As NFTs grow in popularity in the Caribbean, many artists are finding new opportunities to sell their art and reach new audiences.
Nicholas Huggins, a Trinidadian artist, is one of those who has immersed himself in the new platform and found a way to monetize the work he previously showcased for free through social media.
NFT is the acronym for Non-Fungible Tokens. Non-fungible means that the asset is not transferable and is unique unlike a fungible asset such as cash or bitcoin which can be exchanged for another like them.
NFTs are sold primarily through a type of cryptocurrency called Ethereum and when one buys an NFT, one is buying a digital certificate of ownership of that particular asset. The purchase is made and recorded on a blockchain platform to confirm ownership of the item.
Art, photos, videos, music, and documents can all be uploaded to a blockchain platform as NFTs.
Huggins came to national attention last year when he designed the artwork for Kes the Band’s live album, We Home. The artwork also served as the backdrop for the band’s televised concerts.
Recently, he was hired to create the artwork for a limited edition mug celebrating McDonald’s 10th anniversary in Trinidad and Tobago.
Huggins was convinced to explore NFTs when Stephen Hadeed and Stephanie Telemaque, two friends with a passion for NFTs, told him that his work would be a perfect fit. He had just finished an alphabet book with all the characters illustrated like the local architecture.
“I did 50 limited edition prints which I sold and I thought it would be a good piece to start with, but honestly I had so much to learn,” he told Loop News.
His friend, Sekani Solomon, a motion designer whose work has been featured in Black Panther and for Cash-App invited him to join Foundation, an invite-only marketplace for NFTs.
“I hit it there in May and started researching and doing a deep dive and in October I got an offer, it took five, six months for that offer. When someone bids it triggers a 24 hour auction and it sold for around 0.22 Ethereum which is around $950 at today’s rate so I said there was now a proof of concept, let me work on a collection,” Huggins said.
Huggins’ work reflects the cultural aspects of Trinidadian life and looking at one of his popular collections which depicted the vendor stalls around Queen’s Park Savannah, he decided to plant a flag for T&T in the NFT space by removing elements of this creation to form a sub-collection featuring beers and other elements with puns in NFT lingo.
A Stag bottle, for example, has the word JPEG in place of the name while a bottle of Banks beer has the words Bank Less. He also created a gas tank with the word Ethereum on it.
Huggins sold the beers and other spin-off pieces through OpenSea as a collectible, while the main work sold as a single piece.
“The collection went live, I created a waiting list and between Sunday and Monday I got 17 standalone piece sales, 30% of the collection sold and someone made an offer for the one. of a coin that kicked off a 24-hour auction. process,” he said.
So far, the collection has generated sales of 0.47 Ethereum, or around 2000 US$, while the one coin has sold for 0.3 Ethereum.
“I’ve illustrated a lot over the last eight to nine years. NFTs gave me an outlet where I could monetize the work I’ve done for free, it feels like a natural progression. It’s about years and years of working and building an audience, so this is the next natural progression. There isn’t mass adoption yet, but I wanted to be an early adopter and put my work on those platforms now, so when it reaches mass adoption, I’ll be one of the first to do work like this,” he said of the opportunities NFTs provide.
He expressed his gratitude to those already in the NFT space – Wyatt Gallery, Anya Ayoung Chee, Kiwan Landreth-Smith, Mark Pereira, Stephen Hadeed, Stephanie Telemaque and others who offered him advice and guidance. have helped along the way.
“Whether it’s marketing, pricing, how much to put in the collection, there’s been a lot of help along the way. One of the most amazing things about NFTs is the community aspect, everyone is super helpful and super open and everyone wants to see everyone doing well,” he said.
His advice for those wishing to enter the NFT space is to do your research.
“Do as much work as you need to get started, do your research for a month or two and learn all the technical things you need to know in terms of how blockchain technology works and also what kind of work the market responds to.”