NFT crypto: which is best for your art?

Know your NFT crypto: illustration of the Ethereum token
(Image credit: Ethereum Foundation)

If you want to create an NFT then you need to know your NFT crypto. Choosing the best blockchain to mint (create) your NFT on is crucial, it can determine which marketplace you use, what kind of NFT you create, and how your art fits with your view of the world.

We have a broader guide to how to make and sell an NFT but here we're going to look specifically at which cryptocurrencies may be best for you. You may also want to take a look at our guide to the NFT trends in 2022 to see what art you want to create.

Thanks to innovations in blockchain technology, following a career in art is a more viable option than ever before

Now is the best time to create art. Thanks to innovations in blockchain technology, following a career in art is a more viable option than ever before. Digital artists can now avoid selling their soul as a service to brands with questionable ethics. As a result your favourite legacy ad agency founders are tearing their hair out trying to adapt.

There is a lot to take in. The list below is divided into two types, Layer 1 and Layer 2. Layer 1 refers to a blockchain, while a Layer 2 is a cryptocurrency developed on top of the original blockchain. The advantage of Layer 2 cryptocurrencies is they have the security of the base blockchain but with better performance, most have lower gas fees (the cost of creating an NFT) and better energy use. 

We go into the more detail on this and other common cryptocurrency terms in the frequent questions section. But for now, let's get you ahead of the pack and learn which NFT crypto is best for you…

Want to know more about NFTs? Don’t miss Vertex Week 2022, the ultimate virtual event for the digital art community. Bored Ape Yacht Club and Stereoheadz founder Jace Kay will be discussing NFTs, music and the metaverse, while Disney artist Chris Petrocchi will share how to promote your NFT art.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific financial or investment advice or recommendations for any individual for any investment product.  The article is only intended to provide general information and opinions about NFTs and cryptocurrency. The views reflected in this article are subject to change at any time without notice.

Know your NFT crypto: Layer 1

01. Ethereum

Know your NFT crypto: Ethereum

Ethereum is the dominant NFT blockchain (Image credit: Ethereum Foundation)

You want to know your NFT crypto? Then start with Ethereum. It's fair to say that Ethereum has won the cryptocurrency adoption race. Of course 2021 had us all believing there were 'Ethereum Killers' lurking ready to take over, but it didn't play out that way. 

Ethereum may not even be the best network, hence people constantly searching for cheaper gas fees, but there is no denying that it will take a lot to topple as the crowned 'King of NFTs'. For this reason Ethereum Layer 2 cryptocurrencies (such as Polygon) look to play a big part of the narrative in 2022.

From an artist's perspective, it's really sensible to focus on Ethereum. If you can't afford it then by all means use a cheaper chain to start your journey. This can help build up your presence and community. But it's good practice to make sure you eventually find your way onto Ethereum.

Find out more at Ethereum's website

02. Tezos

Know your NFT crypto: a Tezos environmental illustration

Tezos is seen as a good environmentally-friendly crypto (Image credit: Tezos)

If Ethereum is like the Glastonbury Festival, then Tezos is like the Berghain in Berlin. It's harder to get in (because of weird UX), it's cool, it's underground and it's culty. Tezos is much cheaper to mint on as gas fees are low. The community is very active and engaging. If you are new then it's a great way to start your NFT journey.

The downside is that some collectors have voiced concerns about the long term security of the chain. This is only a very low risk possibility but definitely something to be aware of.

One of the better marketing angles of Tezos for artists has been the idea of it being a leader in the 'green/clean NFTs' movement. The blockchain has a lower carbon footprint than its competitors. We'll leave the full spectrum of the ongoing crypto climate debate for another article, but it's fair to say it's a nuanced point. For the casual 'NFT Hater' this is their favourite attack angle, so Tezos is a great way to make sure they avoid you.

