What is NFT art, how does it function, and what does it signify for the creative industry?

If you didn’t hear of NFTs or NFT art, check your internet connection. NFT discussion has essentially shattered the internet in the previous 4-5 months. The hot subject has left millions asking what it is and how it may work for them, from sites like TikTok and Twitter to CNN News.

Its recent popularity has the potential to transform the creative business. “What’s in it for me?” I’m here to ask as a graphic designer and artist. Let’s start with an explanation.

What is NFT art?

An NFT is a digital asset that lives entirely in the digital realm—it cannot be touched, yet it may be owned. An NFT can be any digital item, including artwork, articles, music, and memes like “Disaster Girl,” whose original photo sold for $500k earlier this year.

‘Non Fungible Token’ stands for ‘Non Fungible Token,’ but what exactly does it mean? To begin, it’s important to understand what a ‘Fungible Token’ is. If we think of it in terms of money, a $100 bill can be exchanged for five $20 bills and still retain its value, indicating that it is a fungible token.

If Banksy signs this $100 note, it becomes a really one-of-a-kind item. Its worth becomes considerably more difficult to assess because it is no longer just worth five $20 notes. This indicates that a Non Fungible Token cannot be exchanged for another token of the same value. It also indicates that, like any other investment, its value may rise or fall in the future depending on market conditions.

What we’re most curious in is how this new, digital way of selling art will effect artists and the creative sector.

Beeple, detail from ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’, 2021, digital. Photo © Christie’s

What do NFTs mean for creators?

Ownership of digital art

Prior to the invention of Cryptocurrency, we had never had the opportunity to own something entirely digital. We shared films and motion graphics around, reworking and reposting them, but there was no way to immediately assume total, real ownership of a digital file or artwork at the time. The emergence of NFTs has changed this, giving creators the power to rent, sell, and exhibit digital artworks as they see fit.

Designers must get ‘legal’ ownership of their creation before they may market it. As a result, when NFT art is made, it gets’minted’ or tokenized on Blockchain, a cryptocurrency service. The Blockchain is a digital transaction system that preserves data in a way that makes it incredibly difficult to hack or defraud, making it ideal for monitoring copyright ownership and keeping track of creative records. Any digital masterpiece you make and mint should theoretically lead only to you.

In the end, this process should allow digital artists to get legitimate acknowledgement for their work, similarly to how Gustav Klimt is acknowledged with his famed picture The Kiss. The problem with this brand-new notion is that, while Blockchain has contracts in place to support the legality of cryptoart minting and violating copyrights, none of them have yet been proven or tested in court.

Artists have already come forward to say that fraudsters have forged and sold their work. But, given the absence of suitable legal support or any prior legislation on the subject, it is uncertain what these artists will be able to accomplish.

A novel way to generate income

NFT art is a brand-new technique of classifying digital artworks that allows creators to profit from their work. It’s designed to be a more efficient and accessible method for designers to create work and profit from their talent. There’s no chasing clients for cash, no preparing files for print, no waiting for feedback, and no revising and editing your work to meet the demands of a client.


Some NFT art includes royalties for the artist, which means the artist might get 8-10% of any future sales if the artwork is sold again. This is dependent on the artist’s platform; for example, Zora is an NFT platform with the “Creative Share” feature, which allows users to buy and exchange artworks right away.

NFTs can’t stand on their own.

Another aspect of the NFT pandemic that is having a significant impact on the design industry is value. What is the worth of a physical artwork vs a virtual piece of art? The value of NFTs and CryptoArt is also totally determined by the value of Cryptocurrency. Because NFTs are traded on the basis of Ethereum, which is then converted into monetary value, one NFT, for example, sells for 2 Ethereum, which is around $2,255 in US dollars. However, if the value of Ethereum falls, so does the value of the artwork: the artwork’s worth is inextricably linked to the cryptocoin.

