My Journey into the World of NFT Art and Cryptocurrency (Part III)


Blackdove display
This article is third in a series. Please familiarize yourself with Part I and Part II for background information. Part I discussed NFTs and introduced some basic concepts around blockchain and cryptocurrency. Part II explores getting setup with a crypto-wallet to hold your cryptocurrency and NFT art. This article will explore creating and minting animated, high resolution NFT art that you can exhibit in the real world.

Backing up for just a minute, I’d like to say that my enthusiasm for NFT art (beyond the blockchain technology) is that it opens the door for animated (“motion”) art. I believe that we will see much more animated digital art installed in the near future and collectors will want the authenticity provided by the blockchain before investing in digital art. I believe, in the near term, collectors will prefer tangible media for still photography. For those reasons, I am not currently minting digital versions of my wall art. I am animating my wall art, creating unique NFT versions that can be appreciated on a high definition digital display. That technical transformation results in videos with very large (150+ MB) files.

Minting a NFT

The process of creating NFT art starts with creating a digital file with your art then creating a “smart contract” on the blockchain in a process called “minting”. Once the digital art is created, it must be uploaded to a NFT marketplace account where the minting process can occur. Before you can create an an account and upload your art, you must connect your wallet with “some” cryptocurrency in it. So once again, the process seems backward. First you need to find the NFT marketplace to mint and market your art then you must get a crypto-wallet that works on the exchange and fund it.

Funding My Wallet

Its been three months since I posted Part II. That’s because it took me a month to convert my US Dollar funds at the cryptocurrency exchange into the various cryptocurrencies and then get my cryptocurrency out of the cryptocurrency exchange and into my wallet(s). The remainder of the time I was exploring various NFT marketplaces to mint my NFT art. Both of these activities were quite time consuming and technical challenges. Although I am not a gambler and have never spent a dime gambling, this journey felt like (I imagine) my first trip into a big casino. The first thing to learn (or remember) is that a mistake in transferring crypto can easily result in it disappearing forever. For that reason alone, I tried to limit my transfers of funds to increments of $25 to $50 to meet the minimum deposit requirements to login to and create accounts at the NFT marketplaces. I am happy to say I successfully managed to mint two NFTs on OpenSea without loosing any funds but I did need to contact tech support to find the funds I transferred into my wallet. Its also important to realize that there is no such thing (to my knowledge) of free crypto-banking. Every time you move funds there are small fees attached. The fees may be listed as network fees, gas fees, buried in the conversion rate or all of those.

Evaluating NFT Marketplaces

When evaluating NFT marketplaces, check the search capabilities using search terms people might use to find your artwork. If the search doesn’t turn up any results, let that be a red flag. For example, numerous boutique sites I visited did not have search capabilities or returned no results when I typed “photo” into the search bar. I don’t expect those sites to offer a strong audience for my artwork. Another feature which I didn’t learn about until far down the rabbit hole was the file size limitations. After quite a bit of surfing on the NFT marketplaces I narrowed my choices down to OpenSea, the largest NFT art marketplace, and SolSea its Solana-based little brother. I first tried to mint my NFT on SolSea because it uses the Solana blockchain which is significantly less costly to use than Ethereum on OpenSea. Ultimately I ended up minting on OpenSea because my files were too big for SolSea.

At the time of this writing, OpenSea has released its beta site for Solana NFTs. OpenSea has no mechanism for minting Solana NFTs but you can market them on OpenSea if minted elsewhere. That step was too complex for me to undertake for my first minting.

I’m concluding this article with some technical considerations for creating high-resolution, motion-graphic NFT art. I plan to resolve these technical challenges and continue this series with some “how to” tips fro creating and marketing your own NFTs.

Technical Considerations for Digital Art

It’s important to decide how you expect your NFT art to be exhibited. I desire my NFT art to be capable of being displayed as high resolution 20″ x 30″ or larger wall art. Much of the current NFT art is postage-stamp size pixelated still images. New devices, called digital canvases, specifically designed for exhibiting high resolution digital art and NFTs are coming to market. The major difference between a TV and a digital canvas is that digital canvases are designed for 7×24 usage while TVs are not. Color accuracy is another difference, digital canvases reproduce and maintain an accurate color gamut. Additionally, the digital canvas stores and displays a large amount of digital files, properly processes NFT art, and offers playlist features — all of which are controlled via a smartphone app. A major challenge for the NFT artist is deciding the image resolution and file sizes for their NFT art. The NFT Marketplaces haven’t caught up with the trend for larger images, videos, and 100+ mb file sizes. That further complicates the decision.

At the current time, I am only able to mint 720p HD videos at OpenSea. I’m hoping the NFT marketplaces will soon update their file sizes to permit 1080p, 4x, and 8x videos. The file sizes at SolSea were limited to 50mb which is about what I can post on YouTube. File size is also a limitation for the 27″ x 18″ Canvia digital canvas which I tested and discovered issues with motion graphics files. After buying and installing the Canvia digital canvas, I discovered a software bug which has been reported to the vendor. I produced four 12 second, 720p resolution videos which lock up the display after a short time requiring me to re-power the unit to unlock the display. The vendor has been working on it for almost two months and keeps asking me to be patient while they work out the problem. Currently this software defect prevents me from using (or recommending) the product as a mechanism for display of my NFT art. I plan to explore how well the BlackDove digital canvas with 4x resolution up-scales a 720p video. Blackdove displays (shown above), designed for high-end residential and commercial installations, are much larger and much more expensive.