The thing I hate about being an NFT Artist

‘Burn Out’ by NRG (on OpenSea)

Don’t get me wrong. I love where I am right now in life. I’ve always thought the ideal way to live life is having a job that doesn’t feel like a job. No retirement, just getting up every morning to do the thing you love until you die. I’m lucky enough to be able to make some personal decisions and changes and focus entirely on my art.

Things have not always been this good, however, and I’ve been haunted by mental health issues my whole life, at varying levels of severity. Unfortunately, doctors can’t open a broken brain, look inside, tinker and fix it. Therapy, as much as is required, is essential and this helped me understand myself better than any drugs or self-medication with alcohol ever could. Better insight helped me see there are some things (whether they be people, places, ideas, habits) that are just not healthy for me.

Social media is one of those things. I started to pay more attention to how it made me feel, how important it was to my healthy functioning, and I realised it had net negative value. Sure, I knew more about what was going on socially and I could stay in contact with people easily, but there was always a downside…the latest outrage, online drama, too many demands to be always on and available, and general exposure to depressing news about what’s going wrong in the world. Social media has become a monster that lives off our emotional energy and most of this is negative- based on anger, fear and worry. Cleaning up my online life and getting off social media made an obvious improvement to my mental well-being….until I got involved with NFTs.

A lesson everyone entering the NFT space learns is, at this moment in time, you need to use Twitter daily if you want to get any sales traction. I didn’t want to believe it was true at first but then it became clear, and it was confirmed for me over time. The NFT scene is small and while it’s growing thanks to record breaking sales being reported in the media — and celebrities and big brands getting involved — it’s still the playground of the crypto crowd: Crypto-natives who have been trading for years, and cryptoartists with a few years under their belts. To jump into this new frontier, you need to learn about cryptocurrencies, which can be daunting for artists — a group not particularly known for being highly tech-savvy.

The learning curve was made obvious to me when helping an old friend, who is an established and collected stencil artist, with advice on getting started in NFTs. I sent him all the information I could gather on getting started, navigating cryptocurrencies, the platforms, and of course…Twitter. After days of chatting and a Zoom call, he admitted to me: The one thing that really scared him about getting into NFTs was Twitter. He just didn’t want anything to do with it. He is adept at managing his Instagram presence and knows what it takes to get reach and followers, but Twitter was just something he never wanted to use. It is not a natural part of an artist’s world.

I feel exactly that same about it. I’m never going to enjoy using Twitter. It’s everything I chose to leave behind, and I didn’t even use it before I quit social media. My ambivalence (or perhaps is it resentment?) over having to use such a tool against my own choices shows in my follower count. I don’t engage as much as the algorithm wants. I don’t follow, and like, and retweet, and quote tweet as much as I should. So, my engagement is abysmal. When I do tweet, I often get no response…like I’m tweeting into a void. And this is an unpleasant feeling.

I made a close friend in NFT Twitter who joined months after me, and within a few short months he eclipsed my following of 50 people (one of which was my dog). Recently he sold a work for 2 Ethereum ($6700US), is well collected on primary and secondary markets on the popular Tezos platform, Hicetnunc, and has over 900 followers. We joke about my Twitter following and he tries to help. He offers advice and I know he genuinely wishes my art was more seen.

I know I could try harder on Twitter and do more of the right things, but I’m also wiser now. I need to look after my mental health, or it affects my art. My creativity and productivity are closely tied to my mental wellbeing and mood. My only means of marketing being something that negatively impacts on my art is an unfortunate paradox. When my poor Twitter performance makes me depressed, I close off and retreat to my art where I can feel better, but then my finished product doesn’t sell because I haven’t put the marketing in. Or is it because my art is bad? There are those thoughts lurking in wait for when I’m not telling myself that I’m a terrible marketer. A scroll through my feed can show me all the other art that’s selling, and how happy all those artists are that they “gonna make it”, further reinforcing the thought that maybe I’m “not gonna make it”.

This all sounds horribly negative and kind of pathetic, but really, I’m ok 😊

I keep going, and I know I’ll keep going. I’m doing the thing I love, and the thing I was compelled to do ever since my tiny fingers could hold a crayon and draw on the walls of my childhood home.

I know with certainty that one day Twitter WON’T be my only marketing channel. One day I WON’T feel bad that someone unfollowed me, because I’ll only check Twitter once a week to drop some hilarious anecdote or a well-timed shit-post.

Until then, follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you back 😉

TL/DR: it’s Twitter.

Pop-Art-ish digital artist. My work is available predominantly as NFTs. I write about trying to make my way as a new NFT artist