What to do if an artist gives you an NFT

A guide for how to create a digital wallet and an OpenSea account to start collecting NFTs

I recently gave away 100 NFTs to my friends and fans. Most of these patrons had no experience with NFTs, which is great. This is a great opportunity for me to expose people to NFTs and the exciting ideas that are unlocked by this new technology. It’s can also be intimidating and scary to newcomers. That’s why I wanted to document the process of going from 0–60 for anyone who might find themselves scratching their heads about how to get their first NFT.

First, a couple of assumptions and disclaimers: This guide is specifically about artwork on OpenSea and NFTs that are on the Ethereum blockchain. You don’t need to know what that means other than that OpenSea is the website where my artwork was created (or minted to use the correct NFT terminology) and Ethereum (a digital currency similar to Bitcoin) is used behind the scenes to fund the transactions. The following ideas might translate to other websites and other cryptocurrencies, but there will probably be slight differences. I am also assuming you are using a desktop computer. This is possible on a phone, too, but the experience will be slightly different there. This process will inevitable change as software is updated, but it is current as of September 26.

Nervous? Don’t be. Let me calm your concerns about a couple things. First, you will NOT need to enter any personal information in this process. Second, you WON’T have to enter any bank or financial information. Third, you don’t need to OWN any cryptocurrency. Hopefully that reduces some fear if you are uneasy about this. The worst that could happen might be that we lose the NFT somehow in the process by not following the instructions, but even that is unlikely. So should we do this thing?

A digital wallet is where you can store and transfer cryptocurrency and NFTs. Each wallet has a unique address that looks like this: 0xA84af119469E632523240eD8EE5Dd443d214e5B2

Your address will be different because that one is mine. If you wanted, you could send me Ethereum just by transferring it to that address. I wouldn’t mind. This address is important because that is the only piece of information that somebody needs to send you an NFT (or cryptocurrency for that matter). This isn’t a secret, in fact you might want to tell everybody about it because you WANT people to send you cryptocurrency and NFTs, right?

There are different digital wallet options, but the most popular is called Metamask, so that’s what we’ll be using. MetaMask lives in your Chrome browser (sorry, no support for other browsers yet) as an extension. If you’ve never installed an extension before that’s okay.

First: Go to the Metamask website and click the “Download” button.

Next: Click “Install MetaMask for Chrome.”

Next: Click “Add to Chrome” in the upper right.

Next: A confirmation window will appear. Click “Add Extension” button to complete the installation.

Next: Now it’s time to setup MetaMask. Click the “Get Started” button which will look like this:

Next: Click the “Create a Wallet” button because you don’t have a Secret Recovery Phrase since this is your first time creating a wallet.

Next: If you want to help MetaMask improve, click “I Agree” otherwise click “No Thanks.” Whichever you decide is fine.

Next: Create a strong password and store your password however you manage your passwords. Then click “Create.”

Next: There is a video about securing your wallet. You might want to watch it because it explains how recovery phrases work. Now click “Next.”

Next: There will be a gray box that says “Click Here To Reveal Secret Words.” This will show you your backup phrase. What’s a backup phrase? Think of it as a really big password. This is what makes your wallet secure. If you were to lose your computer and you needed to re-install MetaMask you would use these words and your password to recover your NFT and cryptocurrency. So, yeah, it’s really important. Write it down EXACTLY. You don’t want to lose this information. You also don’t want to save it on your computer where anyone could find it. Never email it! I would recommend writing it down and saving that piece of paper somewhere really safe. This can’t be stressed enough. If you lose this information you lose everything (NFTs, Ethereum, and anything that was in your wallet).

Next: Now you need to confirm your Secret Backup Phrase. You do this by clicking the words in the buttons below the box in the order that you wrote them down. I blurred them out in my screenshot below, but you will be able to read them when you do this step.

Next: You will see a congratulations screen, then you will be taken to your account view. At this point you might want to “pin” MetaMask to your browser so that it is always in view. Click on the little puzzle icon and then you will see a little pin icon next to the Fox’s head where it says “MetaMask” as you can see in the screenshot below.

With MetaMask “pinned” you will now see a little fox icon in the upper right toolbar of the Chrome browser. Any time you want to use your MetaMask wallet you will click on the little fox to open MetaMask and access your wallet. Congratulations, you have installed the MetaMask extension and created your wallet.

Finally we are ready to receive NFTs! Click on the MetaMask extension in the top right toolbar in Chrome. We are looking for your wallet’s address. Click on your address to copy it to your clipboard.

Give this address to the person who is trying to send you an NFT. If it’s me, you will probably be emailing it, so create an email and paste (ctrl-v) it into the email and send it. Once I have transferred your NFT I will transfer the NFT and reply to your email once the transfer is done.

Now that your NFT has been transferred you will want to see the art, right? To do this we need an OpenSea account. Go to https://opensea.io/ and click the little wallet icon in the upper right.

OpenSea will ask you which wallet you are trying to connect. Click “MetaMask.”

This will open the MetaMask extension where you can connect to your wallet. It will look like this:

After your MetaMask wallet is connected, you will see this on OpenSea:

Congratulations, you have successfully connected your wallet to OpenSea. You might want to customize your profile by giving your account a name, a photo, and a background. Click on the circle in the upper right and then there is a little “3-dot” icon on the right where you can find more settings.

Now that your OpenSea account is created, you can go to the “Collected” section and you will see the NFT that was transferred to you. If by some chance the NFT isn’t there, the transfer might be pending. If it never shows up then there is a chance it could have been transferred to the wrong address. This is unlikely, but it shows the importance of getting your addresses right because if you do it wrong there is nothing you can do. There is no support desk for the blockchain. Once a transfer goes through it is final.

OpenSea is just one of many NFT sites that will connect to your MetaMask wallet. Each site will have a similar process. They will ask for permission to access your wallet because they will use your wallet to validate your address so that you can transact with the website. Once you’ve done it a few times it will feel like second nature.

Now that you have an account it’s time to connect with people. Follow me and we can be connected. Mission accomplished!

Now that you have an NFT in your wallet, you might be tempted to get some more. How do you do that? Well, you are probably going to need some Ethereum. There are different places where you can convert money to Ethereum. I like Coinbase, but do your own research. Once you have Ethereum, Coinbase (or whoever you bought your Ethereum through) will let you transfer that Ethereum to your wallet address. After that, if you open MetaMask you will see a balance of ETH that you can use to buy NFTs. I might write a tutorial about this in the future, but you should take caution once you have a balance of ETH. My advice is to experiment with low-risk purchases, and small transactions until you get the hang of it. I’d go as far as to say don’t buy anything that you aren’t willing to lose. There is so much out there and there are people who would love to rip you off if you aren’t careful. Save the big purchases until after you’ve built some confidence.

I hope this tutorial was helpful. You can follow me on OpenSea to see my NFTs. If you see something you like, I’d be honored if you purchased one. Finally, if you want to find more of my writing and art, visit adrian3.com. Stay creative.

Your friend,
Adrian Hanft

Author of User Zero: Inside the Tool that is Reshaping Dystopia