Black artists tend to be left out of the mainstream art world, but are getting their art exposed, and sold, through non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. NFTs are becoming part of the digital art world — and Black artists selling NFTs are starting to benefit.
On the art global market, just 1.2 percent is artwork, according to September 2018 data. NFTs are opening Black art to the international marketplace, say NFT proponents.
What Are NFTs?
NFTs are digital assets that represent real-world items such as art, music and videos. Bought and sold online, most often with cryptocurrency, NFTs can be anything from drawings to Internet memes.
How Do You Buy and Sell NFTs?
People can buy NFTs from marketplaces like OpenSea or Nifty Gateway. There are also sites for specific NFTs like valuables that even sell tweets.
How Do Black Artists Benefit from NFTs?
By October 2021, 73,000 art NFTs were sold, according to Statista. While Medium notes that the average price of an NFT sold is $100, African-American artists can still benefit from selling their art as NFTs. According to crypto gallery ONE/OFF, 58 Black crypto artists sold 513 pieces of digital artwork for $736,000 from January to November 2020.
“The fact that there is a public record of ownership that’s easily accessible to anyone with an internet connection makes the challenge of proving authenticity almost non-existent,” he said, adding that digital currency always allows artists to protect their intellectual property while cutting down middle-man costs,” Herman Marigny, founder of ONE/OFF gallery, told Business Insider.
Umba Daima Gallery Helps Black Artists Sell NFTs
There is a growing number of resources for Black artists looking to sell their NFTs. One is Umba Daima, a creative agency founded by entrepreneur Iris Nevins. It started as an e-commerce site, but pivoted to NFTs once Nevins saw the potential to help artists earn more for their work. She created Black NFT Art, a media and community brand run by Umba Daima. The goal of Black NFT Art is to spread the word to the Black art community about the opportunities in NFTs.
“Umba Daima was developed as a concept in May 2020 and the first big launch was November 2020 right before Thanksgiving. It was literally right after we launched the e-commerce store that we started learning about NFTs and then by the end of February we had decided that a Black NFT community was urgently needed!” Nevins told Finurah. “The first iteration of Umba Daima was an e-commerce art store helping Black/African artists sell their work online. When we learned about NFTs in November of 2020, we quickly decided to pivot because of how exciting and revolutionary the NFT space is.”
In September, Umba Daima teamed up with global consultancy and consumer engagement group Troika Medi’s subsidiary Troika IO, the digital assets arm of Troika Media Group, to host a 30-day NFT art exhibit called the ‘Crossroads’ from September 25, 2021 to October 24, 2021. The exhibit, featuring predominately Black artists, kicked off with a live launch party in Atlanta.
Since then, Umba Daima, which is operating as a creative agency with multiple brands and creative projects, has seen increased interest in Black NFT art. Umba Daima now features a virtual gallery called The Unseen Gallery, where Black artists can showcase their NFTs.
“It’s a large virtual space with eight different rooms and event spaces. We are always posting about opportunities or looking for talent so don’t be shy about introducing yourself and sharing your art within our community,” said Nevins.
Nevins has been encouraging Black artists to consider the NFT route as a way to build wealth.
“We’ve been able to educate artists about NFTs by onboarding them through projects. In our last exhibit, we featured multiple artists who had never created NFTs before, and it was a great learning experience for them, plus they got to build real friendships and network! Our next step is to onboard Black collectors into NFTs. Every artist should be striving to become an NFT collector,” said Nevins. “Our vision is to help people from underserved backgrounds build wealth and ownership. Black people in particular have a lot to gain from leveraging this technology. We want to make sure Black people don’t miss this boat! It’s a huge game changer and we take it very very seriously.”
NFTs are a fascinating mixture of art and technology. With organizations like Black artists selling NFTs to reach a whole new audience of art collectors and finally reap the full benefits of their work.