Jamaicans enter the digital art space by typing or creating what’s called non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Some, however, including galleries, still watch with caution the emerging trend surrounding the creation of art that exists in a digital space, its adherents and those who invest in it.
Athletes and singers have announced plans to sell their branding in the NFT format, including sprinter Usain Bolt, Jamaica Bobsleigh Team and dancehall artist Bay-C.
One vendor, CryptoRastas, which manufactures dreadlocks wearing NFT-format emojis, has sales of US $ 700,000. This is based on the public ledger of sales totaling 175 in the cryptocurrency ether, which is trading for around US $ 4,000. CryptoRastas has been working for some time. A more recent participant, Idris Veitch, walked the Financial Gleaner through the process of entering the developing NFT space.
“I sold US $ 1,000 of art last month in NFTs,” said Veitch, who is in his 30s. “A month ago, I didn’t know anything about this,” he said.
Veitch, the son of Jamaican and Nigerian parents, studied fashion design in Japan. After graduating, he stayed there and worked there for about 11 years. He returned to Jamaica just at the start of the pandemic. This is the background to his art – focusing on black in an Asian context while seeking to dismantle stereotypes. Thematically, this art tends to fall into some popular modern categories. But now these themes sometimes find buyers digitally.
“I don’t use Afro-Futurism to describe my art. For me, it’s more than that. It’s my personal story, ”he said.
Veitch entered the NFTs of a friend of a friend based in Sri Lanka who spent US $ 200 to convert one of Idris’s coins to NFT. It’s called knocking, Idris said. It was created on the popular Opensea platform, which looks like a digital gallery.
Another Barbados-based site features NFT Caribbean Art, but no response has been received from this entity regarding its operation.
Some platforms allow sellers to mint tokens for a cost of around $ 200, and the person doing the minting keeps most of the proceeds from the sale. Other platforms make the art for free and are paid by the creator of the artwork when the artwork is sold.
Veitch explained that the seller determines the sale value as well as the finite number of copies offered for sale. Once minted, the art is displayed on the gallery. Veitch opened his account for the F financial gleaner. This showed that of the 10 minted copies, he had sold six. Interestingly, he can see any attempts by previous buyers to resell the works.
“This guy is trying to resell the job for thousands of dollars. If he sells it, then I’ll get a share, ”Veitch said with a smile, later explaining that he would get 10% of the resales.
This means that the original seller will continue to earn subsequent sales. Usually galleries sell digital art in its physical or printed form, so the concept of selling digital art in its original digital form confuses many.
“I’m looking to understand NFTs and their relationship to art as an investment, because it’s part of what we do,” said Rosie Thwaites, co-founder of Olympia Gallery in Kingston. “But I’m not a cryptocurrency person,” she said.
Thwaites added that people are hungry for money and hope that a $ 1,000 investment in digital art will equal $ 100,000 in the future. However, she is skeptical that NFTs can maintain their value in the same way as traditional art, arguing that the latter holds intrinsic value whether or not it is resold for a profit.
“There’s also the simple joy of owning a home,” Thwaites said.
Bolt, an Olympic and international sports celebrity, will sell NFTs bearing his signature as part of a collaboration with Autograph.io and DraftKings Marketplace, starting in 2022. Additionally, the Jamaican bobsleigh team will be looking to sell their NFT in collaboration with Electric Token, based in the United States. and @NFT, co-founded by Jason Falovitch and billionaire Mark Cuban. They aim to raise funds to help the team qualify for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The NFT bobsleigh drop will feature limited edition digital artwork, with auctions starting at 1,988 Ether, which equates to approximately US $ 8,000.
Earlier this year, Bay-C hit their music in NFT format in conjunction with the Bombrush Record label. Bay-C, a member of the TOK group from the 1990s, said in a statement that once an NFT is created, it is digitally unique. It cannot be copied, but it can easily be transferred from person to person.
“It gave artists the ability to sell their music directly to their fans. NFTs can also be packed with extras such as physical items such as limited edition vinyls or signed memorabilia. But more importantly, artists can own their music again, ”the statement posted on the Bay-C website said.