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Can Maldivian digital artists cash in on the NFT rush?

Mohamed Rehan
28 January 2022, MVT 06:25
A CryptoKitty; one of the first NFTs that made the rounds -- Photo: CryptoKitties
Mohamed Rehan
28 January 2022, MVT 06:25

You might have heard about NFTs a million times already, and it might have made little to no sense whatsoever. The NFTs or non-fungible tokens are the latest of the cryptocurrency products that have achieved mainstream success at a phenomenal level.

But what are NFTs?

One research article dumbs it down to state that non-fungible tokens are basically what it means, non-fungible. It means to state that the token is one-of-a-kind and can have just one definitive original. NFTs differ with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in nature in that, bitcoin is fungible in which one bitcoin can be traded for another.

Whereas NFTs basically have on original copy, and if you were to exchange an NFT; which has the watered-down description of a digital trading card, then you would be exchanging it with a whole different trading card – not the same two!

Another way to look at NFTs is that, they transform digital artworks and other collectibles (videos, snippets, digital illustrations and similar material) into one-of-a-kind "verifiable assets" which are easy to trade on the cryptocurrency blockchain.

Most of the NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain – and Ethereum is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin although the two do not share the same intrinsic or trading value. Meanwhile, there are several other notable blockchains that can implement their own versions of NFTs as well.

Now, what is a blockchain?

For the uninitiated, the blockchain is actually described as a distributed database shared among the nodes of a computer network. Now, how it functions is that the crypto assets which are data in this context, are actually what forms the blockchain that stores information electronically – and their aim is to maintain a secure and decentralized transactional system.

Unlike conventional databases, blockchains store the data together in groups or 'blocks' that hold sets of any specific information. These blocks have certain storage capacities and when filled, are then closed and linked to the previously filled block – forming a chain of data, and thus the name blockchain.

Why is NFT so popular?

There is perhaps little to no definitive or singular answer to that, but the ease of access and the digital transition of an artist's work; into something that cannot be ripped off into cheaper copies is highly appealing for creative geniuses when selling their work.

Perhaps this is why it has become so widely popular among global artists, musicians and influencers alike.

With many high-profile celebrities jumping on the NFT rush and their works taking off on some whopping figures have given this cryptocurrency based asset a new popularity. It was confirmed that a tweet of Twitter founder, Jack Dorsey transformed into an NFT sold for USD2.9 million while a decade-old "Nyan Cat" GIF went for USD600,000.

NFTs has become the modern-day trend of supporting independent artists on their works, and art enthusiasts and art-lovers with significant bank balances can show their love and support by purchasing these works as one-of-a-kind trading cards which cannot be mutually interchangeable.

That whole "cannot be mutually interchangeable" is what makes NFTs so enticing, meaning the actual original copy is with the one who pays top dollar to purchase. It means that even if the digital image were to pop up somewhere else, the original copy is still with the owner regardless of how many numbered copies of the same artwork may make the rounds. But the owner holds some basic usage rights unlike those who may have copies of the same artwork in a different form.

How to make an NFT?

That is the simple bit – anyone can create an NFT. In order to achieve this, one has to have a digital wallet (crypto-based wallets in this case) and a small purchase of Ethereum with a proper connection to an NFT marketplace.

The marketplace is where you will be uploading and turning your content into an NFT or otherwise and currently more popularly known as "crypto-art". Some of the more popular NFT marketplaces include OpenSea, Mintable, Nifty Gateway and Rarible which are used my artists of all colors and shades.

Can Maldivian digital artists cash in on the NFT rush?

The simple answer; yes, why not? But most are still speculative and skeptic about the integrity and legitimacy of cryptocurrency assets and marketplaces. This is why individual assessment and research comes in handy.

There is no denying that NFTs have become a surprisingly popular means for artists to sell their work to enthusiastic buyers and while some may wonder that certain star power or popularity is what would sell your work then isn't that the case everywhere?

However, if your work stands out and is unique then putting them up on popular marketplaces will get your work across some keen eyes that are appreciate of fine art. That right there is an incentive worth checking out given many aspiring digital artists in the Maldives are trying to find achieve some intrinsic value to their art on a more broader scale.

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