Exclusive: Indian artists warming up to NFTs

May 19, 2023

By Tsering Namgyal

While India has been a bit behind the curve in NFT adoption, this is changing, an ongoing workshop* in New Delhi dedicated to the discussion of risks and opportunities of NFTs has heard.

The NFT market in India is at where the US markets were two years ago and a lot of people were jumping into the NFT bandwagon now but they are learning it the hard way.

“There is a lot of interest in both the art side and the minting side of NFTs. We in India in the crypto space is running two years behind the rest of the world,” said Karan Kalra, a multidisciplinary visual artist based in New Delhi.

But the education is also getting better, with a lot more interest which means the NFT market in India might see a boom in the coming years.

“There is likely to be a massive influx of Indian talent and money in the space whether it is in art, whether it is in trading, or whether it is in the limitless opportunities that we have,” Kalra told NFTMetta.com in an interview on the sidelines of the workshop.

 “I am a chaos-fueled artist and my work is highly-detailed isometric scenes. I try to capture moment in time in any of my scenarios…trying to capture the time that is life in itself.”

His work is primarily available on the NFT marketplace Foundation and has some work on OpenSea as well. A lot of people are paying attention to his NFTs, buy his work or send opportunities his way, he said.

He worked with Time magazine earlier this year on its series of NFTs called Time Pieces in which they collaborate with artists to create NFTs for specific themes. He collaborated with the US-based Indian American spiritual guru and author Deepak Chopra on his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

“For the book’s anniversary they launched a collection of NFTs, and I designed one of the covers for their NFTs,” he said. “The CEO of Time magazine reached out to me on Twitter. You never know who is looking at your work.”

“I am very humbled and grateful for just the attention that I am getting in the NFT space.”

Kalra said he has been investing in crypto for a while and he is not looking to generate huge sales or financially depend on his artwork but the NFT space is bringing a “lot of eyes into my work.”

Karan Kalra

As for when the NFT market is going to rebound from its current downturn, he said every cycle is different but the current market downturn is linked to the recent implosions in the crypto industry, notably FTX and Terra Luna.

He believes it is probably time to buy at discounts now that the market has been quite resilient. He expects it to bounce back between six months to 18 months.

Nikita Singh, a painter based in Ahmedabad, has been minting NFTs since the summer of 2021.

She said NFT industry has benefitted her greatly as an artist because trying to succeed through the traditional art industry route is quite challenging.

“Trying to break through in the traditional art world can be quite daunting,” she said, adding that she used Twitter to find her NFT community. She has displayed her art in New York city billboards and “all of this is due to the NFT community,” she told NFTMetta.com.

With the new-found success in NFTs, her art work has been discovered by traditional art galleries and NFTs have made the gallerists interested in her paintings. Without the NFT, it would not have been possible, she said, given how much time it takes for work from new artists to be displayed and exhibited in physical galleries.

Her art is generally bought by people in the crypto industry and those who have made money trading cryptos.

She recently sold a four-by-four feet canvas for 1.5 ETH and her first painting was sold for 0.15 ETH, indicating how far she has come along in her NFT artistic journey.

“It was on the blockchain for almost a year. Since it was a bigger piece, it was priced like that,” she said, adding that her work is listed on NFT marketplace called SuperRare. 

Indian NFT artworld is growing and she believes there are around 500 Indian artists minting NFTs and that number is expected to grow as NFTs gains more traction in the country.

Karthik Dondeti, a Bangalore-based architect and artist, use code to create generative art on Tezos network.

“The eco-system that I find is nicer and I found that it is more environmental-friendly… the artists are more open and the cost of minting is much less, a lot more experimentation happens in Tezos,” he told NFTMetta.com.

He said he has been minting NFTs for about two years, adding that even though NFTs might be new, the technology itself is not new. “I have been reading about it for a long time and so familiar (with the technology),” he said.

Karthik Dondeti

As for regulations, governments around the world are still grappling with the revolutionary new technologies such as blockchain and NFTs, with some governments resorting to banning them altogether.

Blockchain also offers governments with the capacity to track transactions such as tax payments in a way that is more transparent than traditional banking, said Kalra.

“That is a problem for a lot of powerful people and they don’t like that,” he said, adding that for such an innovative technology to gain ground it is only a matter of when not if.

In terms of technology, AI, despite its use cases, is a lot more dangerous technology than blockchain and NFTs, Kalra told NFTMetta.com.

“With all the fear around NFTs and cryptocurrencies, the potential of collapsing our entire civilization is low (though) there is a lot of fear-mongering,” he said.

As for when the NFT market going rebound, Dondeti, the architect says, it is volatile and it is hard to predict because it is like any other speculative market.

“NFT market is currently dependent on cryptocurrencies, which has its own ups and downs,” he said.

Cryptocurrencies are not banned in India but the Indian government levies 30 percent tax on profit from crypto transactions and 1% Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) on the transfer of crypto assets from July 01, 2022, if the transactions exceed ₹50,000 (or even ₹10,000 in some cases) in the same financial year.

*Chain Unchained: Exploring Creativity Through NFTs, a project by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan in partnership with BeFantastic, New Delhi, May 12, 2023.

About the author

Tsering Namgyal is the chief content officer of NFTMetta.com

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