Jo Cunningham Art

saturday, march 20, 2021
A Beginners Guide to NFT Art

Very excited to have introduced the concept of NFTs and crypto-art to a staff member from Design Centre Enmore recently! I couldn't believe they're not already talking about this as it opens up a whole new potential income stream for their digital art students and graduates. I thought to include here some of the information I provided them with, as it makes for a gentle but thorough introduction to the NFT space (note: the software that hosts this blog is fiddly, my apologies for not including hyperlinks!):

This is a great introductory video about NFTs:

And a recent article from the Sydney Morning Herald:

To really understand NFTs however, you need a basic understanding of cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology that supports it. This video explains the original digital currency Bitcoin:

NFTs, however, are traded in a different digital currency called Ethereum. This video explains a bit about Ethereum and touches on 'smart contracts' which is why Ethereum is used in the NFT marketplace instead of Bitcoin:

Back to NFTs: This is a helpful video by Australian NFT/digital artist Mankind who's become a bit of an educator in the NFT space:

Once you've wrapped your brain around what NFTs, cryptocurrency and the blockchain are (blockchain being the technology that enables cryptocurrency to exist and be traded), then this video is an inspiring watch as to what's possible in the world of NFT/digital art!

And here is a lovely interview between Australian cryptocurrency trader/educator Adam Saunders/Nuggets News, and a young NFT artist called Fewocious.:

Fewocious will have work at the Follow The White Rabbit NFT-art event that's happening in Sydney over Easter:

If you want to learn more about the cryptocurrency space and technology. Adam's 'Nuggets News' website has great educational resources:

And here is a list of websites where one can look at and buy NFTs. Some, like Superrare, are curated and artists need to apply to be featured on them. Other sites, like Rarible, are open to anyone to upload their work. Although doing this involves opening a cryptocurrency wallet and paying to 'mint' your work onto the Ethereum blockchain. I minted a piece. It cost me about AU$60 (+$50 when I made a mistake on my first try!). Fees are high currently. Not too long ago it cost much less. Fees will improve in time but it will take a while for the technology to be updated.

And lastly, some ethical concerns to consider, especially in relation to introducing the NFT concept in an institutionalised educational setting:

It takes a LOT of energy to power the computers that host the blockchain that cryptocurrency and NFTs exist on. So much so it is a valid environmental concern. There are people who see cryptocurrency, and now also NFT art, as environmentally irresponsible as a result. The counter argument to the above is that cryptocurrency is the future of money as traditional currencies are losing value due to being constantly printed, and will likely collapse at some point. And although the energy used in mining (creating) cryptocurrencies is high currently, many investors and companies in the space are concerned about this and are working towards more energy efficient and sustainable systems. I've heard it said that mining bitcoin/cryptocurrencies is one of the biggest drivers of research and development in the area of climate change. I've also heard it said that the current technology is like a steam train, in that we had to have the steam train as a stepping stone to evolving to cleaner forms of power, although one could argue we haven't gotten much cleaner!

A good example of how people in the space are aware of the environmental concerns of blockchain technology and are actively doing something about it is this exciting NFT collaborative auction, the aim of which is to off-set carbon emissions and increase climate change and sustainability awareness in the NFT space and beyond!

A second valid concern to introducing the NFT concept in an instiutionalised educational setting is the fact that to be involved as an artist, one needs to hold cryptocurrency which is a very volatile market and there are many risks, especially if one doesn't take time to understand the landscape. One could even argue it's a form of gambling to be in this space.

I look forward to seeing how this all pans out!

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