YARMOUTH, NS – Written by Tina Comeau
Miguel D’Eon says there aren’t many things that keep him up at night, but a few months ago he was awakened by the realization that new technology could change things up for artists like himself.
What has him excited? Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs for short.
For many, this will elicit a “Huh?” response.
But D’Eon, who lives and works in Yarmouth County, says if you haven’t heard of NFTs, eventually you will.
After all, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and others, all started as something new and unknown – and look at them now.
NFTs have been gaining traction as a way to sell art. Instead of art in a physical format, it’s a one-of-a-kind digital asset that belongs only to the one who purchases it.
“What makes it special is the piece of code attached to it that is a totally unique unit of data,” says D’Eon.
“Where it really clicked for me is when I use the example of the original Mona Lisa. Only one person can own the original Mona Lisa; however, copies that can be mass-produced are significantly less valuable and can be sold in gift shops,” he says. “NFTs give the owner a certificate of authenticity to a digital asset that cannot be hacked or forged.”
D’Eon has already seen much success with his company Saltwreck, which produces artwork that incorporates maps into iconic images and landmarks. Launched in 2016, the company has sold over 15,000 pieces of artwork across Canada.
On Jan. 15, D’Eon is launching his first NFT – the Yarmouth Lobster – on Opensea.io. Three unique NFTs will be available: the Yarmouth Original Lobster, Yarmouth Red Lobster and Yarmouth Blue Lobster.
It will be a timed auction for seven days, he says. The starting price (reserve price) for each Yarmouth Lobster will be set at 1 Ethereum, valued at around $5,000 CAD.
“We are an established and successful Canadian brand selling a rare digital collectible,” he says. “People can essentially own a part of us, our brand's history.”
But people aren’t earning the right to replicate the art. That copyright and ownership stay with the artist. But they do get a one-of-a-kind, authenticated digital version that no one else in the world has.
D’Eon says for him, learning about NFTs is like discovering a new world of entrepreneurship. And it’s not just art being sold.
“Sales of NFTs globally were $370 million in 2020. In 2021, sales topped $27 billion,” he says.
Doug Jones, CEO of IGNITE Atlantic, believes D’Eon is following the right path.
Over the years, he has seen the growth in Saltwreck. NFT technology, Jones says, allows the company to continue to provide unique designs in a new way.
Jones says there are many emerging technologies offering interesting opportunities.
“I think entrepreneurs that embrace these technologies early are going to be ahead of the game as technologies like NFT become mainstream,” he says.
While there can be concern over risk-taking, Jones says there can also be risks in always sticking with the status quo.
“Growing your business involves taking risks, exploring new technologies and expanding your markets. If entrepreneurs do not take these calculated risks, others will and soon drive your revenues down,” he says.
Yarmouth County resident Sarah Hurlburt knows about being open to risks and embracing new technologies. She has delved into the world of cryptocurrency – a digital form of currency – and the Metaverse space, which is a network of virtual worlds.
Of the cryptocurrency that exists, Bitcoin is likely the most well-known, but there are many types.
She’s had a good experience and success in her virtual ventures and has advice for those exploring it for the first time.
“My biggest word of advice is make sure you connect with people who do have the experience and that you can trust. My second word of advice is make sure you are doing the due diligence and are doing the research that is necessary before you hop in and make any decisions,” she says.
“Also, don’t try to do too much all at once because it will be overwhelming,” she cautions.
Hurlburt says it’s interesting to be a part of something at the forefront.
“When you think about the entire world population, it’s only been adopted by about one per cent of the population. That is when you know you’re the forefront,” she says. “The thing is futuristically – I’m talking five years from now – mass adoption is what’s going to happen.”
She says the Crypto world shows there are many ways to generate and diversify income streams.
Kind of like what D’Eon is doing with his art, she says, by venturing into NFTs.
“For Miguel, I think it’s a really great idea because this is really going to allow for him to take his product to a place where it didn’t have an option to go before,” she says. “Moving into a completely new niche with a totally different mindset investor, I think that is a really golden opportunity to take his brand and move it to the next level and make that global leap he’s hoping to do.”
It’s what D’Eon hopes for too. He says when cryptocurrency and things like Bitcoin came about, it was unknown and people couldn’t quite figure it out. For many, it’s still that way.
“But this is where it’s exciting for me. I don’t think this is going away. Just like when we first heard about the internet, or you could download a song, or we heard about Facebook 20 years ago. You thought this is different or cool, but did you expect three or four billion to be using that technology?”
He says what he’s doing with NFTs only skims the surface of the vastness that exists.
“Even the smartest people that analysis this all day long,” he says, “their minds are blowing up.”