ARTISANAL EXCELLENCE

BACKGROUND

THE CHALLENGE

Artisans engaged in traditional Indian crafts are struggling to survive!

Many move to other occupations or migrate to cities where they lack dignity and are detached from their families and society. On the other hand, consumers are denied the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of these traditional crafts. 

The root causes of the issue are: 

• Poor awareness of the crafts and their cultural value amongst the people. 

• Limited investment in artisan skill development, infrastructure, and product design 

• Poor workmanship and product quality 

• Lack of access to markets for sales 

• Subsidised rates of handicraft and local artworks 

With the furious pace of technological development, the future of the art and craft sector is unpredictable.

But can this open up new possibilities for creative interventions in this sector?

 

BACKGROUND

OVERVIEW

WHAT ARE NFTS?  (NON-FUNGIBLE TOKENS)

NFTs, are blockchain-based tokens, each representing a unique asset like a piece of art, digital content, or media. An NFT can be thought of as an irrevocable digital certificate of ownership and authenticity for a given asset, whether digital or physical.

 

WHY NFTS MAKE SENSE FOR ARTISANS?             

For artists, being able to sell artwork in digital form directly to a global audience of buyers without using an auction house or gallery allows them to keep a significantly larger portion of the profits they make from sales. Royalties can also be programmed into digital artwork so that the creator receives a percentage of sale profits each time their artwork is sold to a new owner.

Can NFTs be used to create a new source of income and livelihood for the artisans?

BACKGROUND

CLIENT OVERVIEW

Eki Beki is a hybrid social enterprise that works to preserve the rich craft heritage of India and promote traditional arts and crafts in contemporary forms. Their products are handcrafted by talented artisans living in small remote villages of India and are made from eco-friendly materials, perfect for helping create a sustainable future. 

They aim to revive the folk arts and crafts of India, help generate sustainable livelihoods for artisans, and help the artisans grow the community craft clusters in their natural habitat. 

This project is in collaboration with the EKIBEKI Foundation*

BACKGROUND

POSITIONALITY

NFTs could give these artisans a chance to reinvent themselves, connect with their target audience and earn a secondary source of income and royalties, which they were deprived of earlier…

As a designer, I realize that empathy is a major factor when it comes to creating meaningful experiences, and what NFTs bring is the chance to be creative while being empathetic towards your audience. I feel that NFTs give every artist the creative freedom to express themselves on their terms while being able to connect with an audience that understands their journey and is empathetic towards it.

I, therefore, want to create an experience that enables the artisans to connect directly with their customer base through their art to create a strong community that can generate huge economics which can in turn sustain the artisans while keeping the users satisfied.

BACKGROUND

AIM

To design a platform to showcase EkiBeki’s upcoming NFT project. The goal is to raise awareness for the artisans and document their journey. The platform will enable the NFT holders to engage with the creators’ content and act as a space where the artisans get the chance to create economics using their creative freedom to interact with their customers, and handicraft enthusiasts and engage in community building.

I decided to name the NFT project ‘Artisanal Excellence’ as the project aims to highlight the local artisans’ stories and showcase their work to the world.

RESEARCH

KEY LINES OF INQUIRY

  • What are NFTs, and how do you use them?
  • How can NFTs help local artisans share their stories?
  • How can artisans benefit from NFTs?
  • What are smart contracts, and how can they be used to run NFT projects?
  • How can we get educate local artisans on NFTs and the blockchain so that they can use and run this new technology to their advantage?
  • What existing utilities can Eki Beki provide to NFT holders?
  • What was the process to release their first NFT collection?
  • What artworks in the Eki Beki community are the most selling, and which are rare?
SECONDARY RESEARCH

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF NFTS?

NFTs are the ultimate form of ownership

  • Non-interoperable
  • Indivisible
  • Indestructible
  • Verifiable
 

WHY NFTS?

Why I should take note?

  • The benefits of owning a digital collectible versus a physical collectible is that each NFT contains distinguishing information that makes it distinct from any other NFT and easily verifiable.
  • NFTS make, the creation and circulation of fake collectibles pointless because each token can be traced back to the original issuer.
  • There’s something about owning the unique original of something valuable to humans. (Social currency)
  • NFTs can be used to create huge economics through the smart contracts that can be attached to them.

 

WHAT WILL THE FUTURE OF NFTS LOOK LIKE?

What to expect?

  • Video games
  • Documentation like certificates, degrees, etc.
  • Blockchain-based domain names like social media handles
  • Ticketing to avoid scams and fraud
  • Supply chains and logistics
  • Dividend programs like company stocks for employees
  • Asset deeds and verification
  • Art and collectibles

 

WHAT IS THE BLOCKCHAIN?

