Officially going all-in on the ethereum blockchain. Over the next month, I'll be "minting" all of my print editions into non-fungible tokens (NFT).
If you have no idea what that means, I'll explain and lay out the process as best I can. There's so much to cover that this will be broken into many posts.
Today, I'll cover what it means to "mint" artwork to the blockchain and provide real-world, first-hand accounts of the process. Before going any further, consider subscribing to my oftenish, chill newsletter called Tales From the Crypto, a round-up of NFT (non-fungible token) art news, experiences, and other relevant items from the world of ethereum NFT blockchain art.
A few disclaimers, for brevity, I'm not going to cover how to create an ethereum "wallet" through which all transactions occur. It's not exceedingly difficult to do. Message me if you need some guidance, or better yet comment below so everyone can learn. I'd like this post to be an open discussion and invite input from others.
Briefly, NFT is a cryptographic token representing something unique and, by nature, is not mutually interchangeable, in contrast to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which are fungible/tradable.
Non-fungible tokens are used to create verifiable digital ownership, opening the door to "minting" digital art. Allowing collectors to "own" pieces of online art. Or music. Or video games. The NBA is minting highlights from games, like a slam dunk, and selling those video clips as collector pieces resembling trading cards. The initiative is called NBA Topshots.
I'm bullish on NFT for two reasons. Outside of commercial photography work, I sell limited-edition photo prints to collectors and enjoy the process. Making prints is an art in and of itself. It's time-consuming, labor-intensive, and expensive. But holding them in your hands feels good. Selling them to a fan/collector even better. It's validation—a real-life blue checkmark. NFT allows me to "mint" editions onto the blockchain for others to bid, buy, collect, trade or auction, forever, long after I'm gone. That's really cool to think about. Instead of owning a paper image, the collector owns the image as it appears on the trading platform. It will then appear in the collector's gallery. However, they do not hold the file! Just the image online.
Second, as a commercial photographer, NFT has the potential to digitally client license images. Currently, we deliver high-resolution files to clients along with a pdf invoice/license. There's no method for securing those files. Hand them off, they're wild. NFT provides guardrails via digital ownership and hopefully soon expiration dates. Once the license expires, the photos get watermarked, greyed out, or disappear until they are relicensed. We're not there yet, but much closer. For now, NFT is geared to those selling art, not artists selling commercial licenses.
Next post, I'll dive into the initial steps I took to upload my first piece of collectible art to the Rarible platform.