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Ever since Mike Winkelmann, a graphic designer from Charleston, South Carolina sold a compilation of his digital artworks for USD69 million, artists across the globe have been looking to explore NFTs to chance into their own millions.
Yet, there are still many questions surrounding this hype, which Eksentrika has explored here.
We’ve also spoken to 5 Malaysian artists who have minted their first NFT to give you the narrative of their experiences.
They are not only digital artists, but also photographers and even a tattoo artist.
All of them share a similarity in that their exploration into NFT art was driven by a sense of curiosity and learning through doing.
However, their level of awareness and views towards NFT are different, with some spending zero initial capital to others investing several thousands of ringgit.
Their expectations of returns also differ, with some hoping to gain back in cryptocurrency and others in fiat money.
Read on to learn the 5 perspectives from 5 Malaysian artists on minting their first NFT.
Lim is a Fujifilm X photographer and photography instructor, who calls himself a pictorial storyteller.
Lim was among the artists who participated in The First NFT Virtual Art Festival in Malaysia.
This meant that he did not have to spend an initial sum to mint his first NFT art, as it was sponsored by the festival organiser, Malaysia Virtual Art.
Initially intimidated by the idea, Lim came around after being convinced by blockchain enthusiast, Ivy Fung, that early adopters of NFT art stand much to gain.
“The process of minting an NFT was quite intimidating at first, but with proper guidance from Ivy, it was not as difficult as it seemed,” said Kim Boon.
He hopes that the use of NFTs can provide more opportunities for Malaysian artists to penetrate the international market.
At this point, however, he feels that more awareness and support is needed to encourage Malaysian artists to explore the potential of NFTs.
When asked if he preferred to receive the proceeds of his NFT art sale in fiat or cryptocurrency, Lim said he still preferred fiat money.
He currently prices his NFT art based on his effort in creating the piece of artwork and how unique or special he regards it for himself.
“There are not enough agencies or organisations promoting this with the intention of truly helping to promote artists.
“I would consider myself still a rookie in terms of minting NFT art as I don’t really have much information and still need to explore on how my NFT art can stand out among the competition in the market.
“Yet, I’ve decided to experience what it is all about, explore the possible opportunities as without venture, there is no gain.
“I understand it will be a long and steep learning curve, so got to jump in asap to walk that journey.”
Elain is another artist from Penang who also participated in The First NFT Virtual Art Festival.
She is an artist, art teacher and artpreneur, who specialises in Zentangle, which is making structured patterns with dots, lines and circles in relaxing and fun ways.
“My art is a therapeutic and meditative process. It is also meant to inspire others to increase their sense of well-being,” says Elain.
Elain had heard of blockchain but not NFTa and was nervous about minting her first NFT.
Getting help from festival organisers for this persuaded her to take the leap of faith. She decided to invest between RM1000 to RM2000 in minting NFTs.
“This is a new trend and there are rules of the game I need to understand better, for example, making sure my intellectual property and royalties are protected.”
Elain however considers NFT in Penang to be a “blue ocean” and therefore decided to venture into it.
Yee I-Van creates Pixel Art to communicate interesting and fun digital content.
He was not a stranger to cryptocurrencies before minting his first NFT and had made crypto investments a full year prior.
He had also worked on a game project involving blockchain technology.
Yee regards NFTs as, “really interesting and exciting but at the same time like the fever dream of a mad man.”
He had invested USD8 in the form of Etherium to mint his artwork on Opensea.
“Etherium is what I’m familiar with. As a newcomer, I’d definitely focus on more established and safe currencies to reduce the chances of errors.”
In terms of pricing his NFT art, Yee said he would factor in the cost of minting but considered determining the value to be highly subjective.
“Well-known artists should be able to command a much higher price compared to relative unknowns or newcomers but sometimes a really unique product can overcome that.
“Personally, I would evaluate if my own artwork has any merit or function.
On the topic of marketing and positioning himself to stand out from the competition, Yee said artists with existing followings on social media sites have an added advantage as their presence gives them some credibility.
“New artists would have to build their own presence online before inspiring confidence in their art.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the initial minting of NFTs and anything cryptocurrency related but I’ve seen many initiatives from other artists and societies that do well in helping newcomers like myself enter the field.
“There is a lot of pixel-art NFTs in the market so I am trying to create a collection centered around pop-culture food which is an interest of mine. I think having a niche is super crucial for any NFT artist due to the nature of the marketplaces.
“I work with pixels for the nostalgia of the artform and also because of my background in game development which was where I picked up the skill.”
“Hopefully someday, NFTs will mature into more form and utility beyond just being a collector’s item.”
Limuel Estrop is a tattoo artist who operates Orangutan Studio in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
He specialises in traditional Borneo hand-tap and hand poke tattoos.
He came across the topic of NFTa while browsing on Facebook and found it interesting.
Although he has minted his first NFT, he is still not sure what to expect.
“I took the step as I see it as another way for me to put my work out there.
“Hopefully, it will be a medium that can help artists sell more artworks.”
Fizah Rahim is a digital artist and 3D designer, specialising in iridescent abstract artwork, 3D dreamscapes as well as 3D typography and design.
Throughout her decade-long career, she had been wishing for the possibility that her digital artworks could be sold as is, without having to transform them into prints.
For her, NFT was a fresh of breath air that has opened doors to such possibilities.
Since Fizah is also an investor in cryptocurrency, she would prefer to receive proceeds of her NFT art, also in cryptocurrency.
“For me, crypto is my way to invest. Most of my NFT sales are for me to support other artists’ work or keep as an investment.”
She added that “Placing a value on NFT art is no different than gauging the worth of fine art, just that it is in the crypto space.”
On the cost factor of minting NFT art, she pointed out that it depends on the “gas fee” and platform chosen to mint the work on.
Gas fee refers to the payments made by users to compensate for the computing energy required in processing and validating transactions on the cryptocurrency blockchain.
“It could range from cents to hundreds of dollars. Best is to mint at a low gas fee.”
Fizah also views that there are no marketing costs involved since she uses social media to post and connect with people who love her art.
“I feel with NFT space; we have tons of discord communities and a vibrant and welcoming Twitter space.
“A retweet is free and it would help people to discover amazing work that connects to them.”
She said there are tons of information about NFT space that can be effortlessly gained simply by searching on Google or Youtube.
“Even the discord channels have tons of information and help from community members.”
Fizah also does not see her digital or commercial artworks as a competition for anyone.
“I am a digital artist and have been doing this for over a decade, so minting NFT is just another method for me to share my work with people that appreciates them.
“I don’t think I am early or the first to jump on this but I’m happy to be a part of this movement.
She hopes that NFT will soon gain mainstream acceptance and become easier for artists who are not tech-savvy to adopt.
“As the blockchain world knows no borders, NFTs open the doors for artists to sell internationally.”
Since venturing into the realm of NFTs, Fizah has also met many local and international multidisciplinary artists.
Collaborating with artists from different parts of the world made her feel less alone during the recent lockdown.
Copied and pasted from Eksentrika.
Cover image by Fizah Rahim.
Copied and pasted from Eksentrika.