What is an NFT?
NFT stands for Non-Fungible token. It's a digital asset that is living and traded on the Blockchain. In my own words, pretend your Pokemon cards when you were growing up had a central marketplace. Let's also say that marketplace was digital. So you could flex your cards to your friends on your phone or Computer instead of carrying around a huge binder. Additionally, every trade/transaction with your cards was recorded and saved forever in this marketplace. Each card you obtain comes with that transaction history. That's what the Blockchain does for NFTs. But NFTs can be just more than just art. Let's pretend your digital Pokemon cards also gave you entrance into the "Global Pokemon Convention." There are several creative ways NFTs can be created and implemented. Experts are saying many consumer goods will become NFTs traded on the blockchain, houses, cars, etc. Hopefully that analogy worked for you! Here's a more technical source to look at if you wish!
What is so special about your NFT?
This is the question I asked myself before I even decided to release an NFT. So let's start with the obvious, #1 you get a cool piece of art that you can flex in your digital wallet. You will be publicly known as the owner of the piece. #2 I will ship you a physical copy of whatever you NFT you purchase. That means an art print of the digital NFT piece. Or down the line when I start to create virtual painted garments, you'll get the actual garment! #3 I'm thinking of other surprise and delight value adds to my NFT holders. Nothing big, but it could mean automatic entry into any giveaway that I do, or a 1 on 1 conversation with me, free copy of my annual book, and more! Think of it as a Costco Gold member card but to DeVoCustoms. You'll get to unlock exclusive promotions and experiences. I'm focused on building a community aspect to my NFT collectors! Check out my PERKS page for more detail!
Lastly, I think the coolest part about purchasing my NFT is getting the opportunity to invest in me and my growth as an artist. I love what I do and will be dedicating the rest of my life to being the best artist I can possibly be. Who knows, as I continue to grow and gain a bigger following the value of my work could go up. In which case you could then list it on the blockchain and make a profit for yourself! The incentives are aligned so that it's a win-win! I can't guarantee that the value will go up but I can guarantee that I will put everything I can into my brand to attempt boost it's value.
How do I purchase your NFT?
*First things first, PLEASE acknowledge that the NFT market is extremely volatile. I highly suggest that if you are going to purchase my NFT or any NFT project, Only invest money you can afford to lose! I am not a financial advisor, but please BE SMART with your money in this space.*
Now that that's out of the way, here is the process of how to purchase NFTs and my personal NFT projects! Heads up, the blog link at the bottom of this paragraph really breaks this process down better step by step. But I'll explain the key steps in my own words in chronological order. You'll need to:
1. purchase Ethereum. Ethereum is the cryptocurrency I'll be using for these early projects. To purchase Ethereum I recommend you use the app Coinbase. Here's a link to purchase Ethereum on Coinbase.
2. Once you have purchased your Ethereum you'll need a digital wallet to house your Ethereum as well as your future NFT purchases. For this I recommend using MetaMask. Then you will transfer your Ethereum to your MetaMask wallet. From here you will be able to connect your wallet to almost any marketplace and purchase NFTs with your Ethereum. For example: pretend you're going to a foreign country, you need to exchange for the proper currency. Let's also pretend you need a special "Foreign wallet" to be able to use your new currency at the local markets. This process is similar.
3. Now that your wallet is loaded with Ethereum you can head to my listings on Opensea and connect your wallet to the site. Once your wallet is connected, it's time to shop! Please note the different buying methods, auctions vs buy-it-now. Additionally, there will be a transaction cost called 'gas.' Be sure to budget for that as well.
4. The final step if you want to transact with some of my NFTs is that you will have to bridge your Ethereum to the Polygon Network. (Real quick - Polygon is a side blockchain that has cheaper fees and is much more energy efficient/sustainable.) Please note that it comes with a cost, please factor that in when you are initially purchasing Ethereum.
Here is the REALLY helpful blog post by my favorite entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and his team who do an absolutely wonderful job of breaking this down step by step. These directions are what I used to start my NFT journey!
What are you doing about the environmental impact?
This question and this question alone was my biggest hesitation to even beginning my NFT journey. Let's first start with the facts and not sugarcoat it. NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain in their current state are horrible for the environment. But let's dive into Why. I've done a fair amount of research on this, and the way Bitcoin, Ethereum, and some other cryptocurrencies are set up is that they use a consensus mechanism called "Proof of Work." A consensus mechanism is basically a math coding system that validates a transaction on the blockchain. The "Proof of Work" mechanism essentially implores many virtual coders to work as hard and as fast as they can around the world to solve the math equation that validates the transaction on the blockchain. That virtual coder is then rewarded for that accomplishment. So imagine 1,000 hamsters running on their wheels at the same time to see who can run the fastest. Then look at how much energy they collectively used. This inefficient energy use is what burns a little over 100 lbs of CO2 PER transaction. This is not good.
To mitigate this impact I have switched some of my projects to be hosted on the Polygon Blockchain. Polygon is a different blockchain platform that is not as big as Ethereum's but currently does the same thing. A huge benefit is that Polygon uses a "Proof of Stake" consensus mechanism in contrast to the "Proof of Work mechanism I discussed above. So with 'Proof of Stake' using the hamster analogy, this would allow hamsters to basically place a "Stake" or bid on the chance to run as fast as they can to get the reward. Since only a few hamsters will put up a bid to compete; collectively the energy spent goes way down.
As another solution, I will be measuring my CO2 use with every transaction and use the site Offsetra to donate funds to environmental projects that help "offset" the environmental impact. Now this is still not a polished fix for the environmental damage my NFTs could potentially cause. It is still better to simply not diminish energy.
So with this being said, I completely understand if I get cancelled for this poor treatment to the environment. I will not point to "whataboutisms," or get defensive. I accept this fault and will try my hardest to uphold the other eco-friendly practices I can take part in daily. The one good thing is, I believe hope is on the horizon. The owners of these blockchains understand that NFTs are not doing the environment any good. In fact, Ethereum has already come out that in 2022 we will see some improvements to minimize their environmental impact and implement 'Proof of Stake'. Lastly, when it comes to environmentalism and NFTs, I do firmly believe that in the Macro, the blockchain technology will be a good thing for the environment. Think about how powerful the tracking could be to help businesses, brands, and people trace where their waste is going and see how it has been repurposed or not! I think the transparency it offers will go a long way in the quest to save our planet. There are already some cool Environment-focused NFT projects out there.