Phub Dem

Riding the global Non-Fungible Token (NFT) trend, two Bhutanese, Kushap Kafley and his friend Namgyel Dorji, have introduced their first NFT collection, ‘Bhutanese Arts and Crafts’. The Bhutanese students in Australia have jumped to the virtual world by selling NFTs: cryptography-protected original digital art.

NFTs are digital content linked to the blockchain, the digital database underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. NFTs transform digital works of art and other collectables into one-of-a-kind and verifiable assets that are easy to trade on the blockchain.

NFTs can be anything digital (such as drawings, music, wearables, and avatars), but a lot of the current excitement is around using the tech to sell digital art.

Kushap Kafley was involved with cryptocurrency as a college student, but he learned about NFT after reaching Australia.

He started the project in 2019 when he sold his first piece of NFT art. Realising the potential market for traditional Bhutanese arts, he began collecting the artwork. Currently, seven NFTs consist of paintings and photos from Bhutan.

According to Kushap Kafley, the project aims to create a unique collection of Bhutanese artwork in NFTs and support the artists. The project seeks to collaborate with local artists and create a niche market.

Although there is a lack of a niche market, recognition, and opportunities for local artists, he said that the artists were reluctant to join the space due to a high initial expenses (gas fee). He bought the first five artworks initially.

He said that traditional artists usually express grievances over limited markets, adding that most works of art are traditional and use organic pigment. Unlike traditional forms of visual arts, he said that NFTs can be used as a medium for people to replicate digital art and collectable items.

“It opens up a lot of opportunities. Digitisation of the world is inevitable. Whether we participate or not, the world will move towards virtual reality.”

He sold a Thunder Dragon NFT, which received about 0.16 ETH, Nu 30,797 ($2,601.16 current price of Eth) from his collection recently.

With lots of excitement surrounding NFT, Kushap Kafley said that some traditional artists were willing to join the project. He said he would digitise the art and upload it on the blockchain. “The project will connect the artist’s digital wallet, through which they will get a share of the sale, once it has been sold, directly into their wallets.”

The duo has paved the way for artists to connect with buyers, share their work, and sell it securely without worrying about theft or fraud. With this technology, artists can also receive income transparently and directly that doesn’t involve third parties taking a cut, Kushap Kafley said.

He believes that the technology will help Bhutanese artists authenticate their art and make it unique. He added that NFTs will empower artists by giving them more control over their art that is traded, collected, and displayed.

However, access to exchange crypto is still a challenge for those residing in Bhutan.

Some local artists’ NFTs are currently stuck in wallets due to a lack of access to the exchange.

Although one can easily create wallets, Kushap Kafley said that buying cryptos will be a problem since only a few Bhutanese have credit cards. However, he said that the project will address the issue as it aims to connect the local artists with resources like credit cards and access to exchanges to buy cryptos, connect their wallet with the NFT, and upload it in the collection ‘Bhutanese Arts and Crafts’.