My NFT Art Journey so Far – An Artist Perspective

NFT Art – A Brief Artist Intro 

NFT Art

I got into NFT Art as an artist in June 2021 and it has been an interesting journey so far. My name is Toni Payne. I am a Fine Art Photographer who loves to eat good food, splurge on ice cream & travel. While traveling, I have been to countries in Europe, Africa and South America but not Asia, Australia or Antartica. I am working on changing that by visiting more places.

My goal as an artist, is to make beautiful art people connect with and see the world. I currently have three sets of collectibles on Rarible, Opensea and Foundation, which I will speak more about in this post. Ever since I stated offering my art as NFTs I have learned new things. Because I was very new to this, I also had a few challenges starting out, that I will discuss as you read on.

How I started as an NFT Artist 

My NFT Journey started in 2021 with a phone call from an Art Collector friend of mine. He said, “Toni, your work is great, why aren’t you doing NFTs?” I was like, NF what? I decided to find out more and research what NFTs are. Even after learning a lot about it, nothing compared to what I have learned while being an artist who is actively minting and selling art as NFTs. 

It’s safe to say things move pretty quickly in this virtual world of art making, shilling, selling and Collecting. Shilling, by the way, is a term used in the NFT circle, for promoting or marketing your artwork. When you are directly involved and network, you learn a lot more through experience and that is what my NFT Journey has been so far – a lot of learning through meeting people and shared experiences. Like I said previously, the NFT space moves fast, so a lot has happened since I wrote the article; What is an NFT and Why I have decided to put my Photography on a Blockchain.

The Importance of Networking with other NFT Artists

When I felt I had done ample research about the technology and decided to jump in an become and NFT Artist, the big question on my mind was “How do I get started” I mean, I have marketing experience, I have built a successful traditional photography business, and I wasn’t new to Cryptocurrency, but when you are marketing art in a new environment, it is important to understand who your audience are.

One thing that changed the way I initially wanted to do things, was networking within the NFT circle. I have learned so much from speaking to other NFT Artists about their experiences. Also, I have gotten help from artists and had some of my questions answered. I have also brought my experience and knowledge to the table to help others who may need it. One thing is for sure though, because NFTs are still new, we are all growing and learning in the NFT Community. 

Using Twitter for NFT Networking

Although I network in other places, Twitter is one of the places where I have been most active about sharing and talking about NFTs. I started out in the NFT Twitter circle by following some people who shared the same interest in NFTs as I did. Paying attention and interacting with the tweets I found most interesting, was very helpful. With any career path you choose in life, it is a good idea to give it your best. It was important to me that my interactions were genuine because if I plan to do this for years, long term connections work best. 

Then Twitter Spaces happened

During the period when I started networking in the NFT Space, twitter took away fleets and re introduced Spaces. Twitter Spaces has been a huge resource for learning about NFT because you get to hear directly from artists. These artists share their knowledge and experience with NFTs. Being the social butterfly, who is also very careful about jumping into things, I listened in for a while before deciding to join in and introduce myself. These days, hopping into NFT Twitter spaces and speaking in some, is now the norm for me. It has also been very helpful to add life to the personalities behind the tweets. 

I have met a lot of awesome people and acquired knowledge by doing so. Networking in twitter spaces, I believe, is an important step. Another important step is researching and reading blogs like mine, that give you a personal view of NFT Art.

For people who are introverted or shy, I do tend to see reluctance in participating in twitter spaces and that is fine. Listening helps a lot as well, but if you wish to join in and speak, most NFT Twitter spaces are welcoming. If you see me speaking in a twitter space, just know that it is a twitter space that is welcoming, so feel free to request to speak. If I enter a twitter space that I don’t vibe with, I seldom stay. When doing NFT Art, or anything at all, never forget that your time is valuable, so use it wisely. 

Deciding Where to Mint

One of the challenges I faced first was deciding where to mint. There are a good number of options out there, each offering various degrees of pros and cons. Again, let me stress that it is very important to network with or ask questions from people who are already doing NFT Art. You can link up with artists and collectors or check out blogs like mine, that share their direct experience as an artist. This will certainly influence your decision or at least have you better informed on how to do things. 

