Jaded, somewhat, but determined to keep its spirits up, the internet looked around for something new settling improbably, or perhaps inevitably, on the ultimate WTF: NFTs.
We sat down with British Crypto Artist, Tom Badley (over Zoom, natch) to ask him all of the questions.
Q.Tom Badley, you are a pioneer in a space most of us had never heard of until recently.
Can you tell us what is an NFT? What does NFT stand for?
NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. An NFT is a unit of data on the blockchain. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are just units of data – but they’re identical and interchangeable; one Bitcoin = one Bitcoin. An NFT is not interchangeable: each NFT is unique.
Q. How do NFTs fit into the wider space of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain Technology?
Technically, NFTs are a natural progression in blockchain technology. The blockchain allows for digital scarcity: the data of any digital asset can occupy a unique timestamped part of the blockchain which is cryptographically secured. The only difference is that currency is fungible – meaning each unit is identical – whereas an NFT is non-fungible, meaning each token is unique. More generally, NFTs have the potential to function as the friendly, usable face of cryptocurrency. Anyone can issue an NFT, meaning anyone can monetise any digital asset or crowdfund an idea in a way that wasn’t previously possible. You buy, sell and trade cryptocurrency. You can do all that with NFTs but you are the issuer. You are the bank / artist / creator / author, whatever title fits – that’s the ideal anyway. There could be any number of scenarios that unfold, but digital barter undoubtedly has a place in the future.
Q. Banknotes feature heavily in your work, can you talk us through how they influence and inspire your work?
For the most part, Artists have appropriated banknotes – they cut them up, deface them, or rearrange them. Uniquely, I come from the other side – I make them. The banknote is a printed product that is made in such a way as to make it very difficult to counterfeit. So straight away you have a very detailed design, made with secret processes and print technology that no other industry has. As it happens, banknote production pulls technology from all directions – multiple print techniques, inks with exotic properties, holography, engraving and so on. Add to that, a banknote is like a business card for an entire country. Even if it isn’t used by the population, its imagery still forms a psychic connection to something of value in millions of minds. Then of course, the designs involve typography, branding, portraiture and iterative patterns. So, all in all, I consider the banknote to be the ultimate artwork: it’s a placeholder for something that is technically impressive and all-encompassing, nice to look at and valued, and is also a kind of mirror for human consciousness. This is what I want in my work.
Q. What’s the best way to become an owner or investor in NFTs?
There are platforms like Nifty Gateway that allow you to buy NFTs with a credit card, otherwise you need to have cryptocurrency – Ethereum is the most used blockchain for art by far. Beyond that, what is your motivation? Why own digital assets? Start with your ‘why’.
Q. In this day and age when fewer and fewer people own the houses they live in or the cars they drive, what are the reasons people might want to own a digital artwork?
If your motivation is to make money, of course you need to chase the money. But you can also own art because it acts as an indelible temporal marker of the best of human creativity – then you need to go to the artists who are focussed, one way or another, on that.
Q. Could you explain to us why an NFT has value? Compared to banknotes?
Some NFTs are considered great works of art, some NFTs are more like a rare pair of shoes. In general the higher prices are commanded by those projects or individuals that have large communities behind them, huge fanbases of people actively involved. The NFTs act as a kind of status symbol of social proof – the reward in a popularity contest, built from a constantly engaged audience. I think consistency is a huge factor in a projects value too. Making a lot of work that looks the same is easily digestible and has a stable quality that allows it to be trusted. This is the similarity to banknotes – they’re valuable because they’re trusted. Trust is still the only real currency.
Q. Kings of Leon released their latest album as an NFT, will we see more of this?
In this form, yes. For as long as theblockchain is viable and unregulated.
Q. Who should we look out for as the ones to watch in NFTs?
If I was going to guess who will make the most money in NFTs from here, it will be household names and influencers who have a global crypto-savvy audience. The figures from their recent sales will tell you where we are in the market. But to be honest, I’m more looking out for artists who are saying something life-affirming and relevant. The space is dominated by a California / tech / pop vibe that is very fun, but I wonder how much of it will be truly cherished going forward, which goes back to the question of why collect NFTs.
I believe that all art is propaganda. Every artwork is underpinned by an agenda. By calling myself a propagandist, I’m really saying that my agenda isn’t hidden. I get calls to create designs for alternative currencies – especially now when faith in the system is reaching new lows. These designs have to communicate a powerful, high-trust message… How is that not propaganda?
Q. What’s the best way for an NFT newbie to blag OG status?
They can’t. Everything is on the blockchain, so we just look at your transaction history and we’ll see that you bought your first Ethereum yesterday. I minted my first NFT on 27th June 2019 – anyone pre-2020 can be considered a ground zero crypto artist. Of course there are differences of opinion, but since the blockchain is immutable, there’s no way to fake a tokenisation date, a transaction, or even an artwork.
