How I Got into NFTs

So, in true “me” fashion, I started this blog in February and then completely ignored it for the next few months.

In my defense, I’m really busy. Most of my time is spent working as a game developer, as the Lead Technical Artist at Altitude games. When I’m not working, I’m either making even more art or learning something new—or playing Genshin Impact.

If you have no idea what the fuck an NFT is, I suggest you google it because it’s kind of a big thing. I could try to explain it myself, but 1) I’m not an expert; 2) I’m tired and lazy because it’s the weekend; 3) there’s already plenty of other smarter and more eloquent people explaining what it’s all about on the internet; and 4) that isn’t really what this post is about.

This post is about how I got into NFTs! So, let’s dive in.

I’m gonna be honest here: at first, I gave absolutely zero fucks about NFTs OR blockchain OR cryptocurrency in general. I didn’t understand it, didn’t really have the time and energy to understand it, and I just didn’t care. My philosophy was basically: if I can’t use magic internet money to pay for groceries, then why should I care? 

Considering half our company has been working on blockchain games (I’ve been working on non-blockchain projects), that was probably not really the best mindset to be in. I don’t remember what prompted me to start caring, but at some point I decided I was done not understanding the thing, so I was gonna look into it and figure it out.

Sometime in 2019, I got curious about Axie Infinity (a blockchain-based game). Gabby (@gabusch) was raving about it, I thought the Axies were really cute, and it looked like a game I could get into. I figured it was also an opportunity for me to finally learn more about blockchain because I would be viewing it through a gamer’s lens—because games, I understand. So, I bought my first few ETH, tried the game out… and quickly lost interest because it was mostly a PVP game back then and breeding Axies took forever. 

Cut to… early 2020: we were a few months into lockdown, and I was suffering from a lot of anxiety over the pandemic and my financial situation. My partner lost his line of income and our housemate’s income was irregular at best, so our whole household of three grown humans and six cats was basically reliant on my income. Mind you, I did have a bit of savings, but if any one of us were to get sick I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. 

Anyway…

The point was, I was very anxious and very unhappy, and I needed something to distract me from all of the mess in the news and in my head. Gabby then introduced me to Rarible and suggested that I mint and sell some of my art there. I knew of other art platforms at the time, but I was also feeling quite rusty and unsure about my painting style, so I didn’t want to have to go through the application process and potentially get rejected. Rarible was the easy way in because I could just mint my work and put it on sale right away. 

I didn’t really jump into it right away, though. I did some research first: I checked out the market, looked at what kind of art was already being sold, learned how people were pricing their work, explored the tech some more—at some point I had to stop researching because it was becoming a giant rabbithole of possibilities, and if I spent any more time on research I would never get anything done.

So, one weekend in July 2020, I painted a new piece, got it to a point I was happy with, minted it, and put it on sale on Rarible. I told Gabby—and then he immediately bought it. It was a 1/1 piece that I listed for like 0.8 ETH and so my friend effectively gave me PHP12-13k (which was what it was worth at the time based on ETH’s conversion rate to Philippine pesos) for that single piece of work. 

Butterflies – the first piece of art I ever minted as an NFT.

I got so excited that I made and minted a new piece the very next day: an experiment with gif animation at 5/5 editions. Gabby bought one of those too. At first I thought Gabby was just crazy giving me money like that, but then I minted some of my older works that I still liked, and then more people started buying my work: people I didn’t really know and didn’t know me. I had very little social media presence at the time. I was also very anxious about social media use so I barely tweeted about my work. 

Expelling Demons, my second NFT

Then more people started to follow me on Twitter, and then suddenly I was doing a collab with KittyBast , then I got more followers, then Pranksy started noticing me and buying a lot of my work. I got a few friends (Shelly and Marv) to join me in the craziness. More follows, more sales. I started applying to other platforms, got into a few. I made a lot of new friends, so I was a lot more active on Twitter than I used to be. It was a crazy fun time, and nobody even called NFTs “NFTs” back then. 

Then sales started to slow down, and I started to burn out. I had to take a break, slow down a little, and think about what I really wanted to do and where I wanted to take my art. I liked my day job and the people I worked with, so I couldn’t give that up. I had to figure out how to balance doing cryptoart with everything else. For a while I was doing exactly that: I didn’t mint as much work, didn’t really bother with Twitter so much, focused on just making new art or marketing my work whenever I made something new…

And then everything changed when the fire nation attacked—which in this case, was mainstream media getting wind of the NFT craze. Suddenly, everyone was talking about NFTs. And almost immediately, everybody was shitting on NFTs. That was roughly around mid-March 2021.

“Cryptoart is bad for the environment,” they cried.

Imagine my surprise one day when I found myself in a Twitter list along with my friends that had quite the threatening aura: “Mother Earth is Crying – Artists who participated in NFTs/Crypto Art while the environment is in shambles. Do what you will.”

Here I was, just minding my own fucking business, finally starting to get over my fear of social media, and then suddenly I was in a list that was basically saying: “See these people? Go and bully/cancel them.”

My entire Twitter feed was a warzone. Almost every non-crypto artist I followed was posting or retweeting hot takes, some of which encouraged actual physical harm to people trying to make crypto transactions. Big-name artists who were thinking of getting into NFTs were getting so much hate. Some people started to argue that blockchain was basically just a huge pyramid scheme.

So yeah, the very thing that was helping distract me from the shitty reality of the pandemic, bad government, uncertainty of the future, was the thing that started stressing me out. 

You might be wondering: what does all this have to do with how I got into NFTs? 

Well, it’s because prior to that … I hadn’t really made up my mind whether I was in this thing for the long run. I could’ve quit then and there. But where would that get me? I’ve made so many new friends (the cryptoart community is crazy supportive), I’ve been loving my work again, and I’ve never felt more confident in my abilities. Plus, the money from the sales and projects I’ve participated in has put me in the best financial position I could ever be in. Even if I lost my job and didn’t work for the next 5 years, I’d still be covered. 

I realized recently—given how there’s still so much confusion about NFTs, blockchain, and cryptocurrency—that I need to start talking about it. I need to start telling my story so that people don’t just have the stories from big news outlets and celebrities to draw conclusions from. Hopefully they can also see it from the point of view of someone who was just trying to make some extra cash and not go insane in the middle of a pandemic.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m some expert on blockchain. Hell, I’m not even an expert on cryptoart. I’m still wrapping my head around DeFi, I still have no idea what a DAO is, I barely understand what is going on in about 90% of the crypto space, but I know that I’m excited about making art again, and I’m excited about the Metaverse because I’m a gamer (virtual worlds? I live for that shit). I want to learn as much as I can and do as much I can with this technology.

That’s how I got into NFTs. I’m in this for the long run.

Welcome to Draw Write Play!

This is the official blog, portfolio, and general brain dump of game developer, crypto artist, and giant nerd in a small body: Caroline Dy (that’s me)!

For someone whose username is “drawwriteplay” on social media, I haven’t really written a lot lately. The name originally came from a semi-autobiographical webcomic that I used to produce (you can still find it here), and it kind of just stuck. 

I’ve kept the name partially because I couldn’t really think of a better one to use that’s still available on the social media platforms I commonly use, and partially because I’ve already gained quite a few followers on Facebook and it feels like a waste to rebrand.

While I’ve set aside the webcomic part of my life for now, I still feel the need to share my thoughts and experiences with the world. Twitter has been great for that, but I need a space that I can easily reference and organize.

I hope to express more of myself and my work through this space, and I also hope you’ll stick around!