I read different tech blogs and chose to mint my first ever 1/1 NFT titled Mama on Rarible. This is what you would call in the NFT Art world, my Genesis. As of writing this, Mama remains unsold on Rarible. It is a beautiful piece of work, but beauty doesn’t always define sales. The right collector finding you or vice versa, does.

So, coming into this space, always prepare your mind to expect anything. You will see scribbles being sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars while some amazing art remain unsold or are picked up for a fraction of an Ethereum. A fraction of an Ethereum can translate to anything below the value of the current value of a whole Ethereum. So, as of today, 0.1 Ethereum is about $324. 

How I feel about Minting my Genesis NFT

Now, would I have done things differently regarding what I chose as my genesis? Absolutely not. I initially wanted to do all type of photography, even though I have since changed my mind, and made the decision to stick to Fine Art Food. I will explain why as you continue reading. 

This genesis is part of my NFT art story and history. My first collection is part of my NFT story and history and a reminder of how I started as an NFT artist and what I knew and didn’t know. Think about it this way, Picassos most famous painting may have been Guernica, but he had others prior to Guernica that are just as important. My genesis and my collection have now both become part of my story as an artist and that to me is priceless.

What I would have done differently 

NFT Art

If there is one thing, I would have done a bit differently, it would be to mint my genesis and collection on the same platform. This is more of a personal view, so it is not necessary to do so. It also does not mean one platform is better than the other. They all have their pros and cons. Also, I would have done better research in choosing which wallet to start with.

One of the marketplaces I now mint from does not use the wallet I started with. Because of this, I had to start a new wallet with another service provider to mint my work on there. This means I got a new wallet address, and my work is now split into two places. This is fine because I figured out a way to make it work, but ideally, if you do not wish to keep up with more than one wallet account, use a wallet service provider that is accepted by the marketplaces you are sure you will be minting from.

Understanding NFT Marketplaces 

When you mint on Opensea, especially if you are still testing the waters and learning, you pay gas fees for your first mint. The best part about Opensea minting is that every other mint after that incurs no mint fee. They use a technology called Lazy Minting. This information is still valid as of the time I am writing this article.

My first collection, titled Everyday Africa, was minted on Opensea and that saved me a ton of Ethereum currency in gas fees. If you are wondering what gas fees are, read on because I will be explaining that as well.

One big difference between Rarible and Opensea is that, when you mint on Rarible, it shows up on other platforms like Opensea, if you connect the same digital wallet you minted with. Now, when you mint on Opensea, it only shows up on Opensea until someone has purchased your art and it is recorded on the blockchain. 

Also, depending on the type of art you do, photography, 3d, generative art, music, etc., my observation is that certain types of NFTs do better on certain platforms. I noted that photography tends to do better on Opensea, while more of the generative art do better on Rarible. Also, Rarible gives more attention to generative and 3D art on their front page. This is my observation as of writing this post.  

About my Collection Everyday Africa on Opensea

NFT Art

So far, I have showcased different subjects in my NFT Photographic art. As a photographer, we are able to photograph a wide range of subjects. Because of this, it can be hard deciding which one you wish to put forth. Although I now plan to stick with a niche style for now, and I will explain why, I still believe it is ok to be versatile. 

Deciding if I should do a collection was a bit difficult. I took a look at the space and noted that collections seemed to do well, so I moved forward and decided to proceed with a collection. Spending more time in the space, I have come to learn that you should base things on who you are as an artist, not just what others are doing. The reason being, what works for them might not work for you.

I initially started to mint my landscape and wildlife photography, but quickly decided that I want to share a part of who I am, in my first collection.  This decision birthed my Everyday Africa NFT Collection on Opeansea. 

Although I knew I would eventually migrate back to Fine Art Food Photography, I wanted to put this collection out there because I felt it was a part of my world and my heritage. It showcases the hustle spirit of my people and that to me as an artist, was the best sentimental start. 

Should I choose a Niche for my NFTs?

NFT Art

My simple answer to you is yes. After observing the NFT art space for a while, I believe choosing a niche helps solidify your brand faster and better. I also think it is important to narrow down, if you already haven’t, what you are best at, before you start. 

