Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist


What’s one thing you wish someone told you before entering the NFT space?

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The content in this article comes from the archive of my irregular Twitter video series, Crypto Art Question of the Day (#CAQOTD). On February 22, 2021, I broadcasted a video where I asked “What’s one thing you wish someone told you before entering the NFT space?” and these are some of the insights.

Fortunes Foretold Forever (Second Realm, 2021)

More and more artists are discovering the power of NFTs and the promise of CryptoArt. For all of the newcomers to the NFT space, I asked NFT artists that have been minting art on-chain what they wished somebody had told them before they started selling art on Ethereum.

LOL how much gas was going to be! First nft I sent to someone gas was .39 cents!! — @dcost11

Of course, dccost11 (@dcost111) mentioned the crazy gas fees we’ve been seeing lately. Somebody had to bring up gas since minting NFTs for the last few months has been costly. It wasn’t that long ago when gas was considerably cheaper, as dcost11 pointed out. I miss those days, too.

There are some options available for artists looking for more cost-effective ways to mint their work. Some platforms have Layer 2 solutions implemented; others are working on incorporating zk-rollup solutions for their platform with providers like Polygon. Many platforms like OpenSea are working to incorporate L2 solutions, and sometime in the next several months, we should see more platforms offering cost-effective minting.

I don’t think there is a solution coming for the lack of sleep, though. When you’re trying to make a living as an NFT creator, you’ve got to do more than just create. You’re in charge of marketing, managing a community, forming relationships with other artists to work on collaborative projects, etc. The list is always growing, and, as lulu xXX (@luluixixix) points out:

you ain’t gonna sleep no more. — @luluixixix

All of the hard work and sleepless nights eventually lead to sales, and it’s easy to get wrapped up in a successful project. As Cyber Shakti (@CyberShakti) mentions, there are ups and downs. Don’t let success blow your expectations sky high; don’t let lack of sales tear you down.

Keep breathing. Not all days are the same. Don’t get too excited, don’t ever get dejected. – @cybershakti

It’s also worth taking Colburn Bell’s advice (@colbornbell).

we’re all just making it up as we go and there are no “right” answers its about co-creating the future we want to see for artists and a return to ownership and empowerment (both economic and creative) – @colobrnbell

As Colburn said, we are all creating a new way forward for artists to remove the impact of middlemen. CryptoArt has changed many artists’ lives. There are others, though, that also point out the shortcomings of the NFT movement.

A.L. Crego (@ALCrego_) talked about the less talked about aspects of being an on-chain artist. We always mention the promise of the decentralized future, but accomplishments are still individual. It doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished elsewhere; creating NFTs can feel like you’re starting all over again.

That achievements are not decentralized. It doesn’t matter what we have achieved years before Cryptoart.

It seems that is only valuable what we do inside cryptoart, and from my POV this is closing doors and making this place more endogamic.

It’s like I have to begin from 0. – @alcrego_

It can be disheartening to see celebrities like Lindsey Lohan create an NFT that instantly sells out for insane prices, while other artists who are actually innovating and raising the bar for on-chain art go unnoticed with lackluster sales. It’s tough to see talent eclipsed by pieces that are just passing fancies.

DADA (@PowerDada) said this problem is the result of the CryptArt movement bringing both the good and bad dynamics of the art market being brought on-chain.

That this promising tech was going to be used to exacerbate the traditional art market dynamics we all meant to disrupt. It would have been a good reality check to have. What we say to those entering now is: Welcome! For your own sanity, focus on the art and ignore the hype. – @powerdada

DADA’s advice for NFT newcomers is simple: put your focus on creating art and leave the hype machine for others to run.

Sparrow (@blackboxdotart) had a similar take about the on-chain market.

That mostly it’s actual promise has yet to be realised & what we currently see is just a recreation of the existing structures of the old art world (competition, scarcity, star systems, auctions, & who you know – or how many followers you have – is more important than the art).

This is true more now than when I joined.

But I am still hoping for, and working on, something actually different that can realise the promise that is there. – @blackboxdotart

We are still early in this ecosystem, and, as Sparrow said, there is hope we can build something truly different that solves the problems that exist in traditional art markets. Collectors buy NFTs, it seems, as an investment and a store of value. It can be disheartening to see collectors make more on the secondary market than you originally did when you sold the piece. Though you get a percentage of secondary market sales, you’re not reaping the same rewards that collectors are. One day, this will change; we’re working for that change every day.

NFTs offer greater power for artists, which is one way we, as artists, are empowered by on-chain markets. Things aren’t perfect, but you can still be successful even without the direct support of NFT platforms.

JayDelay.eth (@Jay_Delay) said that artists don’t need to be accepted to be successful on Ethereum.

You don’t have to get accepted onto any platforms or seek anyone else’s permission to be successful in the space. Doing it yourself on your own contracts on @opensea @rariblecom @mintbase and @Blockchainartex is just as valid as any other platform – @jay_delay

The Curator (@SaschaBailey) echoed this thought, and he said that artists do control the market because collectors follow the work of artists. In fact, many artists build a community around their work or collectors build a community around artists’ work they are passionate about. Collectors helping artists help collectors — we’re all trying to achieve financial independence and establish a thriving market for innovation in creation.

This means that an artist needs to be their own gallery, curator, ad chief, brand ambassador, and community manager. It’s a lot of work to be successful, but the rewards are greater, too. Everyone talks about being your own bank. If you think that’s hard, try being your own art dealer and everything else. At times, it’s difficult to see others succeeding while your career seems stagnant.

Be patient, as reviiser.eth (@Reviiser) said.

You’re going to continually see people do “better” than you and that’s ok. Because your value isn’t tied to anyone else but you. Make ART, Make connections, and HODL like your life depends on it. – @reviiser

When you see others succeeding, use it as inspiration for what you could have one day, too. No one dictates your future in the NFT world. You can do whatever you set your sights on. Even when it’s hard, do the work. In the end, it pays off.

Being a CryptoArt creator has its drawbacks. The promise that brought you into the NFT market might not be the reality, but the good outweighs the bad here. Possibilities are all around us.

Wherever you are in the world, you’re limited to a certain market. It can be in a small area or a bigger city, but few artists are collected across state lines even with e-commerce art sites and personal websites.

With NFTs, your market is global. When one hemisphere is going to bed, another is waking up. Gas costs can make minting seem expensive, though renting a storefront, putting art on consignment, and shipping fees for physical work comes at a high cost, too. Gatekeeping isn’t as prevalent in this market.

Sure, sites like Makersplace, Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, etc. require you to apply, and they review your portfolio to determine whether or not you’re a good fit. Still, anyone can sell on Rarible or OpenSea.

What it comes down to in the end is hard work. Lots of sleepless nights, days spent promoting collections on Twitter, gas fees, and really, really hard work. Moxarra Gonzalez (@Moxarra) said it well, and I’ll end with her words.

Work your ass off it will be fun and profitable at some point. Enjoy the ride!!!!! – @moxarra