Blockchain and NFTs for the creative industry: How to acquire the necessary knowledge within 9 days
In the intersection of creativity and technology, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and blockchain have emerged as transformative forces. This article addresses the urgency of acquiring knowledge about these concepts within a limited timeframe of 9 working days. Our agenda encompasses practical steps, including crypto token basics, engaging with podcasts, studying whitepapers, watching videos, networking, and exploring online courses, articles, and books. By following this agenda, you will be able to understand the basic concepts of public blockchains, NFTs, and their relevance in the creative industry, staying ahead in this dynamic landscape.
From the initial cryptocurrency and decentralized finance hype to the more recent rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), the digital landscape has undergone remarkable shifts and will most likely do so in the future. While speculative interests often marked the initial hype, the underlying technology and its possibilities stay.
As blockchain technology and NFTs continue to gain traction, understanding their fundamental principles is becoming increasingly important. Beyond the potential of quick gains, comprehending the mechanics behind these innovations allows individuals to understand the mechanics of secure transactions, decentralized networks, and the potential to reshape various industries.
NFTs, once predominantly associated with art, have transcended those boundaries as they offer potential for various industries such as:
Digital content: NFTs empower content creators to own and monetize digital content while earning royalties from resales.
Metaverse & Gaming items: NFTs establish ownership for in-game & metaverse items, creating economies and enabling trading. Developers earn royalties on secondary sales.
Domain names: NFTs enhance digital identity through memorable Ethereum addresses, tradable on platforms like Ethereum Name Service (ENS).
Physical Assets (Tokenization): NFTs tokenizing real estate and fashion offer ownership transfer and collateral for decentralized loans.
Investments & Collateral DeFi Evolution: NFTs become collateral, expanding borrowing options for those with valuable NFTs.
Tokengating: NFTs validate ownership for exclusive content and events, enriching experiences.
NFTs redefine interaction, ownership, and engagement, fostering a new era of possibilities.
Who should acquire knowledge?
In this article, we provide a concise overview of learning resources for the basics of blockchain and NFTs. While we focus on artists and creatives the knowledge is also relevant for many other stakeholders from the creative industry and beyond.
Stakeholders in the art sector include curators, intermediaries such as auction houses, galleries, and other parties involved in the sale of (crypto) art, but also exhibitors such as museums, art spaces, or exhibition organizers. Furthermore, the topics are relevant for tech start-ups, organizations and communities, policymakers, researchers, and media.
Ultimately, understanding the technology can be relevant for many more individuals and companies who want to educate themselves in the direction of digital assets.
We provide a range of resources that enable individuals not only to understand these technologies but also to harness their transformative power for both their craft and the industries they touch.
How to gain knowledge?
For learning about about NFTs and blockchain we suggest an approach of using various sources to gain comprehensive knowledge and a network of like-minded individuals to build synergies. You can listen to various podcasts to hear the opinions of experts who might have had the same struggles as you have now. Explore varied content through reading — from online articles to in-depth books. Network with others in regional meetups, online gatherings, or workshops to learn and share knowledge. Join online classes that guide you step by step. Try out new things in hands-on workshops. By using all these ways, you’ll build a complete picture of how NFTs and blockchain work.
What is the level of understanding that should be acquired?
To navigate the wide range of blockchain & NFTs, a comprehensive understanding of key fundamentals is essential. Firstly, you should understand the basics of blockchain and distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) as a ground layer for the secure distribution of data across networks. Afterward, dive into smart contract platforms like Ethereum. We believe that you should be able to at least read and write very simple smart contracts, which form the groundwork for token creation. Dive into token standards such as ERC-20 (fungible tokens) and ERC-721 (non-fungible tokens) and get familiar with self-custodial wallets such as MetaMask. Now it is time to delve into the topic of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). This includes creating NFTs from scratch, managing metadata, exploring various file storage solutions, and understanding royalty fees, an important topic for creatives.
NFT Marketplaces play an important role. You should be familiar with their functionalities such as creating, listing, buying, and selling NFTs. Compare also the differences between centralized and decentralized marketplaces. If you have already finished the basics of blockchain & NFTs it might be worth diving deeper into specific topics such as Web3 marketing strategies or intellectual property rights and NFTs.
By following these foundational elements, you will be able to build a solid framework to understand the transformative potential of blockchain and NFTs, enriching your engagement in this evolving landscape.
