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NFT Art: Creating, Selling, and Collecting Royalties

The boom in the NFT art market was one of the hottest stories of 2021. Headlines reporting multi-million dollar sales of NFT artworks poured out of a wide range of media sources, from art magazines, to tech journals, and nationwide newspapers. While the storylines varied, one thing was clear: the world of art had changed.

By integrating digital art with blockchain technology, NFTs — or non-fungible tokens — have created a host of new opportunities for artists and art collectors alike. Suddenly, art collecting has become something anyone can do, rather than an activity reserved for the megarich. For artists themselves, NFTs have brought new markets mechanisms such as smart contracts, providing them with new ways of making money.

While entering the NFT market is not difficult, there are some steps that artists should consider to make sure that they are positioned for success.

Getting active in the digital realm

For the most part, NFTs are a digital art form that are sold in a digital space. As such, artists have a better chance of succeeding if they build some digital hype. To accomplish that, they need to have a digital presence.

Many of the artists who have been successful with NFTs were virtually unknown in the traditional art world. However, they had a sizable following in the world of social media. Artists who expect to attract buyers for their NFTs should start by building a fanbase on one or more social media channels. As your number of followers increases, so does the list of potential buyers for your NFTs. In addition, sharing art via social media can help an artist to determine which of his or her works are most appreciated.

Creating a “drop” rather than a “work”

Traditionally, artists focus their creative efforts on a single piece before moving on to something else. Sometimes, they may do a series that is built around a theme, but the numbers are limited. That is not typically the case in the world of NFTs.

When NFT artists release, or drop, a series of NFTs, it can often include hundreds — if not, thousands — of pieces. Often, the pieces in a drop are variations on a central theme, such as punks, apes, or cats. Artists can convert individual art works to digital format and mint them as NFTs, but to fully move into the NFT art world, artists should consider developing a collection to drop.

Finding a mentor

There are plenty of YouTube videos that can help an artist to move through the steps required to get art into the NFT marketplace. Nevertheless, connecting with a mentor who has been there and done that provides guidance, as well as invaluable encouragement and support. Alvin Juano is one of those mentors.

Alvin is an NFT artist who found success as a digital artist in the NFT space. He built an online following of more than 600,000 around The Square Comics, an artistic project he launched from his dorm room at the National University of Singapore. He then created a line of 3,535 NFTs that captured his artistic style in a collection of characters known as Squarmies. When Alvin’s Squarmies dropped, they sold out in less than 60 seconds.

In developing his Squarmies project, Alvin wanted to do more than grow his reputation as an artist. He also wanted to support artists like himself.

“We launched Squarmies with a single vision — to grow the brand along with the community and support artists,” Alvin explains. “That’s where Squarmies Community Chest comes in. We’re dedicating the fund for initiatives to grow the brand and to support artists with their NFT projects.”

The success of the Squarmies project allowed Alvin to add 30 ETH, which on April 20, 2022, was more than $90,000, to the Chest. In the future, secondary sales of Squarmies will result in a 10 percent royalty going to the fund.

Alvin and the Squarmies team envision the Community Chest opening doors for non-NFT artists, who can now benefit from his experience and financial support. Artists who are interested in connecting with Alvin can submit project ideas through the Squarmies website. When projects are proposed, Squarmies holders vote on whether to support them. Projects that receive enough community interest will be fine-tuned by the Squarmies team to provide a better chance of success.

Selling with smart contracts

Because NFTs are built on blockchain technology, they provide artists with the opportunity to include a functionality known as smart contracts with their NFT projects. In general, smart contracts stipulate the steps that must be taken whenever a transaction occurs involving NFTs.

When it comes to NFT art, smart contracts allow for artists to not only make money on the initial sale, but also on future sales. The contracts, which are programmed into the NFTs when they are minted, make it impossible for someone to sell an NFT on a secondary market without a percentage of the sale being given to the original artists. These royalty contracts, which are typically programmed to provide between 5 percent and 10 percent of all future sales, provide artists with an income that was virtually non-existent in traditional art markets.

For artists, the opportunities NFTs present are too good to pass up. Thanks to the growth of the market, there are hundreds of thousands of people each month who are buying NFTs. And thanks to blockchain technology, every sale can provide artists with revenue for years to come.

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