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India has one of the cheapest mobile internet costs in the world. The ‘democratization of internet access has been achieved by removing cost as a barrier. Even smartphones are getting more affordable than ever, and one may observe that a person is more likely to have a smartphone with internet access than he is to have a fixed place to live. The said cost advantages in these areas have had a snowball effect of opening up so many opportunities for a lot of people. Let us see specifically how this could help an Indian artisan with a financially weak economic background.
Challenges faced by an Artisan
- Physical space: In order to market their artwork, the artisan needs a physical location or a gallery that sees a lot of footfall to exhibit their work. Such locations are usually available in metro cities or urban areas and are almost non-existent in rural areas.
- Exhibition costs: The cost of displaying their artwork in a prime location can be a significant barrier, no matter how good the artist is. Entering into tie-ups with galleries might not leave them with much income in hand after the gallery takes their cut.
- A platform for demand aggregation: This could even be seen as a summary of the above two points – the fact that there is practically no platform for such artisans to market their work, where the potential buyers could view the art and interact with the artisans. Most artisans do not have the financial means to get access to such platforms.
- Forgeries, duplicates, etc.: While there may be ways to control the risk of forgeries or duplicates, it is not entirely free of risk. The original artist loses due credit at the hands of the fraudster. This also sometimes discourages potential buyers from trying their hand at purchasing artwork.
- Fetching a fair price: Another side-effect of not having a platform is that the hard work usually does not fetch a fair price. The artisan should know exactly what possible offers are on the table.
The NFT Revolution and how it can help artists
Let us get one thing clear first – the path is by no means an easy one. However, quite a few steps could be skipped on the road to the success of the artisan with the use of NFTs. The following points may be considered in relation to the above:
- Build an online presence. Leverage social media and win over at least as little as 1000 loyal followers using your art as the point of attraction.
- Complement the sale of physical art pieces with an NFT version of the same for the digital audience.
- Express the background or story behind each piece of art. Further, if the artisans themselves can give a little insight into their journey to their audience, the art becomes more desirable and authentic. The Vice President at WazirX NFT, Vishaka Singh, believes that: “A collector who comes on our platform needs to be assured of the fact that these are unique, authentic real credible creators”. (The Indian Express)
- Listing the NFTs on the right platform gives you access to a global audience. Further, the listing fees or ‘gas fees’ as it is known in the NFT world, is nowhere as high as it is in comparison to listing physical artwork. In fact, the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) allows listing of NFTs for a gas fee as low as $1.
- There are quite a few benefits that accrue to the creator/artisan even after the primary sale. A ‘royalty’ can be set to be paid to the creator every time their artwork achieves a subsequent sale. One would rarely find such deals on the sale of physical items.
- Since the NFT would exist on a blockchain, it would be impossible to duplicate the same. The credit for the art would always flow to the creator.
Both art and the artisan cannot be looked at in the traditional sense anymore. The NFTs provide a reach like never before. There is still work to do for the artisan, but the work is cut out for him. Most of the typical barriers to entry are now non-existent.
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