The first thing one thinks of when they hear the words “cryptocurrency,” “blockchain,” or “NFT” rarely is art. While an NFT, or non-fungible token, isn’t necessarily the artwork itself, it can often function as a digital certificate of the work’s authenticity and ownership. The nature of NFTs allows their creators to name a rightful file owner of the token, and give that owner the rights to present, access, or resell the NFT in question.
In the digital art space, this makes NFTs an extremely beneficial technology. All you need to mint NFTs is an idea, an ETH wallet, and a little crypto to cover the minting fees. However, selling NFTs after they’ve been minted is not so simple. Visit any NFT marketplace like OpenSea or Rarible and you will quickly discover hundreds of individual NFTs all collecting virtual dust on digital shelves while awaiting a purchaser.
When I created The Square Comics, it didn’t take long for my NFT project, which I deemed The Squarmies, to attract buyers. All 3,535 Squarmie NFTs that dropped at the end of January 2022 have sold—and they sold in less than one minute. Yes, you read that correctly; all 3,535 NFTs I minted and placed for sale sold in less than 60 seconds.
The secret to the Squarmies’ success is that it brought together a winning blend of artistry, tech knowledge, and appreciation for the community that appealed to thousands of fans in the NFT market.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when utilizing NFT space as an artist.
GROWING A FOLLOWING WITH NFTS
Similar to marketing any product, there are organic and inorganic channels when it comes to marketing NFTs. Organic channels involve building a community directly, usually through social platforms such as Twitter or Discord, to generate buzz around your NFT collection. On the other hand, inorganic channels usually involve tools like paying for digital ads and influencers to spread the word around your NFTs.
From my experience, organic is the best way to grow, and the more fun option overall. It’s thoroughly enjoyable to plan and play online events and games and interact with so many people. Although, if this doesn’t sound quite like your own idea of “fun,” inorganic channels might be the better option. With that said, if you can form a strategy that encompasses both organic and inorganic channels, your chances of success are bound to be much higher.
THE UPSIDE OF JOINING THE NFT SPACE
It’s undeniable that NFTs have a lot of growth potential, especially in more artistically inclined communities. After all, NFTs are primarily about fostering community engagement and supporting artistic creators, and because NFTs are still a relatively new term in today’s lexicon, early adopters can influence the development of the space.
Whether the artist has a traditional or non-traditional background, artists are turning to the digital medium for many reasons, such as developing new applications for blockchain technology, pursuing a creative new direction for their practice, or even just connecting with collectors and gaining greater ownership over their work.
There are three primary design considerations when making NFTs:
1. Character Design
The design for Squarmies is based on characters from my existing comic, The Square Comics. We needed a unique style for an NFT to stand out in the swelling ocean of NFTs. I considered these factors in designing it:
- Recognizability: Readers of the square comics will immediately recognize the distinct style that helps to set our collection of NFTs apart.
- Application: A majority of NFTs are used for profile photos. I focused my effort on making the characters lively and relatable, rather than adding too many details.
2. Determining Customizable Areas
Producing NFTs through digital art often requires mixing different layers of illustration (e.g., the head combined with multiple hairs). We need to set specific customizable areas, so the layers don’t mix oddly (e.g., a hat on an eye). Here are some questions I asked myself that I found helpful:
- “What is the focal point of the character?” When a person first sees the character, what do you want them to notice? Squarmies’ focus is on their expression. I split the eyes and mouth into two unique traits that can be mixed and matched to give different expressions.
- “How is the character divided?” The idea here is to think about how they interact with each other and how this will affect the design. For Squarmies, I chose not to include head accessories as it limits the design of the hair (each hair needs to fit into a hat).
3. Color Palettes
To offer a brief glimpse of the Squarmies’ color scheme, here are the steps I took:
- Determining the tone: what is the feeling you want the characters to express? For Squarmies, it’s cheerful, hence the bright colors.
- Select one color each to represent the primary and secondary color groups: it’s easy to get lost in the color selection. To prevent that, I chose one color for each primary and secondary color group (red, yellow, blue, orange, green, violet).
- Determining the different shades from those colors: after selecting the distinct colors, it’s time to determine their variations.
- Selecting which shade goes for which layer: to add more depth to the piece, I opted to have different shades going to different layers of the NFTs.
For Squarmies, I used a lighter palette for the background instead of the bright colors the characters are using, so it doesn’t steal focus from them.
BEST WAYS TO USE NFT SPACE AS AN ARTIST
I don’t think there is a single best way for artists to utilize the NFT space. Although, for me, beyond enabling artists to be recognized for their work, NFTs also help us connect directly with our holders in a way that isn’t possible via traditional means.
BRINGING MORE ARTISTS TO THE BLOCKCHAIN
By focusing on the reliability of the movement of registered NFT assets on the blockchain, I hope the Squarmies project will inspire other artists to share their creativity and content with the NFT community, grow their brand, and take advantage of the rapidly developing blockchain technology. I hope that the Community Chest concept will attract non-NFT artists into the community and open doors for them to benefit from the experience I have gained from my Squarmies project.
Author Bio: Alvin Juano, Founder The Square Comics
Distanced from his family at a young age and living in another country, comics were his companion, and he developed an interest in storytelling. In 2014, he started The Square Comics in his University dorm room as a hobby, and it has since grown to an over 600,000 follower base on Instagram. As one of the pioneers webcomic artists in Southeast Asia, in December 2021, he decided to create and launch his own NFT collection, Squarmies. The collection sold out in less than one minute. Now he’s on a mission to share his knowledge and help onboard artists into the NFT space. No stranger to fast-moving innovative tech industries, having previously worked in various startups including Uber (Fortune 500), he does enjoy walking his 6-year-old rescue dog in the park.