By Lee Margolis
The NFT craze is here to stay, and Mofilm’s Global Executive Creative Director, Lee Margolis, shared what it was like to make an NFT of his own. Read on for Lee’s very first opinion piece about his very first NFT.
“A few months ago, when I read about the digital artist Beeple selling his collection for a whopping $3.5 million, I thought this was incredible.
I was also jealous.
After I emerged from my cloud of envy, I did research. I learned NFTs are leveling the playing field and allowing artists from underrepresented communities the opportunity for success. This aligned with my personal beliefs—and also with the values of the company I work for (more on Mofilm below).
I came to the conclusion that perhaps it’s not really all that outrageous for millions of dollars to be spent on a ‘digital asset’ for a couple of reasons. Like most art—or other rare things that are the first of its kind—it is special. The first time I saw Damion Hirst’s “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” I remember thinking what brilliant garbage it was—beautiful, surreal and building off a history of postmodern art. Or conceptual art. Or pop art. Or all of it?
In my experience, the art world (or any other passion for that matter) tends to start with a small but dedicated following. They are the exclusive few; ahead of the curve and able to see the ‘one-of-a-kinds’ before most people can.
My takeaway? Things in the digital space were not “one-of-a-kind.” Not yet, anyway.
This got me thinking back to the late 1990’s when I first heard that I absolutely needed to build my first website. As some of you are old enough to recall, there was a frenzy in the marketing and commerce worlds, the creative world, everywhere really— feeling the pressure to get their wares up on a site.
I was cynical. But the really smart folks, the people ahead of the curve, were already creatively invested in the web and websites. A mere few years later, the ‘new’ has become the ‘norm’. What was unique became the standard.
Since then, that ‘you gotta have a website’ experience of ‘98 stuck with me. I promised myself not to be so cynical when the ‘new’ came around again. Eyes open, this led me to spending time reading articles and watching content about how to make an NFT.
A thing in the digital space can live in a lot of spaces, but as I learned, until it’s linked to a ‘number’, it’s not unique. An asset, a JPEG or whatever, lives in a smattering of spaces and places, but if it’s not ‘minted’ it’s not unique. I can still witness it in all those other places, but I can’t own it.
Full disclosure—I work at a company, Mofilm, that embraces the ‘new’ as good companies do. We say Many Voices are Better than One and we strive to nurture and develop underrepresented talent and give a voice and opportunity to filmmakers and creators from around the world. I have the good fortune of being surrounded by leaders, partners, clients, coworkers, interns, filmmakers and creators who inspire me daily.
So,I decided to dig in and dive into making my first NFT.
It felt like 22 years ago when I first attempted to build a personal website. But I have to say, making an NFT today was a lot easier compared to creating that first website. I suppose it’s because of the age we live in; now I know enough about ‘creating’ stuff online, so some of the NFT-making process felt rewardingly familiar. Basically, I was already in the pool and I knew how to swim, now I just needed to learn a new stroke. What follows are a couple of items I learned along the way:
Creating an NFT isn’t really for everyone, at least right now. I like that artists use it as a way to sell their creativity and they don’t need anyone between them and their collectors. Or how the NBA is making a LeBron dunk an ownable asset. Anyone can make a NFT out of anything, but it doesn’t mean anyone will buy it.
If you aren’t a ‘creator’, but you like what you see, you can easily be a collector. There seems to be a growing community of people buying without creating.
At a minimum, I encourage you to look at sites like Rarible.com to explore the stuff being put up on auction for bidding these days. It feels strangely like thumbing through a deck of Pokemon or Magic cards with my kids. Lots of unique details from the minds of visual and creative people..
After I started figuring out the NFT process, I decided to tap into a collection of pics personal to me. The subject? My face, otherwise referred to as LEE FACE stickers.
These stickers have been stuck in several hundred locations in the real world. I’ve been asking friends and colleagues to place LEE FACE stickers on the bumper of their car, the back of their laptop, the neighborhood fire hydrant, a bathroom of their favorite coffee shop – anyplace they’ve traveled rarely or frequently. It’s become a small community of sorts and it’s great when someone sends me a photo of this sticker from the Great Wall of China, outside the Colosseum in Rome, a water fountain on the Riis Park Beach boardwalk in Brooklyn, and/or a favorite pho ‘n fried rice place.
So, while I’m not necessarily a digital artist, I did have a whole collection to tap into — “a series”. (Also to note here, if you’d like a few stickers to continue the mission, please send me your address and I’ll send you some free of charge.)
The Internet is such a lovely place to learn and my spoiled kids don’t even know how good they have it—considering back in ‘98 when I was like, “Build my own website? Where do I go to learn such ‘new’ things?”—the gluttony of knowledge available today wasn’t even a concept back then. After doing a quick Google search on “How to make a NFT ” and watching some content, I quickly realized that I needed some crypto currency to get my LEE FACE sticker art ‘minted’ as an NFT. Yes, there are fees.
But really, the hundred bucks I invested so far in crypto currency to make my NFT does not even come close to what I invested over the years learning how to build my own personal portfolio website.
At first, some of the steps to minting my first NFT were foreign to me and aggravating, as I was impatient about wanting to get my NFT out there as fast as possible. The first time took time.
You’ll need to buy some crypto currency and you’ll need to set up an account on a platform like Rarible. It’s basically a platform for securing digital collectibles. I’ve been told OpenSea is a good one too, but I chose Rarible. (I imagine someday Rarible will be laughed at the same way MySpace became a punchline.) You’ll also need a digital wallet.
I downloaded the CoinBase App and then after punching in a few private account numbers linked to my bank account I was up and running. The process of buying cryptocurrency (I bought Ethereum) takes time, I learned, as with all financially backed transactions. Once purchased, I had to wait about a week before the transaction was official. So, my dreams of making my first NFT were briefly paused.
After that week, I thought I was ready but in fact, I learned I needed to transfer my crypto to Rarible). A day or two later, my digital funds were available and in the right place. I was now excited and free to ‘mint’ my first NFT.
When you are at Rarible.com, you’ll find there’s a persistent prompt to ‘confirm on phone’. This is connecting all the dots. It basically wants to make sure you are “you” and then connect your digital wallet to your account. When minting, you get to choose if you want to create a series (like prints) or a one-off. You’ll also get to set a bidding price and what percentage you’ll get on resale and other fun things of this sort.
After it was all said and done, I loved making my first NFT— perhaps because it’s a blend of art, collecting, novelty and tech. Perhaps because it is exactly this kind of evolution that informs the creative process. NFTs will make it a whole lot easier for artists to get credit for their art and make a living, especially those from underrepresented communities–which personifies Mofilm’s mission to democratize content creation.
As for my NFT?
Total to date:
I currently have $6.70 in my portfolio balance on Coinbase.
I own $91.41 in Ethereum.
I’ve minted, but not made for sale, one beautiful NFT of a LEE FACE sticker on a wall with other random stickers.
One wonderful opinion piece written.
And most importantly… tons of knowledge gained.