Nigerian Lives: 5 Artists Take Us Into The World Of NFTs

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From customized art to rare valuables, licensed songs, or perhaps a mixture of these contents, Nigerian artists are forging ahead, and breaking countless limitations to create unique art. For context, an NFT (which means non-fungible token) is a special data system that uses technology to support digital content in the form of art, video game, music or anything to be recorded and verified on cryptocurrency blockchains, mainly Ethereum.

So far, Nigeria is the 6th largest adopter of NFTs, according to a survey by Finder which also hints that NFT adoption will soon double across Africa. With the growing interest in this space, five Nigerian NFT artists take us on their journey, discussing what it’s like as a Nigerian in the NFT space:

Owo Anietie

It’s been crazy. Filled with ups and downs. One of the few disadvantages of being a first mover is you get to make mistakes and there are no blueprints for you to see what other people have done. Anyone in the NFT space you ask and anyone who tells you they know what they are doing is probably lying. We are all in this space figuring out the technology and trying to understand what it is and stands for. Personally, I wanted to make sure I created an environment where I can encourage more artists to join the space not just for the money; the money is good, life-changing and everything but look at the technology, being able to live in an economy where decentralization is possible and power doesn’t have to rest in the hands of one person. Sometimes you just feel like you are about to lose your shit and there are some days you are just thankful to be in this space and this time, witness a renaissance. 

It’s beautiful and awesome to see Nigerians in the NFT space. It is giving people a chance to achieve freedom and decentralization. I have seen many artists join the space. Back then it was just a few of us, we were not a lot. I only knew of a few people killing it in the past. When I joined the space, go to clubhouse rooms, It was kind of difficult to blend in sometimes because a lot of people didn’t understand the story or why you are telling it. I met Zimbabwean NFT collage artist Vintage Mozart in a clubhouse room, I connected with him and realized he has a community he is trying to put together called African heads. We decided to host clubhouse rooms with African women in the NFT space which took off.  It was an amazing room, we met many people and they came in showing their work. After that day, things blew out of proportion and there were people who wanted to help Africans in the space and onboard women into the space. All over the world people were excited to see Africans representing the NFT space.

Born and bred in Akwa Ibom, Owo is a 3D artist and creator of Afrodroids, a 12k PFP project in the NFT space that tells a story of human existence through the African lens. Drawing inspiration from everyday people, culture and history, his work is a blend of 3D, motion design and traditional paintings, mostly landscape.

Uzodinma Maryjane Akunna

I discovered NFT in 2021 through a friend and after researching it, I met fellow Nigerians who put me through the process and joined communities in the NFT space. I eventually decided to get into the NFT space and took a loan of close to $300 from Shecluded, a finance company that helps fund women’s entrepreneurship journey to pay for OpenSea one-time gas fee. I launched my first collection Genesis, which talked about black African females in unique ways and it got sold out in less than 2 days. A lot of people loved and connected with my works and most of the collectors were from Nigeria. Next, I posted sneak peeks of my second collection called Her crown on my Twitter which highlighted black African womens’ hair. It gained traction on social media before I officially put it out on OpenSea. The same night I dropped my collection which was about 43 items, Twitter purchased one of my works and immediately after, people rushed in to buy more and in a few hours, it got sold out. 

The Nigerians I have seen so far in the NFT space are actually amazing. I have not seen Nigerians exhibit such patience in any activity before. The kind of patience, learning curve and value they bring into the NFT space is incredible and It brings me joy that we can actually be this way and have this opportunity in the NFT space. It is fun and beautiful. Nigerians in the NFT space are working hard, they are patient and they keep sharing their work. It is a hustle for us, some have quit their job to join the NFT space. It might be a rushed decision for people who left their job. I think Nigerians in the NFT space should think first before they act and exercise patience too. It’s not a fast way to make money and people are actually paying for our work. We should not act in a way that conforms to the stereotype and I believe with time, it’s going to be better.

Maryjane is an 18-year-old 2D digital artist and illustrator based in Lagos, Nigeria. She describes her art as expressional and enjoys creating art that revolves around the black African culture. Her art is predominantly black African women and she showcases their beauty through their hair and jewellery. 

Odion Tobi

NFT has been a bumpy ride and patience is key. I got to realize a lot of things about NFT and the craziness that comes with it. I find the journey insane and I enjoy the hype I am getting. I reached out to Leogami, owner of a huge NFT community on Instagram. He admired my work, posted it and soon I got followers and people started reaching out to work with me. I have been working on my personal projects. I have also earned a lot from collaborations and Avastars remix selected me as one of the artists they wanted to collaborate with.

Nigerians in the NFT space are doing amazing stuff. However, you are mistaken if you think you will join the NFT and make quick cash. It’s actually early for Nigerians and there are a few Nigerians doing NFT very well. Some people think it’s about quick money so they don’t do it the right way. You can literally count the heads that are doing NFT right now. The NFT space is exploding. Every day it’s going hard. I see Nigerians in the metaverse in future.

Odion is a 3D digital artist and creative director based in Lagos, who describes himself as an eclectic artist, meaning he doesn’t have a particular style. He also perceives himself as an Afrosurrealistic and Afrofuturistic artist due to recently centring his art around Africa.   

Tobi Johnson

My NFT experience has been life-changing, interesting and filled with lessons. People think NFT is easy and glamorous which is not the case. I participated in the NFT space hastily and took a different route after reality hit me. My friends have been supportive all through and NFT has inspired me to go beyond my comfort zone; socialise with people, value the relationships I create and encourage rising artists like me. The NFT space is beautiful and I love the support it brings and how women are prioritized. NFT is still a learning experience for me.

Nigerians in the NFT space are pushing boundaries. A lot of people didn’t know there were these talents in Nigeria, especially because of the stereotypes. The Nigerians in the NFT space are amazing, talented and straightforward. The NFT space is like an escape for us. We see an opportunity to actually put our work out for people to see and enjoy. When Nigerians do something, we want to do it well and I am glad that we are actually doing it well and championing the space with what we do best. We are proving people wrong and bending stereotypes. A few Nigerians have been featured on the home pages of OpenSea just to tell you how far we have gone in the space for us to be recognized on the home page. It is huge for Nigerians and it is amazing to see.

Tobi is a 2D graphic illustrator and NFT artiste based in Lagos, Nigeria, who started as a graphic designer, creating art covers for remarkable Nigerian artists like Zinoleesky, Oxlade and Ice Prince before transitioning into the NFT space. Tobi draws huge inspiration from personal experiences, music and video games. He enjoys playing and experimenting with colours and shapes in order to cause a trippy effect.

Oluwatobi Ogunrinde 

My NFT experience has been going well. I have made a reasonable amount of money in a short time. The community in the NFT space has contributed to my growth and have been helpful in bringing people together to help each other become better versions of themselves. I have hopped on several Twitter spaces regarding NFT and so far it has been helpful in my journey. I love that everyone is trying to make each other win and we promote each other’s work. I feel this is the support we need, not just in NFT but in other fields.

Nigerians in the NFT are doing crazy things keeping in mind Nigeria is 5 years behind what other people are doing. Nigerians in the space are very supportive, I must confess, positive energy and everyone is trying to see other people win. I believe we will take over soon.

Oluwatobi started creating art properly two years ago and transitioned to 3D arts that focus on human forms, Afrofuturism and robotics. He is inspired by technology but his inspiration is not limited to that as he also tries to bring his vision to reality. 

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