If you are great at painting landscapes, let that be what you bring to the table, at least till you have a good enough following and have built your brand to a certain level. Deciding how to start things was challenging because although I wanted to present Fine Art Food, I had little guidance when I entered the space. I wasn’t sure if it was suitable for NFTs. At the time I joined, Photography NFTs weren’t really doing well. Also, I was learning as I went along. This is one of the many reasons I decided to do this post. It might help a new NFT artist while starting out.

Some say you should choose to do whatever you want, but I am of the opinion that branding is much more effective, if you have a niche. I am not saying it is not ok to be versatile but based on my observations, the NFT space works similarly to the physical art space and having a niche or specific style helps. 

This is one of the reasons I decided that moving forward, I was going to continue on with Fine Art Food Photography NFTs. Trying to be that artist who does everything wasn’t very helpful because Photography is such a broad field and most people won’t know where to place you. I also feel like it is one of the many reasons landscape photographers do so well.

Change is Constant

This does not mean I will not change my mind and mint other things down the line. This simply means, based on my observation, it is best to build my brand in the NFT space, the same way I built it outside of the NFT space. Narrowing things down to a niche has helped me and I am carrying this knowledge on into how I do NFTs. It also helps you focus your energy into being great at what you have chosen. 

Still Life Food and NFTs

NFT Art

Speaking of niches, Food Photography is the core of my photography career. It is where I have received the most training and the most accolades. My skill set, the use of shadow & light, were learned through Food Photography, more specifically, Fine Art Food Photography.

Fine Art Food images have been dear to my heart for as long as I can remember. This is one of the many reasons I decided, moving forward, it would be my niche in the NFT art space. 

Now, this was a very hard decision because as of the time I choose to focus on Fine Art Food Photography NFTs, and mint my first Fine Art Food Collectible, I was unable to find other artists with this focus on platform I chose. I had searched other platforms as well, and food was just not a popular choice. 

I knew I was taking a huge risk doing something that was uncommon, or in this case, seemed to be almost nonexistent. The choice was risky, but I believe in this style of Photography so much I decided to follow my heart. 

What surprises me most is that a lot of the old masters based some of their work on food. Food has been the staple for many of the most famous paintings in the world. I know as the NFT space grows, so will the options for Fine Art Food Photography, but for now, it can be a lonely world as I proudly present Still Life with Food. If you are on foundation, you can follow my profile at Toni Payne. I get asked a lot of questions when I talk about NFTs. I will share some of them next.

What is a cryptocurrency wallet?

A cryptocurrency wallet is a digital wallet where you can store your crypto or crypto bought assets. There are several companies who offer this service but two most popular ones that I use are Coinbase Wallet and Metamask. 

How do I fund my Wallet?

If you are new to cryptocurrency, you would need to purchase cryptocurrency using fiat, also known as the currency in your country, eg, dollars. You would need to do so on a cryptocurrency exchange. Some popular cryptocurrency exchanges are Binance or Coinbase (not the same app as Coinbase wallet). You would then transfer from your cryptocurrency exchange wallet to your crypto and asset storage wallet. Think of it in terms of going to the ATM and taking money out to keep in your wallet so you can use it to make a purchase. I wrote more about it here

What does it mean to mint an NFT?

To mint a NFT, simply put, is to stamp it’s existence on the blockchain. There are two steps to placing your NFT up to be collected. The first would be to mint it and the next would be to list it for sale. You can mint an NFT without putting it up for sale. It will still register as a transaction on the blockchain that can be traced. 

What are Gas Fees in NFTs?

Gas fees are fees you pay to transact on the blockchain. This fee is paid to crypto miners. You pay this fee per transaction while connected to your wallet. The process is seamless. Gas fees fluctuate a lot depending on demand. It can be very high and sometimes low. There are certain marketplaces like Opensea, that do not require you to pay a gas fee for each mint or listing. The buyer will however have to pay a gas fee to purchase your work.

Some of the marketplaces that require a gas fee for each listing are Rarible and Foundation. Foundation is one of the most expensive marketplaces to mint from. If you are just starting out, you are better off minting on Opensea or Rarible or creating your own smart contract. Speaking of smart contracts, I will be discussing that in part two of this post, so don’t forget to check back or bookmark this page.

