We claim to be a community-oriented group with a goal of introducing NFTs to the masses. So, why isn’t democratizing the NFT industry every artist’s top priority?
On May 3rd, 2014, Kevin McCoy minted the first NFT (non-fungible token), “Quantum,” long before the crypto market exploded.
A pixelated image of an octagon filled with denoting circles and other shapes all sharing the same center marked by dancing fluorescent colours, McCoy’s Quantum, unbeknownst to many, was paving the way for an NFT boom poised to shake up the digital world as we know it. Today, this piece of art is on sale for seven million dollars.
Although the NFT space came to fruition well over five years ago, the industry itself is still very much unknown. And for good reason. It’s complex. It’s constantly evolving. And, despite it being a community where #wagmi (we’re all going to make it) is the hashtag of choice, it can be very intimidating for the average person to enter into.
With new artists clamouring to launch their first NFT every day and make a living off of their craft, I’m surprised that little is being done to advocate for NFT-literacy.
We say we’re a group of art collectors and creators fighting for collective success, however, if we’re not making it easier for consumers and artists to actually understand the industry, then what are we doing but creating a community by us, for us?
In 2021, I founded WestCoastNFT, the only full-service smart contract development agency focused on giving indie artists the tools (namely custom smart contracts) they need to ensure their NFT drop is a success. We also pride ourselves on democratizing the NFT industry and giving folks everywhere the tools they need to feel empowered to buy, sell and succeed in this hyper-competitive and complex arena.
Our track record of success so far has been incredible; in just three months of business, I’m proud to say we’ve generated $23M in revenue for artists and creators. We also have thirteen hugely successful drops under our belt, including Doodles, one of the most remarkable mints in NFT history, and Love is Love by artist Shavonne Wong which recently sold out in under an hour.
I credit much of our success and the success of our clients not only to our extremely talented team but to our core values, which include making it easier for anyone and everyone to understand and take part in this unique world.
With that, I’m excited to share my top easy-to-understand tips for anyone looking to enter into the NFT space, and I’m looking forward to welcoming you to our community.
What is an NFT? An NFT is a non-fungible token. Of course, that doesn’t make things any clearer. To put it simply, an NFT is a ‘one-of-a-kind’ digital asset, like music and art, that has been recorded on a blockchain (namely, the Ethereum blockchain) to prove ownership. An NFT cannot be replicated or duplicated and is bought and sold online using blockchain technology to verify proof of ownership.
So what’s the point? For many, owning an NFT is the first step in a digital art collection. Not only this, but owning an NFT is a way to support artists you love and, provided you do your homework, can also be a very lucrative investment.
NFTs are purchased using, in most cases, Ethereum. To purchase Ethereum, you need a specific digital wallet. After purchasing Ethereum, you can then buy an NFT through an NFT marketplace such as OpenSea.
What NFTs are worth investing in? Deciding what NFT to purchase all depends on why you’re investing in an NFT collectible in the first place. If you are an art collector looking to grow your collection, then I would suggest purchasing an NFT by an artist you love and want to support. If you are looking to purchase an NFT as an investment opportunity, then stay on the pulse of what communities are growing the fastest by following key players on Twitter and checking the stats on OpenSea.
In general, when I look to purchase an NFT, I look at three things: the art, the founders, and the overall community. I only purchase an NFT when I’m financially prepared to make the investment, and I buy most NFTs with the intention of holding onto them for as long as possible. Most importantly, buy art that you like looking at.
Some of the biggest names in the space right now include Doodles, CryptoPunks, The Sandbox, and Bored Ape Yacht Club. Although you can’t mint these projects, you can still purchase them on OpenSea.
Okay. I think I’m ready to buy my first NFT. What questions should I be asking?
- Determine WHY you’re buying an NFT. Are you purely making an investment, or are you a budding collector?
- Do your research on the artist or team behind the drop. Are they engaged with their community? Check out their social media accounts. Do they have lots of active followers? Do they have a long-term plan for giving back to their community (future airdrops, a DAO)?
- On the blockchain, everything is traceable, meaning it’s very difficult to purchase a fake NFT. Nonetheless, look for projects that have verification badges on marketplaces like OpenSea.
- Determine the scarcity of the project. Is there a chance your exclusive one-of-one piece of art will be supplemented down the road with hundreds of other comparable assets? Look into how the team is ensuring the scarcity of their project.
- Most importantly, do you like the art? At the end of the day, are you happy with the piece that you bought?
Once you can address the above, you should be ready to purchase your first NFT.
In 2019, NFT NYC, the world’s premier NFT conference, was so small it could have been a webinar. This year, the festival drew in artists, collectors, and NFT pros from around the world. Not to mention a cohort of celebs that you would expect to see walking a red carpet, not rubbing shoulders with guys like me.
As this new way to curate art continues to pick up steam, the time for NFT-literacy is now. Rather than entering the market with the goal of maintaining anonymity or operating as a secret society, I would implore new artists and developers everywhere to band together with the collective goal of making NFTs the norm. After all, how else are we going to take over the world?
Steve Mitobe is the CEO of WestCoastNFT, the only full-service smart contract development agency focused on the indie artist.