How to Make and Sell NFT Art (in Minutes!)

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) gained immense popularity and developed their own subculture in 2021. There’s a good chance you have heard about them unless you’ve not been paying attention.

From Paris Hilton and Nike to LeBron James and the NBA, celebrities and major brands are launching their own exclusive ‘drops’ and splurging millions on NFTs. As of 2022, artists and designers continue to flood the NFT space in huge swathes.

Why? NFTs can be quite lucrative. Creators like Trevor Jones and Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) make millions from NFT sales. For instance, Beeple’s Everydays: The First 5000 Days recently sold for $69 million at Christie’s. The sale placed him “among the top three most valuable living artists.”

So yeah, no judgment if you’re solely investing in NFTs towards financial freedom. Regardless, NFTs are so much more than speculation.

It’s unsurprising if all the noise around NFTs makes you wonder, “Something must be working, right?” Or is it just a well-oiled machination of good PR, hype, and buzz?

Either way, this article will take you into the world of NFTs from a creator’s viewpoint. I’ve created a step-by-step guide on minting your first NFT as a complete newbie.

Read on to learn how to turn your awesome art into NFTs and sell them in minutes. 

But first —

Step 0: “I Don’t Know What an NFT Is.”

You’re reading this article, so I assume you know what NFTs are already, right?

“No”?

Say you didn’t; here’s a quick intro to NFTs and what they entail. Of course, feel free to skip this step if you do.

NFTs are digital collectibles stored on the blockchain. Usually, real-world collectibles like artworks and antique items are auctioned along with a certificate of authenticity. Well, NFTs work almost the same way, only they exist in digital formats.

NFTs allow you to ensure digital files (think pictures, videos, GIFs, and audio) exist as a sole unique copy. With NFTs, you can verify ownership for digital content, a laudable feat in itself.

NFTs themselves are rarely stored on the blockchain. Instead, the blockchain mints a unique token representing the file ownership and stores a reference to the actual file. “Minting” occurs when you turn your art into an NFT; you’re essentially creating a unique token on the blockchain that represents the art.

And with that out of the way, let’s move on to the next step: choosing a platform.

Step 1: Choose a Platform to Sell Your NFT on

NFT platforms and marketplaces are steadily growing in number, each with different features and fee models.

Instead of running through a long list of marketplaces (which would be exhaustive), we’ll list some beginner-friendly ones that will allow you to mint your first NFT easily.

Some of the biggest NFT marketplaces include OpenSea, Rarible, SuperRare, Mintable, NFT ShowRoom, Foundation, NBA Top Shot Marketplace, Axie Marketplace, and Nifty Gateway.

You can research each marketplace to decide which one is right for you. However, for this guide, we’ll be focusing on OpenSea since it’s a pretty good place to start for beginners — and Rarible, too.

OpenSea is a popular, beginner-friendly platform for buying and selling NFTs. There are no restrictions on who can be a creator, and you can mint NFTs without coding knowledge. OpenSea was one of the earliest marketplaces featuring all kinds of NFTs, from digital art to in-game items.

What’s better? OpenSea introduced “lazy minting.” This feature helps you avoid high transaction fees on the Ethereum blockchain (Rarible supports this too). You can upload your art, mint your NFT, and put it up for sale without paying expensive ‘gas’ fees.

OpenSea bundles gas fees with the bid price when a collector buys your art. That way, you can avoid paying to mint an NFT no one eventually picks up. 

(Just looking out for you. Okay, I’ll see myself out now.)

Now, let’s try to set up a wallet for your NFT adventures.

Step 2: Set Up a Crypto Wallet (and Buy Some Crypto)

The NFT market exists within the larger crypto space. You’ll need a compatible crypto wallet to buy, sell, and create NFTs, and interact with marketplaces. You’ll also need a wallet to pay listing fees on the marketplace and get paid in crypto when someone buys your art.

Thankfully, tons of crypto wallets are available for you to buy and store NFTs. Some popular wallets like MetaMask, Rainbow, and Coinbase Wallet are compatible with most marketplaces.

MetaMask is an excellent option for beginners, with over a million users worldwide. The wallet is available as a browser (Chrome and Firefox) extension and iOS/Android app. MetaMask connects easily with most NFT marketplaces, plus it has a straightforward setup process.

