NFTs & Creatives: We Speak with Tobi Ogunrinde, a Creator Bursting Through the Scene to Speak about his Challenges.
We sit down with Tobi Ogunride, a Visual Arts director and self-taught multidisciplinary designer, to briefly discuss his NFT journey.
●1st January 2023
Some never-before-seen incidents happened in the African NFT sector this year. From Ghana’s popular dancing Pallbearers auctioning their viral video for a mouth-watering sum to Nigeria’s Adisa Olashile selling a piece of his photograph as an NFT, 2022 was good for NFT in the continent.
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In 2020, during the hit of the global pandemic, a video of some Ghanaian pallbearers dancing with a coffin on their shoulders went viral on the internet. That video soon became a GIF that people use on social media to represent danger.
In April 2022, two years after the video went viral, Benjamin Aidoo, the leader of the group, announced that they had sold the viral coffin dance video as NFT for 372 ETH ($1.046 million). This auction is reportedly the most expensive single NFT unit out of Africa. It was listed on 3FMusic for 1 ETH on April 7 and was sold within 3 days. In the same month, Adisa Olashile, a Nigerian mobile phone street photographer broke Nigerian Twitter after he posted photos he took of an old man and his drum. He listed 2 of the images titled: The Drummer and The Drummer Smile—as NFTs on OpenSea, and they were collected for 0.3 ETH each (more than 1 million naira).
The pallbearers and Olashile were some of the most notable cases of NFT successes this year. However, one would ask how the sector has been for others who are yet to get their big NFT breakthrough.
Tobi Ogunrinde’s NFT journey
For Tobi Ogunrinde, a Visual Arts director and self-taught multidisciplinary designer, it has been a very challenging journey. It took Ogunrinde the whole of 2020 to fully make his research and garner confidence to venture into the NFT space. This is despite being in the creative space for so long. In 2021, Ogunrinde decided to turn some of his artworks into NFTs. He did and sold a handful of them for $1200. After making these sales, he suddenly realized that he can actually make a living with NFT. “It became real for me when I was able to make $1000 weekly, I knew I could do this as a career.”
How far has Tobi Ogunrinde come with NFTs?
For a young Nigerian living in Nigeria, a $1000 weekly income is a lot of money but there are challenges. Acceptability – a lot of Africans still don’t know the use cases of owning NFTs, and this essentially affects adaptability. For Tobi “Nigeria is late to cryptocurrency adoption and there is very little use case for it in the country.”
Restrictions on formal crypto trading in Nigeria complicate the process of buying Ether. In 2021, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered banks and other financial institutions to close the accounts of cryptocurrency exchanges in the country. CBN’s reasons were centered around the anonymity of crypto users and how cryptocurrency is used for fraudulent activities.
For Ogunrinde, marketing in the NFT scenes in Nigeria poses a great challenge. It is non-existent. He also says there aren’t enough collectors so it’s difficult to sell. “Beside having a cool art minted on the blockchain, my greatest challenge is connecting and following up with collectors.” Jumping on Twitter spaces gives some form of networking advantage for him but as an introvert, he finds it difficult to network.
Following these challenges, Ogunrinde says creating and selling NFTs is currently not his major source of livelihood. “NFT is just a tiny aspect of what I do. It fits into my own picture because I already make digital arts and the question has always been why can’t you just mint them?”
However, he worries that these drawbacks are affecting a lot of his friends in the industry. “Only a few people are really selling NFTs. The number of artists I know who haven’t sold a single piece are alot more than people who have.”