What is an NFT?
NFTs are nonfungible tokens. The adjective “nonfungible” is often used in economics to represent features such as uniqueness and non-interchangeability. In the crypto space, nonfungibility simply indicates that one item cannot be exchanged for another.
A “token” as a unit of account is basically a certificate of validity stored on the decentralized blockchain, making digital assets traceable and accessible to everyone. As a result, NFTs are a one-of-a-kind virtual currency that can fall into pretty much any category and usually take the shape of paintings, videos, music, collectible items in video games or any other type of creative digital production.
Since NFTs boomed in early 2021, everyone is now buying and selling these tokens throughout the world. But, how can someone convert real art into NFTs and how can they sell them? Is it hard? Is coding necessary to make an NFT?
In a nutshell, the steps are quite simple. To understand the main procedure and its specifics, read this quick guide below.
What is crypto art?
Art is the most common use case for NFTs, and it is no wonder that crypto art in NFT form has recently exploded in popularity. The fact that the novel blockchain technology creates conditions that now allow artists to earn tens of millions of dollars from their digital paintings attracted many creative people who could only dream about such a level of ease and accessibility before.
Sensational high-profile auctions of NFTs linked to digital art have received considerable public attention. The most expensive sales hit the headlines as they fetched millions. In 2022, the most expensive NFT with a price of $91.8 million was “Merge” by pseudonymous digital artist Pak.
In 2021, Everydays: the First 5000 Days NFT collection by artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, was another very expensive auction and was sold for $69.3 million.
Crypto art is associated with unique art pieces created by well-known artists and sold on auctions on marketplaces that include not only popular NFT platforms but also traditional auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Still, the majority of art in the crypto space is being created by unknown talented beginners.
However, some NFT collections including the pioneer one named CryptoPunks or the most hyped recently named Bored Ape Yacht Club are examples of generative art. This type of art is usually created with the help of various autonomous systems. The images in these popular collections are created by assembling a selection of simple picture components in different combinations.
Related: How to assess the value of an NFT?
How to turn your art into an NFT?
If you already wonder if you should convert your art into an NFT, the answer is obviously, “yes, why not try.” The process of creating an NFT is neither complex, costly nor technical. All it requires is a set of creative skills and a personal computer.
Again, it is worth noting that NFTs can potentially convert not only images but songs, videos, GIFs and other digital items. So, first, you need to choose a proper art field which suits you best. Depending on this, you will understand what set of skills you will need to become a real NFT creator.
For example, as a graphic artist, you will be required to use such graphic editing tools as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, MS Paint, CorelDraw and the like. You can also try alternative ways such as three-dimensional (3D) modeling which is known to be more difficult for beginners. If you choose 3D animation, you will be expected to use 3D modeling tools such as Blender or Cinema 4D to design animated graphics and characters that will then be converted into NFTs.
After that, you will need to come up with a unique idea for your single artwork or maybe a full collection and think about the content into which it will eventually turn.
Is coding necessary for NFTs?
It is quite easy to create an NFT from digital art without coding. The process of creating them is called minting. It is basically the act of publishing a unique instance of the token on the blockchain. NFTs are minted once they are created, similar to how metal coins are created and added into circulation.
After this procedure, the particular piece of digital art becomes secure and tamper-proof, as well as hard to manipulate. Since this digital item became an NFT, it can now be bought, sold and digitally tracked when it is resold or recollected.
For artists, minting NFTs into digital art is the novel way to monetize their work fairly. On most NFT marketplaces, artists can program a royalty clause upon minting so that secondary sales of their works will generate passive income for them. If the demand for the artwork increases and becomes famous and raises in value, the artists can benefit from it.
Minting is an automated process provided on most NFT marketplaces. To start it, you will need to take a few simple steps mentioned below:
Still, you can try to code an NFT yourself if you are already experienced in this sphere and want to become an NFT developer. To dive deeply into NFT programming, you need to take in mind that the Ethereum network still has a monopoly on the development of NFTs.
