At the Mint and Greet meetup last April 23th, one of the major segments was a panel discussion with First Mint Fund (FMF)—an organization that helps aspiring artists mint their very first NFT in the Ethereum blockchain and offers gas fee funding on non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces like Foundation and Opensea. Together with Creative Director AJ Dimarucot, the First Mint Fund’s manager, and FMF’s artists, Alarcon Brothers (represented by Aldrine Alarcon), Carlos (represented by Kimi Delgado), Bern Cruz, and IJ Cacnio, shared their experience before and after minting their genesis pieces with First Mint Fund.
AJ Dimarucot, First Mint Fund
AJ Dimarucot of First Mint Fund shared how the organization started. He started his story with how he learned Photoshop back in the 90’s and decided to pursue his career as a Graphic Designer. Eventually, he became a Web Designer and T-shirt Designer for well-known brands.
Last year, during the pandemic, AJ heard about NFTs in Clubhouse, an app with “rooms” where people can listen to speakers, similar to Twitter Spaces. He initially thought the concept was unbelievable, but his outlook changed when he met Gabby Dizon of Yield Guild Games, and was encouraged by the co-founder to make his first three NFTs. As he continued to explore various discussions for two weeks, he realized that his career could come very handy with the technology. His digital files could have value, to pay off the hard work he did, through NFTs.
As AJ minted his three genesis pieces on Foundation, he observed how collectors competed to out bid one another and Gabby was able to get one of his artwork for 2.5 ETH. He was thrilled to see that his three NFTs were sold out.
Gabby, together with his associate, Collin, encouraged AJ to invite other artists who would like to enter NFTs. They gave him the funds, from ₱100,000 to about ₱7 million (max) to shoulder the expensive gas fees of their first NFTs. The goal was to give all the funds to those who need it for gas fees. This is where the First Mint Fund was created.
In regards to prioritizing artists FMF onboards into the Space, here is AJ’s response, “So, people email me from the website and they show me their portfolio. Then I check their portfolio. Tapos, minsan, I check na ‘baka may NFTs na ‘to, ah’,” kasi it has to be your first time to mint that NFT on the Ethereum blockchain. So, kung first time ninyo, then you have to have a body of work that is your portfolio—whether it is your Instagram or your website, etcetera—and then you want to mint your first NFT. ‘Yon! Ibibigay na namin ‘yong funding.
Ang isyu lang noong simula is that wala talagang may alam kung ano talaga ang process. Like kung ano ang Metamask, kung saan ako maglalagay ng NFT… So ‘yong point no’ng simula (is that) you have to onboard people in the whole process.
Until now, nagiging rule na lang namin is dapat mayroon kang body of work. Mayroon kang piniling website kung saan kayo magdadrop ng first NFT n’yo. Tapos, ibibigay na lang namin ‘yong fund sa inyo at panggastos sa gas fee. ‘Yon! Pretty simple.”
[So, people email me from the website and they show me their portfolio. Then I check their portfolio. Then, sometimes, I check if they have existing NFTs, because it has to be your first time to mint that NFT on the Ethereum blockchain (to qualify). So, if it’s your first time, then you have to have a body of work that is your portfolio—whether it is your Instagram or your website, etcetera—and then you want to mint your first NFT. There! We will give you the funding.
At first, the issue was that no one knew what the process really was.. Like what Metamask is, (or) where one would store an NFT. So, when we first started, the point was you have to onboard people in the whole process.
Until now, our rule is that you must have your body of work ready. You must choose a website where you will drop your NFTs. Then, we will give the funding you need to afford gas fees. There! Pretty simple!”]
AJ also added that if there is a group ready to mint their artwork, they just have to inform him and prepare their Metamasks for him to send the funds to the group.
