NFTs have opened new markets for artists, and digital artists in particular.

Those markets are potentially lucrative, too. American digital artist Beeple sold an NFT for his work “Everydays: the First 5000 Days” for USD 69.3 million at Christie’s in 2021. Digital artist PAK used NFTs to sell his work “The Verge” for nearly USD 92 million. The singer Grimes sold ten pieces of digital art for about USD 6 million.

While the prospect of minting an NFT to turn your art into a digital treasure trove may seem daunting, it actually isn’t difficult. 

In this article we’ll look at why you may want to digitize your art as NFTs, and then take you through the simple steps to actually do it. For the purpose of this piece, we’ll be using Craft Network as our NFT marketplace, but the principles apply to many other marketplaces, such as Opensea and Rareable.

What’s an NFT?

Non-fungible tokens — or NFTs — are a type of digital asset built on the blockchain. What sets them apart from cryptocurrencies is that they are, as the name suggests, non-fungible. That is to say, each one is unique, one-of-a-kind. They cannot be copied or traded for one another. This sets them apart from fungible tokens like cryptocurrencies — every Bitcoin is alike, with the same value.

NFTs can represent online assets such as digital art or real estate in the metaverse. That said, you can also use the technology to create verifiable, inalterable digital representations of offline assets such as real estate, real-world art, music IDs and bottles of wine.

I’m an Artist. Why Do I Want to Mint an NFT?

  • If you’re a digital artist, NFTs offer an opportunity to create a market for your work. You can now prove your piece is unique and “scarce,” giving collectors “bragging rights” and investment potential.
  • NFTs give artists the power to circumvent the gatekeepers of the traditional art market like museums, galleries, curators and dealers, giving creators direct access to markets on a global scale. You deal directly with the buyers/collectors, setting your own prices.
  • NFTs give new artists a means to earn recognition — and money — right away, allowing them to focus on and develop their artistic careers.
  • NFTs also allow artists to earn automatic royalties on all future resales of their work. Art work typically gains in value over time, achieving its “real value” long after the creator has sold it to a collector. Thanks to smart contract technology, you — the artist — can now program your NFT to earn you a cut of all future resales, typically 5-10%.

Creating NFTs with Craft

Craft is the community-owned NFT platform of the ICON blockchain network. In addition to its thriving marketplace, it also features a very simple and intuitive means to create NFTs for sale in the marketplace.

Let us walk you through the process. But before we do, you’re going to need two things:

  • A wallet such as ICONex, Hana, Ledger or Bridge
  • A bit of ICX, the native cryptocurrency of the ICON network

1. Connect your wallet to Craft.

This part is really easy. Just click on the “Connect wallet” button in the top right and choose the wallet you want. Your wallet will then pop up and ask you to authorize the connection.

2. Go to the “Craft” Page

In most NFT networks, the act of creating an NFT is called “minting.” On the Craft network, it’s called “crafting.” But don’t worry — it’s the same thing.

Anyway, simply click the “Craft” button to go to the crafting page.

3. Upload File and Enter Information

Craft lets you create NFTs for a variety of media file formats, including:

  • GIF
  • JPEG
  • JPG
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • PNG
  • WEBP

However, be aware that your file should be 30MB or less.

For this tutorial, I’m going to upload a JPG of a photo of Seoul’s skyline I took on a rainy night last year.

Just as an aside, I took it during — well, right after — a thunderstorm, standing on top of a mountain with a titanium tripod. Probably not the wisest decision I’ve ever made. Don’t try it at home.

It’s a big file — 2560 x 1440 px — but at just under 1.5 MB, it fits comfortably within Craft’s upload limit.

You should also enter information about the file, including the name (required) and a description to help buyers.

Copyright and usage rights: At the bottom of the craft page is a highlighted warning that “minting and selling stolen or copyright infringing content is prohibited and will lead to the blacklisting of your address from the Craft marketplace.” Don’t knowingly steal somebody else’s work. That’s not cool.

As an artist, you might be wondering, “What happens to the copyright on my image when I sell the NFT? Am I selling the copyright, too?”

The short answer is, no, you retain the copyright on your work unless you explicitly transfer it, and legally, that may require a separate agreement depending on local copyright law (works like that in the “real” artworld, too). And technically speaking, you’re not even selling the work itself, but a digital representation of the work.

I strongly encourage you to read this very in-depth piece in The Verge for more on copyright issues surrounding NFTs. 

You’ll also want to be explicit about how NFT owners can use the works the NFTs represent. While Craft says buys get some non-commercial rights, you’ll want to spell out what those rights are. And if you want to grant commercial rights as well, you need to make that clear upfront.

4. List for Sale

If you want to list the item for immediate sale, toggle this option.

Once you do, you’ll be prompted to enter a price in ICX.

Like in the non-NFT art world, knowing how to price yourself can be tricky. Some things to consider are:

  • Are you just starting out? Maybe start low and raise your prices as you establish a fan base.
  • Are you selling single editions? Limited editions? Scarcity drives up prices.
  • Are you including “extras” like unlockable extra content?
  • What are the general market trends and conditions?

For a much fuller discussion on setting your price, check out this post at popular photo sharing community 500px.

5. Advanced Options

Lastly, you have the option to select some “Advanced Options.”

As the name suggests, these are simply options — you don’t need to select or adjust them. Nevertheless, you should check them out.

Options include:

  • Choose Collection: You can create a new collection of your own, or Craft will add your work to the general market. If you choose to create your own collection, you’ll be asked to upload a profile image, name for the collection and a description.
  • Royalties: With Craft, not only do you make money on your initial sale, but you also earn royalties on each subsequent sale. Craft sets this to 10% as a default, but feel free to change that if you like.
  • Number of Copies: Craft sets this to just one, but if you’d like to mint multiple copies, this is where you’d do it.
  • Custom Attributes: Custom attributes are more applicable to larger collections of collectables — such as the popular 10k PFP (10,000 Profile Picture) collection format — where assigning attributes may make an NFT more or less valuable depending on the rarity of the attribute. Craft will calculate the rarity of the attributes in your collection. You can see how custom attributes work in this collection, as well in many others.
  • Additional Counterparts: Maybe you’d like to include a link to a hi-res image the owner of the NFT can download. Or maybe you’d like to include a private key. If you’ve got an idea for “added value,” this is where you’d put it, usually as a link. As for me, I’ve added a link to the full-sized image.

6. Craft your NFT

Now hit the “Craft” button.

Craft will now upload your file to the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a decentralized cloud service popular with many NFT services.

After this, we will actually mint the NFT, i.e., the token that represents the image, on the ICON blockchain, and add it to Craft’s marketplace. Just “sign” the listing — your wallet will ask you for authorization — and then hit “Craft NFT.” Again, your wallet will pop up and ask you for authorization. You’ll need to pay a (very) miniscule fee to ICON for the transaction cost. In our case, it was a fraction of an ICX.

When it’s all done, you’ll get a “hash” for the NFT’s metadata on IPFS and a record of the transaction on the ICON blockchain network.

That’s it, really. You can head over to your profile page and check out your new collection. You can use the share option to promote your NFT on Twitter or Telegraph, edit the listing (including putting the NFT up for auction) and more. But more on that in a later post.