A global reach

Previously, the elite, prestigious world of art acquiring and selling took place mostly in actual venues involving tangible artworks. Designers and artists used to get money via real-world events like exhibits and fairs, but due to current global events, many of these outlets have been shut down. Because of the advent of NFT trading, art collection has been able to shift online, allowing many artists on a worldwide scale who may not have had the opportunity to sell their work to purchasers to do so.

Similarly, many graphic designers find it difficult to maintain a consistent source of income without taking on odd jobs or unrelated labor. Stability is a slow-blooming flower that can be found in loyal clientele or a steady, timely rotation of projects. However, if you aren’t already well-known, it might be difficult to get into this cutthroat sector. As a result, the speed with which an NFT might produce revenue could conceivably create a tidal wave of opportunity for a large number of creatives, particularly those from less fortunate backgrounds.

NFT platforms, like social media, give designers instant access to a worldwide audience. Additionally, having an established online following may frequently assist artists in gaining visibility in the NFT market. Working out how to turn their viewers into purchasers is the difficult part for designers. You, like any other business, must identify your target audience and learn how to build an emotional bond with them. This implies you’ll have to research brand tactics to see what works best for you. Take a closer look at your marketing strategy if you don’t currently have much of an internet presence.

Inclusivity versus exclusivity

The art sector of NFTs claims to establish a welcoming and safe atmosphere for digital artists to make a living. Whether your speciality is realistic, 3D motion graphics or blocky pixels like the Nyan Cat movie (which sold for $600,00), anybody with access to a computer can develop an NFT and have it go viral. For millions of creatives throughout the world, this has the potential to be life-changing.

However, one thing to keep in mind is the cost of the minting price. To have their artwork’minted’ on Blockchain, designers must outbid each other. Prices vary based on the time and network, but they often range from $80 to $1000. This charge does not guarantee sales for designers, but it does prevent them from listing their work on the market if they do not pay it.

A hefty ecological footprint

One point of contention in the field of NFT artworks is their influence on the environment. Joanie Lemercier, a French artist, recently made headlines after her NFT sold out in 10 seconds, earning her thousands of euros. Isn’t it incredible? What he couldn’t predict was how much energy this transaction would consume: the equivalent of his studio’s energy use over a two-year period, which is 8.7 megawatt-hours.

The artist, who had hoped to sell work online as an environmentally beneficial alternative to hauling physical work across the world’s museums, was shocked when his seller resold the artwork, which required the same amount of energy. Lemercier went on to issue a statement detailing the lack of openness he encountered when studying cryptoart platforms’ energy use.

The fact that NFT artworks are so resource-intensive is unsurprisingly unsettling for many designers. However, this problem isn’t limited to cryptoart trade; it’s part of a larger problem involving the digital method known as “proof of work.” Proof of work has grown from its inception in the early 1990s to be primarily utilized in cryptocurrency mining to produce and mint tokens such as bitcoin and ethereum. High-powered computers fight to obtain the most bitcoin, which necessitates the use of a large quantity of electricity.

Greener options are being developed, but as long as bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency, this environmentally destructive procedure is necessary for any creators intending to sell their work as NFTs.

Does the NFT art industry have longevity?

The answer is that we’re not sure! NFT pricing plummeted by 70% in April, but with so much potential, it’s doubtful that NFT art will go out of style very soon.

Personally, I do not feel this is a fad; I believe we have been moving toward a majority digital era for the past decade, and this is simply the next step in that process. As a graphic designer, I make and prepare most of my work for print, yet all of my work is done digitally, so it feels like a missed opportunity not to develop an NFT. This, I believe, will be true for many designers. There is far too much potential in the NFT world.

NFT art: to sum up

The sale of crypto or NFT art has the ability to change the whole creative sector; its emergence is merely the start of something that future generations will seem ordinary. However, the early world of NFT art fails to hold up as a trustworthy, inclusive platform for selling digital art. We’ll be watching to see what happens next, and we’re hoping the tide will flip in favor of designers.