The market for NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, has exploded this year – and many creators have profited off of the hype.
Among them is Brooklyn artist Blake Jamieson, who has made over $46,000 within roughly six weeks, between the first day of February through to mid March, selling NFTs of his artwork on platforms like SuperRare and OpenSea.
"I firmly believe that I will be a millionaire in like eight weeks, just because I see the potential of the NFT stuff," Jamieson says. "I have a really big rolodex of pro-athlete clients and they're like beating down my door to do this stuff."
NFTs are unique digital assets, like jpegs and video clips, that are represented by code recorded on the blockchain, a decentralized digital ledger. Each NFT can be bought and sold, just like physical assets, but the blockchain allows for ownership and validity of each to be tracked.
Jamieson, a successful artist known for his vibrant paintings who has a clientele of professional athletes, including former NFL running back CJ Anderson, learned about NFTs from his friend, NFT artist and former MLB player Micah Johnson.
Jamieson created NFTs of his art, ranging from athlete portraits to abstract paintings, by taking high-res images of his past works and minting those jpegs to be listed on NFT platforms for sale. For example, Jamieson took pictures of sections of a "trippy, funky" acrylic pour painting that he created in 2020, and listed each individual "chunk" of it as a separate NFT on SuperRare as a series.
"I was like, 'Somebody's going to pay me over $150 for that jpeg of a painting that I painted two years ago and I don't even think about anymore?' That gets me more excited," he says.
Once bids started to come in, thanks to SuperRare's algorithm, "it just snowballed."
In about a month and a half, Jamieson made approximately $40,000 on SuperRare from 17 sales. Overall, on SuperRare, Jamieson has sold 19 NFTs for $44,399 to date, according to the platform, with his highest NFT sale being $4,772 and an average sale price of $2,336. On OpenSea, Jamieson sold one NFT of his painting of Lebron James, which sold for about $6,500.
So far, his NFTs have sold for less than what Jamieson makes on his physical art — he typically sells pieces for $10,000 to $15,000, for a total of about $100,000 to $150,000 a year, he says. But in 2020, Jamieson made around $800,000 due largely to a collaboration with collectibles company Topps, which commissioned him to recreate 20 different "iconic" baseball cards for the company's Project 2020.
But, "having that extra NFT income makes a huge impact on the business today," he says.
Now, Jamieson promotes his NFT drops on social media and is excited about the potential.
"There's proven scarcity with these things, whereas you could get a print and they could say, 'Oh, this is one of 10,' but there could be 50 printed. You wouldn't know. But with NFTs, you will know," Jamieson said.
"Just think about the long-term growth of the concept of absolute authenticity, provable scarcity. That's a lot more exciting than, 'You just bought a jpeg.'"
Jamieson is currently working with Topps again for a series called Project70 with which he projects he'll make $500,000. And he'll continue to sell NFTs on the side.
Recently, the NFT market has seemingly cooled off, as sales volume subsided, with a decline in pricing as well. But Jamieson is confident that the market will continue to grow, even if pricing stabilizes.
"I do think there's a bubble right now with the prices that things are going for," he says, but "I think that [the current NFT market] is just the tip of the iceberg of what's possible."
"I think it's a great opportunity for artists and it's silly for artists to ignore it at this point. I don't think it's going anywhere."
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