Nadamel has sold over 60 NFTs so far and made a whopping profit of nearly Rs 50 lakh by selling his digital artworks | Photo: Special arrangement
Anantha Krishnan S Kurup, known to many as ‘Nadamel’, is a 23-year-old digital artist and designer hailing from Kottayam in Kerala. He is the founder of the NFT Malayali Community, a non-profit collective of Malayali artists making their mark in the NFT game. His 3D concepts have been featured on Forbes India, Khaleej Times, Outlook India, Behance and more. He was a speaker at the international NFT conference held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in Kochi last month. Nadamel has sold over 60 NFTs so far and made a whopping profit of nearly Rs 50 lakh by selling his digital artworks.
NFT has become the talk of the town and yet many still do not know what it really is beyond its extension, Non-fungible token. NFTs are digital assets that one can buy or sell. They are digitally verified and usually deal with digital art. People can showcase artworks and collect them as well. These artworks are not physical or tangible but exist only in digital form.
Nadamel elucidates on the way the mysterious world of NFT works and about the deluge of opportunities that awaits artists looking for exposure.
How it all started
In March 2020, my senior, Sreekumar told me about NFT and asked me to try it out. When we started exploring NFT that month, there were only around 10 people who were really into it. We were dazed, unsure of what the world of NFT beheld. Sreekumar made me purchase a crypto and mint my first NFT artwork. Once you invest money, you are driven by the passion to win it back. I started researching more about it. Twitter is the main medium for NFT propagation. After a week or so, I uploaded my work on the online marketplace ‘OpenSea’ hoping to make a sale, but nothing happened. After a few days, I got an invitation to a marketplace called ‘Foundation’ and that was it. I started getting bids for my work. You have to bear an amount of money as an expense for uploading your work to NFT. Gas fee refers to the fee, or pricing value, required to successfully conduct a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain platform. It is priced in small fractions of the cryptocurrency ether (ETH). I had to spend an amount of Rs 10,000 for uploading my first work on the marketplace. I started earning profits, got in a good profit cycle and made nearly Rs 35 lakhs. I wanted others to get inspired to do the same and introduce them to this world of possibilities.
I founded the NFT Malayali community with Melvin Thambi, US-based NFT Artist and Designer, to share maximum information about the possibilities of NFT and support artists in ways that we can. Adeeb Abdul Salam, our Blockchain Expert, used to look after the technical side. We organise online sessions for universities, colleges, on YouTube and other platforms as well. We flocked to Clubhouse when it shot to popularity and have held many sessions for beginners.
NFT in layman's terms
Suppose you have a car, a Rolls Royce. I see this car, head over to its side, snap a picture with it and post it on social media saying that it’s mine. But is it really mine? It’s not. The car belongs to you. Just because I post a photo with it, doesn’t mean it’s mine. Another example. If I print a painting of Ravi Varma on a canvas sheet, hang it on the wall in my house and call it the original, it won’t become the original. The actual ownership of the original work belongs to the person who bought it from an art gallery or museum.
The same goes for NFT. If you own one of my works, it means that only you own that work and nobody else. That very principle is what rules NFT. That exclusivity is the very ground that NFT treads on. Uniqueness is the key factor in play here.
If you say you own one of my artworks, the value is not in the JPEG format, it is in the token that is generated from my wallet. It’s just that my image represents the token. This is the concept in layman terms.
Once a person places a bid for an artwork, the auction starts and it goes to the highest bidder. A person who owns a piece can decide to sell it if they want to. Losses are not commonplace in NFT. That being said, losses may sometimes happen when collecting PFP pieces, but only in the worst-case scenarios where the floor value of a project drops or when the project team splits up. Wrong investments may cause losses. Suppose we invest in an artist and if this artist calls it quits midway, then he/she stops existing in that space, turning the investment made into dead money. But again, if the same person makes a re-entry after a while and establishes oneself, then we are looking at a win-win situation. Investments in NFT are made with the hope that they will turn out to be solid projects.
