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Why We Made Our First NFTs

NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are one of the hot topics on tech and design news. As an avid Twitter user, my timeline is constantly plagued by hopeful artists seeking to exploit this new source of exposure and income. It’s as if the starving artist narrative will soon cease to exist as blockchain technology continues meandering itself into the mainstream. Yet a stream of ethical questions surround NFTs…. which is why it took me this long to make one.

Introducing Blossom

As Sr. Director of Design Innovation, one of my tasks is to figure out what’s going on with new technologies and see what I can learn for them to better inform our team, our clients, and our communities.

When it came to creating an NFT, I drafted and prototyped several ideas. From 3D structures to digital illustrations, I could not put my finger on something that felt meaningful enough for me to put my name on. But any designer who knows me can tell you that if there’s something I live for, it’s gradients. If I could use gradients in all of my work I would (looking at you, Web3). With gradients as my medium, I looked towards nature and felt the sun shining, the cool breeze, and the blossoming colors of Spring.

My two NFTs, Blossom and (cherry)Blossom, are a tribute to the season. From darkness comes bloom and its revitalizing properties. (cherry)Blossom is specifically a tribute to the flourishing trees in Washington, D.C. (my new home and one of Online Optimism’s office locations).

Blossom
Blossom
A tribute to the Cherry Blossoms of Washington, D.C.

These are just GIFs by the way. Don’t try to right-click and save my art.

WHAT DO NFTS MEAN FOR ART (AND THE ENVIRONMENT, AND OUR SOULS)?

On one hand, the relatively low barrier of entry for artists (as compared to galleries in traditional art) can be compelling. Digital artists have also had to create spaces and innovative ways to display their own art, which may require additional resources and expertise. It’s not cheap to list NFTs though and still requires baseline expertise in setting up a cryptocurrency wallet and connect it to a marketplace. Additional costs such as gas fees (fees paid to miners) and transaction fees can also increase this cost.

Your NFT is also not guaranteed to sell. Like traditional art, you may have an easier time selling if you’re a big name artist or have competed in this space since its inception. You might be a very talented artist but you’re still competing against the Bored Ape Yacht Club collection which reminds me of the duct-taped banana that sold for $120,000.

NFTs, like the duct-taped banana, may not have artistic merits or the same perceived value of a painting at a gallery, but they represent an opening for masses of artists who would not dream to sell a painting in one. And can you even display your Monet in your metaverse mansion?

Additionally, in a technological era like the one we’re living in right now, artists, technologists, and investors, are making their own pie instead of trying to take a piece out of it by inviting a new era of digitized scarcity and decentralized capitalism.

NFTs also come at an environmental (and ethical) cost. NFTs are minted using an energy-intensive process, called proof-of-work to validate the token’s authenticity. This process can consume the same amount of energy that a U.S. household uses in 9 days. Additionally, the NFT must exist in a digital marketplace, which consumes energy, and then requires an additional 260 kilowat-hours of energy (or 150kg of carbon dioxide) during a transaction. While clicking and uploading seems easy and inoffensive, you must consider the toll our environment is taking through NFTs and blockchain technology.

Finding our NFTs

We have selected OpenSea.io as our NFT marketplace. We hope to give our designers and artist a place (and choice) to list their experiments and make their mark on the digital creative economy.

You can find the Blossom collection on OpenSea.io by clicking the link below:

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