What Are Art NFTs and How Do They Work? (Key Concepts)

Art NFTs seem like a buzzword that the media is throwing at us frequently these days. Many may wonder what exactly art NFTs are and how do they work; after all, NFTs are trading for millions of dollars. Many may recall artist Beeple’s NFT artwork named “Everydays: he First 5000 Days” that auctioned for $69 million dollars at Christie’s in February of 2021.

In this article, we explain what art NFTs are, how NFTs work, and how you can sell or buy art NFTs on online marketplaces.

What exactly are art NFTs?

NFT art drawing, crypto art
Consensual Hallucinations NFT by artist Serwah Attafuah.

NFTs is the acronym for Non Fungible Tokens. To understand what art NFTs are; we first need to explain the meaning of the word fungible.

The word fungible means that something can be substituted or is interchangeable — like money. For instance, we can exchange 5 dollars for 5 bills of 1 dollar and the value would be exactly the same. So, what this means is that non -fungible objects are unique and can’t be easily substituted. Art NFTs are basically files of digital artwork such as drawings that are tokenized with blockchain technology to prove their authenticity.

Although it might seem daunting to have to “tokenize” your digital drawings or creations with blockchain technology, NFT marketplaces take care of all technical aspects and require creators to simply upload their files in a manner similar to uploading a picture to Facebook.

art NFT of cat with hat
KittyButt by TheKittyButts, $3,386.81 (0.89 ETH)
An Abundant Lack of Motivation by yonvisuals, 84 ETH
Bored Ape Yacht Club by creator of the same name, $1.5 m (397 ETH)

Art NFTs can be digital drawings, images, mp4 videos, gifs, songs, etc; basically, any digital creation. 

How do art NFTs work?

There are two main things necessary to interact with NFTs. To sell or buy art NFTs, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet and to choose a marketplace of your preference. That’s all!

1.    Online marketplaces for NFTs in art

It’s recommended to list your NFTs in reliable marketplaces. Some of the widely used marketplaces for art NFTs include:

OpenSeaRaribleNifty Gateway
Transactions: NFT transactions on OpenSea surpassed the value of $2 billion dollars.

Year launched: 2017

Easy: Uploading files and connecting a wallet is simple.
Transactions:  $150 million in transactions in the last 12 months.

Year launched: 2020

Easy: Uploading files and connecting a wallet is simple.
Transactions: Between May 2020 and April 2021, amounted to roughly $303.8 million.

Year launched: 2018

Easy: Uploading files and connecting a wallet is simple.

2.    Digital Wallet for art NFTs

There are many crypto wallets available, but you should consider one that is compatible with your chosen marketplace for art NFTs.

Cryptocurrency coins to buy art NFTs
Cryptocurrencies for NFTs

Currently, most marketplaces for art NFTs are compatible and work with Ethereum-based tokens (ERC-20 tokens). So, we will recommend wallets that have positive reviews and support Ethereum’s native token, Ether.

MetataskCoin Base
This is a wallet that supports Ethereum-based (ERC- 20) coins and it’s one of the most widely used to trade art NFTs.This is another popular crypto wallet that supports Bitcoin and Ethereum based (ERC-20) coins.

Choose a wallet that is compatible with your chosen marketplace. Usually, marketplaces for art NFTs use Ethereum-compatible wallets like Metatask and Coinbase. But, there are marketplaces built on other blockchains as well. However, most transactions for art NFTs use Ethereum-based tokens.

Upon some research, make sure to choose your marketplace and then decide which wallet suits you better.

Ok, now that we are a bit more familiarized with concepts of art NFTs, we’ll talk about how to sell your digital art on marketplaces. 

How do I sell my art NFTs?

Creators can sell their work on online marketplaces for art NFTs. If you are an artist and want to sell your digital work online, you’ll need to make it a non-fungible token (NFT) first; in other words, you need to tokenize it. 

Luckily, online marketplaces enable anyone to upload their creations (tokenize) almost as easily as uploading a picture on Facebook or listing a product on eBay. So, no worries, there’s no need to know the complexities of tokenizing or the technical aspects. 

Here, we show you the steps to sell your art NFT on OpenSea, but the process is similar on other platforms.

1. On OpenSea, click on “create” on the navbar

Step 1 to create crypto art

2) Create your wallet

step 2 to create NFT art, blockchain art

3) Link your wallet

step 3 to create NFT

4) Upload your file to create your art NFT

step 4 to create art NFT on OpenSea

Upload your file and fill in the information of your artwork such as name and description. Then click on “Create”.

Congratulations! You have successfully created your art NFT!

After this, you can immediately transfer it to your friend’s wallet address or post it for sale

Important to consider…

Light Super Bunny by D40135

Please consider that you will need some Ether (cryptocurrency used for trading in most NFT platforms) on your wallet because most widespread marketplaces need a “gas fee” to run the contract of your sale.

Art NFT and how they use smart contracts

NFTs are based on smart contracts. This is a bit on the technical side.

After creating your art NFT, you will probably want to sell it. NFTs use “smart contracts” of the blockchain to make sure that once an NFT is transferred, the creator receives his/her payment automatically.

Creating “blocks” with the information of your smart contract in the blockchain requires work from “miners”; naturally, they are compensated for their work of creating a block with the information of your contract. So, even though marketplaces take care of all the technicalities, artists still need to pay a fee to post their art NFTs for sale.

So, keep in mind that you will need some Ether to post your artwork for sale.

Why are art NFTs so valuable?

everlasting beautiful NFT
The Everlasting Beautiful by Fewocious, sold for $437,000 (186.07 ETH)

Similar to artworks such as paintings, the value of an art NFT can be tied to the author’s popularity, scarcity, or a special history of the piece. As long as there are people willing to buy crypto art, the NFT artwork can be considered valuable. 

When and if the value of an NFT appreciates, a collector may resell it for a premium. Some people collect NFTs the same they would collect sports cards or paintings, so they may have a personal attachment or appreciation of the digital files.

What benefits do NFTs bring to artists?

NFTs have broadened the opportunities and compensation for seasoned and new digital artists.

  1. Royalties: Not only can creators sell their NFTs for profitable sums, but they can also earn royalties. If a collector chooses to resell her purchased art NFT, the artist of the piece is entitled to royalties; (upon setting terms) for instance, 10% of the new sale price.
  2. Easier access to the market: Before the blockchain, the “middleman” such as galleries had the ultimate say in deciding which artists they wanted to display. However, with NFTs and online marketplaces, anyone can auction or sell their art and display it in front of an international public of collectors, giving artists from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to be better compensated for their work. 

Art NFTs are also a sign of decentralization. Not only do artists have a chance of a fair opportunity to display their work, but collectors as well, gain access to a wealth of more diverse and unique art.

Art NFTs are disrupting the art industry

NFTs are shaking up the conventional way to collect and invest in art.

OpenSea announced that only in August they reached $3 billion in sales volume. The NFTs scene for artistic creations is definitely a tentative segment for artists.


Q: How can I buy art NFTs?

A: Similar to selling, you will need a cryptocurrency wallet compatible with your chosen marketplace. Usually, most NFT marketplaces work with wallets that support Ethereum-based coins, so you may consider that when choosing your wallet.

Q: How are art NFTs an investment?

A: Similar to real-life artwork, art NFTS may appreciate in value depending on the particular history or background of the piece. All investment decisions should be made upon personal research.*

At Vaga, we cover news, galleries, concepts, and about everything related to art, from traditional to contemporary to futuristic. Check our latest articles here.

Written by Tania Perales