The blockchain is a network of computers and servers that validate and create a secure decentralized system of recording information in a way that makes it difficult or impossible to change, hack, or cheat the system.

 It is a technology that creates a transparent ledger that documents providence, actual digital ownership, and the actual history of a digital asset as it navigates through the world in this digital age.

 

HOW ARE NFTS RELATED TO THE BLOCKCHAIN?

‘NFTs are tokens that live on the Blockchain.’

The process of verifying, the ownership of both physical and digital assets is an integral component of most businesses and systems. Furthermore, throughout history, individuals have collected scarce and valuable assets such as art, jewelry, and land.

Today that trend has extended into collectibles like autographed memorabilia, trading cards, and more.

Traditionally, the ownership and authenticity of these assets have been facilitated, by paper-based or centralized digital systems, which are often inefficient, present friction in the transfer of assets, and leave room for fraud.

With NFTs, people can undisputedly own anything, and because your ownership is stored on the Blockchain, it is impossible to steal.

 

WHAT ARE SMART CONTRACTS?


‘You can get creative with these contracts!’

A smart contract is a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller directly written into lines of code. The code and the agreements contained exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network. The code controls the execution, and transactions are trackable and irreversible.

Smart contracts help create functional NFTs.

FUNCTIONAL VS NON FUNCTIONAL NFTS

What does utility mean to you?

  • A Functional NFT assigns a use to the digital asset outside of owning just a piece of art.
  • A Functional NFT can be one in which you receive a physical piece of art that matches the NFT you purchased; it could be special access to an event, exclusive in-person memberships, or future use in the digital world.
  • Non-Functional NFTs are just pieces of art with no utility.
 

DISADVANTAGES OF NFTS

What challenges/risks exist for the adoption of non-fungible tokens?

  • Complexity
  • Regulatory/Legal Implications
  • Rapid Innovation
  • Concerns Regarding Ecological Impact
  • Rug pulls

PROBLEMS FACED BY INDIAN HANDICRAFT SECTOR

  • Unorganized production 
  • Low education
  • Outdated production methods 
  • Lack of quality raw materials 
  • The dominance of middlemen
  • Neglect by central and state governments 
  • Lack of interest by the second generation 
  • Demand
  • Lack of market linkages 
  • Lack of funding 
 

NFT MARKETPLACES

NFT marketplaces are platforms where NFTs can be stored, displayed, traded, and in some cases minted (created). While there are many types of marketplaces, universal and art-oriented platforms are the most popular ones. There are also, niche NFT marketplaces that list specific kinds of non-fungible assets such as in-game items, digital collectible cards, and virtual real estate.

Marketplaces offer creators and buyers a place to buy and sell NFTs. NFTs are usually purchased directly for a fixed price or through an auction. In some cases, prospective buyers can submit offers to the owner and attempt to negotiate a better price.

Selling unique digital assets can be a more technically complicated process than buying them, particularly if the user is attempting to sell something they have created themselves.

It’s worth noting that, for the most part, listing and creating NFTs on a marketplace platform incurs a blockchain network fee. The fee varies depending on which blockchain-based system you decide to use.

 

EKIBEKI'S NFT COLLECTION

NON-FUNCTIONAL NFTS

The Eki Beki organization launched its first-ever NFT collection on the WazirX platform in December 2021, with a total of 5 artworks minted or put up for sale. These pieces included styles inspired by traditional art forms curated into digital artworks.

They partnered with Creative Dignity– a volunteer-led movement working on the relief, rehabilitation, and rejuvenation within the craft sector, to get artisans practicing age-old heritage arts and crafts to be a part of this exciting new medium and create NFTs. It is among the first few initiatives of its kind that helps traditional artisans reap the benefits of new technologies.

 

PRIMARY RESEARCH

PRIMARY RESEARCH

STAKEHOLDER INTERVIEWS

To further increase my understanding on the subject I conducted separate interviews with potential stakeholders (Artisans, EkiBeki & Wazir X) by creating personalised questionnaires for them.

INSIGHTS FROM INTERVIEWS

PRIMARY RESEARCH

WHY WAZIR X?