Again, feel free to skip ahead to step three if you’ve set up one of the recommended wallets.

Visit the MetaMask download page and download the browser extension or mobile app to get started. Once MetaMask is installed, click/tap the Create New Wallet button. You’ll receive a prompt to set a password (ensure it’s secure and easy to remember). 

Finally, MetaMask will generate 12 random words; a “seed phrase.” I wouldn’t worry too much about its meaning — just remember it’s essential to keep it safe. You’ll need the phrase if you’re locked out of your account or need to recover your wallet on a new device.

After you back up the recovery phrase, you’ll receive a prompt to re-enter it in the same order. Then, simply accept the terms, and your wallet is up and running. Once you’ve set up your wallet, you may want to consider buying crypto. You can grab some Ethereum (ETH) — just enough to cover gas fees.

Now that you’ve set up a compatible wallet (and bought some crypto), it’s time to upload your digital file on the marketplace.

Step 3: Create Your NFT

As I mentioned earlier, there are several marketplaces where you can sell your NFT. Again, we’ll go with OpenSea for illustrative purposes, but the entire process is relatively straightforward for other marketplaces.

To get started, visit the OpenSea website and click/tap the Create button in the navigation. You’ll receive a prompt to connect your wallet using the available wallet providers.

Select the MetaMask option and approve the signature request in your wallet. Something to keep in mind: you’ll have to reconnect after 24 hours to keep your wallet safe.

Voila! The Create New Item screen. 

You’ll need to upload the digital file and fill in information about your NFT. OpenSea accepts JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, GLB, and GLTF formats, up to 100 MB maximum.

Now would be a good time to let the creative juices flow. Pick a nice name and provide a detailed description of your item. You can also add an external link so users can learn more about the NFT.

You can ignore the Properties, Levels, and Stats fields for now. They make up the NFT metadata, but you often don’t need them unless you’re selling something like in-game items or characters. 

Toggling Unlockable Content will allow you to include an access code or link that only the NFT owner can reveal. Go ahead and toggle Explicit & Sensitive Content if you plan to upload some steamy pictures on OpenSea. By doing this, you’ll mark your item as NSFW and remove it from safe search results.

Select Ethereum in the Blockchain dropdown and set your supply to 1 since you’re minting a one-of-one NFT. Note that you won’t be able to modify the blockchain once you’ve created the NFT.

You can also sell your NFT on OpenSea with the Polygon network. Of course, you can avoid paying fees outright if you do this, but there’s a catch. Collectors won’t be able to buy your NFT using the Ethereum network, and they’ll need to migrate their crypto over to Polygon. 

Bottom line: extra gas fees and stress — you decide if it’s worth it.

Review the information and click Create to continue. You’ll see a yay! popup once you’ve created your NFT.

But it doesn’t end there. You probably guessed that, right?

You’ve just created your NFT, but OpenSea hasn’t listed it — at least not yet. Close the screen, and you can get to work on selling your NFT.

Click the blue Sell button on the item’s page (you can also go to your account and select your NFT in the Created tab). You have two listing options with NFTs created on Ethereum; a fixed price listing and a timed auction (Polygon only has the first option). 

The fixed price option is self-explanatory; you set an exact price for the NFT in ETH. Also, you’ll have to specify for how long the listing will remain available. The default duration is a day, three days, or a week, but you can set a custom duration in the calendar popup.

Your item becomes available for sale immediately you list it. So, what if you already have a deal with a buyer? You can lock in the NFT for them by pasting their address into the Reserve for specific buyer field.

Okay, let’s move on to auctions.

The timed auction is more complex, but it can be an exciting way to sell your NFT. OpenSea has two auction types: an English auction and a Dutch auction.

The English auction allows you to sell to the highest bidder. You can complete the sale yourself if the highest bid is below 1 ETH, but you don’t have to. However, OpenSea automatically completes the sale and pays the gas fees if the final bid is above 1 ETH. 

With a Dutch auction, like a fixed price listing, you set a starting price and an ending price. The price falls towards the ending price over the duration you set.

Unlike fixed-price listings, buyers bid with Wrapped ETH (WETH) in timed auctions. You can choose to accept bids at any time or even cancel the auction (you’ll pay a gas fee to do that, though).

