NFTs are everywhere. Like cryptocurrency and blockchain before them, it seems that seemingly overnight, everyone was talking about NFTs and how they are the future of art, commerce, and ownership.
But what are they? And how do they affect the artists associated with them? While most people in the NFT artist community say NFTs are great for artists, I will give you the top 9 reasons they are not.
For years now, the internet has been a safe haven for new and up-and-coming artists to perfect their techniques, find fanbases, make a living, and improve their chances of finding success in their field of work. But NFTs are throwing a monkey wrench into all of that. This is what I’m talking about.
1. Community Problems
NFTs are indeed the new big thing, and there is a strong chance that they will only grow more popular over the next few years but more like a roller coaster, similar to market ups and downs associated with cryptocurrency.
The buying and selling of NFTs is a very modern way of buying and owning creative assets, and it has created a dilemma for many creative expressionists.
Right now, artist communities are experiencing a challenging moment. Some users are shutting down their social and NFT accounts because they are wary of new followers and don’t want to lose all of their hard work.
Others are banning accounts ahead of time and telling their pals to be on the lookout. Why? What is causing all of these problems and all of this pain? Shouldn’t artists and their communities be places that are cherished and used for support?
2. A Nasty Mess of Adaptation
This huge mess is due to NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are wreaking havoc on the online art world.
If someone wishes to publish their work on social media, they must make it publicly available. In most cases, this ecosystem benefits everyone. If people appreciate the work, they may share it or assist the artist even more by ordering work or contributing to a tip jar.
But before we get into why all of this is happening, it is essential to lay out what an NFT is. While you have undoubtedly heard of them, do you really know what they are, how they function, and why they take the world by storm?
NFTs for the Layman
In layman’s terms, an NFT is a one-of-a-kind token that identifies the owner of a digital asset. When you make a purchase, a contract is created and subsequently minted on the blockchain network.
Everyone may see this contract, and it is an everlasting validator. While this is an oversimplification, consider an NFT to be a digital license or credential that certifies that someone “owns” a tweet, video, or, in this case, a piece of original art.
An NFT Utility as Art
There are many utilities for NFTs, meaning how they are used. Perhaps the most popular utility is flat-out art (subject to change), usually digital art, music, memes, animation, or video.
Artistic NFTs are being sold by artists and content providers as an extension of art collecting, allowing one individual to claim ownership of a specific piece of work.
In many ways, it’s like when wealthy people visit silent auctions and wager their money on a classic piece of art. However, this process is hard to enforce in practice since anyone can simply download a version as an image or take a screenshot.
However, the notion is that if your purchase places you on the Ethereum cryptocurrency ledger or another NFT compatible blockchain like Solana, you’ll have something to prove that the piece of art is yours. At least, in theory, tangibility is irrelevant.
3. Environmental Disaster
Apart from the ambiguity of possessing a piece of material that anybody else may access through other ways, the issue is that almost every NFT transaction requires a significant amount of energy.
The disadvantage of NFTs, and anything else based on blockchain technology, is the negative impact they have on the environment.
Maintaining a massive digital ledger necessitates enormous quantities of computer power generation, contributing significantly to carbon emissions and possibly climate change.
Ethereum mining allegedly consumed as much power as Iceland for the whole of 2018. A single transaction is projected to have a carbon footprint of around 35kWh, which is roughly similar to the typical EU resident’s four-day power use.
Because transactions using NFTs are more complicated, the amount rises to roughly 82kWH, more than double the typical transaction.
So NFTs aren’t good for the environment, and anyone avoiding that truth is burying their head in the sand. But NFTs are raising eyebrows for other reasons, which are related to the artist communities that have popped up all over the web.
A note of positivity is that Ethereum has been working on cutting its energy consumption by 99%. I believe there will be more energy-friendly currencies and carbon-neutral mining and computing centers in time.
For more eye-catching and maddening statistics, check out this viral article:
4. Art Is Being Stolen For NFTs
People hoping to profit from the craze are attracted to the growth. Artists claim that their artwork is being seized by the thieves on NFT sites sans their consent or knowledge, or permission.
Automated systems can “tokenize” a tweet or a picture in a matter of seconds, but although artists may file takedown requests, it still is a lot of effort.
NFTs don’t even ensure that any money gets to the creator of the piece. There is currently nothing preventing someone from tokenizing other people’s work, claiming it, and benefiting from it.
In fact, it’s already taking place. Even a Twitter account will tokenize any tweet for you; whether or not you created it yourself, you just have to tag it.
And with a bit of search, you can see Facebook posts turned into NFTs.
When you include the environmental issues already mentioned, many artists on social media are skeptical about NFTs at best, and a large number are outright declining to interact with the notion on principle.
Because of all of this, numerous artists on the internet have become openly antagonistic to NFTs. Some people are making blocklists to prevent automated accounts from doing unlawful NFTs of social media work.
Others just lock their profiles so that only their current followers can see their postings, which, of course, reduces their exposure. Others are confronting their pro-NFT classmates, persuading them to discontinue the practice.
Even though copycat NFT fraudsters suck, there is a lot of positivity coming from major NFT platforms like OpenSea and Rarible, where they have set up ways in which to combat the problem. In time, I think this will become less of an issue.
5. The Price Is Speculative
The truth of the matter is that artists attempting to let their work be used for NFTs or mint their own may face a hard truth: they may not be paid justly for their hard work.
Those buying NFTs may choose to settle on a price that is far, far lower than the artist would get at an auction, in a gallery, or through a normal avenue of sale online.
If the person making the purchase decides they don’t want to pay the regular asking price, they can still gain access to the art because of the way the system works.
