When you think of NFTs, you may imagine the popular CryptoPunks or Bored Apes whose collections are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. While these NFT juggernauts are quite impressive, what may even be more noteworthy are the number of artists who are finding fast success selling their art through NFT platforms such as VirgoCX and OpenSea. One of those success stories includes Montreal-based artist Lana Denina making over $500,000 CAD ($398,000 USD) selling her NFT collection on OpenSea.
Finding success through intimate, personal portraits
What makes Lana Denina’s story noteworthy is that her art is more than just simplified, cartoonish NFT collections. The artist has found success selling her personal art which captures the personal and intimate emotions of the Afro-Canadian experience. Her work is less CryptoPunks and more expressionist art that you would likely find in an art gallery.
The MonaLana Collection
Lana Denina’s NFT project titled The Mona Lana Collection includes 500 unique portraits of women of colour. Like many other NFT collections, each piece is completely unique with various attributes including hair styles, lipstick, eye colour, clothing and jewelry. As of the beginning of 2022, the MonaLana collection has a floor price of 0.26 Ether which translates to about $1,000 CAD.
Inspired by a need to be “seen”
The main inspiration for Lana Denina to create art in the NFT world is to see herself reflected in a world which underrepresented her background. Today, the Mona Lana Collection is among the most valuable NFTs solely focused on women of colour. As of January 2022, the Mona Lana collection has 325 owners and has a 90 day trade volume of about 123 Ether or $492,000 CAD.
From Montreal to the global NFT spotlight
Lana Denina, whose full name is Lana Denina Cohen-Solal, is a Montreal-based painter of Beninese and French origin. While studying at Concordia University, she has been expressing herself through painting, exploring romance and authenticity through the use of vivid colours and modernist portrait styles. Before the launch of her NFT collection, Lana Denina work was mostly displayed on her personal portfolio and her social media accounts. After the launch of her Mona Lana Collection, Lana Denina has found international attention which will likely spur more attention to her future work.
The game changing effect of NFTs
The Mona Lana Collection is one example of artists who were able to find quick nortartity after working in near obscurity in the past. There are essentially two major drivers which have led NFTs to be a game changer for artists. First, there is a low barrier to entry to bring a collection to an NFT marketplace. Just about any artist can create and publicize their NFT collection. Second, the open nature of the NFT marketplace can turn anyone into an art buyer. In the past, purchasing art was restricted to high net-worth individuals. Now, just about anyone can become an NFT collector.
A permanent paradigm shift or passing fad?
The fact that a local artist from Canada can find instant fame and fortune from NFTs makes one wonder if this is part of a new norm or just a passing fad. On the one hand, the growth of new cryptocurrency accounts on NFT marketplaces such as VirgoCX continue to rise. While the underlying technology behind the Ethereum blockchain is indeed complicated, anyone can buy and sell NFTs. As a matter of fact, the only thing required to buy NFTs is to own some Ether, which can be bought easily on most cryptocurrency platforms.
On the other hand, the stratospheric rise in NFT prices is likely unsustainable. While it is likely that NFT prices will come down to Earth, the door has been open to local artists such as Lana Denina. Artits like her now have an easily accessible way to bring their art to millions of potential art buyers around the world.
What makes for a successful NFT collection?
The NFT world has seen everything from pixeled punks to simple illustrations of rocks gain six and seven seven figure sales. The fact is, it could be nearly impossible to pinpoint what exactly makes an NFT collection a success when it comes to artistic merit. However, there are some common traits to all successful NFT collections.
First, just about all successful NFT launches are able to leverage social media in order to publicize their launch. Lana Denina maintained an active social media site to promote the launch of her Mona Lana Collection. In particular, she reached out to Black media outlets to publicize her artwork. This allowed her to amass a quick following on her Twitter and Discord account.
Second, a larger number of NFT collections offer completely unique pieces of art. Thanks to computer randomization programs, just about anyone with basic coding skills can churn out thousands of complete pieces of art. Lana Denina made use of this by creating 500 unique pieces for her Mona Lana Collection.
Finally, successful NFT creators create added value to their NFT collections. For instance, the creators Bored Ape Yacht Club are opening real life clubs around the world for their NFT owners. Lana Denina has added value to her Mona Lana collection by allowing NFT owners to have exclusive access to her future works and airdrops.
How the artist continues to profit from their NFT Work
While Lana Denina has made close to $500,000 CAD from selling out her Mona Lana Collection, her earnings from the NFT project won’t stop here. That is because her Ethereum-based NFTs have a built-in smart contract which allows her to collect a royalty from all future sales of her pieces. This is one of the unique features of NFTs that has become a complete game- changer for artists. It is quite possible that the Mona Lana Collection will provide income to Lana Denina for decades to come.
What does the future hold for Lana Denina?
At the moment, Lana Denina is enjoying the continued success of her Mona Lana Collection. She routinely provides updates about the collection on her social media accounts. However, she has not revealed any plans for an update to the Collection. However, it is not likely that we have heard the last from the Montreal-based artist.