If you've stumbled upon this article, you're probably still trying to keep up with this new technology and what's going on with it. In the art space specifically, NFTs seem to provide a new model of ownership for independent artists in a way that the industry has never seen. And within this bubbling revolution is an even smaller community of Black and Brown women pioneers who are disrupting a space that’s already shaking up the world. To truly appreciate and support what they’re doing, let’s break down the meta-landscape a bit.
Web Worlds, NFTs, And Art– Oh My!
We’ve been living in a Web 2.0 world and we didn't even know it. Web 2.0 is what the internet is popularly known as now, where we're mostly consumers of services like social media platforms and business pages for the exchange of our data. But we’re here to talk about Web 3.0, where the real action is happening. It's an extension of the metaverse and it’s the new playground. Unlike being passive consumers in Web 2.0, we’re creating, buying, and/or selling directly with each other in this new world where our information is the only thing that isn't being exchanged.
This is where NFTs come in, our little non-fungible tokens. The acronym just means that NFTs are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of digital content. They come in all forms including video clips, digital artwork, or even a tweet. Buying an NFT is like buying an original painting. You own it and no one else has it. But just like owning an original van Gogh, you can’t stop someone from saving "The Starry Night” as their screensaver just like you can’t stop someone from downloading and sharing your NFT. The value comes from the scarcity of owning it. Everyone in the NFT game has their reasons for participating and there have been quite a few cool ones launched by creative women engaging in this playing field.
Black Creatives And NFTs
In the traditional art world, if you’re, let’s say, a painter, a gallery is a great space to try to get your artwork sold. But the art world is selective and subjective, making it hard for unknown artists, especially minorities, to not only be recognized but also properly compensated for their work. In the Web 3.0 world, artists are not only creating art, but they’re building their own galleries in this magical metaverse. That’s the case for 24-year old Lana Denina, a Canadian artist who wouldn't let ‘crypto-bros’ gatekeep yet another industry that her livelihood depends on. She made headlines after CNBC reported how she made more than $300,000 in less than a year selling NFTs.
This is why creatives like Brooklyn native, entrepreneur, and rapper Latashá are urging others to open up to this world of possibilities. It turned out well for her back in April 2021 when she released an NFT music video. It sold after three minutes, making it the first of its kind in the blockchain "book of records" and making her, reportedly, the first Black woman rapper in the metaverse. Latasha, who's also founder of Lytewrk, a company that offers workshops, meditations and community for creatives, talks about this and more in her interview with The Cutting Edge podcast, describing that as an artist, it was important for her to get paid rather than go viral. NFTs are where it's at for that due to the contracts embedded in them via the blockchain, which provides records of authentic ownership. In these contracts, artists can collect royalties every time their NFT is resold. For many musicians like Latashá, streams and downloads won’t pay the bills but these NFTs will. Now she hosts learning platforms for others who look like her and want to participate.
Not all is pixel glitter and gold in this largely unknown territory. Collectors have already voiced that there’s an oversupply of artwork that just doesn’t match the demand. And yes, the hype about the punk rock monkeys known as BoredApes is kind of weird but that shouldn’t be a deterrent to exploring other art in the form of NFTs. It definitely didn't stop the creatives we’ve mentioned from diving in and cashing out.
As with any investment of your time and resources, be sure to do your research on NFTs, the risks and concerns, and what it takes to actually make a profit. Let us know what you think: Are NFTs the next wave for wealth building and viability for creatives of color?