How to make money creating and selling NFTs as a 3D artist
An NFT is a unique digital token that is created using blockchain technology. Selling NFTs allows content creators to earn recurring income on video games, 3D artwork, VR artwork, and more. It’s a massive industry that shows no signs of slowing down. Popular and rare NFTs are being bought and resold constantly by celebrities, hobbyists, investors, and collectors. And like most ideas born on the internet, anything goes. Even breeding CryptoKitties.
This post guides you through the basics of NFTs, what type of art you can create, and a hands-on guide on how to get started.
What is an NFT?
NFT stands for non-fungible token. Unlike a bitcoin, which is fungible (i.e., interchangeable with any other bitcoin), an NFT is unique and one-of-a-kind. In other words, no other NFT with the same encoding can ever be created. NFTs have become immensely popular because they theoretically solve a common problem in the art business: Digital assets can be freely be copied, used, edited, shared, and downloaded by anyone. But if you own an NFT, you're the sole owner of that digital asset – much like a piece of physical art. The ownership of the NFT is flawlessly secured and authenticated using blockchain. Although it's impossible to stop people from sharing content on the internet, the blockchain ensures that the property rights to the art piece can only belong to one person at a given time.
Here’s the kicker… anything can become an NFT. For example, if you draw art on paper, then take a picture of it, you could theoretically:
- Sell the physical drawing as you would normally
- Sell the photo as an NFT
- Sell “prints” of the photo as lower-value NFTs
It’s all up to what people will actually pay for. However, this idea is mainly theory-based and is constantly challenged. Famous artist Damien Hurst translated this into a philosophical conceptual artwork titled “The Currency” He sold 10,000 paintings as NFTs and offered the buyers a choice after a brief time window:
- Keep the NFT, and he would destroy the artwork.
- Destroy the NFT, and the buyer will be sent the physical artwork.
The project has already netted him $25 million. Which would you choose?
Can I make money on NFTs as a 3D artist?
Yes, 3D artists can make money selling their work as an NFT. When the NFT artwork Everydays: The 5000 First Days sold for a record-breaking $69M, digital artist Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) skyrocketed to be the world’s third most valuable living artist. This new appreciation of digital art as investment assets hints that digital artists will finally get their moment in the sun. Although NFTs are considered volatile, analysts predict only growth for the market. Your NFT artworks can be sold for any price. Unknown artists can sell their work for tiny amounts to gain traction, as even a modest sale could perpetually earn income. Most NFT marketplaces give artists commission every time an NFT is resold. So if you succeed in creating an NFT that is traded regularly, it could give you a steady flow of passive income.
What kind of art sells on NFT marketplaces?
The short story: everything. The long story: Also everything! Photos, videos, 3D animation, gifs, footage of sports moments, 3D models, and snippets of audio – or even tokenized real-life assets such as stock shares, racehorses and real estate.
When it comes to selling your artwork as an NFT creator, there is no recipe for making a lot of money, but some factors can help you increase your chances. For example, by analyzing historical data of NFT art on marketplace SuperRare, art blog Artnome identified the search terms that were most popular on the platform as of March 2021. Below is their core findings (just remember these are now out of date):
- Futuristic, retro, and sci-fi themes are frequently explored and highly coveted by collectors
- “3d” art is the most viewed with higher selling points, perhaps reflecting a ‘medium’ specific to crypto art
- In general, the number of views highly correlates with a price: the hype machine is real
- As in the traditional art world, NFTs tagged with “drawing” tend to sell for less
- The average color palette of NFTs tends toward purple, reinforcing an aesthetics rooted in technostalgia
Regardless of the trends, beginning with your unique style as an artist is always a good place to start. For example, artists used Rokoko to create totally unique NFT art. Spirit Bomb currently sells his art on Foundation for dollar values in the mid-thousands. Popular NFT creators such as Raoul Marks’ creations are for auction on SuperRare and are bought and sold for tens of thousands.
How to create or “mint” an NFT: An easy guide for 3D artists
To create NFTs, you need a crypto wallet, cryptocurrency, and a marketplace. Cryptocurrency (Bitcoin, Ether, etc.) is not only used in exchange to exchange artwork but is also required to perform basic functions on the blockchain network. This means you will be charged a small “gas” fee (the cost of the computing power needed to make your NFT), and in return, you will receive a newly “minted” NFT of your art.
But first, you need to decide on a marketplace.
Step 1: Choose a popular marketplace or NFT platform
When picking from popular marketplaces, we advise you to stick to the biggest ones. The bigger the marketplace is – the greater the exposure for your art.
OpenSea - The world's biggest marketplace for non-fungible tokens and the first NFT marketplace on the Ethereum blockchain. OpenSea offers NFTs in various categories – from digital art and in-game assets to domain names and sports memorabilia.
