Deconstructing NFTs: A Guide for Crypto-Loving Artists

Suddenly, NFTs are everywhere. Rap bands are making single-copy albums. Tweets are fetching millions of dollars at auction. A digital collage is now one of Christie’s top performers.

Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are blasting open the rarefied world of the arts, putting control firmly back into the hands of ordinary users—albeit ones with a bit of crypto knowledge behind them.

But are NFTs all they’re cracked up to be? How do you create one? And what do you do with it?

What is an NFT?

An NFT is a crypto token linked to either a digital or tangible asset. Each NFT created is totally individual, holding its own unique contract. All NFTs are connected to metadata of some kind—think digital (image, document, video, GIF or comic) or real-world (piece of art or music).

NFTs are most at home in the art and gaming arenas. Artists are minting their digital or conventional creations, then holding or trading these unique pieces. Gamers are using NFTs to interact with a range of blockchain games, then trading items purchased within the game out in the real world.

Yet NFTs have a key difference to other cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. They are not mutually interchangeable—or ‘fungible’—in the way that one Bitcoin can be traded for another identical coin. The NFT is a single asset that cannot be recreated, unless someone mints limited copies of the same thing.

So, an NFT is a one-off certificate or token that cannot be divided up or broken down into smaller parts, although multiple NFTs can be created for a single asset. Ownership data is stored on the blockchain, ensuring a clear line of provenance which is easy to check.

NFTs bring back cultural value

The unique nature of NFTs is helping to restore monetary value to music, paintings, digital images and original content.

This is important in the streaming era, where much content is funnelled through giant providers like Apple, Foxtel and Netflix—leaving small pickings for content creators, who are meant to be grateful for any kind of reward.

Wu Tang Clan

Rap group, Wu-Tang Clan, famously issued a single-copy album which could not be resold until 2103. Why? By creating a “commissioned commodity”, the group wanted to help reinstate the intrinsic value of music. Now the Kings of Leon have announced a similar venture, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has auctioned his first ever tweet for millions and Christies sold a digital collage NFT—by renowned crypto artist Beeple—for US$69.4 million.

Mint and manage your own NFTs

While most NFTs are currently minted using Ethereum, other blockchains including Binance and Smart Chain are now being used.

Platforms like Mintable allow you to mint your first token, sell your asset and manage the smart contract—all with no prior coding skills. You just need some Ethereum (ETH) currency to start you off.

Using Ethereum, you will have far more compatible wallets available for trading including boutique artist incubators, high-end galleries and popular marketplaces like Makersplace, Gateway and notfungible.com.

The world is your oyster, in fact. Why not give it a try?

Photo by fran hogan on Unsplash

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