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The Journey into NFTs from Physical Art

Colours of Hope by @roscoe_masters_

I had the pleasure to get to know Roscoe Masters whilst living in Cape Town, South Africa for several years.

Our first art related experience together was Roscoe taking me on a graffiti tour of Cape Town; mainly in Woodstock and Salt River areas. This is an art form close to Roscoe's heart, since he used to pack up his rucksack with cans of spray paint and go off to find his next 'canvas'. I wouldn't doubt if he still has the bug to do 'street art' occassionally.

Roscoe's graffiti origins are still present in his very unique style of work. Roscoe has a clear vision of who he is as an artist that is reflected in all of his work...I can spot the 'Masters' artistic signature in his work.

As a good friend, Roscoe asked if I would like to help him into the NFT art world. Since I've been researching NFTs for physical art for a couple months, I welcomed the opportunity to take this journey with Roscoe.

I will chronicle Roscoe's journey into NFTs in a series of posts. I have no doubt, sharing the steps we take in Roscoe's journey will quite likely give other artists the information, and maybe the confidence, they need to take their own NFT journey.

Selling NFTs is Simple...NOT

Yes, all that steps that go into creating an NFT and posting it on a Marketplace are relatively simple. But there are many layers of complexity that will impact if you make a penny (or whatever currency you use). Some factors that are important are:

  • Pricing your NFT

  • Understanding the 'Smart Contract' and goes with your NFT

  • Determining what the unique art is; the physical art; the NFT and a number of other iterations.

  • How to market on the NFT Markets

  • How to keep costs and fees, specifically 'gas fees' as low as possible

Before I continue, I want to stress that I am NOT a NFT legal expert. I'm only offering alternatives based on what I've learned through research. It's quite possible that NFT methods of transactions will evolve by the time this blog is published and some of what I've written will be outdated.

The Big Question - Is the Physical Art Unique or NFT?

In my view, this is a head-scratcher.

It's very simple for digital artists. In fact, NFTs create a whole new world of opportunity for digital artists and is richly deserved.

Digital art has arguably long been undervalued, as there rarely exists any identifiable “original” that a digital artist can sell. NFTs present a solution to the problem of digital art “originals” as they allow a digital artist to sell a unique, original digital record of their work in place of a tangible original.

My primary interest is in how artists making physical art like paintings, drawings and sculpture can benefit from NFTs.

There is a initial benefit right from the start for creating NFTs; that is that the art is exposed in a large marketplace and it's very easy to sell art directly to the collector...NO middle man fees. This one aspect represents a huge financial opportunity for artists. On another level, it creates opportunity for buyers; art can be more affordable when buying direct.

It's also easy to convert physical art to digital and to list for sale on a NFT marketplace. It does take some care and producing high quality digital images of the physical art is imperative. To me, the issue is what the NFT buyer owns. There are questions like, can the physical art be sold to one buyer and the NFT to another buyer for starters.

My personal preference is to use the NFT primarily a way to market art and as certificate of ownership of the the physical art. In this scenario, the NFT can be posted for sale on a NFT online marketplace. The transaction completed, and in the smart contract attached to the NFT the artist promises to ship the physical art to the buyer. As a buyer, I want both the physical art and the NFT. As much as I prefer this method, it does have a couple potential problems. First, some art, especially sculptures, can be a challenge to ship. Another possible problem for the buyer is that the seller may not live up to their promise and send the physical art. It's quite possible that the Seller can profit from the NFT sale and sell the physical art to another buyer.

Another method to sell the NFT representation of the physical art and then destroy the original physical art. For example, the artist could video burning a painting in include that with the sale of the NFT. As an artist myself, that seems painful. But, maybe not for other artists.

Another method is to is to put the NFT code into a microchip and embed the chip into the art. A little techie, I agree. This also has the added benefit of providing the location of the art.

The last alternative I'll introduce is creating new digital variations of the original physical art. A couple prominent artists I've seen taking the approach are Trevor Jones Art ( ) and Mario Henrique ( They have converted physical art to new original art in the form of digital animation. With this approach the artist is literally creating new, fully unique art based on the physical, but changed through animation.

As a final thought, it's worth noting that NFTs are not limited to art. They can be used in many ways.

As reported in an Economic Times article, 'A physical painting or an NFT, which is a better investment?' For example, some NFTs are testing the connection between the virtual and the physical worlds. Cult Wines, a company that advises on fine wine investments, is auctioning off a barrel of Château Angélus via an NFT. The highest bidder will get the barrel — equivalent to about 300 regular-size bottles of wine and worth at least $100,000 — but also decide what size bottles to put the wine in; have a virtual tasting with the estate’s chief executive, Stéphanie de Boüard-Rivoal; and participate.

In my next post we'll show Roscoe's art as an NFT and listed for sale on a marketplace.

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