Along the Rails Along the Rails

Lucas Zanotto, a Helsinki-based animator and designer whose work we’ve featured in the past, is the latest animator to convert to the NFT business.

In an interview with Fast Company, Zanotto reveals that he has earned six figures in the past year by selling non-fungible tokens of his animated loops. While he has earned income in the past from commercial projects, he has long struggled to monetize his personal artwork — until now.

Zanotto says he was drawn to NFTs in late 2020 because of a feature called “creator share”: tokens can be mined such that the artist, as well as being paid for the initial sale, receives royalties on all future resales. The article doesn’t state what proportion of his NFT revenue so far has come through this system.

Success has more to do with studying the market than with the art itself, Zanotto believes: “You find a collector who feels inspired, they buy a first work for cheap, and they buy the second for [a lot more]. With that big purchase, suddenly other collectors get interested and buy the next.” He argues that the traditional art market works in the same way, with prices driven by the decisions of the mega-rich.

Zanotto also notes that he’d built up a “nice following” online before selling his first NFT collection (for $10,000). He currently has 176,000 followers on Instagram.

His earnings are dwarfed by those of artists like Beeple, who lucked out with multi-million-dollar NFT sales. Yet Zanotto remains in a tiny minority: a mere 1% of NFTs sell for more than $1,500. Prices vary wildly in this market, which only really took off this year, and it remains unclear how replicable his success will be in the future.

Although Zanotto is developing increasingly ambitious NFT works, he isn’t putting all his eggs in this basket. He continues to create other projects such as onsite art shows: “I don’t want digital and physical art divided. Together it’s a medium.” The article also notes his concern that releasing NFTs might hurt his reputation as an artist.

NFTs have proved controversial in some quarters due to issues like scamming, the unpredictability of the market, and the underlying tech’s environmental impact. On the latter issue, it is difficult to create a direct, causal relationship between NFTs and CO2 emissions and, in any case, concerted efforts to reduce any environmental impacts are underway.

For Zanotto though, the tangible upsides of the NFT space outweigh the still largely-hypothetical downsides.

Image at top: “Along the Rails” by Lucas Zanotto and RAC

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