Finally, click the Complete Listing button to put your NFT up for sale. You’ll have to sign a transaction with your wallet, either using the browser extension or the app, leading us to a nifty little problem. You’ve not sold an NFT on OpenSea before (most likely), so you’ll need to initialize your wallet by paying a one-time gas fee.

Remember that crypto you bought earlier? Well, it might come in handy now.

Once you click on Complete Listing, a “Register Proxy” transaction will appear in MetaMask. The gas fee fluctuates depending on the current network conditions. (Pro tip: You can monitor Ethereum gas fees and save money with Etherscan’s gas tracker.) You’ll see a signature request to approve the listing in your wallet, and after that, you’ll be able to finalize the sale. 

Final Thoughts

If you completed the necessary steps, the NFT will now appear in your OpenSea profile. Your entire NFT trading history is publicly available on the blockchain forever, so you can easily track the price movement. No doubt, creating an NFT can be a complicated process, but you might be motivated by the profit potential.

I’ve covered the basics points you need to note while creating NFTs. Now it’s up to you to bring your imagination to life, create beautiful art, and market your NFT to the crypto community.

Top NFT-Based Trading Card Games (TCGs)

NFT-based games integrate traditional gaming concepts with blockchain technology, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and other decentralized financial elements. 

Gamers are loving GameFi (the intersection of gaming and NFTs, and even DeFi) for three main reasons: 

  1. True ownership: While in conventional digital games, players can buy in-game assets, those assets don’t actually belong to them. On the other hand, NFT-based games give players complete control over their assets– in-game assets like cards, lands, avatars, or swords are NFTs.
  2. Verifiable rarity and uniqueness: Non-fungibility makes it possible for creators to make 100% unique tokens, as well as programming different rarity levels for the assets. Naturally, some items in games will be scarcer or more useful than others, and their value should reflect that. Since everything happens on the blockchain, it’s easy to verify the scarcity, uniqueness, and authenticity of each asset.
  • Opportunity to earn income while playing: These games implement play-to-earn mechanisms. By participating in games, players can earn cryptocurrencies and in-game items that have real-world value. Many games have their own secondary markets for trading.

NFT-Based trading card games are getting so much attention because they’re a perfect mesh for most any game genre, from role-playing games to fighting games. One of the most popular gaming categories is card trading. 

For many people, training card games, or TCGs, revive childhood memories of collectible card games while at the same time offering a new way of generating revenue.

In play-to-earn NFT-based card trading games, each card is a non-fungible token (NFT), usually in ERC-721 standards. They enable the play-to-earn mechanism using common elements found in GameFi, such as an in-game currency and a marketplace. 

Here are the top NFT-based trading card games. 

Gods Unchained

Gods Unchained is the most popular trading card game in the blockchain universe. It runs on Ethereum and Immutable X. 

Gods Unchained is a free-to-play fantasy-themed turn-based, tactical card game; players must build their decks based on a strategy. 

By playing the game, you can earn common core cards. Those cards can’t be traded on the marketplace; at this point, they are not minted on the blockchain. It’s possible to increase the value of these common cards, by earning “flux”, a resource gained by winning the ranked games.

Gods Unchained has a process called The Forge, in which players who have earned enough flux can merge two identical core cards into one by spending flux. This process creates higher-quality cards, and since the forged cards are minted on the blockchain, they can be sold on the blockchain, sometimes for a hefty profit. 

Splinterlands

Splinterlands game runs on the Hive blockchain. 

You can test the game for free, but to start playing, you need to buy a starter set for $10.You can get new cards by buying packs from the shop or individual items from other players in the marketplace. You can also sell your assets on this marketplace. 

One of the highlights of Splinterlands is its cross-compatibility with multiple blockchains, enabling users to trade their cards on several marketplaces. 

In addition to selling your cards, you can earn in Splinterlands by getting its in-game currency DEC (Dark Energy Crystals). There are a couple of ways to acquire DEC in the game. First, by winning ranked battles, and second by destroying the cards you don’t use anymore. You can use DEC to buy assets from the game’s shop.

Another way to earn on Splinterlands is renting your cards via peakmonsters.

Sorare

Sorare is a fantasy football game built on the Ethereum blockchain. 

