, I was told that all you needed to do was list your work and you’d make a fortune! Nothing could be further from the truth. Selling work in the NFT space is really about building community and telling your story. Collectors are buying the artist just as much as they are buying the art. I spend hours every single day on Twitter and Discord introducing myself as much as my work. The big brands are coming, no doubt, but I really believe that there is a huge market out there for 1/1 artists like myself who are willing to take time building a community and brand that will last.
Can you define who your buyer might be?
That’s a really tough one, there are certain collectors out there who have huge NFT collections (whales) and some who simply collect art that the ether just really loves or who are looking for something to flip for profit. My collectors seem to be a mix of these, I honestly haven’t been able to categorise who they are at this stage.
JPEGS aside – tell us a little about building a community around the artwork collection. What the best ways are to create hype prior to a collection launching and navigating your way round the world of Discord/creating your timelines/roadmaps and what the benefits are once you’ve purchased a piece of artwork (different worlds, games, airdrops, giveaways, future art drops etc.)?
I spend most of my time on Twitter and speaking in Twitter spaces. Discord is certainly useful, however there is so much happening there I find it a bit confusing. I am basically meeting people and making friends on Twitter and building my community slowly that way. Each time I drop new work, I obviously promote it as much as possible, but I haven’t laid out any specific roadmaps or timelines. As I said previously, I’m basically just an artist selling art as opposed to the bigger projects who offer other utility in addition to the art. I have done some airdrops to my collectors and biggest supporters and I send gifts to the wallets of everyone who buys my work.
Finally, say you weren’t the nice man you are – now you’ve minted a piece of artwork and sailed it off into the Open Sea, what’s to stop you minting another piece of the same artwork and selling it on another site? Like is this really an honesty-based system in which no one would ever do that?
It does happen, and there’s no real way to prevent someone screenshotting your work, minting it and passing it off as their own. That said, those people usually get found out very quickly and the community is very good at making it known that it is stolen art. The platforms are quite good at de-platforming those accounts, but there’s really nothing to stop them creating a new one and doing it again though. Above all, the community is the most efficient at exposing the frauds out there.