It’s not just art, it’s an NFT. Is that any different?
Why are NFTs expensive? What makes them blow up? What’s the best way to get rich from an NFT launch? Coming into this world as an artist you might seem bewildered that some projects pick up so quickly and some stay dormant for ages. But everyone wants to make their project shine and sometimes it’s hard to understand the key to success – especially in this permanent but ever-developing world.
In this article I will look closer at the phenomenon of art NFTs, specifically (often deriviative) profile picture projects. However, many of the observations can be applied to other forms of NFTs – I am simply using NFT art as a prism through which to look at how hype and trend is gained.
Why do people buy NFTs?
Some artists have successful NFTs because they’ve already established themselves in the outside world (like Jay-Z). Others have already established themselves in the crypto community in other ways, and coming out with an NFT project makes it instantly buyable. But what is the secret to making it? Everyone wants to put out unique content, many people are, but not everyone makes the news.
Of course this question could concern any piece of art or any artist. Why is Taylor Swift famous but I am not? (serious question.) Is it that she has a great team behind her? Did she make the right choices along the way or is there more to it?
So, as I mentioned before, one way to become it in the world of NFTs is by being an established figure. People want to belong, and in the world of NFTs they want to belong to something unique and everlasting. For that you need to know what the community is thirsty for. What would make them feel like this NFT is representative of what the community stands for?
For a good NFT you need to almost be a native to the community and know it intimately. That makes some great NFTs so popular, the fact that it’s made by someone who already belongs. The appeal is being a part of something and proving it by owning something representative. It’s psychological really, people enjoy being associated with, simply put, someone who knows their shit, someone who has an in.
But is it really only possible if you’re already established? That kind of goes with and against the whole permaweb philosophy. On one hand people are rewarded for early adaption, on the other hand they are incentivised to add more new, unique and long-living content.
— CryptoPunks Bot (@cryptopunksbot) November 9, 2021
When it comes to established projects, the mind goes straight to Cryptopunks – one of the first and most prestigious avatar NFT collections. This project lives on blockchain, provides a unique, limited amount of permutations and has gone up in price due to its prestige, history and meme strength. Its ‘marketing’ has been the unique nature of the project and its pieces in crypto history.
From this we can gather some things – you need to be authentic, know the community and oftentimes, play the long game. It’s almost as if in this community it’s easy to sniff out a fake or someone who’s only after the coin.
Are NFTs about the money or the meme?
I recently read an opinion that NFTs are purely a money making enterprise and has nothing to do with art (the bubble is bursting!). I agreed and disagreed. In fact, I’d say that someone positioning their art as only made for money might be an interesting project in itself given that the arts in NFT world often play on the anti-art as well as showing other forms of protest.
This means, that another way to sell good NFTs is by good marketing. What are you? The best, the first, the only? As in the example above, the shittest? It’s not so easy in the world of NFTs because whilst some part of the culture is made by marketing, it must be said that marketing is made by the meme itself.
As I already mentioned, you can’t get any old marketer and make art. You need to know the community. So what is in demand and how to market is decided by the community and what it’s after. Demand creates supply. To make good NFTs you need to know who you’re creating your art for. Same goes for smart buying of it, you need to know the community enough to know what will be worth something in a while.
And yes, here I agree that NFTs are for making money. But when it comes to art for prestige or belonging, in the world of crypto, currency is in the term; we are in the world of economics and being a participant does not devalue it or make it less authentic. Creating art for the market does not make it less valuable or less real. In fact, the purchase of an NFT may in itself be a real representation of what this world stands for – the preservation and immortality of unique content.
When it comes to money there’s always going to be drawbacks. In the hype cycle, NFT projects attract investors who might then not invest in other products making the community develop beyond prestige and ownership. So NFT markets are making many richer, but could be taking away liquidity and funding of well deserved projects for the web3 infrastructure.
NFTs as a permanent art form
Another important aspect is the storage of your NFT. We’ve already talked about how Arweave is the solution for permanent NFT ownership, however, Arweave is not the only NFT storage option. Too many times have people bought NFTs just to end up owning a 404 page. Arweave is a solution for that.
The rise of the permaweb makes the ownership of NFTs truly permanent and definite. So that means you have to create something worth staying. This creates the possibilities for recurring projects and projects with subscription-based or add on supported qualities.
404s aren’t the only problem with permanent storage not being as permanent outside of the Arweave ecosystem. For example, some places will offer you permanent storage at a monthly subscription but terms apply if you stop paying (or at some point their prices go ridiculous, for example).
So all in all, when it comes to successful NFTs it’s not only about what you make, it’s also a lot about where you make it. This is equally important for sellers and buyers of the art pieces and something that is no less important than what to make in the first place. Prestige, after all, cannot be built on inaccessible work.
There is no silver bullet for making an NFT collection blow up overnight. We have written about some cool projects that are the first of their kind like Atomic Zombies and Bark Blocks. But they were by crypto enthusiasts who knew how to innovate and were ‘insiders’ to a degree.
Artists would be better off coming in and learn about the environment before dropping their art (unless of course, you’re one of those “prove you wrong” people who will come in knowing nothing and make billions – it can happen). It can be a long game and sometimes you start small before it picks up. Sometimes it doesn’t pick up but another important part of NFTs is creating content that lives forever. And so many artists have been acknowledged hundreds of years after their time. This is the way to gain immortality for you and your work.
Whether or not an NFT makes it is partially luck and partially irrelevant. It’s part of becoming a member of a community and making history as it’s happening. Part trying to fit in and equal part trying to stand out. And once you internalize that, it’s the reward in itself. Philosophically speaking – once you stop caring about making it and do it authentically, it just might work.