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Artist Guide to Creating First NFT

NFT Art Text Painted on Animated Canvas

Written by Isaiah McCall

Isaiah McCall is an ultramarathoner, comedian, and cryptocurrency enthusiast. He started off as a full-time journalist for USA Today and quickly switched lanes to freelance after falling down the Bitcoin rabbit-hole. He runs one of Medium's fastest-growing cryptocurrency publications Yard Couch. ????????

April 18, 2021

There’s an art to selling a JPEG for millions of dollars. If you are an artist who hasn’t created their first NFT, do not worry. I’m sure seeing amateur works of art sell for thousands of dollars is both frustrating and intriguing. First, follow this basic guide to creating your first NFT.

Nyan Cat, Jack Dorsey, Grimes, Elon Musk, Tom Brady — if you become any one of these people (or entities) it’s really easy. But if you’re a regular person trying to sell NFT for an extra stream of income — or in hopes of doing it full-time — that’s possible too.

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are having their day in the sun, making this the best time to jump in if you’re an artist. Fortunes will be made, or lost, depending on who artists, collectors and humanity bets on: The virtual world or the real one. And there’s a strong argument for each.

Even with little-to-no crypto experience, however, you can easily start selling your artwork as an NFT. That’s the beauty of cryptocurrency; you can stay in your lane just knowing the basics of how you can benefit from it.


So let’s explain in simple steps how to break into the NFT space if you’re a painter, graphic designer, musician, or any kind of person that creates art that can be uploaded online. Let’s start with some frequently asked questions.

What is a non-fungible token?

Non-fungible tokens are unique digital assets that represent a wide arrangement of tangible and intangible items. This could be everything from digital collectible sports cards to virtual real estate and even digital artwork.

“Non-fungible” means the asset cannot be readily interchanged for another of its kind. It’s unique. One of a kind. And that’s what makes them crazy valuable.

What gives an NFT value?

Scarcity, demand, vanity, sensationalism, and perception. are a major part of it. By minting an NFT on the blockchain, you create proof that it is the first of its kind… on the blockchain. The journey of your NFT is cataloged as well so the original owner and date it was minted can be traced.

Can can copy and paste that image of Nyan Cat all over the internet in less than 5 minutes. This is a common talking point. While it shares characteristics of any digital media asset, NFT’s can also behave differently. And those unique behaviors are what has early adopters taking advantage of the NFT gold rush.

Consider the value of an any original artwork in the physical world. What makes one piece more valuable than the next? What makes Elvis’s guitar priceless or the Mona Lisa invaluable? Nothing. Nothing, except the history behind them. The history that, in fact, they were the first of their kind and can never be replicated.

Without any context, Elvis’s guitar is just another guitar. I can easily buy a better, less expensive one at any music shop.

From creation to present owner, each NFT is well-documented on the blockchain.

What is the relationship between NFTs and cryptocurrency?

They’re entangled with cryptocurrency, namely Ethereum, the second-largest crypto behind Bitcoin. With Ethereum you can create entirely unique assets that cannot be replicated. This is done through blockchain technology (which is beyond the scope of this article but learn more here).

NFTs are like owning the rights to a piece of music. When you own an NFT you have a digital certification proving that this is the original. The OG. Even if your image was used thousands of times on the internet, none of them have the originality of your own.

What’s even cooler is that the price of your NFT can be tracked in real-time and whenever you sell it, or someone else sells it after buying it from you, you’ll earn royalties for the rest of your life.

So those NFT millionaire artists aren’t done making money yet.

NFT Art: Getting Started

Step 1: Create a digital wallet

There are many exchanges to sell NFTs on today, but one of the easiest is Rarible; a decentralized NFT exchange with minimal fees.

First, you need to create a digital wallet that holds Ethereum tokens. Because NFTs work through Ethereum’s blockchain you need to use their currency to access this space. Once your NFT is sold, however, you can exchange your money back to U.S. dollars if you like.

Use wallets like Rainbow or Metamask which easily allow you to buy Ethereum with your debit card or Apple Pay. We’d recommend depositing at least $100 to start off. That might seem steep, but since the NFT market has exploded the cost for transaction fees (more commonly known as gas) is high. (Here are some tips to avoid paying high gas fees.)

As Ethereum continues to upgrade this cost will go down. Granted, you won’t use all of that $100 anyway if you’re uploading one file.

Step 2: Connect your digital wallet

Next, you’re going to want to head to Rarible to create an account and connect your wallet.

If you’re using Metamask it’ll connect your wallet in a matter of seconds through your browser. For Rainbow users, a QR code will pop up and you’ll have to scan it with your camera. Nice and easy.

Now you’re ready to upload (or create) your first piece of digital art!

Step 3: Format Your NFTs

If you’re uploading music you can do it straight through Rarible, but artwork is a different animal.

Fully edited — and filter and effect-heavy — artwork stands out more on NFT marketplaces. Artists seem to have extensive experience editing in Adobe Photoshop or other online editors.

Perusing through Rarible will show you that internet history is the most popular artwork amongst buyers. This includes, but is not limited to cryptocurrency-related art, postmodern artwork, memes, or anything new age.

I’ll be honest with you — I don’t think subtle is a word that will ever exist in the NFT industry. Even celebrities involved in NFTs like Tom Brady, Elon Musk, Steve Aoki and Logan Paul are constantly innovating on the fringes of culture.

If New York City museums with extremely progressive, head-scratching modern art piss you off, you may want to stay away from NFTs. Although, perhaps, a more subtle classic art-inspired lane will pave out eventually.

Anyway, meanwhile, upload a high-quality JPG or PNG of your image to Rarible to begin the selling process. Once again, a photo editor is recommended unless you think your image is already up to snuff.

Step 4: List your NFT

Rarible has made selling digital art easier than listing old junk on eBay. In fact, selling an NFT is more or less like a streamlined eBay for the crypto world.

You’ll have the choice to sell one of your images as an NFT or sell multiple (i.e. trading cards or if you just want to sell more than one). Rarible does a good job of explaining each of the parameters for selling such as “Royalties, Instant Sale” and “Unlock After Purchase”.

But here are a few of those options cleared up anyway:

Think of an “Instant Sale” price as eBay’s “Buy Now;” and if you don’t select that option, your artwork will go immediately to auction.

“Unlock After Purchase” enables the buyer to access additional content on a website like videos of you creating the NFT, extra files, or any other goodies you might want to provide.

Lastly, the average royalty price is 20–30%.

Step 5: Pay for Gas (Ethereum fee)

Once you finalize everything you’ll receive a request on your crypto wallet account to send Ether to Rarible. You’re NFT will go up for sale shortly after.

Learn more about way to reduce the cost of gas here.

Key takeaways

  • Download a crypto wallet like Rainbow or Metamask
  • Create an account on Rarible or OpenSea to list your artwork
  • Connect your wallet to the exchange
  • Upload an image after editing it through Photoshop
  • Add your specifications (price, royalties, etc etc)
  • Make that cheddar

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