Q. What’s next for Tom Badley?
I’m working on my largest pieces to date, which will all make use of banknote printing, technology and design. It will be a family of 5 limited edition prints; they’ll include large engravings and will be a kind of magnum opus of my process, and a celebration of the NFT space so far. Beyond that I’m working on a lot of private commissions.
TL:DR The briefest guide to blockchain is that Blockchain technology means that network information is held in many places (decentralised), rather than being held in one place (centralised).
Bluffer’s Guide to Blockchain: What is Blockchain?
Put very simply, the internet as we know it (Web 2.0) relies on platforms (Facebook, YouTube or WordPress, for example) storing data on private servers.
Blockchain technology (Web 3.0) means that data is stored on numerous different nodes (computers or servers) and that data cannot be verified, altered or removed unless it is agreed upon by each independent node.
How did Blockchain Start?
On 31st October 2008, as the world reeled from the effects of the financial crisis (also referred to as ‘The Credit Crunch’), Blockchain technology was introduced to the world via the Bitcoin Whitepaper
“I’ve been working on a new electronic cash system that’s fully peer-to-peer, with no trusted third party,” the author Satoshi Nakamoto wrote.
It is believed that Satoshi Nakamoto is in fact a pseudonym for a group of up to 11 people who worked for up to 5 years developing the game-changing technology and have since chosen to remain anonymous and unrecognised for their efforts.
“The main properties: Double-spending is prevented with a peer-to-peer network. No mint or other trusted parties. Participants can be anonymous. New coins are made from Hashcash style proof-of-work. The proof of work for new coin generation also powers the network to prevent double spending,” He added.
Are Blockchain and Bitcoin the Same?
Blockchain and Bitcoin are synonymous, but they are not the same.
Read further into this guide to blockchain for a deeper understanding.
How Blockchain Works
Bitcoin works on a blockchain but blockchain technology has many potential applications. Cryptocurrencies are just one possibility.
In 2013 Vitalek Buterin, an early adopter and contributor to the Bitcoin Codebase, began to feel frustrated by the limitations of the Bitcoin Blockchain and created the second public blockchain which is called Ethereum. Launched in 2015, Ethereum records assets such as contracts and loans as well as its own cryptocurrency.
At the time of writing, all transactions on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains are verified by a method called Proof of Work. This relies on miners (the people who operate the nodes) solving unique and complex mathematical problems – the kind that take a lot of computing power, electricity and time.
This has implications for scalability and means both of these blockchains (the Bitcoin and the Ethereum blockchain) are limited in terms of being able to be used as a global payments system to rival Swift/BIC, IBAN, or PayPal for example.
An alternative to Proof of Work (PoW) is Proof of Stake (PoS).
People working under PoW are generally referred to as miners and people working under PoS are generally referred to as forgers.
Miners use computing power to solve a complex cryptographic problem created by an algorithm and are rewarded with a block of the chain, whereas forgers have to stake a certain amount of coins in order to verify the transaction and claim the transaction fees as their reward.
At the time of writing, 32 Eths are required to stake, and 1 Eth is priced at £1,309.25.
The global lockdowns mandated in response to Covid-19 have expedited existing trends for activity to migrate online. Cash is projected to make up just 22% of payments by 2022 so the concept of digital currencies becomes much less alien to us.
The online bank, Revolut, provides their customers with an app which makes it super-easy to invest in stocks or crypto at the touch of a button on your phone. You can check out their guide to blockchain and cryptocurrencies here
The potential for reducing transaction fees and interest rates and improving privacy and security will become compelling the more people learn and understand what is involved.
The allure of the technology and the possibility of profits will draw investors and speculators alike. It’s hard to pick a winner in a crowded field, but the direction of travel is beginning to seem inevitable.
Why Blockchain will Fail
Blockchain is by definition a disruptive technology.
Not only are there vested interests against it but getting customers to change their habits – especially their financial habits – can be a very slow process indeed.
Did you know that, statistically, people are more likely to change their spouse than change their bank?
There are many barriers in the way of blockchain achieving critical mass, and most of them are behavioural or intangible and will take a very concerted effort to change.
Will Blockchain Change the World?
Used properly and undertaken widely, it certainly has the potential to – in ways we probably can’t even imagine now.
But Web 2.0 had the same potential and in the end we tended towards oligarchy and centralisation once again – with all the inherent flaws and benefits that brings.
History is littered with stories of people getting fabulously rich (and losing fortunes) on new technologies. The next decade will likely see turmoil and resolution as blockchain evolves and disrupts existing technology and itself.
Will blockchain technology disrupt human nature?
That is perhaps a more pertinent question.
