A director at Kaps Finishing has set up a new business printing digital art pieces known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Jack Thompson set up the business, called JJ Prints, which sells digital prints of NFTs directly to customers, with his friend Joshua Barthaud.
The pair had previously been active in the fast-moving NFT trading marketplace, where people buy and sell the unique digital artworks online using cryptocurrencies.
NFTs are unusual in digital art terms, because they are guaranteed to be unique by a complicated mathematical calculation, which means there can only be one true ‘owner’ of the piece – whoever holds the token.
Owners of NFTs, therefore, put great stock in being the sole owners of their digital art, according to Thompson, some paying exorbitant amounts to own more desirable works.
He told Printweek that many of the pair’s customers were collectors wanting to display the NFT artworks in their home or office.
He said: “If you’re a collector, it’s a big thing to own. It’s like owning a Picasso, in old times.”
The Bored Ape Yacht Club series of NFTs, which features cartoon monkeys in various costumes and states of sobriety, at one point had individual pieces selling for 100 Ethereum, the equivalent of £400,000.
Thompson said: “As much as it might seem a vulgar picture of an ape that looks like it’s on drugs, it’s worth £400,000.
“It’s a very valuable piece. That holder will probably have quite a nice house or will have a very plush office, and he or she will want to mount that on a wall to exhibit.”
While Thompson and Barthaud put in a brief stint trading the pieces, he said it was a “mentally draining” business: “It’s very, very intense, and consumes a lot [of time and energy].”
Instead, using the contacts and communities they had met through trading, the pair have now found success printing off the NFTs on premium acrylic glass and selling the bespoke prints to the community.
Thompson, who is co-director of Kaps Finishing in Basildon, was ideally placed for the move, as he could use Kaps’ two wide-format Yotta printers, the 2.5×1.3m YD-F2513R5, and the 3.2×1.6m YD-F3216R5, to print the NFTs while working around Kaps’ normal jobs.
The print is laid on clear acrylic glass, then backed with a layer of white ink.
The small, family-run nature of the Kaps business, he said, made it significantly easier to pick up the new work for JJ Prints.
He said: “[A larger business] is not going to stop a machine to do three acrylic prints. It’s not worth their time.
“Whereas we’re a smaller business, a family business, we can do things like that. I can stay late after work tonight, and print a few prints.”
Thompson added that he anticipates success with the venture, pointing out that there are as few as three companies around the world printing NFTs, and the massive interest in the company’s project from the community.
It has been contacted by a number of influencers, some of whom have hundreds of thousands of followers, in the hopes that JJ Print might set up a promotional discount with them.
Thompson said that as well as flexibilty, the business offered a cost effective service – in some instances a quarter of the price of competitor products. He added that the pair can beat competitors on quality as well, as many just offer a paper print sandwiched between two layers of acrylic.
JJ Prints’ own process also provides customers with a personal touch. Each print displays the name of the NFT, its owner, and the timestamp of its purchase, through a QR code on the piece.
“It’s very personal,” said Thompson.
“People are not buying random NFTs, they’re buying their own that they might plan to keep for many years.”
Fulfilling the wish for a physical representation of a treasured possession, he added, gives people something they can touch and display.
“It’s almost like a massive Pokémon card.”
Published By : Print Week