GRAND FORKS: Creating and selling NFTs is not Daniel Schott’s first foray into the wild west of investing.
Schott, who creates NFTs based out of Grand Forks and North Dakota, first entered the crypto world in 2014 when he began mining Bitcoin before getting into NFTs.
“My history with cryptocurrencies is that I certainly had a fair amount, but I have used a lot of it on projects and startups,” Schott said. “My wife is a doctor and I used a lot during her pregnancy so she could stay home. Part of me knows it was a great decision, but part of me is like, ‘Oh, that would have been nice to stick with. But I think making the right decisions on cryptocurrencies is the best way forward.”
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are either a new way of doing business or a fad, depending on how you look at it. NFTs can be traded on the Ethereum blockchain.
Investopedia defines a blockchain
as “A distributed database that is shared among the nodes of a computer network.”
In essence, blockchains maintain a decentralized record of transactions. They collect data in groups or blocks, which have certain storage limits and are linked to the previously filled block, hence the name.
“Let’s say I want to give you $5,” said Chris Davis, a business partner at Daniel Schott. “I go to the bank and tell them, ‘Hey, I have $5 and I want to give you $5. Please transfer it to this guy’s account. And the bank writes in its electronic ledger that I sent you $5. In your bank, there is now $5 more than there was. The bank, in return, doesn’t necessarily charge a fee to do that, but they do charge a lot of other fees, so they stay alive. So what if I don’t need to go to a bank? What if there was simply no bank involved? The people, the crypto miners, right now, are the bank.”
Selling a work of art, digital or not, as NFT allows the creator to make as many copies as they want and sell them, or sell the original, which then also allows creators to maintain control of the value of their work. Davis likened the process to selling a rare Pokémon card.
“You can think of the holographic Charizard, of which there are maybe 5,000 in existence, but they are the rarest Pokémon cards out there,” Davis said. “So you can release (art) as a one of a kind, a 100 one, a 5,000 one or whatever you want.”
So how does someone do an NFT? Schott said there are still a lot of steps as of now, but the process could be made more streamlined in the future. He posted a
detailing how he created an NFT and counted 26 steps.
“I would say if you’re a traditional artist, it’s going to be more than that, and you’re going to have to learn a few things about what types of files you should put in there,” Schott said. “You may need to change your art.”
Schott said that 3D animations sold as NFTs are popular right now. He has used Photoshop and even computer software to insert animations as overlays on top of the photographs he has taken.
“There’s AI software that’s easier to do that with, so I cheat a little bit,” Schott said.
Schott first started doing NFT during the summer of 2021. He is a stay-at-home dad whose wife is a doctor. He also has Bipolar Disorder; a mental illness that causes changes in mood and energy, making it difficult for those affected to perform basic tasks. He said creating NFT is a way to get away from the challenges of his mental illness and interact with nature and other people.
His first NFT was themed around Grand Forks, and now he’s continuing it with collections of NFTs showcasing nature in the area.
“It’s downtown, beyond the train tracks, and there’s a building with art in the back,” Schott said. “There’s artwork in it, and it’s just kind of a little hidden gem unique to Grand Forks.”
Schott likes to go up to an hour in any direction from Grand Forks. He has NFTs of photographs of bridges, fields, sunrises, and other things that catch his eye. He also takes photos to represent his mood swings.
“Sometimes I take dark photos that can represent depression or bright photos that represent mania,” Schott said. “Sometimes I animate a photo and bring it to life.”
More than anything, Schott wants to use NFT to showcase the region he is proud to call home.
“We may not think of Grand Forks and the Red River Valley as special, but there are a lot of people who haven’t seen the skylines that we have and the wide open fields and plains,” Schott said. “For them it is very unique and it impacts them significantly.”