What are NFTs?

There has been a lot of conversation about non-fungible token (NFT) and cryptocurrency in the recent months, but many folks don’t understand what these mean to artists so I am going to break it down for us–even traditional oil painters like myself–need to know about what these are, because through understanding, we may be able to better protect our works and to profit from our art, including photographs, videos, and other digital assets. 

Cryptocurrency gained momentum and use when companies like Twitter and Tesla openly purchased Bitcoin, one of the better known cryptocurrency. Fueling the fire, this month, June 2021, El Salvador announced that it made bitcoin a legal tender, making it the first country to accept cryptocurrency–countries and people who hold unstable currencies will soon learn to embrace cryptocurrency. While bitcoin still is a risky investment, the technology–called blockchain–that powers cryptocurrency is a reliable way to keep track of digital records. Why is that important for artists? Because all things digital can be recorded using the same technology, allowing artists to (1) profit and (2) protect their digital works. It’s a way to put a fingerprint on digital assets.

Buying and Selling NFTs

The following examples show the difference between the traditional way of selling art vs. using NFT:  

  1. Traditional: Susie was a talented artist who made a modest living from selling her paintings.  She sold a painting for $10,000 USD to Jack. Years later, Susie’s artworks gained recognition so Jack privately sold Susie’s painting to Nancy for $100,000 USD. Sadly, Susie didn’t get a penny from this transaction.
  2. NFT: Tara sold a digital image–using NFT–for $10,000 USD worth of Cryptocurrency to Jack. Tara also specified that she would receive 10% of future resale value of the digital image. Days later, Jack resold Tara’s digital image for $100,000 USD worth of Cryptocurrency, $10,000 of which will be sent to Tara.  

Protecting Your Digital Assets 

Okay. Making profit is great, but another way to use NFTs is to protect digital assets from theft. Digital images and sound have been stolen from artists since the beginning of the digital era–NFT is a way to digitally sign your original work and have a record of it online. So when someone steals a digital asset, one can refer to its record.

Next Steps

I hope this short introduction has sparked your interest. Here are some additional information and how to get going with NFTs: 

Leading NFT Market Places

Related Reading

Follow me on Instagram (@jesoundkeepers) for your chance to purchase my first NFT in the future!