Non-Fungible Tokens: Christophe Verdot On The 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry
Create a relationship with collectors. Once you have your first few collectors, it means you are on the right track and it is an incredibly positive thing. Try to get in touch with your collectors and thank them and eventually airdrop them some special NFT too. If a collector purchases more than one artwork from you, that speaks a lot. Most importantly, it is a sign of trust. Build a relationship with your collectors. They trust you with their money because you give them value in exchange.
Many have observed that we are at the cusp of an NFT boom. The thing is, it’s so cutting edge, that many people don’t know what it is. What exactly is an NFT and how can one create a lucrative career out of selling them? To address this, as a part of our interview series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Christophe Verdot.
Christophe Verdot is a freelance developer for nearly 2 decades. He is the Founder and Lead Developer of Signature Chain, an entity building dApps on the Waves Blockchain. Christophe’s most recent and popular brainchild is SIGN Art, a Digital Art Gallery and NFT Marketplace on Waves Blockchain
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you grew up?
I was born in Bordeaux, France, and grew up in Ares — a small town in the southwest seaside of France. Growing up, I was into street art and skateboarding.
I went to an art school in Bordeaux and worked as a full-time Web Designer, switching from agency to agency. After a while, I decided to switch to freelancing, initially and primarily into web design, and eventually into web development.
I moved to the Philippines in 2009 and am now living there with my wife. I started my own Filipino Martial Arts school and spends most of my time working and training.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The podcast that kind of changed my life was the speech of Gary Yourofsky about Veganism. I watched it 7 years ago and have been vegan ever since.
Aside from this, I play a lot of video games. Dark Souls had a significant impact on me, similarly from years of Martial Arts training, to never give up.
Is there a particular story that inspired you to pursue a career in this new industry? We’d love to hear it.
For the last 8 years, I regularly work on developing Metadata Registries for Carbon Unit Management. The registries were mostly financed by the European Union or by banks.
While working on one of these registries, I was asked to incorporate Blockchain-Based Document Certification. At that time, I did not know about Blockchain.
In early 2018, I started to read and study Blockchain. After a year later, I started Signature Chain and launched its first project — sign-web.app, a File and Document Certification tool on the Waves Blockchain
Following this, I decided to combine both things I loved — Art and Web Development. After a year of development, in February of 2021, I launched my second project under Signature Chain — SIGN Art (sign-art.app), the first and only Digital Art Gallery and NFT marketplace on the Waves Blockchain.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this fascinating career?
First, I would say, are the Grants I received from Waves Blockchain to develop these projects. I received a few, including 10,000 Waves in December 2020, which allowed me to work full-time on SIGN Art.
More interestingly, a few days ago, was a record-breaking sale on SIGN Art which reached $1 Million. Such achievement reminds me that hard work always pays out.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think I did a few, not sure which could be considered the funniest. I would say my biggest mistake and it happens still, is doing and handling everything alone.
I learned to delegate work, especially in fields that I am not 100% confident in. Leaving it to experts helps to ease a lot of stress, gives me more time for my self and is overall better for the project.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As the sole developer of SIGN Art, I did everything alone in terms of development, but I had huge help from some community members that ended up being SIGN Ambassadors and are continuously doing an amazing job every day — managing community and things I don’t have much time to do. This was very important as it allowed me to focus on the development of the SIGN Art web application.
Recently, I started to open more opportunities for people to get involve and take part in the project. I have outsourced web development for improving our infrastructure and for building important tools to scale better. I, now, delegate more and I regret not doing it sooner.
I’m also very grateful to Sasha Ivanov (Waves Blockchain Founder) and the Waves Association members for their constant support of my project.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Currently, all my focus is on SIGN Art. The NFT platform was released almost 2 months ago, and the result is amazing! I am working on the secondary market, aside from several updates, which are planned for release this quarter.
SIGN Art helps digital artists by offering fixed and low transaction fees (no gas), and also an important feature — creation source certification, as compared to other NFT marketplaces.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. I’m sure you get this question all the time. But for the benefit of our readers, can you explain in your own words what an NFT is, and why people are spending so much money on them?
NFT or Non-Fungible Tokens are unique and indivisible tokens linked to something unique. In the digital art field, for example, each NFT will be associated with unique art. What makes a creation original and unique are two things: 1) The artist’s intent and 2) the number of original copies in limited quantity or edition. What is the advantage of this? It’s about giving ownership and right, based on who owns this token.
The problem with digital files is that you can easily duplicate them, and they would all look exactly alike, with no way to know which one is the original — and this is where NFTs kick in. By creating NFT and linking it to unique artwork/s, artists can indicate which one is the original and whoever owns the NFT is the owner of the original artwork.
