NFT

The rise of NFTs and the African artists

Top Image: Rich Allela, "King Pino", 2021.

As we’ve seen, NFTs have big potential to contribute and advance the spread of contemporary African art. In the relatively short time since the rise of NFTs, we already have a few examples of how NFTs can be beneficial to African artists.

No better artist epitomizes NFTs' future in Africa than Osinachi. The self-taught digital artist, fondly referred to as Africa's foremost crypto artist, has achieved impressive success selling NFTs. His Different Shade Of Water NFT series auction just concluded its run on Christie's this October. Needless to say, the sale was a hit. The auction brought in £155,000, or around US$207,000.

Staying true to the African activism theme, Osinachi, born Jacon Osinachi Igwe in 1991, explores this theme in a simple but powerful way. This series portrays the disregard of wellbeing over the emphasis on work and achievement. This NFT collection was inspired by David Hockney's Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures).

Compared to previous auctions, Osinanchi has achieved moderate success. While the numbers might pale in comparison with Beeple’s, it's still impressive by African standards. In addition to the Different Shade Of Water, Osinachi's Mirror mirror and Am I Pretty sold for $16,227 and $23,633 respectively in ETH coins on the platform SuperRare last March. 

Another artist who claimed success with NFT is Rich Allela. The award-winning Kenyan photographer ran a successful, almost sold-out NFT auction through Picha Images (a digital agency) earlier this year. (The word "picha" translates to image in Swahili, the official language of the East African country.)

One of the main motivations to mint NFTs for these artists, including Osinanchi and Allela, is the 10% perpetual royalties each time their pieces change ownership. On separate occasions, these two artists have reiterated the importance of getting a commission every time their art exchanges hands. Compared to more traditional artwork, artists rarely see the money some collectors can make when reselling their works.

Of course, Rich Alella isn't the only Kenyan who has made headway in Crypto. Eliud Kipchoge, arguably the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours in Vienna, also joined the bandwagon. Eliud auctioned images of his under-two-hour marathon trial dubbed the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. The Eliud Kipchoge NFT image series garnered over $40,000 during the auction. Following suit, Bank slave, a prolific Kenyan street graffiti artist, also sold an NFT mural of Eliud Kipchoge after his exemplary performance. 

Another entity that has fully embraced NFT is South Africa. As Africa's leading art market, the country was a host to a series of auctions, some immediately after Beeples phenomenal sale, and others in recent weeks

Currently, it's only a handful of African countries that have fully embraced NFTs. But NFTs offer a better deal than what galleries are currently offering the artists. Instead of a one-time payment, artists can earn perpetual royalties on their creations. It’s these perpetual royalties that will help the artist keep earning from their sweat and blood.

As we can see, NFTs provide an almost limitless benefit to artists. But like everything else in life, NFTs aren’t perfect. Tomorrow, we will talk about the challenges that artists, especially African artists, face when selling NFTs.


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