by Andrew Mease
Photographer Andrew Mease explains this new trend, how it works, and what he learned from becoming an NFT artist.
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I am a fine art photographer in South Florida, specializing in the diverse and exotic landscapes and wildlife in this tropical region. My greatest interest is capturing photos of birds, and most especially owls, while educating the public on our ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabit them. I’ve also had a long-term fascination with technology. At an early age I was building computers, programming them, working in Photoshop and gaming. This eventually led to my work as a digital artist, and my interest in learning more about NFTs and the growing market for this type of art.
What are NFTs?
Non-fungible tokens are units of data stored on a digital ledger called a blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized system of recording that is permanent and transparent; it certifies a digital asset to be unique, and establishes a true record of ownership. What does that mean in simple terms? These bits of data allow artists to create, enhance and sell art in a new form online that has value and appeal to art collectors. It’s a huge trend that is growing and will become mainstream over time.
NFTs can take the form of digital art, music, virtual real estate, gaming assets, videos, and more. They can even act as “tokenized” real world assets and be sold to collectors through online marketplaces. There are many platforms where NFTs are sold, but I’ve been active on Opensea, Rarible and Foundation. These marketplaces use blockchain technology to transact, deliver and track ownership of digital assets, which are benefits of owning NFTs. The collector gets to own a unique work of art that may increase in value. NFTs can also be resold to other collectors.
There are specific benefits of selling NFTs vs. traditional artwork, including:
- Royalties: Artists automatically collect royalties on secondary market sales, currently a top driver in bringing artists to the space. Royalties provide residual income over time through resales for the artist without having to create, release, or sell new artwork.
- Instant delivery: Immediate transfer to the buyer upon purchase avoids the costs and hassle of packing and shipping.
- Airdrops: NFTs can easily be sent as gifts to loyal customers in the form of “airdrops” to wallet addresses.
- Provenance: Track primary and secondary sales, identify and build relationships with your collectors.
- Audience growth: Increased awareness through NFT marketing channels can lead to additional sales of art in traditional formats.
- Immutable: Stored forever on the blockchain, NFTs can be passed down through generations over time.
- Global Exposure: Artists and collectors aren’t limited by physical spaces to store or display digital artwork NFTs. Some people have built galleries to display their #NFT artworks in Virtual worlds such as Decentraland, Somnium Space, Cryptovoxels, and The Sandbox.
Creating an NFT
There’s a lot to learn about NFTs, blockchain and the future of the digital art market, and artists who want to get involved should do their research. When I got started, “Barred Brancher” was the first piece of art I selected to sell as a digital NFT artwork. I uploaded the image in jpg format and listed it on Opensea. That platform allows large files up to 100MB in file size, which is perfect for showing off all of the detail in my high resolution work.
I include the story behind the photo in addition to the camera settings and the software I used for post production in the description area. The final touch I like to add is unlockable content. My NFTs include a link to my Google Drive, which contains a full resolution version of the NFT for buyers to download and use as they please. I give my collectors full commercial use rights as long as they own the work, which adds even more value to my art.
Listing an NFT for sale
Artists have the ability to select a fixed “buy it now” price or an auction. My listings so far have been offered as single NFTs, but multiple NFTs can be bundled together for sale on Opensea. (Other websites like Foundation allow the artist to set a reserve price and move to a 24 hour auction once the reserve price is met.) One of the things I love about Opensea is that I pay only a 2.5% commission and no other fees. Foundation collects a 15% commission fee on primary sales and 5% on secondary sales.
Marketing and Selling NFTs
After I mint a new art piece, I immediately start to spread the word through marketing channels and social media like Twitter and Discord. Once my NFT sells, I reach out and thank the buyer, taking advantage of an excellent opportunity to build rapport and a relationship with my customer. This extra touch may be the magic that turns a first-time buyer into a big supporter and repeat collector. I’ve noticed that NFT sales have increased sales of my physical work, with buyers purchasing prints as well as digital art.
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And as a buyer of NFTs myself, I appreciate having conversations with the artist before and after making the purchase. I want to know who they are as an artist and the story behind the artwork I’m purchasing.
What I learned from my NFT experience
At the very beginning of my NFT creative journey, I minted too many copies of my NFTs. This would have most likely devalued my work in the long run. Luckily, I quickly discovered my mistake and I was able to delete and burn most of my original mints so I could mint my work again in lower quantities. Typically, the rarer something is, the higher the value it commands. Once I was accepted as a creator on Foundation, my focus shifted to making all of my artwork more rare as time goes on. I will be minting more of my artwork as Genesis 1/1 pieces.
When you get started, plan a sales strategy before minting and have a roadmap laid out. NFTs take time to sell, so don’t saturate the market too quickly in the beginning. Be thoughtful about which NFTs you start with, selecting those you feel are most saleable. This allows you to mint more pieces without flooding the market.
The process of selling NFTs for an artist of any level can be a humbling experience. Sales take time. They grow through forming relationships, no matter which platform or medium you choose. Someone may need to see your work or speak with you five or six times before their initial purchase. This illustrates the importance of networking, and being a part of a community.
It can help to research your customers’ NFT collections on marketplace platforms to see what they value and spend money on. Be sure to engage regularly on social media and join NFT communities. That gives you the chance to make friends and learn more about this new trending market, which is constantly changing. It is still early days for NFTs as they head towards mainstream adoption, but you can start now by learning the process, minting your first NFT and becoming part of this fascinating new world of art.
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