7 Things to Do With Your NFT Art
Potential Pastimes with Programmable Pixel Paintings
Crypto-Art vs. JPEGs 🖼
What is “crypto-art,” exactly? 🤔 The term can (and should) refer to more than just the visuals tied to an NFT smart contract (we’ve had jpegs on the internet for decades, after all). If that were the case, the “Right click, save as…” meme-argument that anyone can simply save the media file and use it as they please is completely valid. I admit - I totally shared this scepticism at the start (don’t kill me 😓), but through ongoing study and experience, the financial and utility value that NFTs enabled began to sink in. Moreover, I could appreciate the cultural value held in some NFTs, amidst a greater generational shift towards valuing digital assets and culture over traditional metrics of wealth.
Buyers of NFT art aren’t just buyers. They are buying a part of the artist’s journey, and have a vested interest in the success of the artist’s brand. Though this has historically been the case for most art collectors, we’ve never seen it at the scale, pace, and participation as in the NFT space.
Online communities have shown that they value NFTs as status symbols, only instead of Rolex watches, basketball cards, and oil paintings, we like CryptoPunks, NBA Top Shot Moments, and Beeple art drops, just to name a few. This relates to ways collectors can flex their digital assets (covered in sections 3 and 4 below) in a world where younger generations are willing to pay real money for virtual assets at prices that often exceed their physical counterparts (prepare for the coming Metaverse…).
How difficult would it be for a private entity to own a nationally and/or historically significant treasure like the Mona Lisa or the Taj Mahal (non-fungible) compared to a Lambo or a bunch of company stock (semi-fungible/fungible)? A piece of art doesn’t have a sports car engine or a balance sheet, but it can have deep meaning to society. NFTs democratize the ownership of culture in a natively-digital form, with which anyone can experience and appreciate the art, but only one or a few can own it.
There’s a difference between holding a one-of-one piece of NFT art in your wallet vs. a jpeg saved on your device, just as there’s a difference between hanging the Mona Lisa on your wall vs. tacking up a poster. 🖼
Anyways…that’s not why you’re here today!
Now that you own those cool pieces of digital culture or are planning on picking some up soon, what do you do with them? Letting them sit in your wallet and waiting for “number go up” is nice and all, but here are 7 ideas to help make the experience of NFT art ownership a bit more interesting!
1. Build an Art Collection
Okay, let’s start with an obvious one. There’s an inherent collectibility and connection that owners have towards their NFTs vs. fungible tokens (no one’s buying Dogecoins at Sotheby’s any time soon). Many crypto-art collectors share a bond with an artist’s message and style, and are naturally inclined to own more than just a single piece. A Fidenza here and an XCOPY there is nice for variety, but seeing them next to each other in an exhibition might be a little jarring.
Popular recent NFT art projects are often composed of a capped number of unique NFTs that share similar aesthetic traits or themes that tie them together as a collection (see the Avatar NFTs section of my recent article on NFT collectibles for more details). While one-of-one pieces created by a single artist will always have their place for art collectors, collections that use mediums that scale well, such as tokenized photography and generative art are well-suited to leverage NFT tech and open the door for more collectors to hold a part of a collection.
Many artists will also release their works as editions (set number of copies) of a limited collection (i.e. a one-time drop on Nifty Gateway). For collectors, the thrill of hunting for that last missing NFT and the satisfaction of completing a set is a huge driver. Again, NFTs are the perfect technology to fulfill this innate drive in a modern, digital world.
Finally, there are artists in the space like FVCKRENDER who reward early supporters and holders of previous works with community perks like airdrops of new pieces, minting passes, and exclusive experiences with the artist (covered further in #7).
2. Hustle & Trade
This one’s pretty self-explanatory, so we’ll keep it brief. Price speculation is rampant in markets as new and crazy as NFTs, and a lot of NFT art is bought and sold as a trade. Whether flipping was the initial intent or an offer that couldn’t be refused came along, reselling NFTs is a potential option, depending on demand. That said, even though NFT markets are a bit more liquid than physical art markets, it’s still very low by most metrics relative to the fungible cryptocurrency markets.