BENEFITS AND SELLING POINTS

  • Active Primary & Secondary Market
  • Community driven platform
  • Pioneer of Indian NFT revolution
  • Focussed on value-driven projects for collectors
  • User-friendly platform
  • Innovators: creating solutions for creators (Nano NFT Project)
  • Transparency and data-driven approach
  • High return on investment for collectors
PRIMARY RESEARCH

CLIENT BRIEF

CLIENT POSITION
  • The client wanted to dive into the NFT space as it is an upcoming sector, they did so before with a previous project where they dropped 5 NFTs on the Wazir X platform.
  • They have no prior experience with NFTs and wanted us to offer them advice on what they could offer in their new project.
  • I, therefore, played the role of a ‘consultant’ and helped them come up with this the specifics of this NFT project like the Roadmap, Utilities, Website, marketplace collaboration with Wazir X, etc.
  • I promised them a prototype of the whole experience as they have to figure out a few financial specifics and plan to launch right after.
  • I, therefore, have the opportunity to explore and bring this project to life at a later stage.
PRIMARY RESEARCH

ETHICS & FEEDBACK

Indian-Pottery-2
REGARDING ARTISAN REMUNERATION AND PROFIT
  • The artisans would be paid beforehand by EkiBeki for their art to reduce the risk on their part.
  • This art would then be converted into NFTs and minted using the wazir x platform.
  • EkiBeki would then set a mint price and pay the gas and platform fee to mint their NFTs.
  • Money from sales will go to EkiBeki and any royalties on further sales will be sent directly to the artisan concerned.
  • This would provide transparency as well as build trust between the stakeholders.
  • EkiBeki created a strong bond with their artisans as their goal is to make them independent.

IDEATION & CREATION

IDEATION & CREATION

MARKET ANALYSIS, BENCHMARKING & INSPIRATION

FINDINGS

To have a better understanding on how NFT projects ran I looked into these NFT projects for inspiration 

  • These NFT projects were leading the market as they have a strong community as well as the utilities offered which allowed the holders a source of passive income and asset value creation.
  • BAYC, VeeFriends, Crypto Punks, and Girlies all offer an incentive to attract potential buyers.
  • These include Active community engagement, Access to the metaverse, Events, Gamification, Roadmap, Future Utilities, value-driven approach, Community collaborations, and focus on tradability.
IDEATION & CREATION

HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL NFT PROJECT

IDEATION & CREATION

PROJECT UTILITIES

IDEATION & CREATION

UTILITY DEMARCATION

This project is divided into FOUR utility groups, each group of NFTs would have a fixed set of utilities. 

 

I. COMMON

  • Admission to Ekibeki’s NFT exhibition
  • Access to physical art pieces
  • Discounts on future purchases from EkiBeki
  • Access to EkiBeki’s artisan and NFT community

 

Screenshot 2022-10-19 at 1.27.11 PM

 II. UNCOMMON

  • Admission to Ekibeki’s NFT exhibition
  • Access to physical art pieces
  • Discounts on future purchases from EkiBeki
  • Access to EkiBeki’s artisan and NFT community
  • Access to workshops and artisan conferences

 

Screenshot 2022-10-19 at 1.45.47 PM

III. RARE

  • Admission to Ekibeki’s NFT exhibition
  • Access to physical art pieces
  • Discounts on future purchases from EkiBeki
  • Access to EkiBeki’s artisan and NFT community
  • Access to workshops and artisan conferences
  • Meet and greet with the artisans
  • Personalised artisan experiences

 

Screenshot 2022-10-19 at 1.47.16 PM

IV. EXOTIC

  • Admission to Ekibeki’s NFT exhibition
  • Access to physical art pieces
  • Discounts on future purchases from EkiBeki
  • Access to EkiBeki’s artisan and NFT community
  • Access to workshops and artisan conferences
  • Meet and greet with the artisans
  • Personalised artisan experiences
  • Signed customized work from the artist
  • One-on-one sessions with the artisan

 

Screenshot 2022-10-19 at 1.48.31 PM
IDEATION & CREATION

ROADMAP

  • Roadmaps are the visually appealing equivalent of a start pitch deck and their strategic plan. 
  • NFT roadmaps are effectively a promise to investors that certain outcomes will be achieved by certain dates. Which helps manage the expectations of investors but also provides tangible points of accountability for founders.
  • NFT project roadmaps help in planning your strategy, and goals that are realistic, achievable, and measurable. And it’s also important to keep updating your community about its status.

 

IDEATION & CREATION

PROJECT SPECIFICS

IDEATION & CREATION

PLATFORM BREAKDOWN

IDEATION & CREATION

STYLE GUIDE

  • Rust, mustard, black, and beige is all part of the traditional Indian color pallet.
  • Certain hues of the color paired with other earth tones and organic accents provide a Traditional environment.
  • These colors are used in almost all Indian handicrafts and art as they can be naturally produced.
  • Since EkiBeki is an NGO trying to revive dying artforms it only makes sense that I make the platform trying to recreate those settings.