Get used to crypto tokens, wallets, and decentralized applications
Time needed: ½ day
Gaining theoretical knowledge is very important but it can never replace the effectiveness and learning of actually doing things on your own. The following section describes how to get crypto tokens use them in a self-custodial wallet and actually connect them to decentralized applications (dApps).
Besides gaining some theoretical knowledge, it is very important for understanding this technology that you operatively “get your hands dirty”. This works as follows and provides interested persons with the most important learning about what blockchain technology actually is. The best start is to purchase the most common cryptocurrency used in dApps, Ethereum, and transfer it around. Please find a step-by-step guide below:
Getting cryptocurrency: Currently, the crypto ecosystem is still a closed cosmos with certain entry points. In order to use dApps it is necessary to acquire cryptocurrencies first. The following are the most common ways to purchase cryptocurrencies:
- Opening an account at a centralized exchange (CEX) e.g. coinbase.com or binance.com
- Using a fiat “on-ramp” service such as moonpay.com or banxa.com to purchase cryptocurrencies with fiat money. Please note that you need a self-custodial wallet in order to do so and usually a service fee is charged. This step can be also done directly in self-custodial wallets such as Metamask.
- Buying cryptocurrencies at certain banks or neo brokers (not recommended as transfer to self-custodial wallets is usually not supported)
Setting up a self-custodial wallet: This step is more advanced but necessary in order to understand the core of smart contract platforms and connect to decentralized applications. In order to access the Ethereum network directly and to store your Ether in your own wallet we recommend you to use the MetaMask plug-in for Google Chrome.
Add the MetaMask plug-in to your browser open an account and generate your own wallet address. Then transfer some of your Ether from your centralized exchange account to your wallet address or alternatively use the fiat “on-ramp” (see “Getting cryptocurrency”).
Please be aware that in case of making mistakes with public or private keys, funds can be lost irreversibly. Following these steps of transferring your cryptocurrencies from one wallet to another is of course everybody’s own decision.
Obtain a wallet address from the self-custodial wallet which looks similar to 0xd42899dcC146d4788649e6aa5B09f129fC269127 for Ethereum. Please be aware that the wallet needs to be connected to Ethereum Mainnet in order to get the Ethereum wallet address.
Transfer a fraction of the Ether you have purchased to this address. Note that addresses for other blockchains than Ethereum are different, so be cautious and do not mix them up.
Now you can see that value can be sent around the world within a few clicks and a couple of seconds.
Connecting to decentralized applications (dApps):
Self-custodial wallets are powerful as they allow you to directly access smart contract platforms such as Ethereum and to store your crypto tokens in your own wallet without the need for central intermediaries. But besides that the functionalities of wallets are mostly limited to transferring crypto tokens. If you want to explore the full potential of smart contract platforms you should get familiar with decentralized applications and their functionalities.
Here are the currently most relevant types of dApps
- Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) e.g. uniswap.org, dydx.exchange, or pancakeswap.finance
- Lending protocols e.g. aave.com or compound.finance
- NFT Marketplaces e.g. opensea.io, rarible.com, or artblocks.io
At the moment dApps exist mainly in the field of decentralized finance (DeFi) targeting nothing less than to replace the need of the traditional finance sector. There are many other types of dApps existing and to be invented in the future. In its simplest form, a dApp only allows the connection of a wallet in order to log in.
Alternative: If you are unwilling or unable to invest any real money you can also connect your wallet to a testnet (e.g. Sepolia as an Ethereum testnet) where you can get test crypto tokens from faucets to your Metamask wallet and experiment with these tokens instead. Established dApps also have a testnet version so that developers can test functions (e.g. testnets.opensea.io). Read more about testnets e.g. here. Please be aware that in case of mixing up testnet and mainnet funds can be lost irreversibly.
Listen to podcasts
Time needed: 1 day for listening to 10–15 episodes
There are very insightful and informative podcasts from experts in the field of blockchain, NFTs, and Web3. You can listen to various podcasts to hear the opinions of experts to get basic knowledge and get a feeling about which topics are important.
