NFTs or non-fungible tokens have had to combat their fair share of naysayers as they grow in popularity. After some time, skeptics could see that NFTs were here to stay and provided artists with a unique opportunity for their artwork. Now, because NFTs are digital goods housed on a blockchain ledger, many would assume that physical artwork does not qualify.
Physical artwork can be minted and sold on the blockchain as an NFT. In fact, selling physical art as NFTs can make art as a career more accessible. Now you don’t have to set up a gallery showing to get your work viewed and sold.
Let’s explore how NFTs have impacted the art scene, for better or worse, and how physical art benefits from its digital counterpart.
How to Successfully Sell Physical Art as NFTs
Once you’ve figured out how to digitize your physical artwork, you can tackle the chore of listing the NFT directly. The beauty of setting up your account on an NFT platform is that you have complete control over the sale of your artwork. Profits go directly to you after a service fee is deducted, and you can have the potential to gain from future sales.
Take OpenSea, for example; this platform is currently one of the largest NFT marketplaces in the industry. It’s entirely free to create NFTs on OpenSea, and they charge a 2.5% fee on each transaction.
That percentage is extremely reasonable compared to the 40% or even 80% galleries will take from a sale or the 30% to 60% commission art dealers make in the primary market.
Set up your NFT, and you can offer physical copies of the work in the unlockable content section of the NFT. OpenSea will also allow you to set your royalties on future sales as high as 10%, which means if your NFT resells for $380,000, like Banksy’s “Morons” did when it was sold as an NFT, you receive an additional $38,000 on top of the profit of the original sale.
Quick Note on Royalties: each platform is a little different when it comes to royalties. For example “Platform A” may allow you to set the amount higher than “Platform B.”
Should you choose only to include copies of the work and retain the physical copy, make sure the copyright is clear in the terms of the NFT.
Perhaps the terms will state that the owner of the NFT is the beneficiary of the work, and you, the artist, will maintain physical possession until then.
What Are the Benefits of Selling Physical Art as NFTs?
There has been a longstanding debate about the legitimacy of digital art, which is widely considered a low form of art, versus physical art, which is typically regarded as fine art.
With NFTs still being relatively new to the digital art world, there may be art purists still unconvinced of its benefits to physical art.
The benefits NFTs bring to physical art, and the artist are:
- Both the sellers and buyers can definitively prove the artwork is genuine.
- Proof of ownership is guaranteed since the blockchain ledger cannot be faked/altered.
- Artists can continue making royalties.
- Direct contact between sellers and buyers.
How Do You Turn Your Physical Art into an NFT?
Now that we’ve established that physical artwork can be turned into and sold as an NFT let’s tackle the logistics of how to go about it.
The first thing you will need to do before putting up your art for sale is make a digital rendering of the physical work. Digitizing physical art is easier said than done, especially if the artist desires an exact replica of the artwork. Though this step can be quite laborious, it is worth the finishing product.
There are a few methods for digitizing your artwork so that it can be sold on the blockchain:
- Take a photograph of the artwork.
- Scan the artwork with a 2D scanner.
- Recreate the artwork using a design application.
- Tokenize a code or message within a microchip and put it inside the artwork.
There may not be just a single option to digitize your physical artwork. It may come down to trial and error as you consider factors like the size, canvas, and technique of the physical artwork and how that can be translated digitally.
NOTE: each NFT marketplace has its own specific requirements for file size. If your digitized piece of art is too big, it may not be permitted to sell on said website. This article provides size requirements from the top NFT marketplaces.
The Challenges of Selling Physical Art as NFTs
Selling physical art as NFTs would have no drawbacks in a perfect world. Sadly, there are a few things to consider when contemplating selling physical art as NFTs. Some of these issues have simple solutions, while others will need to be weighed out before buyers make any purchases. In fact, many artists hate NFTs based on the following challenges.
Here are some of the challenges of selling physical art as NFTs:
- The seller can choose to sell the physical art and the NFT to two separate buyers. However, the physical art is unsubstantiated without the NFT.
- Counterfeit NFT accounts selling artwork they did not create. Luckily, marketplaces are actively implementing practices to combat this issue.
- Buyers may own the artwork but not the copyright, so they cannot display the work. Look for copyright in the terms of the NFT before purchasing; this is usually stored in the metadata.
- Turning physical art into NFTs could mean the destruction of original physical artwork.
- Creating and Minting NFTs are not cheap, especially if done on the most popular NFT blockchain Ethereum. Minting costs can exceed $75, but there are ways to hack the system and mint for less, which I discuss here.
Often, sellers will offer the physical artwork with the NFT to ensure singular ownership. Other options include a print of the artwork with the NFT, or sellers will destroy the physical artwork— though proof of this should be provided.
Destroying physical artwork is quite controversial and including it in the sale is a savvier move if the blockchain should ever cease to exist, though it’s doubtful that will ever happen.
NFTs have already proven quite lucrative, even if you are not a well-known artist. They still require you to market your work and drive traffic to your NFT platform, but if done correctly, you could greatly benefit from your digital and physical artwork.
To speed up the process and push you closer to success, I’ve written numerous viral articles, including the following:
- 10 Things That Make a Good NFT Project
- 11 Essential NFT Tips for Beginners
- How to Get More NFT Exposure: 13 Effective Methods
Good luck out there, and I’ll see you on the moon!