How to create your own NFT: Lessons from my first practical adventure

‘Metaverse’, ‘NFT’ are the latest trending buzzwords on the internet and fashion industry seems to have taken the lead to enter the world of digital fashion and NFTs with major brands like Karl Lagerfeld, Gucci, LVMH, Nike joining the metaverse.
 
I wanted to join the gang of early adopters and wanted to dig in and find out what the fuss is all about.

What is an NFT?

NFTs prove ownership of a unique digital asset like art, music, collectibles, videos, or anything else with blockchain technology. NFT stands for non-fungible token. That sounds like an intimidating technical term, doesn’t it? But NFTs are digital certificates of authenticity.
 
NFTs are like a signature for digital items. And like physical certificates, they document:
 
  • Who created it
  • When it was created
  • Who bought it (and when)
  • The price(s) it sold for
  • Who owns it now
 NFTs can contain any data the creator wants to include, but the above is most relevant.)
 
All this is public via a blockchain, so anyone can trace each of your NFTs from the original creator all the way to your wallet—and verify its authenticity.

How is NFT different from Bitcoin or cryptocurrency?

“Non-fungible” means that it’s unique and can’t be replaced with something else. For example, a bitcoin is fungible — trade one for another bitcoin, and you’ll have the same thing. A one-of-a-kind trading card is non-fungible. If you traded it for a different card, you’d have something completely different. It’s like no two thumbprints are the same. Each is unique. And if you exchanged one thumbprint for another, you got something different than yours in return.

Does NFT really work? And is NFT here to stay?

If there are buyers available out there who are willing to pay for NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens) representing ownership of digital assets such as Jpegs, gifs, AR files etc. more than even the physical version of these assets up to the tune of $2.5 Billion in sales in 2021 according to Reuters, then there is something to be said about this form of consumption.
 
I mean a tweet from Twitter’s founder sold for just under $3 million. A Beeple Video sold for $ 6.6 million. Karl Lagerfeld digital avatar “KL7xEndless” version, sold at 777 euros and available to only seven consumers (the number seven was the late couturier’s lucky number) within 7 minutes. There’s money to be made here guys. And all the big brands like I said are chasing the gold rush.

How to create your own NFT?

Intrigued by all this buzz, it’s natural that I wanted my piece of the pie. Instead of being a mere spectator, I wanted to be a participant. Instead of being a consumer, I wanted to be a creator. Instead of being a consumer I wanted to try my luck at being a creator and seller. Who knows there is someone out there willing to buy the digital version of my artwork! No harm in trying.
 
With that noble intention, I set about to learn how to create your own NFT.

Step to create your own NFT

  1. Create an Ethereum wallet and buy some ether on it to provide for ‘gas’ that enables the transactions. Starting with a least $100 worth of Ether is the usual guideline available on various internet sources and tutorials. I created one with https://www.myetherwallet.com/
  2. Have your asset ready in the form a file. I used the image of my first oil on canvas painting I had done back in 2012 to immortalize my art and its ownership in the metaverse.
  3. Link your Ethereum wallet to the marketplaces which allow you to create your NFTs and trade them. I chose https://rarible.com/
  4. Upload your digital asset and create your own NFT, put a fixed price on it or leave it flexible for an open bid.
Now the steps look simple enough, but it did not turn out to be a friction free process for me. Let me share with you, my experience.

My Experience with creating my first NFT

I already had an old wallet that I had created in the early days of my tinkering with blockchain and crypto on MEW (My Ether Wallet). I wanted to restore it and use it. First, I had to download the app on my mobile phone. There I had the option of restoring my old wallet, but, it asked me for a phrase, which is a 24 words phrase. I did not remember it as it was a long time ago. I did save the private key somewhere.  I clicked on the alternative option to restore your account with private key and the app advised me to not use that method as it is highly unsafe. It prompted me to create a new wallet instead as a safer method.
 
I managed to create a new wallet and saved my recovery phrase of 24 words on a piece of paper You are asked not to save a screenshot of these words and you are supposed to keep this super safe somewhere!
 