Technically, it is much more than this. The concepts involved in NFT may be a bit difficult to understand in the beginning. It takes time to familiarise with its way of working.
People looking up to NFT
Many people have walked into this field in the past year, some with excitement and others with a sort of apprehension. Many artists have grown through this medium. There is also a radical section of people who claim that NFT is a scam and that everything about it is merely a facade. All I have to say to these people is that I am utilising my time on this platform and making money from it as well.
The great aspect here is that artists get to showcase their work, analyse the work of others and find ground for introspection as to how to improve their work and make more sales.
Flip sides of the same coin
I don’t think I have found any flaws in NFT that I can point out. It has benefited me in every way. As an artist, I have a bucket list of people that I idolise and wish to connect with. NFT gave me the opportunity to do that. Hari Menon, the travel photographer, is someone whom I really adore. I had tried reaching out to him on several occasions but couldn’t. But after the whole NFT scene lit up and he entered the field, I got the chance to connect with him. Connecting with people, collaborating with other artists, getting your artwork across all sorts of social and regional barriers, presenting it before a global audience, investing in artworks, earning for your work, etc adorn the list of pros.
Undoubtedly, one can reap monetary gains from this field, but the connectivity factor is what is most appealing about this medium. It is also imperative to have a good social media presence to stay ahead of the game. That being said, it is quite easy to get engrossed in the world of NFT. People dead set on reaping profits from this space often tend to compromise on their sleep and comfort. That is a very unhealthy path to trudge on. It is inadvisable to limit yourself to the virtual world at all times.
Crypto tax and NFT
Kerala's involvement has been tremendous. It was meagre in the beginning but has seen much change of late. Even celebrities have entered the NFT space. I believe that the coming years will see more people stepping into the NFT space.
'Crypto tax' that was presented in India’s Union Budget 2022 created quite an uproar. This mandates that the crypto investors will have to pay 30 per cent tax on their profits. It is not still clear how this is going to impact the future of NFT. Because the FM has stated that taxing the crypto deals doesn't mean legal protection for the same.The changes that are to come about in the NFT world with this move will have to be awaited.
Why right research before each purchase matters?
Melvin Thambi is an NFT Artist, Designer & Creative Entrepreneur, and Co-Founder of Emm & Enn Art Gallery. He has won the Business Mentor of the Year at Entrepreneur Awards 2017.
There are one-on-one artworks and collections of artworks that may include thousands of individual pieces. ‘World of Women’ is such a collection. It is an enthralling aggregation of beautiful artworks with multiple traits where each work is unequivocally deep, says Melvin.
One must look at certain specifications while collecting a work. Credibility, as it goes without saying, is the key factor that must be inspected. One must also see the authenticity of the artist, how long the person has been there on the field and in the NFT space, and also the quality of the work. Some may not look into this keenly. Collections done without proper study are like blind investments, that may actually result in losses. Investments made after the right amount of research seldom go wrong. Reselling artworks also reel in a great deal of income. In the secondary market, you get a royalty payment of 10% every time that artwork gets resold.
‘Robotos’ by Pablo Stanley can be stated as a good example. Pablo is well-acclaimed and I have looked up to him as an artist. So, when investing in his artwork, there is no room for second thoughts or dilemmas because you know for sure what his work is worth. Its value is assured.
It is important that as a collector you be able to pick the good ones from the bad ones. People with an art background may easily acquire this trait. Investments must also be made by considering the floor price. When investing in a new artwork or project, one must wait until the floor price hits a midrange, then invest in it. Doing the right research before each purchase is imperative.
Many people still look at NFT like it’s just a ‘fad’. People said the same thing about the internet when it first came into being and look where we are now. Featuring art in NFT is just a use case. There can be many use cases that may be explored. Adobe Photoshop is looking at a new feature that lets one protect their digital creations from theft. And why exactly would the bigshots including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Adidas, Nike etc invest in it if it’s just a fad?