NFT artists who can no longer rely on a bubbly crypto market to drive sales aren’t giving up, but they need to lower their financial expectations and get more creative.
Why is this important: Artists have struggled to pay the bills for ages, and when NFT mania hit last yearmany hoped the technology would provide a lasting solution.
Catch up fast: NFTs are digital records of ownership existing on a blockchain – typically, the Ethereum blockchain. Artists can “monetize” their work as NFTs and then sell the digital property rights to collectors.
State of play: The The value of most NFTs is closely tied to the overall crypto market, which has completely retreated this year.
- A single coin of ether, for example, is now worth around $1,300, down from a high of nearly $5,000 in November 2021.
- The number of daily transactions on OpenSea, a popular NFT platform, fell to around 60,000 from a high of nearly 225,000 last April.
Between the lines: According to experts, the NFT market has been flooded with content of varying quality, creating a glut that has driven prices down. There were also more people creating NFTs than buying them.
Yes, but: Even though the hype has died down, there’s still an active community of people buying and selling all kinds of NFTs, says Lynnette Blanche, co-founder of Desire Path, a digital community for photographers curious about NFTs.
- “There’s still a lot of activity happening with smaller artists and communities that I think matches the volume of sales and creation that was happening in the early days,” Blanche told Axios.
- “I just think there’s not as much of that hype that was really important on Twitter in the early days, with quarantine and COVID when people were home and had less to do.”
For Noah Kalina, a photographer from Catskills, New York who was relatively early in the NFT world, the phenom grew from something that could pay the bills to another source of income alongside his other job.
- “In many ways, the NFT market has just become part of life, like anything else,” Kalina told Axios.
Commercial and Fine Art Photographer Pete Halvorsen has used the bear market to prepare for what many in the NFT world are hoping will be an eventual rebound.
- “I took this opportunity to start becoming more multidisciplinary with my image making, and now I’m working on how I can present the images in other ways – whether that’s using some [generative art] aspects to display them up to even incorporating AI into my images,” he says, referring to increasingly popular AI-based art creation tools.
The big picture: Everyone in the NFT world who spoke to Axios for this story agreed that despite the financial struggles, the community was better off now than those who were only there for a quick cash grab have left.
- “It’s gotten tighter because misery likes company, and people like to be like, ‘Hey, man, I’m bad – let’s talk about it,'” Halvorsen says.
Moreover, as San Francisco Chronicle photojournalist Scott Strazzante told Axios that artists can still find some financial success selling NFTs – provided they are already big names or are invited to sell their work with other creators in collections of high level.
Be smart: Many artists have criticized NFTs due to the power consumption of cryptocurrencies.
- However, Ethereum recently underwent “the meltdown,” a behind-the-scenes structural reboot that dramatically reduced its power consumption – a change that could attract more creators if there was another bull market.
And after: Artists in the NFT space are hoping the glory days will return. But many are realistic about that possibility while celebrating the still-vivid community.
- “There was always, in the back of my head, ‘Well, I’m going to flip them and make some money’ and ‘That’s going to be something – I can eventually quit my job,'” Strazzante says of his NFT collection. . “Those dreams are definitely over now.”
- “But the NFT space in general is just as fantastic,” he adds. “There’s still a community of people coming together on Twitter Spaces and talking about photography, and I see the work of so many photographers that I didn’t know existed.”