NFT project aims to save endangered animals – volunteer artists help

Max actually works full time with advertising and film production, but, as he himself says, he has always been enthusiastic about innovations in the technology sector. We were able to talk to him about this great project and got him to explain how the underlying processes work.

Zaster: How did you come up with the topic NFTs?

Max Penk: The topic of NFTs was first properly discussed in the media in March this year, when the artist “Beeple” auctioned his collection on Christies for $ 69 million. I then wanted to know more about what it was all about and why a single person could make so much money on it. At the same time, I asked myself if one could do something good about it.

What exactly are NFTs?

Penk: NFTs can be used to assign digital files, ie. photos, videos or music tracks, to an owner. This works in such a way that the owner is written to the blockchain so everyone can see. The blockchain is a universal, decentralized network that also uses cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and the like. In fact, NFTs are the lap of a digital file.

The reason why NFTs are now predominantly associated with art images is simply that the art industry is always at the forefront when it comes to technology issues. NFTs are very interesting to the art industry for two reasons, first, the story can be used to track who the artist is and who subsequently owned the artwork. In return, you can be sure that it is an original and not a copy.

How did you come up with the idea of ​​selling these NFTs for the benefit of animal welfare?

Penk: In the beginning, it was not so easy for me to understand how NFTs actually work. Eventually I was able to understand it all very well with my cats as a parable. I have three cats, but each one is unique in its own way. This means that if one dies, I can not just replace it with a new cat and get the same three cats again, I practically lose the emotional value. To me, this animal parable was so simple that I figured, NFTs and animals, it kind of makes sense.

After making my idea more and more concrete, I told various parties about it, including the WWF and the Publicis Bureau. After the WWF approved the project as a result of internal consultations, it went relatively quickly. We presented the idea for the first time in May 2021 and were, so to speak, ready for launch at the end of October 2021. In the meantime, we had to find the artists, draw up contracts (which hide some pitfalls, especially in the financial sector) and of course introduce the topic crypto and Web3 from the bottom of one of the largest NGOs in the world. The implementation of the entire campaign, including website and communication, was then carried out by the Publicis agency.

What are the intentions of your buyers? Is it bought primarily for investment reasons or is it more for the benefit of animal welfare?

Penk: In fact, some of our buyers had never bought an NFT before. That’s why we used the various social media channels to do a lot of advertising and teaching on this topic. In addition, the purchase process itself is very simple, in the end you can buy an NFT from us with a credit card. Because we have set up a process where you can create a wallet with one click and enter your credit card with the next click, so you can buy an animal directly. I would guess it ended up being 70:30. In other words, 70% of the buyers had already been in contact with crypto and 30% were absolutely new buyers.

Maybe some buyers see it as an investment project, but I would still say that many buyers can identify with the topic of animal welfare. For it is clearly communicated everywhere that the proceeds from the sale go directly to animal and species protection.

Was it important to you that the artists also fit the project in terms of their content?

Penk: Yes, we have certainly done the classic background check on everyone. Our artists are often people who are already involved in species protection or sustainability or have even produced animal artwork. In addition, the artists made their pictures available on a voluntary basis, which is why they still usually have a personal interest in the subject of species protection.

Is it complicated to create an NFT? And do the artists upload their art themselves?

Penk: In principle, an NFT is an add-on to a digital file, and it can be anything, ie a JPG or an MP4. This digital file is then the starting point you need to create an NFT. You then “mine” the file, which means that the file is linked to a value on the blockchain. This gives this file a property that can be found on the blockchain. The special thing about us was also that we wrote the whole file on the blockchain, many other projects do not, they only write a reference to the blockchain. So the bottom line was that the artists sent us the digital file and we typed it into the blockchain.

Is it also conceivable for other organizations to fund projects through NFTs? Is this a model of the future?

Penk: I think this is an incredibly relevant topic, but we are not just talking about NFTs in the sense of works of art, we are talking more about the function of an NFT. Because an NFT is just proof of ownership of something digital. An NFT can be anything, including membership of the WWF. Many NGOs are in the process of realizing projects in this area, WWF was definitely a pioneer here, and the success shows that they are right, so far we have registered almost 200,000 euros in revenue. Thanks to Web3, it is now also possible to involve society, and all NGOs now want to expand and integrate this into their decision-making processes.

I believe that about 98 percent (!) Of pure art projects will lose their value in the long run, nevertheless the function of NFTs is very useful and is likely to find its way into all of our lives in the long run.

Have you already sold all the artwork?

Penk: Two works of art are already completely sold out, the Vaquita and the Saola. Both of these were only available in very limited quantities, there were 22 pieces of Vaquita and 100 pieces of Saola. All the other works of art still have copies, but they become fewer every day, and when they are sold out, they are sold out, so no new ones are made. The Vaquita, for example, was sold out after 20 minutes and is already traded on the secondary market, which means that it is already being sold and resold there. It’s also very good for us, as 10 percent of all revenue from the secondary market also goes back to the WWF.

The project was very hyped in the media, was this also useful for WWF in addition to the revenue for the aid projects?

Penk: With this project, WWF slipped to some extent into the role of technology leader, which means that it was suddenly reported in other areas as well. As a result, WWF took place on technology blogs or in crypto magazines, making the topic of animal and species protection accessible to a completely different group of people. In this regard, we have been able to pay more attention to the issue of species protection.

Crypto is generally considered a climate killer. How did you solve this problem?

Penk: The bad reputation comes from the fact that, for example, it takes a lot of arithmetic operations to produce a Bitcoin and the same goes for the Ethereum currency. The problem was initially that most of these NFTs were on the Ethereum blockchain and were also sold with Ethereum. Therefore, I did a lot of research at the beginning of how this process could be made more energy efficient and possibly even CO2 neutral. The classic purchase of CO2 certificates that many companies practice was out of the question for me because I think it’s more window dressing because the environment then gets damaged anyway. In this regard, I was looking for blockchains that are more environmentally friendly.

Then I came across blockchains that work after the so-called “Proof of Stake” process, which is much more environmentally friendly. I found what I was looking for in a blockchain called “Polygon”, which focused precisely on the topic of low energy consumption. In addition, we did not use Ethereum as our currency, but USDC, a cryptocurrency that is pegged to the US dollar exchange rate and is therefore very stable. This energy-conscious approach was also particularly important to our artists. As a result, the underlying process was almost climate neutral.

An article by Pauline Brinkmann