Regardless of the seller’s intent, the sale of an artist’s NFTs can have positive effects:
Financial support to the artist (both via the original purchase and potentially through royalties on secondary sales). Ideally, both the reseller and the artist book a profit, and the buyer gewts what they want (win-win-win scenario 🤞).
Exposure of the artist’s work to a wider audience.
More liquidity for a less volatile marketplace; better price discovery.
NFT traders often recommend buying in multiples, as it can be difficult sometimes to part with your favorite piece from a collection, especially if its the only one you own.
3. Create Online Galleries
As the verifiable owner of a tokenized masterpiece, it would be downright disrespectful to deprive the world of its message by locking it up in cold storage, no? Besides, those that hold in-demand NFTs want to flaunt them to friends and followers, like we’ve seen this year with the craze for NFT collectibles as profile pics. The artists and teams behind the projects no doubt appreciate the free publicity too.
As the trend towards spending more of our social and working lives online continues, so too becomes the importance of how we express ourselves and how we are perceived by others virtually. Sharing your NFT art collection online is a logical choice, and there are many cool ways to do it:
Even if you aren’t actively selling, most NFT marketplaces (i.e. Rarible, OpenSea, and H☰N) will provide you with a profile page that shows all the NFTs in your wallet, and includes them in public search results. These are basic, no-effort ways to share an NFT art collection like a visual catalog. Other marketplaces may also provide proprietary apps to showcase user collections (OpenSea recently released their first mobile app).
Social Network Showcases & Gallery DApps
Sure, there’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but they all lack Web3 wallet support for NFTs at the time of writing this. At best, you can download and repost the NFT art, but more interesting are platforms like the following that are seeing rapid adoption by the crypto-art community:
Flawnt is a generator for online galleries/slideshows connected directly to a user’s wallet.
Lazy has gone from a way to create a shareable gallery from all NFTs held in any number of wallets a user owns, to a full, AI-powered discovery engine and direct sale marketplace. The pace of growth isn’t surprising, considering it was backed by investors like Mark Cuban from Shark Tank earlier this year.
Rainbow is a really cool app for viewing NFTs held by any Ethereum address (supports ENS name search too).
Cyber is a browser-based, VR-ready gallery generator for NFT collectors. It has become the preferred way to share NFT art online by many connoisseurs in the NFT community, including Vincent Van Dough and Mark Cuban.
Showtime is an NFT gallery platform that aims to become the social network of choice for connecting NFT art communities. They are also integrated with Polygon (an EVM-compatible Ethereum side-chain), and recently announced support for free NFT minting!)
Gallery.so is an unreleased gallery dApp that is currently accepting applicants for its beta platform (requires an email and a Twitter handle).
Portfolio Management Dashboards
Mainly used for tracking cryptocurrencies and DeFi (decentralized finance) shenanigans, a few of these protocols have built great NFT features as well. Simply connect via your digital wallet (i.e. Metamask) or enter the wallet address of a big-ticket collector you follow (this is an excellent way to feel very poor, very fast, by the way)! 👀
Zapper and Zerion are similar DeFi dashboard dApps that track cryptocurrencies held in a single wallet. They both now have visual support for NFTs, and Zerion even has a live price feed for NFTs indexed on OpenSea.
NFTBank is an NFT portfolio manager with various features that should appeal to collectors from all experience levels.
Trust Wallet is a very secure, multi-blockchain non-custodial wallet dApp that even supports NFTs! Argent, a “social recovery wallet,” just announced a similar feature. Of course, using wallet apps as galleries would require them to be a very private galleries, but worth mentioning. They also have integration with blockchain domains (which are also NFTs themselves).
To use any of these services, you’ll need to hold your NFTs in a non-custodial wallet (I recently updated my previous article on digital wallets, if you need a refresher). Expect to see a greater abundance of sophisticated NFT gallery websites, mobile apps, social networks, and digital wallets to continue to emerge moving forward (Mark Cuban-backed Nifty’s is one I’m watching).
Some even speculate that if/when NFTs represent credentials (i.e. course certification, work references, credit ratings) and event attendance (i.e. learning bootcamps, VIP conferences, etc. - have you heard of POAPs yet, by the way? 👈) in the future, that NFTs and wallets could be treated similar to how resumes and memberships are today (just keep your professional account separate from your degen account).