Rarible - Rarible is a peer-to-peer NFT marketplace that encourages users to engage with each other and comment on the listed NFTs. On the other hand, the site lets artists set ongoing royalty commission rates as high as 30%.
SuperRare - SuperRare prides itself on only offering rare, limited edition pieces of art, selected by the marketplace creators themselves. The marketplace is built as a social network, allowing users to interact with the artwork and artists on display. To get on their platform, you will need to get an existing creator to invite you.
Foundation - Foundation is very popular among indie creators and is known as an up-and-coming platform. Like SuperRare, you will need to receive an invitation. You get 85% of the sale price and 10% of any future sales as a creator.
All marketplaces will provide you with a smart contract for the sales of your digital items on their platform.
Step 2: Set up a digital cryptocurrency wallet
There are plenty of wallet options, each with its pros and cons. A crypto wallet is usually recommended by the NFT platform you choose.
When choosing a wallet, remember:
- Make sure your digital wallet supports Ethereum's NFT token standard ERC-721. If it's not, your options for selling NFTs will be minimal. For this reason, most platforms recommend you have an Ethereum wallet.
- You want to freely buy and transfer cryptocurrency, (so unlike some wallets designed to act as a vault), we recommend choosing a wallet that’s part of a marketplace. You also want the ability to connect credit cards so you can transfer funds in and out of your wallet.
- It's crucial to write down your unique seed phrase (password) and store it somewhere safe. If you lose this phrase, you won't be able to access your wallet (and the digital wallet provider won't be able to help you get it back).
Below are some of the most popular wallets:
Coinbase – Coinbase is renowned for its user-friendly interface and that it accepts all fiat currencies. You can use PayPal to withdraw and sell crypo. Currently, Coinbase supports 51 different cryptocurrencies. A drawback is the comparatively high fees.
Enjin – Enjin is a mobile-only wallet that supports all ERC-20, ERC-721, and ERC-1155 blockchain assets, in addition to several other cryptocurrencies. The mobile-based wallet has a user-friendly interface and security features like biometrics and auto-lock. Unlike many other crypto wallets, Enjin offers customer support.
MetaMask – MetaMask is Web 3.0’s most popular wallet (browser extension or mobile), frequently used for trading NTF on marketplaces like OpenSea and Foundation. Users praise its ease of use. However, the service comes with higher fees and is occasionally slow.
Step 3: Buy cryptocurrency (Ethereum) to “mint” your own NFTs
Ethereum is the cryptocurrency that rules the digital world of NFTs. (There are NFTs based on other blockchains, such as Flow and Tezoz. Remember, you can't trade ETH-based NFTs with someone using another cryptocurrency). So, how much Ether do you need to start creating and selling a new NFT? That entirely depends on the NFT marketplace you choose to join. In general, you can expect to buy around $50 to $150 to kickstart the process.
Step 4: Create and “mint” your first NFT
Find the "Create" button (there's one on all the marketplaces mentioned above) and upload the piece of art you would like to turn into an NTF. Your non-fungible token could be anything from photos and video sequences to audio and 3D models. The critical aspect is confirming that the content is your intellectual property. If you want to make art using existing content that someone else has created, make sure you have permission to do so.
- Give your artwork a title and a description. Add appropriate tags, so collectors can find you.
- Add extra value to your NTF by appending exclusive material, such as a "Making of "-video, a personal greeting, etc. (optional).
Step 5: Sell your NFT artwork
Now you’re the owner of a new NFT, you can list it on the platform for sale. This is pretty straightforward.
- Locate the NTF you would like to sell in your collection and click on “Sell.”
- Choose whether you should sell your art for a fixed price or to the highest bidder. When it comes to auctions, you can choose whether there should be a time limit or not. With endless auctions, the NTF is sold when you accept a bid you are happy with.
- If you’re unsure of the price point, an auction is a great place to start.
- Set a commission rate for future sales (optional).
- Make sure you have funds in your digital wallet to cover the fees.
Selling an NFT of your digital artwork is similar to selling your art in real life. You need to display it, market it on channels like social media, and drive traffic to the listing to make a purchase.
The fees you can expect on an NFT marketplace
From your digital wallet: There is usually a nominal fixed-rate fee on all transactions.
Platform gas fee: Charged when ETH is processed in a transaction. It can fluctuate dramatically depending on the time of day.
Platform service fee: 5-30% of your sale will go to the marketplace as a fee. This can change, so check the terms and conditions before diving in.
Get started on an NFT marketplace
NFTs can feel complex and a little confusing at first. But if you spend the time to understand them, you can make thousands of dollars selling your 3D art. Take the first step and sign up to a platform to monitor transactions and track which artworks are attracting the most attention. Use Rokoko motion capture tools to animate characters in your 3D NFT art, like Rokoko super user Raoul Marks.