Aldrine Alarcon is a traditional painter who heard about NFTs from a friend who is a crypto trader. Following this, he did his own research and found out about international visual artists who are also in the NFT industry. He was then given an invitation to be able to mint with First Mint Fund on Foundation when he messaged the organization and received free ETH for minting their first piece. Despite whispers of doubts from his peers, Alarcon pushed through with minting their genesis piece and even posted it on Twitter. They placed the price of 0.11 ETH for the piece and the bidding for the piece went higher— more expensive than their own paintings. From there, they continued creating NFTs and even invited their fellow artists and painters to create their NFT collections.
“Kaya ngayon pinopromote ko siya sa co-artists ko, mga painters din at visual artists… kasi ang struggle sa visual artists is bago ka magkashow… ay kailangan mo muna magkaroon ng platform at kailangan at least kilala ka… Kaya nakita kong advantage sa NFT is kahit nagsisimulang artist ka pa lang pwede ka na mag-promote…” Adrine shared the benefits of being an NFT artist and how their experiment proved that it is possible for new artists to sell their artwork using the technology.
[“That is why, I am promoting this to my co-artists, who are also painters and visual artists… because the struggle visual artists face is that before you can showcase your work you need to have a platform and must at least be well-known… An advantage I saw in joining the NFT space is that you can easily promote your artwork even if you are a new artists…”]
Carlos and the NFTitas
Carlos, a traditional painter and sculptor, was represented by his daughter Kimi Delgado at the event. Despite his age, he was able to mint his first NFT through the help of FMF. His family helped him out and they learned what NFTs are and what the blockchain was with the help of Dimarucot. The family thought about making the art animated and so Dimarucot connected them with IJ.
Carlos’ heart was to let people experience his art as if they are inside his artwork. Therefore, making his art animated is a dream come true. Carlos’ daughter stated, “It was kind of a dream to see it animated. It was a special moment for us, as a family, to see the painting come to life.”
Bern, a photographer and animal welfare advocate, learned about NFTs through her friends who told her that her photos can become NFTs. Following this, she inquired about NFTs and signed up for FMF. She was excited to know that she was chosen to be the candidate to receive funds from FMF for her genesis piece. Photographs of dogs and cats are what she chose to mint to help in her advocacy to help animal shelters. Now, she is also helping other aspiring artists to be onboarded into NFTs.
“…I was helping these Aspins or Pusins. So, bakit ‘di ko rin tulungan ang ibang artist?” Bern shared her idea with Dimarucot of having a contest for artists to get their own invitation to mint their own NFT with FMF, and a fellow photographer won the contest and eventually opened doors.
[“…I was helping these stray dogs and cats. So, why shouldn’t I also help out other artists?”]
IJ or Motioneer, an animator, started his journey by collabing with artists (like Carlos) by adding animation on their artworks and deciding to make his own collection. For the first sale he had, he wanted to have a use case for his art, so he gave digital frames with his crypto art in it to holders as a token of appreciation.
IJ shared his way of helping out other artists through the process of learning about blockchain and transacting in the technology in a practical way and teaching them how to promote it on social media, “Mostly, ang ginagawa ko pagka may nakikita akong potential artist or kahit magtanong lang sa akin, talagang tutulungan ko siya sa lahat, all throughout.”
[“Mostly, what I do is if I see a potential artist or even just inquirers, I really help them out, all throughout.”]
AJ gave his closing remarks, “I think the idea really is to bring more Filipinos and people in the Southeast Asian region into the [NFT] Space kasi kung magkaroon ng labanan ng gas fees is talo talaga tayo dito eh. So, the idea is to bring as many Filipinos as we can…”
[I think the idea really is to bring more Filipinos and people in the Southeast Asian region into the [NFT] Space because if there would be a battle for gas fees, we will be at a loss. So, the idea is to bring as many Filipinos as we can…”]
First Mint Fund is available to help aspiring artists and guide them throughout the process of minting their first NFT, just like the Alarcon Brothers, Carlos, Bern, and IJ who benefited from it. First Mint Fund is an opportunity to onboard more artists, in different mediums or genres of art, into the NFT industry.
This article is published on BitPinas: [Mint and Greet Recap] First Mint Fund Panel Discusses Onboarding First Time Artists to NFT
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