You can collect player cards and build teams, and as with real-world trading card games, the real value comes from the most valuable player cards. Depending on the rarity of the card, it can get quite expensive.

The Sorare play-to-earn mechanism enables users to participate in tournaments, where users can earn points and rewards based on their team’s performance.

Dark Country Game

Dark Country is a trading card game on the WAX blockchain with gothic-themed characters like zombies, ghosts, and haunted Indians.

In addition to cards, players can own heroes, items, and lands as NFT assets. Players can stake Dark Country assets on rplanet.io and collect cards on collect.social to gain the platform’s Racoon tokens. 

Dark Country has a weekly forging activity similar to Gods Unchained’s The Forge called Heroes Reforge and Staking. Players need to burn four heroes of the same type in order to receive a new hero with better quality. They can then stake this improved asset to earn rewards.

Dark Country has recently introduced land assets compatible with WAX and Flow blockchains. 

With lands, several new revenue generation options will be possible soon, such as land leasing and staking the platform’s in-game currency Shadow Dime (SDM) on lands.

Final Thoughts: Emerging Exciting New TCG Projects

While some may argue that the game mechanics of most NFT-based games are primitive and “not quite there yet,” TCGs marry the simplicity of a trading card game with the blockchain very well. 

A few more exciting TCG projects to keep an eye on include:

  1. Skyweaver, a free-to-play Ethereum-based game in beta mode. Players have three grades of cards: base, silver, and gold. Base cards can’t be traded, but silver and gold cards can be. You earn silver cards via ranked rewards and conquest, and gold cards via conquest.
  2. Parallel,  a science-fiction-themed card game also based on the Ethereum blockchain. The team built its own NFT drop system. The project is currently raising funds by selling drops, which contain cards. These cards will have utilities once the game development is complete.
  3. Metropolis Origins, is a cyberpunk-themed card game by QXR Studios running on the WAX blockchain. It’s a sequel to game designer Graeme Devine’s adventure game Metropolis. The game released a founder NFT pack that enables owners to play the game in beta mode. 

The evolution of blockchain card games will be one to watch, as more implementations of conventional card games on the blockchain continue to emerge.  With NFTs’ programmable nature, we can expect to see the evolution of more dynamic, and potentially lucrative and competitive, playing card games in the near future. 

NFT Copyright: What Artists and Collectors Should Know

NFT art is soaring in popularity due to the blockchain’s ability to offer a multitude of features that appeal to both creators and collectors. 

Artists continue earning royalties for the same artwork from the sales in the secondary market, which isn’t possible in the traditional art scene. 

Collectors enjoy advantages that weren’t possible before blockchain technology, such as an undisputable artwork’s transaction history and provenance, scarcity, and liquidity. 

However, the NFT ownership concept is more complicated than meets the eye, and it often trips up many.

But what do I actually own? 

What if someone just screenshots your art? 

Can I sue someone if they print my NFT on a shirt?

The answer to all of these questions is a nebulous “it depends.”

When someone buys an art NFT, they don’t purchase the artwork itself but the token that represents it. 

Owning the token isn’t necessarily the same thing as owning the copyrights of the underlying asset, unless it was specified in the underlying contract. 

The following guide explores what NFT copyright is, and what both creators and collectors should know about their NFTs. 

Copyrights and intellectual property rights

Copyright is a bundle of rights that specify what’s ok and what isn’t, regarding things like reproducing and distributing copies of the work, preparing derivatives based on the original work, displaying the work in public, and performing the work publicly, as regulated by 17 U.S. Code § 106.

Purchasing an NFT doesn’t transfer these rights to the buyer automatically. Unless an external agreement (17 U.S. Code § 204) is made between the artist and the purchaser,  the artist who created the original artwork remains the copyright holder.

The artist can transfer the copyright, grant a license for specific purposes, or limit the NFT’s use in some way. Agreements used for transferring rights must be coded in the smart contracts or expressed in written terms elsewhere.

Intellectual property (IP) is a broader concept that can refer to any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. Patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets all fall into the realm of IP.

Again, the only way an NFT buyer can retain IP rights is through an explicit agreement signed by the creator of the original artwork.