At the same time, they may vastly overpay for a piece of art, which would, of course, be great for the creator. But if it goes the other way and the buyer goes low and is rewarded with the art; it will devalue all of the artist’s other creations and leave them with far less payment than they expected – or deserved.
The good news is that we created an NFT pricing guide which will hopefully help artists get acclimated to and learn how to price their NFT art.
6. They Can Be Used Anywhere Digitally
When an NFT is purchased, it is generally owned by the person who made that purchase. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they are, what their thoughts or profession or opinions or ideas are. If they put the money down, the NFT – and the artwork revolving around it – are theirs.
Although ideally, the person buying an NFT is understandable, kind, and a good citizen, the truth is that the internet has plenty of bad actors and bad people using it.
Therefore, there stands the chance that someone could buy NFT and then attach the art to social media profiles that espouse horrible opinions and materials that are offensive to the artist.
If that happens, the person who created the NFT art could forever be linked with truly awful opinions and thoughts.
This is precisely what happened with the creator of the Pepe The Frog meme that took the internet by storm years ago. Created as a cute, innocent, and slightly absurd comic strip, the character of Pepe was soon co-opted by a league of alt-right people who put Pepe front and center in many of their racist and offensive posts and blogs.
An artist can find themselves in the middle of enormous controversy and even legal issues if their art is sold as an NFT. For the rest of their career, people might think they hold awfully atrocious opinions that they don’t…and they could be powerless to stop it.
7. The Art World Is Unpredictable Enough
It’s hard to make a living as an artist. The truth of the matter is that there is a lot of speculation and volatility in the artist’s world.
They could be making a lot of money one week and very little the next. They could spend months, even years, on a piece of art that isn’t well-received and makes them little money, and then they could somehow create an overnight sensation after just a few days.
The world of being an artist is topsy-turvy and keeps people on the edge of their seats.
But it’s exhausting. Yes, it can be rewarding, but it can be so tiring and so scary too. Imagine living a life where you’re unsure when your next paycheck is coming or how much it’ll be.
Imagine living a life where you put your blood, sweat, and tears into your work, and you are barely getting by. That’s being an artist.
And that becomes even more complicated with NFTs. The value of an NFT – and the art attached – fluctuates wildly. It can be very, very high or very, very low.
The market, like all things related to cryptocurrency, can hit heart-breaking lows just days after inspiring high. When this happens, the value of your art will change as well, and you will not be able to keep a solid handle or stable price on your work.
All of this unpredictability makes it increasingly hard to live a healthy life as an artist.
NFTs could reward you with massive payouts, but they could also punish you with puny paychecks too. If an artist is hoping to make a career of being creative, NFTs could ultimately make that much, much harder.
8. Costs of Entry
You have to pay the cost to be the boss. Ethereum is the most popular blockchain right now to mint NFTs on. The problem with Ethereum is that it costs a significant amount of money to create your NFTs.
Generally speaking, artists aren’t exactly the richest of people, and for them to jump onto the world of NFTs, they need money to play.
The cost of minting an NFT on the Ethereum blockchain can be anywhere from $70 to $600…just to mint (create) one piece of art.
This means that if an artist wants to mint a collection of art, say 15 pieces, they are now going to have to come out of pocket between $1,125 and $9,000. This is assuming they want to use the Ethereum blockchain. Yet, there is a hack to this problem in which an artist can “Lazy Mint” an NFT on Ethereum for free, which I discuss here.
The good news is that there are free and almost free blockchains to mint on. The only problem is that you reduce your buyer market, as most collectors like to play on Ethereum.
Minting costs fluctuate heavily, and there are ways to reduce them. If you are serious about minting a collection, you should read these insightful articles first:
- What is the Average Cost to Mint and Sell an NFT? (Top Marketplace Examples)
- The 3 Cheapest Ways to Mint an NFT: Full Breakdown
9. NFTs Don’t Respect Art
While some people who invest in and buy NFTs really do love art, there are plenty of others who don’t know a thing about it and are buying it for all the wrong reasons.
While their checks may clear and they may put money in the pocket of artists, this is still a heartbreaking reality that many artists don’t like to sit with.
Most artists create because they love expressing themselves. They also love conveying basic human emotions and trials and commonalities through their art.
Art is made to bring people together, to touch hearts, and to really share the human experience. It can be profound and incredibly moving too.
But for some, buying art via NFTs is simply about bragging rights. It’s about paying top dollar for something that literally no one else can own.
Many people spend their money on NFTs so that they can show off to the world that they have laid claim on something that will only forever belong to them.
To many artists, that is not the goal of making art. That devalues art, and it hurts the overall concept of creation.
Artists may be left with a difficult choice: do they make themselves a part of the NFT world and sacrifice some of their artistic integrity or do they refrain and miss out on a new craze that could make them an awful lot of money.
It’s not an easy decision to make, especially when NFTs become only more popular.
When people say NFTs are the future, this can scare many artists. It scares them because they don’t want to miss out on something that can be so profitable and good for them. But, at the same time, they also don’t want to get involved with something that won’t pay them properly, will devalue their ideas and the concept of creation, and will hurt the environment as well.
The problems with NFTs are very modern – as is the very idea of NFTs themselves. For the years ahead, artists will have to grapple with the decision of joining in on the party or standing outside of it and watching it go by. There is a lot an artist can gain from NFTs. But do those benefits outweigh the negatives?
If you’re convinced the issues as mentioned above are of no problem to you and want to take the NFT world by storm, I highly suggest reading these articles to get inspired, informed, and prepared:
- How to Get More NFT Exposure: 13 Effective Methods
- 10 Things That Make a Good NFT Project
- How to Attach an NFT to Digital Art (7 Easy Steps)