Over the past year, NFTs have gone from being glorified profile pictures to disruptors across creative industries.
In Singapore, renowned brands and personalities have begun to realise their potential. Whether they’re being used as marketing tools or business kickstarters, it’s becoming apparent that NFTs might be more than just a fad.
We have seen the emergence of play-to-earn video games, a resurgence of pixel art, and a whole lot more. Here’s a look at the different ways in which NFTs are making an impact on Singapore’s creative scene.
A Singapore Art Week debut
NFTs were a brand new addition to this year’s edition of Singapore Art Week (SAW).
TZ APAC, the Asia-based adoption entity for the Tezos blockchain, showcased an NFT art collection featuring some of Asia’s most talented digital artists. Titled ‘NFTs: The New North Star’, the collection was curated to celebrate this new medium of creative expression.
On display at S.E.A Focus, the collection was brought together in collaboration with Crypto Art Week Asia (CAWA). “With this exhibition, we aimed to shine a spotlight on just a fraction of the incredible artistic talent we are seeing emerge across Asia and in the blockchain space,” said CAWA founder George Galanakis.
The NFTs were displayed along with QR codes, through which visitors could purchase the respective artworks from NFT marketplaces.
A similar exhibition was also set up at the Art Now gallery at Raffles Hotel. Chanel Lee, the Singaporean entrepreneur who sold out her NFT collection Tasty Toastys this February, was among the artists whose work was on display.
Networked Machines was another SAW exhibition which showcased NFT art in conjunction with physical pieces. It featured the first NFT collectibles which change and evolve over time.
The collectibles start off as seeds and are programmed to ‘grow’ in real-time. Over the course of six months, they’ll turn into fully grown plants. These NFTs serve as an example of how this space has allowed artists to innovate and explore new mediums with their work.
Finally, NFTs also made their way into an SAW exhibition titled ‘Creative Intersections: In the Year of the Tiger. Fashion brand Love, Bonito released their first ever NFT, ‘Tiger Bloom’ as part of this exhibition.
Local fashion photographer Shavonne Wong also created a set of dynamic NFTs, coded to change in lighting depending on the time of day. These were projected in the new Funan mall underpass.
Influencers find new revenue streams
Instagram influencer Irene Zhao made the headlines this January with her NFT collection, which generated S$7.5 million in 10 days. Zhao launched her collection in an effort to disrupt the creator economy and explore new ways for influencers to monetise their content.
Through NFTs, Zhao believes influencers will no longer have to rely heavily on sponsorships and paid advertisements to earn money. They’ll be able to earn solely through their content, rather than the reach and exposure generated by their social media accounts.
With this goal in mind, Zhao has since started teaming up with other influencers from around the world. United under the banner of ‘The CreatorDAO Alliance’, Zhao is currently working with Dubai-based crypto influencer Eunice Wong and Swedish entrepreneur Eric Wall.
Zhao is also the co-founder of So-Col, which is primed to be the first ever Web3 social media platform. So-Col raised US$1.75 million in seed funding this month.
Art galleries embrace the trend
Singapore’s traditional art galleries have also started embracing NFTs. Leading the charge, Mucciaccia Gallery held its first NFT auction last year.
The gallery minted the painting ‘Roman Holiday’ by renowned American painter Frank Holliday as a set of 33,490 NFTs.
Each NFT in the collection represents one centimetre square of the physical painting. The holders of the NFTs are now entitled to a proportionate share in proceeds when the painting is next put up for auction.
‘Roman Holiday’ was last sold for over US$250,000. By offering ownership of the painting in the form of NFTs, Mucciaccia Gallery is lowering the barrier to entry in the world of fine art. Through such a model, enthusiasts will be able to invest in their favourite artworks without having to shell out extraordinary amounts of money.
Singapore-based art marketplace RtistiQ is also bringing traditional galleries into the world of NFTs. The company has teamed up with Indian art gallery, gallery g, to auction the works of Raja Ravi Varma as NFTs.
Varma is one of the most renowned painters in Indian history. His most famous works, The Coquette and Reclining Nair Lady, are considered to be national treasures and can’t be exported out of India.
However, in the form of NFTs, people from around the world will have the opportunity to share a part of the artist’s legacy.
Musicians explore new ways to market their work
With live shows shut down for the better part of the last two years, Singaporean musicians turned to NFTs and the metaverse to promote their work.
Jonathan Chua — who is the CEO of music agency Zendyll and a member of renowned local band The Sam Willows — believes that NFTs will change the way in which artists release their music.
Take homegrown musician jaye’s latest EP release, for example. The artist paired the release with an NFT exhibition which tied into the theme of his music. The exhibition was created in collaboration with Bulgarian artist Mihov and was hosted at both a physical location and at digital art marketplaces.
Along with this, jaye also plans to turn GIFs from his music videos into NFTs and sell them as part of a charity auction.
It’s likely that Singaporean rapper Yung Raja will be incorporating NFTs into his music promotion soon as well. Raja recently launched his own cafe and is planning to use NFTs as exclusivity passes. Holders will be entitled to tasting sessions, meet-and-greets, as well as exclusive merchandise.
Video games become a new source of income
Blockchain games have become exceptionally popular across Southeast Asia over the last year, and Singapore is no exception.
Games such as Axie Infinity have allowed users to earn hundreds of dollars a month simply by playing. This trend seems to be continuing in 2022 and local startups are looking to capitalise.
Singapore-based blockchain project Affyn reached US$1 billion valuation in January after its public listing. The company is building its own play-to-earn metaverse, which won’t require any initial investment for users to get started.
The game will be mapped to the real world and users will be able to participate in unique activities based on their geolocation — similar to how Pokemon Go works. In-game characters will be represented by NFTs that can be bought using Affyn’s crypto token.
Affyn aims to make its crypto token usable both, as in-game currency and for real world transactions.
Ethlas, which recently raised US$2.7 million in funding, is another Singaporean blockchain game which will use NFTs as part of its mechanics. The game already has over 100,000 active players. Players will be able to use the in-game currency to mint Ethlas’ NFTs, which will then provide them access to exclusive tournaments and airdrops.
New developments continue to emerge everyday which further legitimise the concept of NFTs.
It’s tough to predict what the next big trend will be. However, given the rapid rate at which this technology has been growing, I’d reckon we’re no more than a month away from finding out.
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Featured Image Credit: Irene Zhao / Art Now / Shavonne Wong / Yung Raja