Standard license agreements for NFT ownership confer the rights to use, copy, display, resale, and gift NFTs. Granting a license of copyright and IP to the buyer through smart contracts or external agreements is also common. Some NFT projects permit commercial use, like CryptoKitties. 

CryptoKitty owners can use them to commercialize their own merchandise, given that they don’t earn more than $100K per year. Another well-known NFT project, Bored Ape Yacht Club, has generous IP terms similar to CryptoKitties. For example, owners are allowed to create characters around their apes or print them on their personal belongings.

Copyright Terms of NFT Marketplaces 

Although there’ll always be exceptions, we can say that in open marketplaces like Opensea and Rarible, artists license the NFTs to the buyer and not to the marketplace.

In marketplaces where only exclusive NFT collections are sold, the marketplace usually owns the NFTs and the related IP rights, like in the case of NBA Top Shot.

Curated marketplaces like Superrare, MakersPlace, and Nifty Gateway, artists are expected to grant licenses for display, distribution, and derivative rights, for promotional activities. Some marketplaces require artists not to mint multiple NFTs for the same artwork.

On Rarible and MakersPlace, artists can apply a custom license to their NFTs, in addition to platforms’ own standard agreements.

When an NFT is resold, the general practice is that any resale activity terminates the former owner’s rights and the current owner of that NFT becomes the new license holder.

NFT Copyright: What You Should Know as a Collector 

As a rule of thumb, NFT owners generally only have the copyrights to resale and gift their NFTs. Please don’t assume you can create derivatives of the underlying artworks and sell them for commercial purposes by default. 

Some projects may be cool with it, others may not. 

Some projects may give holders every possible right under the sun with their NFT, whereas others insist on keeping the project’s branding, and every NFT, held close. 

Always research the related platform’s license terms and conditions yourself if your intentions are beyond reselling the artwork in the secondary market. Otherwise, copyright infringement issues may arise.

It would help if you also bought only on platforms you trust. Always double-check if the artist verifies the related artwork as theirs. In May 2021, artist Xcopy, a famous figure in the crypto art community, tweeted about a fraud regarding his art on a new platform called Hen. 

This isn’t a rare event in the NFT world; always check if you’re buying an original work of art.

NFT Copyright: What you Should Know as an Artist

Artists should only mint their own creations. If the work is done in collaboration with others, their authorization is necessary.

It seems obvious, but in the Wild West vibe of early NFT marketplaces, it seems that you can get away with minting shoddy reproductions of other works. 

Remember how the blockchain tracks every transaction ever? While NFT copyright law is in its wobbly baby deer leg phases now, it’s not difficult to algorithmically track financial and copyright crimes. 

In the NFT world, many frauds take place. If you happen to discover your art is being sold as an NFT by someone else without your consent, you can claim copyright infringement against the sellers.

As stated above, unless you transfer the copyrights to buyers with an external agreement, you hold the copyrights of your work. However, if you did the NFT artwork initially under an employment contract, it might be regarded as work for hire, according to 17 U.S. Code § 101. In this case, the employer might hold the copyrights.

As a precaution against people with bad intentions, you can release your artwork as an NFT before sharing it with someone else.

Finally, like collectors, artists should also be wary of the platform they sell their art and terms and conditions regarding copyrights.  

Final Thoughts: Expect NFT Copyright Law to Evolve

Both collectors and artists should be aware that NFT technology is very new and many issues regarding IP rights are not completely clear. 

Understanding the underlying technology is necessary for both parties, along with the legal aspects. In case of conflicts, consulting lawyers for legal advice is inevitable.

What is NFT Metadata & How Does It Work?

The word “meta” is all the rage lately since the Facebook name re-brand, but let’s get our crypto fundamentals in order before everything is referred to as metadata. 

A Non-Fungible Token (NFT) is a token that represents a single specific digital asset, whether that be a .JPEG file, .GIF, .MP4, or whatever else. That file itself can’t be hosted on the Ethereum blockchain, so it’s hosted off-chain. NFT metadata specifies what that data is and includes things like the visual or auditory asset and other information like transactional history. 

NFT metadata is essentially a workaround to avoid the technical and financial catastrophe (or, impossibility, rather) of hosting large files natively on-chain on Ethereum or other blockchain environments. 

