NFT Art - an explanation
NFT stands for a non-fungible token, which means that hidden in those quirky artworks, there is a totally unique and non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger that uses blockchain technology to establish proof of ownership. NFTs are collectable digital assets that hold value, just like how physical art holds value, so do NFTs.
NFTs are a lot like cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, an NFT is completely unique, and it can't be exchanged like-for-like, which is where non-fungible starts to make sense. The file stores extra information that elevates it above pure currency and brings it into the realm of, well, anything, really.
Any kind of easily reproduced digital file can be stored as an NFT to identify the original copy, like photography, art, music, videos, tweets, and even memes. You can make NFTs from almost anything unique that can be stored digitally and holds value. They're like any other collector's item, like a painting or a vintage action figure, but instead of buying a physical item, you're instead paying for a file and proof that you own the original copy.
The unique identity and ownership of an NFT is verifiable via the blockchain ledger. they were first launched on the Ethereum blockchain, but other blockchains including FLOW and Bitcoin Cash now also support them. Whether the original file is a JPG, MP3, GIF or anything else, the NFT that identifies its ownership can be bought and sold just like any other type of art – and, like with physical art, the price is largely set by market demand.
If you wandered into a gift shop of an art gallery, you'd find a number of replicated prints of famous masterpieces, well there are some NFTs that act the same way. There are parts of the blockchain that are totally valid, but they wouldn't hold the same value as the original.
NFTs will most likely come with a license to the digital asset it points to, but this doesn't automatically confer copyright ownership. The copyright owner may reproduce work and the NFT owner gains no royalties.
If you've got this far, you might be wondering: can I make an NFT? Well, one would assume so given that when Trevor Andrew drew this Gucci Ghost (above), he managed to sell it for $3,600. Technically, anyone can create a piece of art, turn it into an NFT on the blockchain (a process called 'minting') and put it up for sale on a marketplace of choice. You can even attach a commission to the file, which will pay you every time someone buys the piece through a resale.
Much like when buying NFTs, you need to have a wallet set up, and it needs to be stuffed full of cryptocurrency. It's this requirement for money upfront that causes the complications.
The hidden fees can be prohibitively astronomical, with sites charging a 'gas' fee for every sale (the price for the energy it takes to complete the transaction), alongside a fee for selling and buying. You also need to take into account conversion fees and fluctuations in price depending on the time of day. All this means that the fees can often add up to a lot more than the price you get for selling the NFT.
Whether or not NFTs are here to stay, for the moment they are making some people money and they're creating new possibilities for digital art. We would, however, advise caution and careful consideration of which platforms to use. See our guide to how to make and sell NFTs for more information. And if you want to get creating, make sure you've got one of the most powerful laptops available or even one of these top drawing tablets.