The Ethiopian art market has experienced a considerable increase in digital artists who began the craft as a hobby and then turned it into a money-making endeavor. Digital artists like Yordanos Fikru, a 28-year-old animator, initially took up the craft as a pastime but eventually turned it into a source of revenue.
“I learnt how to make digital art as a hobby. I eventually partnered with an international company, and through that I saw how valuable my pastime ability was,” Yordanos said looking back at how he became the animator he is today.
Despite the fact that the talent set is rare, it is not valued or given the attention it deserves.
In most situations, employers take credit for the artists’ work, leaving them with minimal remuneration and almost no credit. Yordanos recounts several instances in which he completed all of the work and his employers swindled him with minimal pay and no credit.
This is why artists like him seek to make money through NFTs while maintaining ownership of their own work’s copyrights.
An NFT (a Non-Fungible Token) is a financial security consisting of digital data stored in a block-chain, a form of distributed ledger. The ownership is recorded in the block-chain, and can be transferred by the owner, allowing it to be sold and traded. NFT data units of various types may also be associated with digital files such as images, movies, and audio, as well as a license to use the asset for a certain purpose.
NFTs, in their most basic aesthetic form, are works of art that are traded digitally; however it is an under-explained version because it is far more nuanced than that.
“A lot of people believe it’s complicated, but it genuinely is the future, and everyone should be aware of it,” said Kirubel Samuel, a software engineer and crypto miner.
NFTs, according to Kirubel, are a block-chain. It makes no difference where a person is or whether they want to purchase or sell; an account is simply required to access the platforms.
“You connect your crypto wallet after joining the platform and then you can buy or sell, but you must specify the NFTs you want to sell. It’s akin to social media in that others may browse your profile, like it, and bid to buy it “Kirubel stated.
With NFTs sweeping the art world off its feet, the notion of the hungry artist is on its way out. Non-fungible tokens have given creators authority, allowing them to earn larger shares of their art creation. This is motivating artists to pursue digital art as a way of expression.
Discipline is required for all types of art. Many people who have so much to say avoid the craft out of fear of not being able to see things through.
According to the Social City Ethiopia art page, digital art is considerably easier than traditional canvas art since technology allows for modifications that would otherwise take days.
There are several do-overs, sample libraries, instructive online courses, and other resources available to help persons new to digital art learn the technique more quickly.
However, as with any career, being good would take perseverance and devotion.
“Personally, the ability to express myself drew me in. Almost anything in my head may take a digital form,” said the artist behind Social City Ethiopia, who wishes to remain anonymous.
More artists, such as Yatreda, which translates to “fence debt,” have been actively selling their work as NFTs, motivating other creatives to jump on the bandwagon while it is still fresh.
Their piece, named “Strong Hair,” was sold as an NFT for 131.41 Ethereum (the currency used on the platform). At the moment they made their work available on the digital market, one Ethereum was worth around USD 2,600.
According to estimates, they made USD 341,666 from a film compilation showcasing Ethiopian culture and hairstyles.
Because of the misconceptions and ambiguity surrounding cryptocurrencies and their legal status in the country, many digital artists are undecided about publishing their works as NFTs.
“It is only illegal to use crypto to pay for things; it is not illegal to own it and convert it into useable currency. The central bank has just recently warned of the risks it may bring,” Kirubel said while discussing the likelihood of Ethiopia adopting bitcoin like other African countries.
NFTs have the potential to be utilized to export creativity, pay artists, and produce foreign currency. The success South Africa has had in using wildlife images to raise money for conservation is a good sign for NFTs’ ability to generate funds for sustainable growth in the future.