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  • Writer's pictureBen Zimdahl

The Mystery of NFTs and an Evolution in Fine Art Collection

Updated: May 20, 2022

by Ben Zimdahl | Oct 5, 2021 | Die Illustratoren

Image: Beeple

What Exactly Is an NFT?

A non-fungible token is the unique digital ownership certificate of an original digital asset and is non-interchangeable. I.e., not a currency or rather cryptocurrency itself, but an individual digital asset, stored however on a cryptocurrency’s digital database - that is to say, upon its blockchain.

The mystery surrounding the explanation of NFTs largely arises from the definition of the term itself. "Non-fungible token" aims to differentiate between an asset token and a cryptocurrency token, particularly in the way they function differently, though both use the very same technology. However, to draw a simple analogy

an NFT is essentially the digital equivalent of an original artwork or rare collectible, existing on a cryptocurrency blockchain.

An NFT is purchased, sold, or created using cryptocurrency, which in contrast is defined as fungible in that one unit of currency is interchangeable and equal to one other unit of that same currency, that is: one bitcoin token is always equal to and the same as, and therefore interchangeable with - one other bitcoin token.

How Does an NFT Work?

Just as with decentralized open-source digital cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether, principally operating without a central bank or singular administrative control, an NFT uses that same distributed public ledger - transaction record technology known as Blockchain; to ensure, record and document transaction history, and hence secure its digital existence. By the way:

“In 2020, the total NFT sales value was $250 million, while the first quarter of 2021 has a total sales value of $2 billion.”

Thus, creating an NFT can include the ‘minting’ of artworks with non-fungible tokens using the cryptocurrency purposed technology Blockchain; in which an extensive network of interlinked computers is able to authenticate and document transactions of digital artworks, allowing them to become investible digital assets whose certified ownership is bound to their NFT in its creation or purchase.

NFT animation Image Still: Jeremy Deller

How Much Does It Cost to Mint an NFT?

Who can create one?

The exciting thing about creating an NFT is that given the means, technically anyone can make one. To mint a work into an NFT one does need the funds to do so; or more accurately, a cryptocurrency wallet in which to store the NFT and enough of the currency needed to purchase or create it. Presently the major (and original) blockchain supporting NFTs is the Ethereum blockchain for Ether coins (ETH), although numerous other platforms now support them as well.

According to an analyst on Nerds Chalk and the experience documented by artist Jeremy Deller with The Art Newspaper, the cost of minting an NFT in ETH sits typically at around $70-$100 (60-90€).

There are many popular platforms out there that avoid charging a minting fee altogether, though the process can be slower or may incorporate a sales percentage fee. OpenSea for example charges a fee of 2.5% of the final sales price of your NFT whilst the actual minting remains free.

Some other established marketplace platforms include:

· Rarible Stylish design with a focus on artists & an authenticity badge function.

· Foundation NFT social media platform design using invite access to maintain quality.

· SuperRare An exclusive platform specifically for NFT artists.

· Hic et Nunc Newer, ‘proof of stakes’ system based CO2 emission clean platform.

· NFTKEY Recent invite-only platform with a specific focus on artist originality.

Conversion fees between different currency forms and the so-called ‘gas fees’ involved, which are the large computing energy costs of processing sales, purchases and minting’s on the blockchain, should be observed carefully for their considerable fluctuation and effect on the end price.

Image: Mark Watkinson

Recently, the NFT industry has seen an explosion in growth with digital artwork at the forefront of this, as with the now infamous instance of artist Mike Winkelman – the digital artist known as Beeple – whose biggest sale of an NFT of a digital artwork of his to date went for an astonishing $69 Million in March this year, through Christie's Auction House. You can see the work EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS here. Oh and the co-creator of Twitter, just so you know, went ahead and did this:

“Jack Dorsey sells his first tweet as an NFT for $2.9 million”

NFTs are created not only for illustration, but for images and online media in general, and popular examples currently include photography, songs, videos, digitized collectibles such as trading cards, virtual avatars, or video game skins, and even GIFs., Kelly Slater &

The Dynamics of NFTs Right Now

The investment prospects of NFTs are alluring and still evolving and expanding. As I recently learned tuning in to an intriguing Instagram Live with Kelly Slater in which was discussed among other things, a new money transfer app called Strike with creator Jack Mallers. Strike can provide instantaneous and costless international money transfers through its integration with Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, as well as superior bitcoin purchase rates.

A friend of Kelly’s who later joined the live proposed NFTs as foreseeable financial support for funding an endangered whales project Kelly aims to pursue, through the suggested minting of whale illustrations created by children and the incorporation of a creator royalties’ percentage within the NFTs to provide income via their resale. It’s easy to see that the meaning assigned to an NFT has been an important value factor for creators and investors so far.

The Creator's Perspective

The existence of a digital certificate of ownership means artists, musicians, influencers, and franchises are presented with a new means of monetising their creations to a readily available global market.

Moreover, in a world of increasing digital reverence which currently involves the free availability of artists’ works once uploaded to the www, an NFT can provide the digitally permanent identification of an artwork with the artist who created it.

Another thing is that aside from the NFT marketplace you choose to use, there is not necessarily any traditional intermediary, nor auction house or agent, bringing forth a more direct financial freedom for the artist.

Yet another interesting aspect of this new model from the creator’s perspective, in comparison to physical artworks, is that NFTs allow this possibility of a commission written within the certificate which means the creator will receive royalties from their work every time this certificate of ownership is resold. And if you’re a meme creator, you will even see revenue upon circulation.

Ethical Consideration

The NFT movement is already well underway and showing potential for great growth right now. Nonetheless cryptocurrency is also long in dispute for its dangerous energy consumption. Something that one must seriously consider before entering the world of NFT creation or collection is the effects that larger blockchains currently have on global warming.

The Ethereum blockchain with which most platforms are currently operating uses a minting process based on the “Proof of Work (PoW)” system in which transactions are verified via ‘mining’.

This system works in that when your NFT is sold or created it is open to the competition of miners to solve the next block for which it can then exist uniquely upon on the chain. All those who compete to create this solution consume a huge amount of energy and only the first to solve this creates it and receives a commission for their work.

Image: Alex Broekel

Ethereum Inventor Vitalik Buterin

It is often cited that one single transaction on the Ethereum blockchain consumes more electricity (fossil fuel) than the average US household does within a day. The present competition-based mining process uses enormous amounts of energy as numerous miners compete to solve complex algorithms using high-end processors.

27-year-old Russian Canadian computer scientist Vitalik Buterin, inventor of the Ethereum blockchain at age 18, is currently working on a new code overhaul dating back to 2019 that plans to reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption by 99%.

Ethereum 2.0 is already implemented in the first of three phases set to transfer from the original technology to the new and redesigned green efficient model which aims to be in place by 2022.

This design will replace the need for the numerous individual high-end energy consuming processors of the competing ‘miners’ with the node of a server on the internet which comparatively requires a bare minimum energy consumption.

Furthermore the “Proof of Stake (PoS)" model is to be integrated in which a single ‘validator’ is randomly assigned to complete the cryptographic algorithm work, as opposed to numerous competing ‘miners’.

If you are looking to enter the NFT world as either creator or collector, be sure to go about some ethical and careful further research in the direction you wish, and with that in mind

Individual Artists and Illustrators

Happy NFT ventures

& remember to support your

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