Find out more at Tezos' website

03. Solana

Know your NFT crypto: a render of a shape to represent Solana

(Image credit: Solana)

Solana is the new kid on the block. This blockchain started to make waves in 2021, firstly in a bad way when they lied about their token supply to retail investors, then in a slightly more meaningful way when people started minting NFT projects on their chain.

Unfortunately some of these projects were scams, copycats or just plain theft. These accusations are fairly standard in crypto though, let's not forget that from around 2010-2017 Bitcoin was 'drug money', 'money laundering', and also a scam/ponzi scheme. Now we have big institutions who are frothing at the mouth to buy it. Point being, sentiment in crypto can shift very quickly.

One thing about Solana is it can handle a high volume of transactions at a very low cost, for this reason it's perfect for a new wave of Play-to-Earn NFT games that are being developed this year.

Solana is also seen as one of the better environmentally friendly blockchains. It's creator believes one Solana transaction consumes less energy than two Google searches. So, Solana could really take off, all it really needs is a few good artists and projects to use as case studies. Maybe you are that artist?

Find out more at Solana's website

Know your NFT crypto: Layer 2

04. Palm

Know your NFT crypto: the Palm logo created with artist Damien Hirst

Palm is designed for artists, with low costs and energy use (Image credit: Palm / Damien Hirst)

Palm is a Layer 2 solution built on top of Ethereum, and developed specifically for NFTs. It’s creators brag about Palm being 99% more energy efficient than Proof of Work systems (such as Ethereum and Bitcoin). Although currently fewer artists are minting on Palm than other blockchains, this is one to watch this year.

This is especially true since Palm has been integrated into the NFT platform Nifty's. Palm made waves last year with a series of big drops, including with modern artist Damien Hirst, The Matrix movie and DC comics.

The issue with Layer 2's is currently UX based (like many things in crypto) You need to bridge assets and funds. However as the tech progresses these obstacles will get reduced and chains will be integrated better.

With Palm you have an ex-Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin and ex-founding editor of RWD magazine, Matt Mason. Together with film producer David Heyman alongside Joe Hage, founder of art house HENI Group. The team behind Palm has big art credentials and is well versed in disruptive tech and cultural movements in their early stages. Palm could be a great platform for artists.

Find out more at Palm's website

05. Polygon

Know your NFT crypto: the Polygon logo

(Image credit: Polygon)

Polygon's history means it already has better integration than most other Layer 2 blockchains. OpenSea has already integrated Polygon NFTs onto its platform and because of this it's proved very useful for airdrops. Airdrops are small (often free) gifts or additional NFTs you may want to send someone, or a larger number of people.

Using Polygon can be cheaper than Ethereum too. This cryptocurrency uses 'lazy minting' to ensure there are no upfront costs to create an NFT. It instead charges a 2.5% 'service' fee, which is deducted from the selling fee.

Like other Layer 2's Polygon is a low energy blockchain and brags of being over 99.99% more carbon efficient than Ethereum (not hard). To put this in context, creating an NFT on Polygon is equivalent to sending two-and-half emails. Polygon's sustainability statistics are free to see online.

Polygon is great for wearable NFTs too, and these can be utilised on metaverse platforms such as CryptoVoxels and Decentraland. The future could be very bright for Polygon in 2022.

Find out more at Polygon's website

06. Arbitrum

Know your NFT crypto: Arbitrum blockchain logo

Arbitrum is the hot new kid on the block (Image credit: Offchain Labs)

Arbitrum is 'still early' as they say. Like on Polygon, this has the low fees and fast transactions that make it very usable but you're still on Ethereum for security. Arbitrum also has a vibrant community of serious builders and exciting new projects, like Treasure/$MAGIC. One of the biggest innovations that came from NFTs last year derived from Loot/Treasure – people were paying thousands of dollars for lists of items. Yes, simple lists.

Some items began gaining value. People loved their lists and items, artists began creating illustrators for them, and a game is planned to enable collectors to use their 'loot' items. This was a weird, humanist response driven by imagination and a love of lists.