In other words, your inventory will be your identity.
For a more immersive experience, blockchain-based virtual worlds (sometimes called “Metaverse” games) are online communities where the majority of the content is created by the users themselves. If you’re familiar with titles such as Minecraft and Roblox, you’ll see similarities right away. Unlike these mainstream games, the blockchain versions all integrate NFTs, and give users the ability to own their in-game assets, and in some cases, part of the game itself.
In most of the platforms we’ll look at, the virtual land inside these games is an NFT as well. Players can buy and sell them like digital real estate properties, but the real fun is for those that build. In some cases, the in-game structures built on the land itself is the art (think virtual gallery installations or some architecture projects). NFT art galleries are just one of many creative projects users are building in their virtual spaces. The most popular ones are:
The Sandbox, a Roblox-esque platform that offers Game Maker tools to builders (no coding required). Very nice presentation, and owned by Animoca Brands, one of the more ambitious gaming companies in the NFT gaming space.
CryptoVoxels, an easy-to-share browser-based virtual world builder with many user-built galleries already. Galleries often feature pieces with links to NFTs for sale, so users can buy as they explore. Many NFT marketplaces have also set up shop on this platform - take a look at Async Art HQ. 👀
Nifty Island, an upcoming virtual social hub where every user can own and build on their virtual island. 🏝 Basic islands will be free, so why. not pick one up at launch!
OnCyber, worth mentioning again for its adoption by the NFT community and ease of creating an immersive VR experience.
Each platform seems to have developed its own unique niche and communities, but most are still developing their products, with limited support NFTs that aren’t in-game items. In most cases, NFT art probably can’t be simply drag-and-dropped into a virtual gallery without some custom coding. Leave a comment if you’d like to see me to try it out and document it step by step, along with which platform you prefer.
4. Show Them Off in Real Life
There’s always the option of displaying the art itself on a physical medium. We’ve seen temporary exhibitions here and there that showcase NFT art on digital displays, but earlier this year, plans for permanent galleries such as Vellum in LA and an NFT museum in New York were announced. Prepare to see NFTs you’ve seen on Art Blocks and Open Sea begin to creep into the art exhibition circuit in a city near you in the near future!
For NFT art collectors who want something a bit more impressive than a custom background on their phone/PC and hoping onlookers catch a glimpse, consider investing in a dedicated electronic display and/or the quality printing solutions we cover below.
For a modern spin on a traditional approach, several products have come to market for displaying digital media in physical spaces in ways that don’t clash with the existing decor. If you’re in the market for a snazzy NFT display, here are a few options:
Async Art has an app for Apple TV to turn your compatible entertainment system into an NFT slideshow.
Likewise for Google TV users, Nifty Gateway has an Android app that’s got you covered (currently in open beta).
TokenCast is a nifty app that not only lets NFT owners display their art collection, but also has a convenient QR code feature to link the art on screen to the NFTs themselves.
For the NFT connoisseur, the museum-grade Luma Canvas might be an acceptable option. 🎩
Infinite Objects loops single videos, and offers a straight-forward, relatively less pricy introductory option for displaying digital art.
No matter how sophisticated technology gets, there’s something special about seeing and feeling art on paper or material. Art Blocks created this informative article which recommends making sure that your print order meets the following criteria:
Giclée printing (pronounced zhee-KLAY)
Acid-free paper (preferably cotton rag)
Grams per square meter (GSM) over 200
The great thing about having digitally-native NFT art (for stills, at least) depicted in a physical form is that it isn’t a total loss if it gets stolen or damaged, since you still always have the digital original. Having your favorite NFT-art hanging in your living room is also a great conversation starter to introduce newbies to the NFT space (and sharing NFT Droplets is a great way to keep that conversation going 😅👇).
Physical printing can, of course, go beyond paper art prints. Commercial artists today often use their work on physical merchandise, such as clothing, dishes, art books, pins, etc. For personal enjoyment, this is usually okay (under current copyright laws), but it can also seep into the next section.
5. Put Them to Commercial Use
⚠ Disclaimer ⚠ None of the following is legal advice.
As the owner (but not the creator) of a piece of tokenized art, can we ethically and legally profit from our collection without selling the pieces themselves? For example, printing the art on t-shirts and selling them online, or leasing the IP tied to the NFT for royalties.
