23/09/2022 Crypto downturn makes NFT artists get creative

NFT artists who can no longer count on a frothy crypto market to buoy sales aren't giving up, but they're having to lower their financial expectations and get more creative.

Why it matters:Artists have struggled to pay the bills since time eternal, and whenNFT mania struck last year, many hoped the tech would provide a lasting solution.

Catch up quick:NFTs are digital records of ownership existing on a blockchain — commonly, the Ethereum blockchain. Artists can "mint" their work as an NFT, then sell the digital ownership rights to collectors.

State of play:Thevalue of most NFTs is closely tied to the overall crypto market, which has been in full retreat this year.

  • A single ether coin, for example, is now worth about $1,300, down from a peak of nearly $5,000 in November 2021.
  • The number of daily transactions on OpenSea, one popular NFT platform, is down to around 60,000, compared to a high of nearly 225,000 this past April.

Between the lines:The NFT market, experts say, was flooded with content of varying quality, creating a glut that forced prices down. There were also more people creating NFTs than buying them.

Yes, but:Even though the hype has dwindled, there's still an active community of people buying and selling all sorts of NFTs, says Lynnette Blanche, co-founder of Desire Path, a digital community for NFT-curious photographers.

  • "There's still a lot of activity that's happening with smaller artists and communities that, if anything, I feel like is consistent with the amount of selling and creating that was happening at the beginning," Blanche told Axios
  • "I just think there isn't as much of this hype that was really prominent on Twitter in the early days, with quarantine and COVID when people were home and had less things to do."

For Noah Kalina,a photographer in New York's Catskills who was relatively early to the NFT world, the phenomenon has shifted from something that could pay the bills to another revenue stream alongside his other work.

  • "In many ways, the NFT market has just become part of life, like anything else," Kalina told Axios.

Commercial and fine art photographerPete Halvorsen has been using the bear market to prepare for what many in the NFT world hope will be an eventual rebound.

  • "I've used this opportunity to start to become more multi-discipline with taking my images, and now I'm working on how else I can present the images — whether it's utilizing some [generative art] aspects to display them to even incorporating some AI into my images," he says, referencing increasingly popularartificial intelligence-based art-making tools.

The big picture:All of those in the NFT world who spoke to Axios for this story agreed that despite the financial pains, the community was better off now that those who were only in it for a quick cash grab have departed.

  • "It's gotten tighter because misery loves company, and people love to be like, 'Hey, man, I'm down bad — let's talk about this,'" says Halvorsen.

Plus, as San Francisco ChroniclephotojournalistScott Strazzante told Axios, artists can still find some financial success selling NFTs — provided they're already big names or get invited to sell their work along with other creators in high-profile collections.

Be smart:Lots of artists criticized NFTs because of cryptocurrencies'energy consumption.

  • However, Ethereum recently underwent"the merge,"a behind-the-scenes structural reboot that dramatically reduced its power use — a change that could draw in more creators if there's another bull market.

What's next:Artists in the NFT space are holding out hope that the glory days will return. But many are realistic about that possibility while celebrating the still-lively community.

  • "There was always, in the back of my head, 'Well, I'm going to flip these and make some money,' and 'This is going to be something — I can quit my job eventually,'" says Strazzante of his NFT collection. "Those dreams are definitely over by now."
  • "But the NFT space in general is just as fantastic," he adds. "There's still a community of people who get together on Twitter Spaces and talk about photography, and I see the work of so many photographers I never knew existed."


Interesting NFTs
Alex in Wonderland
A figure, Alex, stands mostly naked in the midst of a physical and psychological maelstrom. He is clad only in nostalgic 80’s era socks, on a tenuous island between active waters and a variety of shark denizens. Sharks on the right side of the image are all beached, including a shark with a quartz crystal snout, an orange shark wrapped in a life buoy, and a shark further in the distance wearing an 80’s style shirt with the number “88”. On the left side is the largest shark, wearing bright glossy red lipstick and brandishing prominent teeth with braces. She is cordoned off from the figure by a roped float divider, and within her thought bubble is a warning symbol. Behind the figure, hovering in the air, are Grey aliens emerging from the distance, out of a series of elliptical UFO shaped interdimensional membranes. The Greys take on the visual form of spermazoa ostensibly impregnating the interdimensional thresholds. As is typical, these Greys inhabit a zone just behind the unconscious topology of Alex’s dissociative mind. Though Alex’s bottom half is representative, his top half mutates into a psychological cornucopia. In a manner akin to “Auto-Erotic Sphinx”, a predecessor work, the figure has self suctioned—an act of sensual infatuation, enjoyment, and exploration. Upward exists the figure’s primary conscious eye, adorned with a revolutionary beret emblazoned with a Bitcoin badge. The figure’s summit features the nose of a fighter jet facing off against video game Bullet Bills, one of whom is marked by a communist North Korean star. A cropped section of a UFO observes the contest. Alex’s mind branches both left and right. To the left is more singular embodied consciousness, manifesting two eyes and a Ganesh trunk grasping crayons. The right branch dissociates upward diagonally, emerging into an array of eyes, faces, teeth, tail, a unicorn horn, and much more—all of which participate in expressing his unconscious being; a democracy of psychic factions representing thought impressions and associations. All illumination and darkness– fernal, infernal, high consciousness and corporeal underbelly–reside in this realm. In the distance are relatively languid, light clouds, and against the firmament hovers a colossal distant eye peering over the scene and far beyond. This painting possesses underlying genetic traits with previous works such as “Auto-Erotic Sphinx with Toys”, “Dionysus”, and “Fuku-Shiva”. The work serves also as a nod to an earlier period of art inspiration during late teens and early twenties— born out of the nakedness, vulnerability, curiosity, and wonder inherent to coming of age and all subsequent psychedelic revelation.
Ciao! I'm Kitty #370208. I believe the world is flat. In my free time, I can usually be found stinky or reading Danielle Steele. I think you'll love me beclaws I have cattitude.
Discovery of a new planet.
Hell Riders
A still image NFT. Exclusive to makersplace. February 2020.
Welcome to DΞSTINATION HΞXAGONIA. This NFT comes with a full length audio visual experience of one hour which we have carefully created over the course of the last twelve months. You will receive a unique hand-crafted box, which includes a harddrive that contains the only copy of the high-quality file of the film, making it a truly unique art piece. Welcome to the FUTURΞ.