Sculptor Miguel del Rey Vergara about NFT in art. Benefits, Profit and Challenges of implementing NFTs in the sculpture art
NFT has swept into the art in a whirlwind over the past year and a half. Artists and musicians have rushed to explore the benefits of combining their creations with NFT technology. And while some are successfully monetizing their art without losing legal ownership, others are finding the NFT-powered art world complicated and controversial to enter. And what does Miguel del Rey Vergara — a figurative artist with his own vision of sculptural art — think?
Why did you decide to jump on the NFT market?
I am a traditional bronze figurative sculptor working primarily with clay. I have been doing this for years and somehow I discovered the NFT space. I thought it could be interesting to explore new possibilities and decided to give it a try.
What are the benefits for artists?
There are many benefits.
Firstly, it allows me to monetize my art in new and different ways I never thought possible.
Secondly, it allows Art to become a financial digital asset that can be traded multiple times at high velocity while still letting the artist profit from royalty rights.
Thirdly, it allows the artist to sell directly to his/her followers without any intermediary or middleman.
And, finally, it opens up a whole new world of utility to art that can be used to reward both artists and collectors in new and exciting ways.
NFTs open up a whole new world of Utility for the Art
Do you think NFTs should grant some privileges to holders, or is it just a trendy immaterial bonus?
I think there is no right or wrong answer here. It all depends on the NFT, the artist, the project, etc, and utility may or may not be necessary. NFTs are such a huge concept that it’s unfair to put all NFTs under the same umbrella and have them play under the same rules.
Is it possible to predict that a particular NFT will take off? What makes NFT art popular?
I honestly have no clue. To be honest I am not interested in the “hype”.
I am slowly trying to find ways of incorporating the benefits that the technology can bring to my honest and traditional craft
I don’t see myself as part of the “NFT” crowd just yet. I hardly understand how this art market works or under what aesthetic principles the art is judged.
What is your favorite thing about your sculptures living on the blockchain?
I love the idea that my work will have a digital identity that will last for as long as the Blockchain does. That is why perhaps I find Ethereum to be the one chain with the most solid network effect in place and the highest chance of outliving me. So I hope the artwork I create on the Blockchain will be around for generations to come. Also, I find it very useful that ownership is part of a public ledger and it prevents people from selling fake copies of my work.
How is a sculptor’s work with NFTs different from painters or musicians?
Well, it depends… NFTs are the perfect space for digital artists, 2D & 3D. Thanks to NFTs, their artwork can have the scarce quality that material existence grants physical art. For us, traditional artists working on tangible mediums, it is a different story.
We need to digitalize the existing work to give it a life on the blockchain. Painters have it easier, since their work is two-dimensional, so they can photograph it and move from the material world to the blockchain and view it through a screen rather than a canvas. For a sculptor it is not the same. One can argue that you could use a 3D scanner and have it moved to a digital format. However, the reality is that space is a huge factor in sculpture and until virtual reality matches the level of sensory perception that we, humans, enjoy from our primary senses, the experience will not translate well into a digital format.
Is it easy to create NFTs? What’s the most difficult part?
They are easy to mint, but I do not know how to talk about all the potential utilities that make them so attractive to work with. That’s why as I polish my project I will need to collaborate with someone with technical knowledge.
What are the NFT issues and drawbacks that concern you? Do you think the industry can overcome these difficulties soon?
What I am most concerned about is the disconnection that exists between the broad art market, the general public and the Crypto/NFT community
As an artist, I managed to grow a follower base of people who value my artwork for its aesthetic qualities, but they do not understand the value that NFTs can bring to the table. How it can help me, as an artist, to engage with them in new ways. It requires an intellectual effort that most are not willing to make.
My followers do not think in terms of monetary value when they look at my art, so, when they buy it they do it because they want to own it, not because they may be able to sell it at a profit.
On the other hand, I feel I need to appeal to the NFT existing community since they are the existing market. To me, this disconnect is simply a consequence of the space being at an early stage and when normalization and mass adoption occurs this will be solved. In the meantime, one needs to make an effort to educate your old audience into adopting NFTs while also trying to carve themselves a place within the existing NFT audience.
Some of your NFTs, like ‘GUILTs,’ are Ethereum-based, while ‘Princess Diana’ is on Crypto.org Chain. Which network do you prefer and why?
I prefer Ethereum, as I believe it has a much stronger network effect and a higher chance of surviving the test of time. But no one knows yet what the future of Blockchain will look like, so it only makes sense not to place all your eggs in one basket.
For you, is the NFT space more profitable than physical art? How much money have you already made on NFTs?
For me it isn’t, I have not sold any NFT yet. I have sold sculptures through galleries and personal sales to private collectors and museums. I also make portraits and busts commissions and look for opportunities in the public art space. I also won prize awards and grants for my work that allowed me to continue working.
So far I have not managed to convince my regular followers to purchase my art in NFT form nor have I managed to make myself stand out in the existing NFT community, but I’m not in a rush, I know this will take time.
NFTs and crypto are all about building a community. How do you create a strong one? Who are the people who belong to your community?
For me this is a work in progress. I already have some of my 2D work available for sale in Opensea, but my plans to make a community around my sculpture universe are still in the works, so I can’t expand a lot on what are the key steps to achieve this. I will need to find out as I go.
My community is based on Instagram, and 90% of them are people who love sculpture and have no interest in NFTs. I also used galleries before to manage my sales. What’s more, I have a decent number of people I’ve met through the years who I still contact by email when I want to share my latest work.
Do you think NFTs have a long way to go?
Yes, art in the NFT format of existence is in its infancy stage.
I believe NFT-powered art will be normalized and widely understood by wider society, but it will take time.
And it will happen alongside the entire crypto industry.
What are your plans regarding NFTs?
I want to use NFTs as a way to engage with people who love sculpture.
My sculpture project has two sides to it, the art studio and the sculptures. The art studio NFTs will have utilities that allow people to experience with me what it’s like to make sculptures and engage in the very process of making them with me.
The sculpture NFTs will be a tier-based collection structure that focuses more on the aesthetic qualities of the work itself as Art. The highest tiers will also let the NFT owner have an original limited edition bronze sculpture delivered to their doorstep while also having the right to decide alongside the other high tier owners on the max amount of real sculptures that will be cast and brought to life.
Therefore, the adoption of NFT in the field of art has its pitfalls. Sculptors mainly face the problem of “bringing” to the digital world all the emotions and feelings that a viewer perceives when looking at a sculpture in a physical museum. However, the technology has the profound potential in this as well, and it only takes time to adapt it appropriately.
NFT-based sculpture with the possibility to perceive it on an emotional near-physical level is probably the near future.