Now it was time for me to link my new wallet to the marketplace. This was a fairly simple process on https://rarible.com/. It asked me to scan barcode from my mobile app wallet and a new account was automatically created on Rarible marketplace linked to my ether wallet. I hit the create button and went ahead to upload my asset file and followed the steps, but, when I tried to create asset button at the bottom of the page after entering all the details required, it didn’t create any asset.
 
I figured it might be because my ether wallet was empty and had no ether in it! I decided to buy some ether on my wallet. The internet research told me to buy at least USD 100 worth of ether. I tried to use the Apple Pay to make the payment on the mobile app for My Ether Wallet. While it showed the transaction was successful, the amount did not reflect on my wallet even after 2-3 attempts.
 
What could be happening? I wondered. I tried to enter the other bank account details this time HSBC account. It asked me to enter the card no, expiry month, name, address and CVV number. After I input the details, it took me to another page powered by Simplex and it seemed to be working, but then it asked me to upload my passport! Phew! Too much friction!!
 
I decided to then visit my Coinbase account to try to see if I could send some of my bitcoins to the new wallet I created. Again, I was met with obstacles. I tried to add a payment method on Coinbase using my Citibank Debit card. I got the notification that Citibank does not support cryptocurrency transactions. I tried my own company’s card from DBS. This time I got a message that corporate cards are not supported. I kept getting ‘error’ messages for 2-3 different bank credit and debit cards I tried. I shall now raise a ticket to Coinbase Singapore and see what can be done to resolve the matter.
 
My first attempt at creating my own NFT was a failure. I learnt quite a bit.

My learning from my first NFT creation adventure

  1. NFTs are a form of cryptocurrency, and it takes a lot of energy and computing power to mint one. The most popular blockchain for NFT is Ethereum blockchain which uses energy intensive “proof of work” system. The alternative system of validation in blockchain works on what is called “proof of stake” system based on consensus model. To cut the tech jargon short, the main upside of proof of work is that it is trusted and has a long track record while the main upside of proof of stake is that it requires less energy, is more secure, and is scalable. Think sustainable, think “proof of stake”.
  2. NFT can be rare because there are only 10 copies or common because thousands of the same NFT have been “minted,” or written to the blockchain. There’s also nothing to stop someone from taking the file you’ve used for your NFT and creating their own NFT with it (though the blockchain entry will show that it came from their account, not yours). While it serves as a certificate of authentication of ownership, there is nothing from multiple similar versions of your original file to come up with their own NFTs.
  3. There are many digital wallets that you can use to hold your cryptocurrency to operate and do transactions in the blockchain / NFT metaverse marketplaces. However not all bank’s credit cards, and debit cards support the purchase of Ether needed to fund these wallets. I tried using my Citibank Credit card and it did not work. I tried my DBS corporate card, and it did not work either. One card seemed to work, but that too asked me to upload my passport for identify etc. and wasn’t frictionless. On Coinbase, I kept getting an error message while trying to link my credit card to cash out my bitcoins. Coinbase says that if your card does not support 3D Secure then you will get an error message on their Singapore support FAQ page.
  4. There are many NFT marketplaces mushrooming out there in the metaverse. You will be wise to find out which ones are functioning on less energy consuming ‘proof of stake’ protocol if you are environmentally conscious. Most popular marketplaces are supported by Ethereum blockchain which is ‘energy intensive’ and is hardly sustainable to allow you to transact guilt free.
  5. The NFT / Blockchain transactions and tasks need ‘gas’ to pay for the costs of operating these platforms and technology. It is not cheap. The initial money I needed to put in my own My Ether Wallet was $100. That’s not cheap. And even then, you are not assured that your transactions will go through. And even if you succeed in creating one NFT, there is no guarantee that it will sell. You will still need to market it and generate interest in your work of art or whatever asset it is that you have used to create your NFT and convince them of the value of your NFT to buy it.
 
All in all, I learned a lot about NFTS after one day of wasted effort trying to get my slice in the pie of the NFT gold rush. Let’s hope I succeed one day and hope you take away some valuable lessons from my account of my first attempt to create my own NFT. I have written another comprehensive post about blockchain technology and it’s relevance to fashion industry which may be of interest to you. Check it out here