Most relevant podcasts:
- NFT Catcher Podcast: Jennifer Sutto & Michael Keen speak about relevant NFT projects focusing on market dynamics and valuation. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- PROOF: Comprehensive NFT coverage, featuring interviews with NFT artists, exploration of generative art, NFT gaming, and discussions with founders shaping tools for creators and collectors. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- Bankless: The ultimate guide to crypto finance including DeFi, NFTs, and cryptocurrencies. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- GreenPill: All about crypto-economic systems fostering positive global and local impacts, particularly in the regenerative finance space, featuring insightful discussions with Ethereum blockchain innovators. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- ReFi Podcast: All about the regenerative finance movement, exploring the intersection of Web3 and climate as it seeks to redesign money for environmental healing. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- The DeSci Podcast: Decentralized Science (DeSci) movement, explores the convergence of Web3 and science, providing insights into the blockchain’s potential to revolutionize scientific research and development. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- Crypto Altruism: Weekly conversations with web3 leaders on how to use crypto, blockchain, and web3 to build a better world. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- The Blockchain Socialist: Exploring blockchain’s use cases from a left-wing perspective, emphasizing its diverse and evolving nature beyond political boundaries. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- Block 52: Weekly interviews about Blockchain, Crypto Assets, and DLT by Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner with experts in the field of blockchain in Germany. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- w3.talk: Weekly talks about recent news in NFTs, Metaverse, Crypto, Blockchain, and Web3. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
- NFT Talk: Weekly episodes with exciting guests from the NFT scene. Access the podcast via Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
Read important whitepapers
Time needed: ½ day
Want to know where crypto assets started? Begin by checking out the whitepapers for key crypto assets like Bitcoin and Ether. You don’t need to fully understand the technical details just yet. These papers give you a broad view of what these cryptocurrencies are and how the technology functions. Even if you’re not a tech expert, reading these whitepapers helps you get a handle on where blockchain comes from and what it can do. It is common for web3 projects that launch their own (fungible) token to publish a whitepaper before the public launch. This means there are now lots of whitepapers existing. While it is recommended to study the whitepaper of a token before investing in it, for the start we recommend sticking to the whitepapers of the key projects.
The public media often uses the term cryptocurrency, but we believe the term crypto assets or token is actually more appropriate to consider the entire to include the entire crypto landscape.
Most relevant whitepapers:
- Ethereum white paper: Buterin, V. (2013): Ethereum White Paper: A Next Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform, http://blockchainlab.com/pdf/Ethereum_white_paper-a_next_generation_smart_contract_and_decentralized_application_platform-vitalik-buterin.pdf.
- Bitcoin white paper: Nakamoto, S. (2008): Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf.
Watch informative videos
Time needed: ½ day
Building on your foundational understanding of blockchain through readings on Bitcoin and Ethereum, videos offer an exciting way to learn more. These visual resources help you go deeper into the technology’s different parts. Check out our recommended videos below — they show the exciting possibilities of blockchain and smart contract platforms and how they can change things.
Most relevant videos:
- Tapscott, D. (2016): How the Blockchain Is Changing Money and Business, TED Talk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl8OlkkwRpc.
- Strickler, E. (2022): NFTs, the Metaverse and the Future of Digital Art, TED Talk, https://youtu.be/oupHYHv_me0?si=3XF5vNWF8Tz9ZRAD
- Voshmgir, S. (2018): Web3, Blockchain, cryptocurrency: a threat or an opportunity?, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPGNvKy6DTA
- Buterin, V. (2022): Ethereum in 30 minutes, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UihMqcj-cqc
- Brownworth, A. (2016): Blockchain 101 — A Visual Demo, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_160oMzblY8.
- Schär, F. (2022): NFTs and ERC721 Token Standard, https://youtu.be/UlJlPiu2Xb8?si=mSJ4febfAJCkjub2
Further relevant videos:
- Frankfurt School Blockchain Academy: Panel discussions & presentations about blockchain, Tokenization, DeFi, NFTs, and Metaverse with industry experts.
- Generation Blockchain Learning Videos: Blockchain Demo, Basics of Ethereum, Smart Contracts & NFTs
Networking and meeting people
Time needed: ½ day for attendance at 2 meetups (mostly, for free)
If you have understood the basics we recommend stepping into the blockchain community to engage and network with blockchain experts. By doing so you will get a deeper understanding of important topics and might find synergies to work on projects together as the blockchain community is currently still a very active space. Attending physical events in your region will give you the opportunity to bond with people faster, however, you can also visit online events if there are no appropriate meetups in your region.