The NFT industry seems so exciting right now. What are the 3 things in particular that most excite you about the industry? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- What excites me the most is that it starts to become a thing even outside the initially small circle of NFT users. The technology is reaching well-known traditional artists that want to switch to the digital art scene. It is such a great honor to have these great artists onboard the NFT scene.
- Also, as the NFT industry is constantly evolving as is Blockchain technology, a lot of interesting things around NFTs will come out in the coming years. Cross-Chain Technology is being developed by Gravity. I love to see how this will bring a new generation of artists and collectors, and communities from different blockchains.
- NFT is currently focusing on digital art. Another exciting thing for me is the opportunity of NFT to branch out into the different industries, where applicable. NFTs give more power to the people and give access to things that were unreachable before. It would be awesome to see NFT getting applied to common and practical aspects of life, e.g., Ticketing and Property Real Estate.
What are the 3 things that concern you about the industry? Can you explain? What can be done to address those concerns?
- People often describe the NFT as a being in a bubble. It has been a constant debate and people worry that the bubble will pop soon and the hype will disappear. As long as there are artists and collectors that support the digital art movement, NFT marketplaces will not die. SIGN Art supports the community by releasing new features and regular improvements to the platform. Even with a small but strong group base of enthusiasts, with a common interest in Blockchain and Digital art, the industry will never die. As with Cryptocurrency, which up to now, some people are still calling a bubble. Haven’t we proved it otherwise?
- Another issue that concerns me is that these NFT marketplaces are getting populated by “so-called” artists that get random images online, putting them together using a mobile app that does all the job. A couple of screen touches after, it sells for several hundred dollars. We try to keep SIGN Art exclusive for legitimate digital artists. We find it important to clean up the space by checking the background of all applications and randomly verifying the authenticity of artworks minted on the SIGN Art platform.
- I see a few artists that are reluctant to use non-ETH marketplaces and it is of important concern for me as the lead developer of SIGN Art. Cross-Chain Technology is an interesting development and implementation, one that our platform can greatly benefit from. By implementing Cross-Chain, users can freely use $ETH on SIGN Art, and vise versa.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about NFTs? Can you explain what you mean?
The biggest myth for me is that because you can put 2 images together and add some automatic effects to it, you are suddenly an artist. Our team at SIGN Art tries to screen the artist that we onboard the platform. We require a certain number of digital art/portfolios, to qualify as a digital artist.
Also, NFTs does not work for everything. People start to tokenize every random stuff. Many of them do not need a token, to begin with.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they enter the NFT industry? What can be done to avoid that?
Many artists want to sell right away. People see the hype around NFT, they try to post as many artworks as possible, instead of taking their time and work on high-quality art. A common mistake I see in the Digital Art NFT field is posting to many instead of a few of higher quality. Having 50 low-quality unsold NFT will not help you, versus 3 top-quality ones.
Also, it is sometimes better to wait and improve, before starting to sell. If you are a beginner, then work on getting better first. Once you start posting, it stays, and your image will be attached to these drops.
How do you think NFTs have the potential to help society in the future?
As of now, NFTs can be applied to collectibles, gaming, art, virtual worlds. I believe NFT has real-world asset and documentation use, however, the legal base needs to be determined thoroughly firstEspecially if we start to link them to physical counterparts. Once this happens, then it will help society, based on their immutability and transparency.
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Career In The NFT Industry?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Do not start too early!
We see a lot of users that want to be an artist, legitimately or simply because of the NFT hype. People are getting an epiphany and want to change their career to become an artist. The thing is, while we understand everyone deserves a chance and must start somewhere, it does not make any sense to us to apply on a marketplace if you are not an established artist yet.
Perfect your art! Do not sell mediocre art or experiments. Strive to excel, rather than simply being good.
An NFT marketplace is a place where established artists sell their best creations. If you do not have a portfolio, no previous quality creations to show, or just a couple that you made following a tutorial — chances are that either you will get rejected by the platform and if not, then you’ll simply take the high risk of associating your name to a complete beginner and when you give such first impression to potential collectors, it is always very difficult to change it.
On SIGN Art, we assess and arbitrate our Approved sets of artists.
Learn first, get good at it then eventually consider joining a marketplace. Not the other way around.
At some point, the state of Crypto Art will correct and when this happens, only high-quality artists will remain in the space. Be one of them!
2. Quality over Quantity.
Many artists seem to think that the more they post, the higher the chances for them to make some sales.
