I Made A “CleanER” NFT Art

NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token. It is a type of cryptocurrencies. If you don’t know what this is, start here.

I have been struggling to keep up with the blockchain/crypto world. It felt so foreign. It was complicated. I couldn’t understand it.

So when NFT art became a thing, when Beeple sold a collage of 5000 digital images for US$ 69 million worth of Ethereum, I decided to learn it using the only way I knew how – get my hands dirty. I decided to try and create a digital art, turn it into an NFT, and put it up for sale in the crypto universe.

Beeple (b. 1981)

As I was researching, I stumbled upon the topic of the energy consumption of cryptocurrencies. In short, crypto used a lot of energy. For example, Noah Smith said in one of his articles,

Bitcoin mining now consumes electricity on par with the country of Finland…Meanwhile, Bitcoin’s demand for computer chips has hogged the production lines at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co., contributing to a global chip shortage…

Bitcoin Mining and Resource Use” By Noah Smith

Specifically, this issue was with cryptocurrencies that used a particular kind of processing methods called “proof of work.” Both Bitcoin and Ethereum, two of the most popular cryptocurrencies, used the “proof of work” method. The “proof of work” method required a lot of computers doing a lot of very complicated processing around the clock. In order to keep the electricity bills manageable, companies built gigantic factories and farms of computers in places where electricity are cheap, such as Northern China, Russia, and Iceland, just to operate these cryptocurrencies.

I felt guilty. NFTs were not something I needed. This was just a pet project. The carbon footprint of this experiment would be irresponsible. Plus, because of the computing power required to run these cryptocurrencies, the transaction fees (they called them “gas fees”) were prohibitively high. In multiple ways, creating my own NFT would be an expensive experiment with significant real world externalities.

Then I stumbled upon the cryptocurrency “Tezos.” Instead of the “proof of work” method, It used a method called “proof of stake,” which required a lot less computing power. As a result, Tezos’ ecological footprint was significantly lower than the popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. For example,

Creating three NFTs on Ethereum produces 915 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, the weight of a polar bear. On Tezos it produces 0.00054 lbs – about the mass of the snowflakes on this bear’s snout.

Read more here and here.

Furthermore, because of its minimal processing needs, Tezos’ transaction fees were minimal. Tezos was a reasonable and responsible cryptocurrency for my little NFT experiment.

I was giddy. I have found a way to make my NFT art.

Creating The Art

I had zero art skills and taste. After all, I was a corporate man who spent 20 years making spreadsheets and presentation slides. Therefore the only thing I could create, was an image with words in it. I tried to be smart and made this, using Apple Keynote:

“This Art Is Clean. 減公害藝術作品。”

Selling The Art

I found a marketplace that sold Tezos-based NFT art. It was called “Hic et Nunc” @ https://www.hicetnunc.xyz/.

Setting everything up was very foreign. I first had to figure out how to buy Tezos coins. I learned that for whatever reason I wasn’t a customer that would pass most of the “Know Your Customer”/KYC validations. Crypto.com rejected me. Coinbase restricted my access to most functions. WTF? FML!

Then I needed to learn to use “crypto wallets.” I thought they were as simple as the Wallet app on my iPhone. Nope. There were crypto wallet apps, there were crypto wallet websites, and then there were crypto wallet extensions. Worse, most wallet extensions didn’t work on Safari, my default web browser. It took me hours to figure out how to install Metamask on the Brave Browser. It was hard. I felt very old. For the first time in my life, I could finally, truly, empathise the feeling of helplessness my Grandma must have had when we bought her a remote-controlled VCR.

But I did it. I put my NFT art onto Hic et Nunc and made it available for collection for a mere 1 Tezos (1 Tezos = US$4.893437 as of 7:09am, April 5th, 2021). You can see it here:

(It should still be here because I don’t think anyone would buy it)

What did I learn from this experiment?

• Crypto and blockchain are complicated
• I am getting old
• One day, I wouldn’t be able to keep up
• Before that, I should experiment more
• And I am proud of it

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