Who owns the Copyright to your NFT Artwork?

Copyright ownership is another question I get asked often by NFT artists. When it comes to copyright, nothing has changed. Remember, NFTs are just another way to collect art. It does not change IP rules. IP Rules remain the same and the artist retains ownership of their work, unless they have given it away in a contract. Depending on the country you are in, it is a great idea to find out what the IP rules are. In the USA, I know for photography, you own the copyright by default. If you wish to, you can also register your images with the US Copyright office. It is an inexpensive process, and you can register a group of images in one spreadsheet, to save cost.

Is it important to build a following around your NFT ART?

For me the answer is yes. This answer will depend greatly on your goals and personality as an artist. Like I said before, I am a social butterfly and that is one of the reasons building a community around my work felt right to me. It’s part of who I am as a person and as an artist. I decided to introduce the Champayner Community. The Champayner community is for people who share a special common interest. It is also a community for people who appreciate my art and vision. 

How safe are NFTs?

Now that you have more information about NFTs, you are probably wondering how safe transacting is. With anything that has to do with finances or making money, you will see bad players. The NFT space is safe, but you also have to be careful. This rule applies to everything that involves money. Because, just like with banks, there are phishing scams in the NFT art space. These scams mostly target your digital wallet. 

About Certain NFT Scams 

I was in a CyberSecurity and NFTs Clubhouse discussion when an NFT Artist began to talk. He talked about how his wallet was hacked and his currency and art were stolen.  He apparently was hacked via a phishing scam. Phishing scams are not new but they are becoming more common in the NFT space. It is good practice to be careful about links you click. 

Recently, I had tweeted about my Metamask not connecting. Immediately I sent out the tweet, I had several spam bots with a google form link responding. They were claiming to have a solution to my Metamask problem. Now, if I had not been privy to that cybersecurity discussion, I may have fallen for it. This is another reason why it is very important to network within the NFT Space. One of the reasons I decided to do a podcast is because there is a lot of information to be shared. I also felt like those types of information need to be passed along. 

How to Protect Yourself from NFT Wallet Hacks

When you sign up with a service like Coinbase Wallet or Metamask, you will get something called a seed phrase. These twelve random words are the access key and recovery to your wallet. They absolutely must not be shared with anyone. You must also be careful about opening links you do not trust. This is because if you download malware onto your computer, they can access your files. 

In these phishing emails, some of these bad players will mimic popular NFT art marketplace websites. They will claim you have made a sale or some other catchy headline to make you click the link. If you click on it, you run the risk of giving them access to your wallet. Before clicking a link, It is best practice make sure the email is coming from the real marketplace. They are smart and it could be something as simple as changing an L to uppercase I, in the email address, to confuse you.

If your wallet is open or connected on your computer, they may be able to access your seed phrase. If they access your seed phrase, they can access your wallet. Accessing your wallet means they can steal anything stored on your wallet by transferring it out into their own wallet. 

This is another good reason to learn how owning and using cryptocurrency works. I will be doing episodes on my podcast, NFT Talk Show, where we discuss cryptocurrency and NFTs. You can subscribe to stay informed.

Bring Your Best and a Positive Attitude to the NFT Space

I see a lot of people who are new to NFTs complain about feeling left out. Remember to put in work so you reap the benefits. Keep in mind that building solid relationships and trust can take some time. Just bring your best self to the table and be teachable.

Also, do not feel intimidated by anyone. Continue to put out your best work. Even If you get ignored, do not let it discourage you. I have been ignored by artists I have asked for information or support. I have never allowed it to deter me. Instead, I work hard and continue to give things my best. The most important lesson you should always remind yourself is that, we are all still learning. 

Want to know even more about my journey as an NFT Artist?

I hope this has been very informative for you. If you enjoyed it, do share and follow me on Twitter. I plan on doing a Part 2 where I will will cover the following Topics. 

What is DAO?

Minting with your own Smart contract 

Some common Crypto to NFT Terminology 

NFT Links you should know.

What does Defi mean?

So do bookmark my website or checkback soon for more of my NFT Journey, from an artist’s perspective. 

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