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Why is it so important and which apps should you use?Read on to get our top ten tips you just can’t miss for getting the best logo.
The question ‘Why do I need a Logo?’ is not voiced as often in early 2021, as it might have been in the past. Setting up a website and social media platforms are key steps in launching any new venture, and images and logos are usually the first assets to be uploaded.
But what is a logo? And why are logos so important?
Semiotics or Semiology is the study of signs, symbols and signification. Scholars of the discipline know that signs and symbols were used to convey meaning long before humans used written words. Cave paintings, often depicting humans hunting animals, have been found from as far back as 70,000BC and pottery decorated by hand in Ancient Egypt conveys a huge amount of information about the society, politics and cultural mores of the time.
It’s fascinating to think that we can understand so much from these simple images, even though we have such different lifestyles today.
FerrariTeslaApple and Nike are just a handful of brands whose logos are instantly recognisable across the globe. They are powerful symbols of the brand personality which can transcend linguistic and cultural barriers. How much would you pay for a Nike T-Shirt without the Nike logo? How does the Apple logo fit within the wider context of UX of their products?
It’s never been easier to design your own logo; there is a range of software or apps you can use even if you don’t feel you are very skilled in design or technology. Adobe is the current favourite in the Most Valuable office but we also use Canva and there are many more on the more market.
It has never been easier to start building a brand from a cost / skills / knowledge perspective, but equally the marketplace is very crowded. In a global, digital world you will find yourself competing against everyone in your field, not just those in the same location.
First impressions count. If you have a limited budget, it pays to see brand and website design as an investment rather than a cost.
The Magic of Fonts
Fonts are proof in black and white (or whatever colour scheme you’ve chosen for your brand) that it’s not just what you say but how you say it. The font you choose will have a big impact on how your brand is perceived so it’s important to bear the following things in mind:
What does the font ‘say’ to you?
How does it interact with your logo?
How does it speak to your brand values?
How does it compare to fonts used by others in your industry?
If you plan on using a particular font on your website, check first that it is web-safe for HTML and CSS. Make sure you view your website on different browsers and devices and add fall-back fonts into the code.
Colours are possibly the most important aspect of branding, given that the human eye sees colour before it sees anything else. Tempting though it might be, it’s probably wiser not to reinvent the (colour) wheel. You will probably find that most brands in your industry use similar colours so do the same, but you can use shades, tones, contrasts and palettes to communicate your USPs and values.
What Makes a Good Logo?
There are 5 key principles to bear in mind when choosing or designing a logo. The end result should be:
Where to Use a Logo?
Every element of your original content online, including all your digital real estate, and all your physical products should bear your logo. It provides recognition and assurance to your customers and clients.
How Much Does a Logo Cost?
The cost of designing a logo can range from free (or almost) if you have the confidence and technical know-how to do this yourself, to 5 figure sums for those who have the budget. It is worth reiterating that costs associated with logos, branding, copywriting and all aspects of digital real estate should be thought of as investments – and on going investments – rather than costs.
How Much is a Logo Worth?
In 2021, brands increasingly do business online which means a customer makes a buying decision before they have met the person they’re doing business with or had any physical contact with the product. This means that every aspect of your branding and digital communication is working harder for you than ever before.
A customer could spend thousands with you without ever going into a physical store or meeting you or any member of your team.
Ultimately the value of a logo will be the sum total of the logo itself, how your business or brand conducts itself over time, and its reputation with customers and potential customers.
How to Take Your Business Online 2021
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The year is 2021 and you’re ready to make a success of your business with digital marketing.
Dive in and get comfy with our indispensable guide to success.
Digital Real Estate
Digital marketing has been growing exponentially for for 20 years and shows no sign of slowing down.
Thanks to the awesome power of the Internet, it’s never been easier to find a niche and bring your idea to market. Most business now have some digital real estate, whether that’s a blog, a website or a presence on one or more social media platforms.
Like any real estate, these require regular maintenance.
They can work incredibly hard for you or become a drain on your time and money.
Digital Brand Identity
We live in a digital world where your clients and customers might not speak to you in person or hold the product in their hands before buying. Everything they use to make a buying decision will be influenced (for better or worse) by digital marketing.
This is good news in many ways, it’s easier to set up an e-commerce site than it is open an office or a store, but if it’s easier for you, it’s easier for your competition too.
Setting up is relatively easy to achieve, it’s doing it really well that is challenging.
If you don’t know where to start, start anywhere. #digitalmarketing #businessonline #makeitmostvaluable
Your logo, palette and branding must be instantly attractive and speak to your product and brand values.
Customers make up their minds very quickly online and you won’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Content (copy, images, video or animation) must be informative, persuasive and entertaining. The importance of having everything looking and working perfectly online cannot be over-stated.