Choosing the NFT marketplace to make and sell your NFTs
An essential part of the process of minting NFTs is choosing a proper NFT platform. The right choice depends on various factors like supported file format, crypto wallet matching, accessibility to the platform for users and a price to mint an NFT, or a transaction fee, which is a payment made to compensate for the computing energy required to process and validate transactions.
There are a bunch of various online NFT marketplaces in the crypto space and each of them operates slightly differently. The crucial thing for artists is knowing whether the platform is curated or if it is self-service based and choosing the one which is the most suitable, visited and user-friendly for them.
Self-service-based or non-curated NFT platforms provide free access to all artists. In order to upload NFTs onto them, you only need to register via crypto wallet and pay the transaction fee to mint an NFT. The most popular are such mass self-service NFT marketplaces as OpenSea and Rarible.
Curated NFT platforms are more selective about artists. To register and start minting your art on these platforms, you will need to submit an application with all the details about the NFT collection and your previous artistic experience.
Another visible disadvantage of curated NFT marketplaces is the long waiting period for the experts’ decision. Due to this stringent selection criteria, however, mostly top digital artworks are exhibited on such platforms so that buyers have more confidence in artists who collaborate with these platforms. Well-known curated platforms are SuperRare and Nifty Gateway, to name a few.
Setting up a cryptocurrency wallet
A cryptocurrency wallet is a tool that you will need to access NFT platforms, sign transactions and manage your balances.
Before setting it up, the most important thing is to make sure that the wallet matches the cryptocurrency used on the NFT platform you intend to use. Since most NFT marketplaces are Ethereum-based, they accept Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency Ether (ETH) as a payment. Therefore, it is necessary to have a crypto wallet with some ETH handy.
There are plenty of crypto wallets with already millions of users. Many of them have diverse functionality and some of them have their own mobile applications and browser extensions for easy access to blockchain-based platforms.
The choice of a suitable cryptocurrency wallet depends on what kind of safety you are willing to have. The main types of them include custodial, noncustodial and hardware wallets. A custodial wallet is also known as a hosted wallet since users’ funds are automatically stored in it by a third party, similar to how banks keep the money in checking and savings accounts.
It is considered to be the most user-friendly and easy to set up. A noncustodial wallet gives users complete control of the security of their crypto and does not rely on a third party to keep funds safe. A hardware wallet, also known as a cold wallet, is a physical device that can keep users’ crypto offline and secure it even in the worst-case scenario when someone’s computer is hacked.
How to sell digital art as NFTs
NFT sale is likely to be the endpoint of your NFT minting. Most of the NFT platforms have a feature to choose a selling method or an option to set a price for your NFT while minting it.
Fixed price sale and auction are currently the main two ways for selling NFTs. A fixed-price sale is considered to be the easiest way as well as pretty transparent and direct. To sell your freshly minted NFT this way, you will only need to specify the price at which you want to sell it. Some platforms also ask to set a royalty percentage, the amount you will receive in case of future sales of your art, so pay attention to that, too.
Another way to sell your NFT is through an auction so that buyers can browse and bid on your digital art. Some auctions may be online-only, while others may end in a full-fledged live auction. There are usually two types of them.
The first type is an English auction, an increasing price auction where the highest bid wins in the end. A timed auction is a specific form of English auction when an NFT can be bid over a defined period of time and at the end, the collector who has submitted the highest bid has won. The second type is a Dutch auction, a decreasing-price auction in which the price drops until someone buys your NFT.
It is up to you which way of selling NFT to choose. Each way has their pros and cons, whether it is a possible lack of understanding the real value of your artwork when setting up a fixed price or dependence on time during sales through auctions.
Ray Schuetz received a Masters Degree in computer science from The University of Texas (Austin). Ray has been working as a full-time blockchain consultant for the past 3 years. In his spare time, Ray enjoys writing for EthereumCryptocurrency.com and other crypto news publications.