 

IDEATION & CREATION

MOCK-UPS

PROTOTYPING

PROTOTYPING

DESCRIBING THE UI

LANDING PAGE

  • The landing page has a section that introduces the users to the basics of the project as well as each section of the website.
 
  • It also includes a navigation bar that includes a Home, About, FAQs, Library, Roadmap, Team, and Connect Wallet section.

ROADMAP

  • The Website also has a roadmap section that indicates the different milestones the project hopes to achieve and what the NFT holders can hope to receive.
 
  • It can be used as a strategic plan for the project which can be used to set milestones and targets for the team which can help them be accountable.

SPECS

  • The Specs section gives the user an in-depth look at the project specifics, what to expect, how the project was made, parts of the project, and relevant technical details and information.
 
  • The Specs include artisan, utility, and blockchain information.

TEAM

  • The Team section showcases the members involved in the making and running of this project and their roles as the project (Art curator, Project developer, and Founder).

FAQS

  • The FAQ section answers some general questions users might have about the project like what NFTs are and what the artisan’s role in the project might be.

ABOUT

  • The About section has information about EkiBeki- what they do, why they want to do it, and how they plan to help the artisans.
 
  • This section also includes a ethics and responsibility section.

ABOUT

  • It also has information about the art forms and artisans involved in the project and gives the user an in-depth look into why they should invest in the project.

ABOUT

  • This section also includes an ‘Ethics and Responsibility’ section to show and be transparent with the users about artisan remuneration and the split of profits between EkiBeki and the artisans.
 
  • Issues like royalty distribution and artisan risk are also showcased.

UTILITIES

  • This section talks about the utilities that the project gives to the holders.

UTILITIES

  • This section talks about the list of utilities that the project gives to the holders of certain NFTs.
 
  • These utilities are what EkiBeki and the artisans provide for the NFT holders but not every NFT holder will get the same utilities.

UTILITIES

  • This section demarcates the utilities for each type of NFT, Common, Uncommon, Rare and Exotic.
 
  • Each type of NFT has different utilities for its holders, therefore the more common the NFT the lesser the utilities, and vice-versa for the exotic NFTs.
Screenshot 2022-05-22 at 4.38.11 PM

UTILITIES

  • The smart contract section talks about the self-executing contract that each EkiBeki NFT has which enables them to provide utility to the holders as well as program Royalties for the artisans.
 
  • There is also a smart contract address that can verify the existence of the NFTs on the Binance blockchain.

LIBRARY

  • The Library section showcases all the NFTs the project offers.
 
  • There is also a section to filter out the NFTs based on Artform, Artisan, Utilities, Rarity, and NFT ID.
 
  • This makes it easier to find and filter specific NFTs based on their characteristics.
 

LIBRARY

The NFT card showcases important information regarding each NFT like:

  • NFT ID
  • Rarity
  • NFT details
  • Wazir X link
 
PROTOTYPING

DESIGNING THE UX

I designed and prototyped the whole platform on Adobe XD

EVALUATION

MAIN INSIGHTS

  • EkiBeki acts as a link between the artisans and the NFT community and marketplace.
 
  • Their goal is to help the artisans to get independent and start their NFT projects and communities with the clients from this NFT project.
 
  • EkiBeki has a very transparent and open relationship with its artisans that runs on trust, the artisans, therefore, trust EkiBeki with their money and clientele and want repeat orders from them.
 
  • The artisans have no prior knowledge about NFTs and need to be educated on the same and therefore will receive payments for their art before the NFTs are sold.
 
  • The artisans are the main focus of the project and the main goal is to help them create economics, community, and clientele through this project.
 
EVALUATION

REFLECTION

Art enables humans to showcase their creativity and individuality, this drove the rise of artisans and artists, but the rapid commercialization of the industry has left the artisans fighting for remuneration and earning even lesser respect and recognition.

The commercialization and mass production of handicrafts has reduced their novelty, which in turn has reduced client and artisan interaction and communication, forcing artisans to change industries to earn a living as their work is being undervalued and underappreciated leading to dying art forms.

Through the course of my journey I have realized how NFTs can help change this, creators and artists now have the opportunity to connect with their audience and create a community that supports their work, therefore, creating a self-sustaining system that can create huge economics and value for the stakeholders involved through storytelling community building and value created through novelty.

Creators no longer have to lose profits to middlemen and now have the chance to be appreciated for their work. I, therefore, feel that the art and crafts sector can hugely benefit from this innovation and NFTs could be here to stay.