Valued at approximately $25bn in 2021, the non-fungible token (NFT) market size is increasing at an extraordinary rate, with an expectation for sales to reach close to $35bn in net sales by the end of 2022.
Defined as a unique piece of data stored using blockchain technology, an NFT is used to identify proof of ownership. Whilst NFTs are usually associated with digital art that has stormed marketplaces across the web, they can be used in in-game items, collectables, physical property and tickets – all with the prime purpose of incorporating proof of ownership.
From a seller’s point of view, the NFT marketplace provides an opportunity to raise awareness of their artwork, generate sales and reach an audience they hadn’t before. Whilst digital art was relatively prominent prior to the rise of NFTs, proving ownership of it was tricky and pieces were open to manipulation without permission. By storing a record of ownership on an immutable digital ledger, collectors have digital certificate that points to them as the true owner.
For a buyer, NFTs allow collectors to not only enhance their collection, but also use them as a potentially profitable investment. On marketplaces such as OpenSea, Rarible and Makersplace, buyers have access to thousands of NFTs that they can purchase using cyptocurrency such as Ethereum. These marketplaces can work like the usual marketplaces you see for physical products, with the opportunity to buy and sell to make a profit.
NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks and Invisible Friends have become very lucrative and widely sought investment opportunities, with a recent purchase for a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for $430,000 from American footballer Tom Brady.
The NFT marketplace is a booming place. But what do artists think about it all? NFT artist Snarskis, who has created the Multiplanetary collection of 1/1 editions available on OpenSea, shares his view.
What is it about the NFT space that you feel adds value for investors?
Snarskis: It’s a great way to diversify your investment portfolio. The NFT market is on the rise and only at the very early stages. I see NFTs today as the internet in the early days when people were skeptical about the idea of making an online purchase. The NFT space is already a multi-billion-pound industry, and there’s still a majority who are not even aware of this space or how to enter it.
As an artist, what does the NFT space do for you?
Snarskis: It has never been easier for an artist to reach so many people and at the same time for collectors to purchase artwork directly from the creators. Blockchain technology removes the middleman that was used to stand between the artists and the collector. You’re now entering a marketplace that isn’t reserved for just elite artists – it’s a level playing field where you have access to the same collectors – it’s more accessible to sell for an artist. NFTs provide an enormous opportunity for artists to connect with collectors. There are no physical or monetary barriers.
Do you think digital art has the same originality as tangible art?
Snarskis: The medium/technology never defines human creativity. The new technology and tools only enable and open new opportunities for artists. In this instance, technology allows us to be more productive. We can only expect to see the unexpected from the new generation of artists and we should be prepared to be surprised. Tools like digital art and VR will allow us not only to see but also to experience art like never before.
How do you translate the value and skill of an artist working in different mediums in real life to producing that digitally?
Snarskis: Art comes in different shapes and forms. The beauty of art is that there are no rules, and new technology allows us to explore limitless human creativity. As an artist you are always expressing your thoughts and emotions. It is always an authentic “You” no matter what tools you use in order to express yourself.
How do you see the NFT space evolving in the future? From an artist point of view and that of an investor?
Snarskis: First of all, the NFT marketplace is much more superior than a real life auction in a number of ways. Starting with transparency – blockchain removes the factor that fake artwork could be purchased in the NFT space, all transactions are traceable to the original source and therefore it is impossible to make unwanted purchases. Unlike in real life, when one of the world’s most famous and influential auctions ended up being duped and resulted in the sale of fake artworks for millions.
Second of all, the future of involvement is natural, the users will grow organically on both sides there will be more new artists joining the space and this will attract more investors to join and start investing. Lastly, people will soon be able to purchase artworks within the NFT market place in fiat currency and will no longer need to convert their money into crypto. This will simplify the process and make it more accessible.
What are your thoughts on NFTs in context of the metaverse?
Snarskis: Perhaps gamers would agree that NFTs existed for a very long time, but we just use to call them “skins”. For example, in some games we were already able to purchase “skins” that would change your character outfits, hair colour or even your weapons. In order to acquire and upgrade your character it would be required to make a payment directly to the platform. Later on, these “skins” could be traded with other players and could be sold, just like we do in a digital marketplace now.
Tell me about your collections to date and the process behind the production and marketing of your pieces?
Snarskis: Everything starts from an idea. Sometimes I start working on paper or, if I have a clear vision of what I would like to achieve, I jump straight to building a composition on my tablet, which is connected to my computer.
My work is very unique and most of my work is 1/1 edition digital paintings, with exceptions of turning some digital versions into multimedia artworks. The physical pieces have a slightly longer process – after completing an artwork, I print it on canvas, which is later stretched onto a wooden frame. In order to create additional depth/texture/dimension I add a layer of acrylic paint and some of the delicate detailing of gold leaf.
My very first sale made on a blockchain NFT platform was my 1/1 Multi-planetary collection. The concept of the collection is simple, I first created a visual of Elon Musk being crucified on Mars as Jesus and placed him on the Tesla sign. Since there was great interest and a positive reaction from the community, I expanded this into a collection and created the same visual just relocating it onto different planets, containing different characteristics and varying moods. Collectors absolutely loved the idea because of the pop culture references and the translation of how Musk is perceived in the culture into an NFT. The collection is sold out but new planets will keep being added to the collection allowing more collectors to own a part of the Multi-planetary artwork.