We recommend Canva and Adobe for creating content.
Search engines and social media platforms are brilliant forms of communication. You have a global presence which is open for business 24/7 and 365 days of the year.
They are also incredibly good at collecting data and delivering insights so you can track in real time whether your audiences respond more to information, aspirational images or even the dreaded inspirational quote.
All of these tools are available for ‘free’ but you will need to invest time and attention to detail in order to get it right.
Call us business hippies all you want, but we believe there is power in beginning. Mistakes can be made and mistakes can be rectified but time marches on regardless.
Don’t let perfection stand in the way of good.
Begin something today.
Drop us a line below.
We are a friendly bunch with a genuine passion for all things digital.
We can give you a professional opinion and a quote for services over the phone or just some informal advice on getting started.
“Neat vibes! Catchy rhythms and great instrumental progressions throughout the track!” Black Raven
“Powerful performance and a great vibe” Secret Eclectic
“Sassy vocal and killer guitar riffs” Playlist Boutique
“Vocals are awesome, love the guitar tones” Ben Clapton
Sofia Palm’s second single ‘Hella Stella’ is the mid-point in a trilogy of planned releases on MoonMan Recordings.
Building on the success of her debut, Raccoona, Hella Stella opens up like a wildcat then stalks into the first verse with playful vocals purring over growling guitar riffs and a heavy kick beat.
The production has an epic, industrial sound; as if Shirley Manson had formed her own Rhythm Nation, and the accompanying promo clip sees Sofia dancing through a deserted urban landscape impervious to the grey skies and torrential downpour of rain.
For fans of Raccoona, once again there are the kooky lyrics Sofia has made into something of a trademark: ‘Chin chin, chinchilla…. on our way to dinner’ as the music is stripped bare to just the drumsticks before launching into the final chorus with a cry of ‘I want a gin and tonic!’
If Raccoona gave us playful insouciance, Hella Stella brings the edge: raw and real, there’s urgent power in the vocals and yet there’s still a sense of cool restraint.
A self-taught musician, singer and songwriter, Sofia describes herself as shy growing up.
Her songwriting idols include David Bowie and Queen, but she admires their apparent insouciance as much as their gift for epic narratives and bombastic stage craft – in fact this attraction to DIY ethics and aesthetics is woven through every aspect of Sofia, the Artist and the person, from her music to her hand-drawn tattoos.
Pumping out of the speakers in a basement bar, or ringing across a city square, Hella Stella is here, play it loud.
‘My friend described me as having a can-do attitude yesterday and that resonated.’
We meet at her place near Bethnal Green to talk about her first single Racoona. Sitting outside surrounded by her plants and sipping a delicious oat milk coffee, she tells me not to mind the 2 wrought iron chairs I’d assumed were artfully decorating the space – in fact, she was using them as a loom for one of the many crafting projects she takes on for fun and relaxation. A self-taught musician, singer and songwriter, Sofia describes herself as shy growing up. I ask if she was concerned about fitting in and she surprises me with her sincerity. ‘Yes’ she says ‘Of course. . . …But I had this little sense that I would grow into myself, that there was more out there, and I didn’t feel a strong need to change myself… It was more like waiting it out until I had my turn.’ She joined the school choir and, although performing still felt challenging at that time, music became a release and an escape. ‘I felt more content observing from the sidelines, and I think that became part of my songwriting process.’ Her songwriting idols include David Bowie and Queen, but she admires their apparent insouciance as much as their gift for epic narratives and bombastic stage craft – in fact this attraction to DIY ethics and aesthetics is woven through every aspect of Sofia, the Artist and the person, from her music to her hand-drawn tattoos. Racoona explodes out of the speakers with a ferocious 8th note groove beating the drums hard in double time and you won’t catch a breath before a punk guitar screams in the background and the nonchalant, funky bass line counters the melody. There’s a hint of Patti Smith and Blondie’s Debbie Harry in the vocals, and Sofia nods when I ask if these Artists were inspirational to her, but the lyrics add another tangent, including genius lines like ‘You always wanna pop when you’re off your rock, And you always wanna hop off everyones stop, You really wanna roll when it ain’t that steep, Then you fall to your feet into defeat’
Inspired by someone she met on a night out (and observing her dog on a walk), written on a Eurostar ticket waiting for the keys to an AirBnB in Paris, Racoona exists in a time and place which is real but not fixed, it’s original pop-punk and a musical gateway drug…. and it’s exactly what we need to hear.
Earlier this week the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak suggested that creatives such as musicians who had seen income dry up during COVID-19 should consider retraining for the new ‘opportunities’ the lockdown economy is generating. The principle makes sense from an economic perspective, but it is just that – an economist’s solution to a cultural […]