Crypto art can come in many forms, a photograph, painting, pixel art, snippet of video, 3D models, or even a tweet. What sets crypto art or NFTs apart from traditional forms or digital art is the fact that they are minted on the blockchain.
Minting involves turning a digital file into an asset on the blockchain, thus creating an NFT.
There are costly “gas fees” involved in doing so, which are the transaction fees that users pay to miners on a blockchain to have their transactions included in the block.
We say costly, because the fees fluctuate based on supply and demand, and are transacted in cryptocurrencies. Therefore, artists who are new to the crypto and NFT realm may not have the resources, or even the knowledge required to use them.
How then can a Malaysian artist start selling their works on the blockchain? Where do they even start?
These are the questions MalaysiaNFT was set up to help answer.
A support group for NFT artists
Launched in March 2021, MalaysiaNFT was started by Munira Hamzah, who came up with the name. Later on, she was joined by Layla, Grey, and Alex, a 3D artist and photographer, to kickstart the community.
Munira had dabbled in the NFT space earlier than most of her other teammates. She’s the crypto artist behind Mumu The Stan, where one of her pixel GIF art pieces had impressed a Linkin Park band member who then bought that NFT for the crypto equivalent of RM7,400.
To put it simply, MalaysiaNFT is a not-for-profit group that helps Malaysian artists get into the NFT world. Through this group, the aim is to help artists grow their careers in NFTs without the worry of having cryptocurrencies before they can mint their works.
The team does so by providing educational materials, funds for minting, and peer support to empower artists while uplifting Malaysian art in the global scene. Alex and Munira believe that this could enable crypto artists in getting started despite their lack of financial ability.
“There was a lack of community in the local NFT scene. Hence, we created a Discord group to conduct events and provide the necessary materials about NFTs, which allows the community to help, guide, and support one another,” they told Vulcan Post.
There, artists can find a set of materials needed to understand topics including what NFTs are, the concept of decentralisation and blockchain, and what platforms are available to mint on.
Content is usually shared in the form of articles, along with videos of talks surrounding NFT-related topics that can be found on its YouTube channel.
Funding the artists
As mentioned earlier, MalaysiaNFT also provides artists with funding and help in minting their work.
To vet applications, an artist would need to send MalaysiaNFT any social media or portfolio links so the community can know they are in fact an artist who has never minted before. This is because the funding is only offered to first-timers.
“We provide 0.33 Tezos (about RM6 at the time of writing) per artist to start minting on the Tezos platform,” the team explained.
Tezos is a decentralised open-source blockchain that can execute peer-to-peer transactions and serve as a platform for deploying smart contracts. The cryptocurrency for the Tezos blockchain is tez which has the symbol XTZ.
Funding is acquired through donations to MalaysiaNFT, where most transactions are done via crypto. The advantage of this is that everything is recorded on the blockchain, and is available for anyone to view the transactions.
This affords a level of transparency not usually seen in the traditional fiat world, according to the team.
But one of the biggest challenges the team also faced upon first starting their community was the difficulty in seeking funding as MalaysiaNFT was not registered as a company or non-profit organisation.
This posed a challenge for them while planning to host Crypto ArtWeek Asia: Malaysia (CAWA Malaysia), but the team soon found a way around it.
“We overcame this problem by raising funds through selling NFTs and having auctions in which we gathered about 200 Tezos,” they said. 200 Tezos is equivalent to about RM4,000 at the time of writing.
Bringing artists to the regional stage
CAWA Malaysia is the satellite event of Crypto ArtWeek Asia (CAWA), a global week-long event which took place in July 2021 that highlighted the best of crypto art in Asia.
MalaysiaNFT had a virtual gallery that featured Malaysian artists and hosted talks that ranged from copyrighting law to CleanNFTs (a move for less energy use and eco-friendlier NFT activities). They even had a panel discussion featuring Red Hong Yi and Munira herself, along with blockchain developers.
When asked about how MalaysiaNFT got involved, the team shared that they responded to an open call from the main CAWA team who were looking for anyone willing to help.
As of now, MalaysiaNFT’s website only features information about CAWA, which the team is in the midst of refurbishing. Hence, their main platform to showcase local talent in Malaysia will be focused on social media for now.
Their supporters thus far include a mix of NFT artists, collectors, developers, members from Tezos APAC, and founders of organisations in the crypto space like CoinGecko.
Using crypto for good
Since starting the MalaysiaNFT community, the team has noted the rapid growth in Malaysian artists minting NFTs. What started from just a handful of them have now grown into tens of thousands, the team pointed out.
But their impact also extends beyond the growing NFT artist community. In sharing their most impressive achievement thus far, the team mentioned their community’s efforts in raising funds for the recent flood victims.
“A Pentas user NoFutur3_ raised around RM80,000 in BNB (Binance coin) through donations from the Pentas NFT community,” they said. Pentas is a Malaysian NFT platform on the Binance blockchain.
Meanwhile, MalaysiaNFT raised funds worth RM14,752 in Tezos currency. As of December 21, they were collectively able to raise about RM130,000 in various cryptocurrencies.
In the near future, the MalaysiaNFT team is planning to create a more engaging community and to further educate people about blockchain technology and decentralisation. This is because they’ve noted that many had jumped onto the NFT boat without knowing much.
Therefore, through more meetups, they’ll be able to engage the community better and provide in-person guidance.
I’ll be honest, it took me much research about crypto and NFTs to even understand the basics. Before this, I was confused and struggled to pick up the concept.
So, I can empathise with how difficult it must be for artists wanting to mint their works and having no knowledge of where to start, even more so because they have something to lose if they don’t do it right.
Thus, MalaysiaNFT providing a community where artists can learn about the concepts and receive funding to mint their works is a worthy effort by the team. It will take more time before the community is fully fleshed out, but where they’re at is already a good start. After all, NFT adoption in Malaysia could still be said to be in its infancy.
- Learn more about MalaysiaNFT here.
- Read more of what we’ve written on NFTs, blockchain, and crypto here.
Featured Image Credit: The MalaysianNFT team in the metaverse