This is the first of several posts I am writing to provide an informative roadmap reflecting my experience getting started with NFTs, NFT marketplaces, cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency wallets, etc. I found the world of NFTs quite challenging to understand and even more challenging to navigate through all the decisions. I will attempt to simplify the world of NFTs for the beginner and illustrate the choices I made and the reasons for those decisions. For those who are interested in owning or creating NFTs, I hope this series is helpful. I am including external links to websites where I obtained information summarized here. As my journey proceeds, I will correct any information in that may have evolved during the journey so that the final document is as straight-forward as possible in a rapidly growing cyber-economy.
What is an NFT?
NFT is short for non-fungible token which means a unique, non-exchangeable item. In my world, NFTs are certified, one of a kind, original artworks in a digital format that collectors can buy, exhibit, and sell online and in the real world. NFT art has become the rage investment for the technology generation and its popularity has caught the eye of collectors pushing it into the mainstream art world. The headline story of Mike Winkelmann, a poster artist known as Beeple, who became the third most valuable living artist after selling his NFT art for $69M at auction, kicked NFT art into the spotlight. Prior to this sale, Beeple had never sold a work of art for more than $100.
Until recently, NFTs were most commonly bought and sold in gaming and virtual reality worlds with the pixelated Cryptopunks avatar collection being most widely recognized. As the market for NFTs evolves the artwork is also evolving. An animated digital portrait ICONIC CRYPTO QUEEN by Paris Hilton recently sold for $1.1M. As NFT art becomes mainstream, art collectors will find more traditional images available on the blockchain.
What Makes NFTs Unique and Valuable?
The short answer is supply and demand but that is an over simplification. The longer answer is “uniqueness” certified on the blockchain. Without getting too technical, I’ll explain this. Blockchain is a technology that provides proof of ownership through a chain of custody much as a title search for real estate proves ownership. A key difference though is that the ownership record for real estate is maintained in a set of books maintained at the county clerk’s office whereas the chain of custody on the blockchain is maintained by thousands of computers across the Internet. There is no central authority to hold the record, it can not be destroyed, censored, or modified once the transaction is recorded. That’s giving people confidence in buying NFT digital art.
What Can I Do with my NFT?
NFTs can be exhibited online, shared on social media, exhibited on your wall with a digital canvas, and yes they can be printed for traditional real world exhibition. Several companies are creating products to exhibit NFT art. Netgear, the network equipment company is getting a lot of press after launching Meural II Canvas. The image quality is said to be excellent but users have complained that the app is difficult to use. Canvia Digital Art Canvas is another digital canvas for your NFTs. Canvia offers a professional frame with a high resolution display that automatically adjusts its brightness to the ambient light for perfect viewing. Many of these digital frames come with subscription services that allow you to display curated collections of art from the world’s greatest museums in addition to your NFTs. If you’re looking for something for a large wall and willing to pay a hefty price, BLACKDOVE offers high end commercial displays ranging from 49″ to 98″. Qonos is another name to watch in the high end display space. Due to the high demand for their NFT frames, Qonos is currently only accepting commercial orders with at least 200 units.
I’ve always been a fan of photo books so collectors can own an entire collection of my art without having to dedicate a room to exhibit it. Now, with digital frames, an entire collection can be viewed on the wall through a single frame much as a music collection can be enjoyed with a personal playlist. Collectors can choose to scroll through their collection or just switch to their favorite work of art as their mood dictates.
For my proof of concept, I purchased the Canvia digital canvas. I’m very impressed with the image quality. The brightness adapts to the room light and turns off in total darkness. There is a significant difference between a digital canvas and a computer monitor or TV screen.
How Can I Own an NFT?
This is where it can get a bit complicated (and geeky); but don’t worry, in the next couple of years everyone will be talking about NFTs just like they talk about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tinder. If you’re ready to buy a little cryptocurrency you can get started. Its not something you buy with the kids college money. Cryptocurrencies have volatile valuations and I wouldn’t consider it an investment. Nevertheless, if you think about it as a hobby and allocate a small amount of money, you can have fun collecting NFT art and perhaps end up with a valuable collection. Before you can buy and own an NFT you’re going to need a crypto wallet to hold your cryptocurrency and your NFT. Once you set up a crypto wallet you can go to one of the crypto exchanges and buy some cryptocurrency. With cryptocurrency in your wallet, you can create an account on one of the NFT marketplaces and go shopping for NFTs. Some artists are building storefronts to sell artwork on their websites bypassing the middleman and selling with lower transaction fees.
PART II – coming soon!
Getting started with a crypto-wallet.