For example, if you wanted to run a full Ethereum node, you’d have to download the full Ethereum blockchain of about 1,050 GB (the archival nodes, or the entirety of the Ethereum blockchain since it launched, is about 9,000 GB). 

That’s to run the entire Ethereum network– yes, all ETH-related matters, DeFi, NFTs, and dApps make up just under 1,100 GB. 

In comparison, a 1080 full-feature length movie is about 2 to 4 GB on its own, and most high-quality images can be around 2 to 20 MB. There simply isn’t a way to store these files on the Ethereum blockchain because it would make running the network prohibitively storage and data-consuming.

How expensive are we talking? Gemini estimates that simply storing 1 GB of data on the Ethereum blockchain costs about 17,500 ETH (or $75.75 million as of November 2021). The costs to simply just store a blockbuster movie like James Cameron’s Avatar on the Ethereum blockchain would be more than the costs of making the $237 million film. 

That’s where NFT metadata comes in. It’s a careful balance of utilizing the blockchain without burdening it with the data. 

But, NFT metadata existing off-chain creates a few other issues, which we’ll get into below. 

Let’s Get Technical: NFT Metadata

We’ll use the classic Ethereum ERC-721 token standard for the following NFT discussion.

Each ERC-721 contains a “metadata” string in its definition, which defines what the non-fungible token actually is. For example, this metadata could point to a specific .JPEG, which makes all the difference; although a CryptoPunk .JPEG and a DeadFellaz .JPEG are of comparable file size, they’re worth significantly different amounts. 

The crux of the matter that trips people up about NFT metadata is where exactly files are stored off-chain– is it a Google Drive of some sorts? Is it some Amazon Web Services file storage? Who runs the show of hosting NFT metadata online?

Each NFT references the visual or auditory (image, audio, etc) file that exists online somewhere. It makes a request for the content at a specific location, which returns the content for you to see or hear. NFTs usually point to an IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) hash or an HTTP URL somewhere on the Internet. 

This “somewhere” is generally hosted by the website that hosts the NFT. ERC-721s specify metadata in a standardized JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format, that looks something like this

The information is stored as a URI (Universal Resource Identifier) inside the Ethereum contract, rather than a JSON; storing a JSON would be prohibitively expensive and resource-demanding. The URI string, however, points to a location where the user can find the token’s JSON description. 

The token’s metadata exists as a permanent, unalterable record on the blockchain, and this record describes what the token represents (its URI string to JSON), the token’s ownership and transaction history. The JSON file contains the image’s name, description, URL of where it’s hosted, and sometimes more granular information like the project’s total supply, type of encryption, and a unique signature. 

Limitations of NFTs 

This JSON metadata typically only identifies the asset, and doesn’t provide much in-depth information beyond the bare essentials. 

The data isn’t very searchable or readable by other smart contracts, which is a kink and limitation of the Ethereum network that multiple projects are attempting to address. 

The data is created by the token minters, who actually own the NFT contract. However, users can’t update the data, for better or for worse, which can be problematic for a few reasons.

For one, as we’ve seen in the evolving Internet ecosystem, links can break. Since the NFT metadata links you to somewhere else to view the art, if that link dies, you’ll essentially be pointing to a very expensive 404 error page. The JSON data can’t be updated by users, and neither can the links be fixed. 

The crux of the issue is that if the data were able to be updated, the inherent value of the NFT could be compromised. For example, let’s say a malicious third-party found an exploit to change all the Bored Ape Yacht Club image metadata with pictures of real-world apes found on Google; the market would respond, and likely negatively.

Hosting Mechanisms also have their fair share of limitations:

  1. HTTP server owners could theoretically change the content of a specific server to whatever they like.
  2. IPFS is designed for decentralized hosting, but is still operated by centralized entities like NFT marketplaces that serve the role of IPFS nodes that keep the gateway live. 

Final Thoughts: What is NFT Metadata Exactly?

As we’ve learned, NFT metadata is the second of the two key pieces to the NFT value proposition. 

The first is that NFTs have a unique ID that distinguishes each token as unique from every other token. The ERC-721 tokenization standard utilizes Ethereum smart contracts to record transfers and changes of ownership of each particular NFT, which is a fairly computation-heavy endeavor. This is why gas fees are generally much higher for trading or minting NFTs compared to simply sending ETH on the network. 