Add to this rumours of a token airdrop for early adopters (aka free money), and more rumours of Coinbase integration and this is your chance to be an early genius. Get in the Discord, ask questions and prepare to fall down a really fun rabbit hole with Arbitrum.

Find out more at Arbitrum's website

07. Flow

Know your NFT crypto: Flow logo

Flow is making a name for itself in the sports collectibles market (Image credit: Flow)

Created by Dapper Labs, who made their name with one of the original breakout NFT projects, Crypto Kitties, Flow is a bold new NFT blockchain that aims to support the metaverse of games, apps, and the digital assets.

The NBA were one of the first big players to use Flow, quickly followed by the NFL, MotoGP and esports teams. Since then it's been highly regarded by the crypto community and is picking up support.

New marketplace integration and strategic partnerships in 2022 look interesting too; Flow users can now trade, list and create on Rarible. and Flow has its own OpenSea-like NFT marketplace called BloctoBay in beta testing. Keep an eye on developments here.

Find out more at Flow's website

08. Wax

Know your NFT crypto: Wax logo

Wax is carbon neutral and designed for NFTs (Image credit: he Worldwide Asset eXchange)

Wax got some momentum last year in the collectable market. Like many of the other networks outside of Ethereum the main issue here became secondary market liquidity – or lack thereof.

This could change in the future, particularly due to Wax's environmental credentials that could see the blockchain appeal to new users. Wax boasts it uses less than 0.00001% the energy of Proof of Work like Ethereum.

So what is Wax? It's a purpose-built blockchain cryptocurrency designed to support NFTs and already has some key partners such as Capcom, Topps and Sony's Funimation. Wax is also home to some of the most successful NFT-powered games, including Alien World, R-Planet and Kolobok Adventures.

Wax's Carbon Offset vIRL NFTs are interesting too. Not only will trees be planted for every NFT in a users collection, these new NFTs will combine video and app integration and enable connectivity to real-world items. 

Find out more at Wax's website

Know your NFT crypto: frequent questions

Is NFT the same as bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a fungible currency. an NFT is a non-fungible asset. Some of the original NFTs were created on the Bitcoin network but now the majority of NFTs are based on the Ethereum network using its smart contract capabilities.

What is an NFT?

It stands for "Non Fungible Token" - it's basically a medium that allows you to place things on the blockchain. That could then be code, art or media. If you wish it can also be used to add utility to interact with other smart contracts, Web3.0 sites, games and the metaverse. 

Why are NFTs so expensive?

High price tags on some NFTs could mean anything from historical significance, utility (i.e. it's a cash generating asset), or just rampant speculations from NFT degenerates. Most likely though it's because we are witnessing the innovative demonstration of a fully frictionless market in action. There are also many cheap, well-priced NFTs, but they struggle to make the news headlines because the world loves a crazy success story.

What are gas fees?

Gas fee's are a small (or sometimes huge) transaction cost that you pay to the miners who are keeping the network up and running by running nodes. You will hear people moaning about this a lot. This is why cheaper chains and Layer 2's will be a theme in 2022.

What's a Layer 2 blockchain?

Layer 2 blockchains are designed to solve some of the issues of a Layer 1 blockchain while retaining the decentralized security of, for example, Ethereum. Because these handle transactions off-chain Layer 2s can improve transaction speeds and fees. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific financial or investment advice or recommendations for any individual for any investment product.  The article is only intended to provide general information and opinions about NFTs and cryptocurrencies. The views reflected in this article are subject to change at any time without notice.

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Vector Meldrew

Vector Meldrew is a contemporary digital artist who is "crafting visionary worlds around contemporary cultural themes". They are a VJ, film director, graphic artist, and NFT pioneer. There work has appeared on Aesthetica, The Smalls, Berlin Music Video Awards, Vimeo Staff Pick, Adult Swim and Vice. By a motion graphics specialist but at night Vector Meldrew huddles behind GPUs to craft cutting edge digital inspired by '90s rave fliers and culture.

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