The technology behind non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces brings a host of new considerations for artists – from token standards that dictate who has ownership to user verification to prevent scammers. Beyond that, artists still need to find a platform that has the right audience and style for their work.
Josh Sandhu, who started Quantus Gallery, an NFT gallery, last year, offers his tips for navigating marketplaces. His top tip? Start from your art – and don't forget about fees.
What makes a good NFT marketplace?
‘For both artists and buyers, it's important that the marketplace has a lot of liquidity. That means whether people [are] actually buying and selling pieces of work. There's an abundance of NFT marketplaces, with [some] being developed for specific use cases, but some of the more niche platforms don't have a lot of exposure, so selling a work can prove quite difficult.
‘For artists, some sites are more suited to a particular type of art. You also have gallery-specific marketplaces and curated ones, such as Nifty Gateway and SuperRare. It's absolutely worth an artist browsing [these sites] and seeing where their works fit best.
‘On the buyer's side, it's also dependent on whether you're purchasing a piece as an investment or as something you like and wish to display. In the case that the utility is the art itself, then it doesn't matter so much whether others want it. But if it's an investment, you want to be on a marketplace that has a lot of footfall.’
Why should an artist list their work on one marketplace over another?
‘Their works might be better suited on one platform and not so suited on another, to put it simply. It's almost like having a shop on eBay and having one on Etsy. There's going to be a crossover, but Etsy is more suited to a specific type of audience over a general marketplace like eBay, where you have folks selling anything and everything.
‘Artists also have the ability to approach exclusive marketplaces, such as Nifty Gateway, or even a gallery space and see if they can work on something exclusively. This has a lot more value than general collections, as what you tend to find is that the gallery or curated marketplace will also advertise the collection, simply because they've curated it.’
How many marketplaces should an artist list on?
‘This really depends on the type of project the artist is working on. Are they creating a type of collectible or approaching it more from a fine-art perspective? I know several artists who list on as many platforms as they can. Generally speaking, though, my advice is to see where your art fits and go with that platform. The main considerations are the audience and then any fees from the platforms.
‘The majority of these marketplaces are very similar, but a site like OpenSea will allow you to mint or list your artwork for free if you use Polygon [a cryptocurrency] instead of the Ethereum blockchain. If you're working on a collaborative project, then maybe create a separate site. Look [for] a blockchain developer who can help build a smart contract, where your buyers can directly buy from your site and it'll show as a collection on OpenSea.’
What other developments have you seen in the NFT marketplace space?
‘There are more and more galleries entering the blockchain and metaverse space. What we're seeing is that, because of the sheer amount of work getting listed and minted, it seems to be getting harder for artists to, firstly, get noticed and, secondly, sell their works. The result of this has been more collaborative projects and more curated drops taking priority. Galleries such as ourselves at Quantus Gallery are curating and approaching this digital realm in a similar manner to the traditional art sector. By that, I mean curated and represented artists who have physical exhibitions of their digital works. That also adds a lot of value and I think it's something artists should consider. Aside from their work, how else can they stand out in a market that's getting ever more saturated?’
A version of this article was first published in Courier issue 47, June/July 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.