NFT metadata is baked into the second fundamental feature that makes NFTs tick. NFTs can link to data external to their smart contract, essentially allowing the network to reference data that exists off-chain. This keeps the computational costs of running NFTs on a network like Ethereum lower than they would be. 

The Non-Fungible Token that defines the provenance of an asset lives on the blockchain, whereas the asset itself typically lives off-chain. There are few exceptions; for example, OnChain Monkeys is a collection created entirely on chain with a single transaction.  There is no file storage solution needed since the entire collection is hosted on-chain. 

Are NFTs Truly Decentralized Art?

There are quite a bit of misunderstandings around NFTs. Many people think NFTs are minted on the Ethereum blockchain through a platform like Rarible and — voila! — the art is non-fungible and lives forever in a decentralized manner on the blockchain. But that’s not entirely the case. NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens” are really only non-fungible to the extent that it refers to the actual token, not the underlying artwork or rare asset itself. As such, the token and the “asset” it represents are two completely different things.

Huh?

Okay, let’s rewind a bit here. Although NFTs are often associated with digital art or GIFs these days, the reality is that they are better understood as a class of assets that are non-fungible. The $10 bill you used to pay for the coffee this morning? Fungible. The fingerprint you left on the bill when paying? Non-fungible. But is your fingerprint an asset? Debatable, depending on how much fingerprints go for on the black market these days (a joke, relax). But a key thing to remember is that non-fungible does not classify an object as rare, nor does it ensure that it is ‘rare’ or even decentralized.

This concept was probably best illustrated with a recent “rug pull” stunt conducted by one clever sculptor on the OpenSea platform. The artist exchanged the original JPEG images that the collectors thought they were purchasing with random pictures of rugs after the sale concluded. The intent of the stunt was to highlight the inherent problem of the current NFT infrastructure — which is mostly built on the Ethereum blockchain. By purchasing the NFT, the buyer would simply own the token to authenticate the JPEG listed on OpenSea, which at the time of purchase was a dope piece of art. But because the underlying digital asset itself is not decentralized, and might be stored on a central server somewhere such as on AWS or GCS, the buyer has no control in terms of what the NFT itself represents.

In other words, the non-fungibility is currently applied to the token representing the transaction of the purchase — not necessarily the owner of the physical (or digital) piece of art.

This is a common problem in the NFT sphere, as buyers often misunderstand the underlying infrastructure of the art they are buying, which can be problematic when there isn’t a physical equivalent of the purchase, ie: a digital GIF.

With most NFT marketplaces being built on Ethereum, another key problem is raised. The Ethereum network is often congested by other sectors such as DeFi, which eat up the majority of the bandwidth and exponentially raises the prices for minting and transacting NFTs. When compounded with the previously outlined problem, it is easy to see why the NFT art space is not the perfect picture it is painted to be after all.

This is where a platform like Pastel can paint a brighter future. Unlike Rarible or OpenSea, Pastel has built its own layer 1 blockchain to compete with Ethereum based platforms. This brings with it an innate advantage because the underlying architecture is designed to be perfectly outfitted and purpose-built for the sole use case for digital art and other rare digital assets, rather than being a do-it-all blockchain like Ethereum. With fewer projects demanding bandwidth, minting and trading NFTs on Pastel is significantly lighter on your (digital) wallet as well due to very low gas costs

In regards to the main problem of preventing “rug pulls”, Pastel ensures that the art (or other NFT) itself is uploaded, verified, and registered on the Pastel blockchain — rather than just the token it is minted with. Through a series of smart tickets living on the Pastel ledger, artists can store their masterpieces in a distributed fashion across a variety of Supernodes as opposed to just ensuring the token is non-fungible. This sophisticated storage layer, leveraging the RaptorQ fountain code algorithm, ensures that each asset is broken up and stored in a series of redundant, fungible chunks. These sets of chunks ar ethen distributed across the network using the Kademlia DHT algorithm. So what does this really mean? In short, even if over 90% of hosted instances suddenly go down, the remaining information can be reconstructed quickly and there is no possibility of the artwork disappearing.

So the next time you purchase an NFT, make sure you understand how and where your rare digital asset is stored — so that you won’t have the rug pulled out from underneath you.

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