While there is no golden rule about it and some top-selling artists happen to also drop new artworks regularly and are often sold out most of the time. However, for many others, they are just overloading their portfolio and sending a red flag to their visitors that no one is buying their creations.
If you can create a new artwork every day and have 50 unsold pieces in your portfolio, most probably you should consider create less and spend more time and improve each new creation. From a collector’s point of view, seeing an overloaded portfolio with very few to no pieces sold at all is not going to appeal to me at all.
Spend more time on your creation, post only the best of them and think about scarcity, as well. Better sell a 1/1 or 2/2 polished piece at a higher price, rather than rushed artworks made 10/10 at an exceptionally low price.
Also, avoid selling photographs of artworks. Many newcomers tend to just take a picture of their old hand-drawn physical art and try to stretch it out on a digital market, to sell it once again. While you are free to do that, unless it is an enhanced version with some digital post-treatment that makes it a digitally extended version of the physical version, this has little to do with digital art. Experienced collectors know that.
3. Price yourself correctly.
Pricing is an important part of the process. We notice that many talented artists have quite a hard time pricing their work and it is not rare that you will come across artworks that are sold at a certain price, with several bids, and eventually getting sold at 10 times lower the indicated price.
This could be double-edged, as basically, you are telling collectors that you have no idea what your art is worth to you. Some artists put a random price, but accept bids at any price.
The takeaway is that you should take the time to think about the price of your artworks. Define the price that makes sense to you and place a limit in terms of accepting offers.
4. Be active with the community and promote yourself.
If you just entered the space and were able to join a marketplace, you would have to make a name and connect with the community to maximize your exposure and the chance to attract collectors.
Be active on Twitter Instagram, Telegram, and Discord as these are among the most used social media and messaging platforms in Crypto Art.
Joining these groups will be extremely beneficial, as you get the chance to connect with fellow digital artists and collectors. Consider collaborating with other artists that share your passion and creativity. Share your work, receive feedback, and learn from seasoned artists.
Creating a bond with a community of both artists and collectors is extremely important. You are not competing here, you are sharing and thriving together. The most active and best-selling artists are often the ones active within a community — helping others. Connecting helps you build a large, reliable customer base, and strengthens the pool of collectors you can count on to repeatedly purchase NFTs from you.
Also, it is important to know that no one can appreciate art more than artists themselves. Unsurprisingly, artists are among the most active collectors.
Make sure to also have a fully completed profile on the marketplace and give as much information about you and your art, including links to your social media and portfolios to build trust among collectors. From a personal point of view, as a collector, if a profile has none of these and I have no way to do my research about the artist, I am unlikely going to buy any of his pieces.
5. Create a relationship with collectors.
Once you have your first few collectors, it means you are on the right track and it is an incredibly positive thing. Try to get in touch with your collectors and thank them and eventually airdrop them some special NFT too. If a collector purchases more than one artwork from you, that speaks a lot. Most importantly, it is a sign of trust. Build a relationship with your collectors. They trust you with their money because you give them value in exchange.
Some collectors will remain anonymous, but you know their blockchain address, so it is easy to airdrop them something from time to time or just post a general tweet to thank the anonymous buyer.
What is also important is to share with the collector some information and history about the creation you sell, why you made it, how you made it and what story you are telling through it. Art should try to tell a story, send a message, and create some reaction. Who knows, the collector may relate to these stories and come back for more.
Do not be too aggressive in selling, which I often see. Find the balance between promoting and being too pushy.
Consider the following:
You had your first sale, and you know who the collector was and did thank him for this, perfect.
On your next drop, you may tag him and call him out to have a look. Fair enough but please, stop there! Do not insist or call him out on every of your drop, asking him to buy just because he collected once and is maybe your only collector. This will make you look cheap and make him unlikely to want to get more from you if he feels constantly called out. Do not rely on one collector and make sure to focus on attracting more of them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love a movement around quality NFT. Currently, where everyone tokenizes almost anything and everyone suddenly labels themselves as artists, it becomes hard to find artists as they tend to be like a hidden gem.
Most importantly, protect the planet. We only have one, Consider less meat and less plastic. Strive for a healthier lifestyle 😊
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to finally meet with Sasha Ivanov and Aleksei Pupyshev, Sasha to thanks him for all the help he did provide to my project, and Aleksei for his support on making SIGN cross-chain through his Gravity project. I would ask for their advice on how to make the project even better. Must be a vegan lunch of course 😉
Thank you so much for these excellent stories and insights. We wish you continued success in your great work!
Non-Fungible Tokens: Christophe Verdot On The 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.