Note that not all NFTs are created equal when it comes to copyright and commercial usage. We will definitely cover this topic deeper in an upcoming article, as it can be a very nascent, grey area. In the majority of cases, unless clearly stated by the artist(s), the creator of the NFT art, not the owner of the NFT, retains all copyrights and control of the narrative over the work.
However, there are some projects that explicitly state that the NFT owner not only owns the NFT, but also full copyright over the NFT art itself. The most notable example at the moment is Bored Apes Yacht Club, in which NFT owners not only have the right to create derivatives of their ape (i.e. build their own project or a brand on top of it), but also to put it to commercial use and earn revenue. Given the following that BAYC continues to attract, this makes NFTs from this project potentially valuable to existing brands.
6. Get a Loan
Yes, you read that right! There are several projects available (and many more in development) that are innovating (and gamifying) DeFi with NFTs. Depending on the value and demand for a particular NFT, collectors can utilize their jpeg collections in DeFi protocols and secure funds without needing to sell. Here are a couple ways:
As collateral for loans, in which NFTs are typically held in a smart contract in exchange for a cryptocurrency like $ETH worth a portion of the market value for the NFT. Earlier this year, AAVE, one of the largest lending protocols in DeFi, announced plans for lending products collateralized by NFTs.
Fractionalization, which is the practice of locking the NFT(s) in a smart contract that mints fungible tokens that represent ownership of the underlying NFT(s). Fractional.art is a prime example. Caution is heavily recommended, as fractionalizing NFTs could fall under securities laws, depending on your region.
NFTs, their investment applications, and the potential they hold in DeFi are much more involved topics than what we can cover here. I’m hoping to explore them with much more depth in future article(s).
7. Access a Community
As mentioned at the beginning, holding a piece of NFT art is like owning a part of culture - it is becoming one of the most direct methods for fans to connect with their favorite artists or brands (and vice versa). Those who own NFTs want to show that they are part of a community and/or show their support for an artist. We see this all over Twitter and Discord today with user profile pics (which has always been a thing on social media and online games, but never like today, where we are seeing professional athletes, mega celebrities, and even credit card companies aping in),
Some NFTs even unlock exclusive community perks, such as access to private Discord servers and exclusive live events. Since the provenance and full ownership history of an NFT is verifiable, many creators are also realizing that creating ongoing value for for early supporters, patrons, and current collectors is integral in growing (and keeping) their fanbase. It also forms a virtuous cycle, as owners are more incentivized to hold on to their NFTs and promote the artist and their work. This is the true creator economy.
0. (Most Important) Enjoy the Experience!
Let’s end on a less pragmatic note to end our list. Ideally, every NFT in your art collection resonates with you and evokes an emotional response, as all good art should! The great thing about NFTs is that because their value can be very subjective and uniquely personal, you’re less likely to feel ripped-off or get-rekt by participating in the world of tokenized art, but only if you follow some simple rules:
Buy what you like. Buy what you can afford. (not financial advice 👈)
Whether you’re new to the NFT space, or you’re already an avid collector of NFT art, I hope this article gave you some good ideas of things you can do with your collection. These were just seven of the cool things we are seeing people do with their NFT art today - I’m sure I missed a bunch, so please do share the things you do with your NFT art that I didn’t cover here. I always appreciate reading your questions, suggestions, and feedback!
Given the rapid pace of adoption, innovation, and the sheer amount of talent, creativity, and ambition in the NFT space today, you can bet that we are just seeing a glimmer of the potential that programmable art on the blockchain is capable of. Remember that art is not meant to be hoarded; it is a vital way for us to express ourselves, and to connect and communicate with each other at the deepest levels of our shared human experience.
“What art is, in reality, is this missing link, not the links which exist. It's not what you see that is art; art is the gap.”
As always, thank you so much for taking time to share this journey together with me into the world of NFTs. I hope you found the content helpful, and maybe even fun to read! 😁
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⚠ Disclaimer ⚠ Cryptocurrencies and NFTs are a speculative asset class. Be aware of the risks involved and know that you could lose money. Everything I share references an opinion and is for information and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional before making any investment decision.