Let me start off honestly. Until June 2021, I never quite understood NFTs. In fact, I avoided any conversation about NFTs like a plague. I was amongst the people who thought this was some ridiculous crypto joke. Like who would want to pay millions for an ape image? You gotta be kidding me.
But that viewpoint changed.
On a trip to the US, I was seated next to someone drawing away on their iPads. Obviously, curious & intrigued, I had to ask. The next hour was a profound discussion with Adam Rattigan, the artist of MunchiesNFT on the challenges of being a young-age artist, finding opportunities, and getting involved in NFTs.
The artist explained how he had always had these unique ideas to merge traditional artworks into digital spaces but never really tried it because it was usually frowned upon. Based in London, he was at the time a Creative Manager for a digital agency and like many other fine art grads, he thought he had no career in producing actual art, until he began exploring the world of NFTs. He went on to tell me how NFTs were not only frowned upon but also loathed by artists in the community.
Artists failed to understand why anyone would get paid in millions for a computer-generated zoo animal while the painting they spent 1,000 hours working on does not even get acknowledged.
So why did he decide to launch an NFT project if there were so many challenges was my main question to him?
And what he told me was food for thought that prompted me to think differently.
The answer was very obvious - NFTs are an open technology for anyone to be able to showcase their work to a global audience, get attention, build a community, and attract collectors.
In fact, NFTs had enabled so many artists from across the world to share their artworks and make a fortune! Take, for example, the Iranian American artist Ali Sabet who has become a global phenomenon with his unique portrayal of beautiful & confident women. Or of Beeple who’s collage is the highest sold NFTs. Truly, the art world has been redefined by NFTs, and the more we resist, the more we limit talent and potential to rise and shine.
NFTs limited the barriers to entry. And while problems like scams, cheapstakes etc. still continue, it doesn’t take away the opportunities that would never have been available for artists.
At the end of the flight, I promised to follow the artist on Twitter, and I decided to keep an open mind about NFTs.
Just a week ago, they launched. MunchiesNFT promised a fusion of traditional art with a digital platform like NFTs.
That was bound to create ripples. But before I talk about the effect, let’s talk about the fusion.
Here’s addressing some concerns.
Ask an artist, and that answer might be a big NO.
But according to Adam, who is a fine art graduate from the De Montfort University, artists seek or take inspiration from other artists all the time. So when he’s fusing a work of Basquiat by presenting it on a plate with forks and knives, he’s making traditional art accessible and unique for everyone. You want a PFP of Basquiat; you’ve got one now!
Art is generally subjective. For instance, take a look at abstract art.
There was a time when people would question the meaning and purpose of abstract art pieces. Color blocks on a canvas? Angry strokes covering up each other? Yet, abstract art became a sensation, and it held a different meaning to the eyes of different beholders.
It’s the same with NFT art.
What may be a ridiculous ape picture to one may be a super cool art piece to another.
In the case of MunchiesNFT, Adam fused his love for traditional art with his love for food. The plate + other food utensils are what give the art pieces a unique, trippy art touch, making it eligible as the perfect NFT project - people can use it as their profile pictures or as a painting on the wall! Either way, they’ve got a unique spin of Basquiat, Van Gogh, Frida, Dali, and 50+ other artists on their walls.
Now that’s the fun part.
No one cares about an NFT project unless there’s a community built for it.
This is where NFTs differ from real-world art practices.
In the real world, you would have to pull strings, ask galleries for spots, and hope to get lucky if you want to display your art & have it sold.
In the NFT world, you build a community; specifically, a community that gets crypto gets NFTs, and gets what NFT investment would mean for the future.
That is a very niche community and one that takes a lot of effort to build. But when you are able to build that community, you will find the support you could never imagine getting from elsewhere.
For Adam, his Discord community of 35k members is a source of strength & inspiration. In the future, this community will be helping him support other artists.
Part of the reason why NFTs have gained a bad rep is because of the endless scams that plague the space.
Within a day of launch, MunchiesNFT had to battle 3 fake links on Opensea.
It’s a nightmare to stay legit in a sea of scams, but that’s where the team’s moderators work so diligently on Discord.
Adam and his small team of 2 take turns in moderating the community, manually removing suspicious accounts and reviewing each request to join. It’s crazy work but one that they have to do to keep the community safe. This is critical - if the community’s safety is at risk, the project fails!
A prosperous one at best, that is if they are able to convince the community of the uniqueness of their concept.
At worse, it may fail, but even in that case, it has proven to the world that traditional art forms can be integrated into digital mediums and still maintain their original power.
MunchiesNFT even has a roadmap that mentions a launchpad that will other artists showcase their work and gain support from the community.
Eventually, Adam will be advocating for traditional and digital art forms to peacefully co-exist, allowing for artists to sell their artworks to serious collectors and forming a community that supports a fair and transparent NFT launch.
That said, the journey isn’t easy. The team has to deal with scammers, fakes, fluctuating floor prices, FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt), but most importantly, in building the community.
For one, admirers of traditional art forms need not be afraid of digital technology, but rather they should embrace it and allow for art to be accessible.
Artists may feel slided for not making as much money as NFTs, but then again, the amount of effort going into building a community is more than the amount of time spent in painting a canvas. In a dynamic, super-competitive space, an NFT artist or project founder don’t just display their artwork; they have to promote, connect with influencers, learn new tools & software, manage a community and ensure they are not passed off as a spam project. After all, as I mentioned earlier, NFTs aren’t about the art itself - it’s the community!
I can’t say for sure if I’ll ever invest in an NFT since I’m still new in my research, but I do know that they are here to stay. Even when all the hype’s gone, NFTs will continue to be a space for artists across the world to showcase their potential & make a fortune!
Disclaimer: I have no holding or stake in this project. Where I come from, crypto trading is banned by the government! But I’m a traditional art enthusiast, and this project came across as worth talking about.