Research on Eventbrite, LinkedIn, Twitter, Meetup, or the search engine of your choice for events, meetups & conferences.
Events, conferences & meetups
- Regional Meetups: Usually there are various regional blockchain meetups in popular cities around the globe. They provide an easy way to discuss your thoughts and questions with blockchain enthusiasts nearby.
- When you are especially interested in Art & NFTs, look for events at art and NFT galleries
- Conferences: If you are willing to invest more time and looking to learn & network further, research for conferences in your region. Additionally, you can research websites for crypto events, e.g. here.
If there are not appropriate events in your region you have two options, either initiate a meetup in your region to bring together like-minded people or attend online events. You can join online web3 & NFT communities, online panels, and online conferences.
Read articles and websites
Time needed: 1 day
As you should have gained a basic knowledge about the technology by following the recommended steps it is now time to dive deeper into the topic with the following list of curated articles and websites:
Most relevant articles:
- Ethereum Foundation: Intro to Ether and What are NFTs?
- Finzer, D. (2020): The Non-Fungible Token Bible: Everything you need to know about NFTs
- Xie, L. (2021) Linda Xie: A beginner’s guide to NFTs
- Steinwold, A. (2020): Quick Overview of the NFT Ecosystem
- Turley, C. (2021): NFT Issuance Landscape
- Foundation Team (2020): NFTs are transforming the digital art world
- Matthew (2021): Analyzing Cryptoart Marketplaces
- Cone, J. (2021): The skeptics’ introduction to cryptoart and NFTs for digital artists and designers
- Cointelegraph Magazine (2020): The Cointelegraph Quick Guide To NFTs
- Zunino, A. (2023): Tokenization And The Future Of Finance: Unleashing The Power Of Blockchain In Global Markets
FSBC working papers and articles
- Study: The Carbon Emissions of Bitcoin From an Investor Perspective
(November 2021, Internet)
- Programmable Money and Programmable Payments
(September 2020, Internet)
- The future of payments: Programmable payments for the Internet-of-Things (IoT)
(July 2021, Internet)
- How Will Blockchain Technology Transform the Current Monetary System?
(March 2020, Internet)
- Decentralized Finance — A Systematic Literature Review and Research Directions
(February 2022, Internet)
- Legal Aspects of Blockchain Technology for Industrial Use Cases
(May 2022, Internet)
- Liechtenstein Blockchain Act: How can nearly any right and therefore any asset be tokenized based on the Token Container Model?
(October 2019, Internet)
- How to invest in the Metaverse? Stocks or tokens? (April 2023, Internet)
More relevant websites:
- Ethereum Developer Resources: Documentation on foundational concepts, development stack, and tutorials
- Remix: Web IDE for Solidity development
- CryptoZombies: Learn to Code Blockchain DApps by Building Simple Games
- NonFungible: News, data, learning ressources for NFTs
- CryptoArt: Overview about artwork and artist data
- Dune Analytics: Provides market data and dashboards (e.g. Ethereum NFT market overview)
Online courses: e.g. on smart contracts
Time needed: 1 day for the Web3 University course on smart contracts
After reading, watching, listening and discussing with experts about the technology it is now time to get practical again as these experiences are essential for a deeper understanding of the technology. As a next step we recommend participating in an online course about blockchain technology and smart contracts. Writing your own smart contracts will bring you to the next level of understanding which is not possible with theory only. Get ready for some hands-on experience
Most relevant online courses
- Web3 University: How to create your first smart contract (4–5 hours), How to build your first NFT (4–5 hours), and The Road to Web3 (10 weeks)
- Generation Blockchain Online Course: Blockchain Technology Online Course
- University of Basel Lecture: Smart Contracts and Decentralized Finance
- Questbook: Different courses to build on Ethereum, Polygon, Solana or NEAR
- Coursera/INSEAD: Introduction to Blockchain Technologies
- Udemy smart contracts course: The Udemy course on smart contracts
Further courses (with more time commitment):
- NFT Talents: An 18-Week Mentoring Program Empowering Talent for Leadership in the NFT Space (free)
- University of Nicosia: MOOC — Digital Currency (free)
- Blockchains at Princeton: Elements of Decentralized Finance (free)
- Blockchain university courses: Frankfurt School of Finance, Blockchain Competence Center Mittweida, University of Nicosia
The practical training takes time and concentration but should not be skipped. At least one course e.g. from Web3 University about smart contracts should be done in order to realize what exactly a smart contract is, what it looks like, and how it can be executed.
Books for a wider overview
Time needed: 1–2 days
We recommend you to read the book Token Economy by Shermin Voshmgir as the book explores the transformative potential of blockchain technology and tokenization. It delves into the implications of digital tokens for finance, business, and society, offering insights into the emerging token economy and its impact on traditional industries. Of course, there are further books, which are worth reading later on.
Tip: If you are struggling to find enough time to read books there are also summaries of key messages of books in short articles or even audiobooks available (e.g. Blinkist). Besides that AI tools can be used to create summaries of books. However, the ability of AI to correctly summarize the content of books should always be critically questioned.
Books about Blockchains, Token, DApps & Web3:
- Voshmgir, S. (2020): Token Economy: How the Web3 reinvents the Internet. More Information.
- Tapscott, D. and Tapscott, A. (2018): Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies is Changing the World. More information.
- Surfing with Satoshi. Art, Blockchain and NFTs, Domenico Quaranta. More information.
- Brekke, J. K. et al. (2019): The White Paper. More information.
- Russo, C. (2020) The Infinite Machine: How an Army of Crypto-hackers Is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum. More information.
- Resch, M. and Gryn, T. (2022): How To Create And Sell NFTs. A Guide For All Artists. More information.
- Fortnow, M. and Terry, Q. (2021): The NFT Handbook: How to Create, Sell and Buy Non-Fungible Tokens. More information.
Further reading about digital art, decentralization, and more:
- Catlow, R. and Rafferty, P. (2022): Radical Friends: How DAOs Could Change The Art World. More Information
- Dekker, A. (2021): Curating Digital Art: From Presenting and Collecting Digital Art to Networked Co-Curation. More information
- Waelder, P. (2020): You can be a Wealthy/ Cash-Strapped Art Collector in the Digital Age. More Information.
- Lovink, G. (2022): Stuck on the Platform: Reclaiming the Internet. More information
- Gloerich, I, Lovink, G. and de Vries, P. (2018): MoneyLab Reader 2: Overcoming the Hype. More Information
- Portanova, S. (2022): Whose Time Is It?: Asocial Robots, Syncholonialism, and Artificial Chronological Intelligence. More Information
- Taffel, S. (2019): Digital Media Ecologies. Entanglements of Content, Code, and Hardware. More Information.
- Stalder, F. et al. (2022): From Commons to NFTs. More information.
- Birnbaum, D. and Kuo. K (2018): More Than Real: Art in the Digital Age. More information.
- After the Internet: Digital Networks Between Capital and the Common, Tiziana Terranova. More information.
If you followed our recommended steps, you should have learned a lot during the last 9 days. You should now be able to understand the basics and the potential of blockchain & NFTs.
Now it is time to actually use the technology and create or build things on top of it. The success of public blockchains depends heavily on the adoption of the technology.
Let us know whether you followed our recommendations. Tell us if you have further ideas, on how to approach blockchain. If you have used other sources to gain or increase your blockchain knowledge, we would be delighted if you could share them with us.
About the Authors
Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner has founded the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC). From 2018 to 2021, he was ranked among the “top 30” economists by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), a major newspaper in Germany. Further, he belonged to the “Top 40 under 40” — a ranking by the German business magazine Capital. He has been a member of the FinTech Council and the Digital Finance Forum of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Germany. He is also on the Board of Directors of FiveT Fintech Fund, 21e6 Capital and Blockchain Founders Group — companies active in venture capital financing for blockchain startups and crypto asset investment management.
Marc Anders is a Business Engineer and Research Associate at the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC), where he leads the NFT Talents Mentoring Program, among other things. Before entering the blockchain sector he gained experience in business planning and development in the automotive industry and research and data analysis for renewable energy. He researches and lectures in the web3 ecosystem including DeFi, DApps, DAOs, and NFTs but is also interested in the industrial application of DLT & blockchains.
If you like this article, we would be happy if you forward it to your colleagues or share it on social networks. You can find more information about the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center on the Internet, on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.
ARTeCHÓ is a European initiative to unleash the potential of the emerging arts ecosystem, created by five European institutions: SERN — Startup Europe Regions Network; Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation/Etopia; Meet Digital Center; Baltan Laboratories; and Frankfurt School Blockchain Center (FSBC).