MyMiniFactory could spare digital artists from the NFT hype train

If you own a 3D printer or have ever searched online for printable files, chances are you’ve come across MyMiniFactory, a website best known for hosting digital showcases for 3D artists. While most of the content found on the site is aimed at people who love role-playing games and tabletop war games, some changes have come to MyMiniFactory in recent months, which opens up possibilities not only for digital sculptors who create printable files, but also to illustrators, writers and musicians looking to make money from their skills.

The 3D printing hobby may not have a huge community, but it is one that is growing at an incredible rate thanks to greater accessibility to affordable 3D printing hardware and how which it integrates with existing hobbies. Probably the biggest of these will be in wargames and tabletop RPGs, where people who like the genre should buy injection molded miniatures or kits from an official supplier like Games Workshop or WizKids.

In some cases, it is actually a requirement in order to officially enjoy the game (like Warhammer where using unofficial armies is taboo), but with 3D printers getting cheaper and more advanced at an incredible rate every year, more and more people are getting into the world of impression to explore new hobbies that were previously inaccessible.

As mentioned, although the name may only imply tabletop and board game miniatures (or at least small miniatures), you’re now likely to see all sorts of things on MyMiniFactory that will appeal to a wider range of people in outside the game. community – from DIY Steampunk Lamps and immersive RPG music management, at the open source museum scan the world.

Apart from the wide variety of printable files that you will find, MyMiniFactory has actually introduced features to the site that come logic, especially if you’ve been in the printing scene for a while. It’s not the only 3D file website out there, but traditionally there are a few hoops or systems you would use to make sure you’re getting your files from a credible source, and more importantly, artists who have created the work get fairly compensated.

Artists could create their own digital store using a system like Shopify, but that makes them difficult to locate if they don’t have enough marketing and an active social media account. You’ll also find bulk STL files sold as a bundle on various digital marketplaces, but many of them don’t credit the original artists who created the artwork, so you might not know if you just bought some stolen content. It’s not impossible to navigate, but it does make the process of setting up a business selling 3D printables more troublesome than it should be.

The ultimate one-stop-shop for creative geeks

An example of crowdfunding campaigns on MyMiniFactory

An example of crowdfunding campaigns on MyMiniFactory (Image credit: MyMiniFactory)

To address these issues, MyMiniFactory instead started offering just about every service you’d need to start selling your work, ditching the previous requirement of external sites for creatives who wanted to branch out. For example, many established artists have a Patreon where they offer a deep discount on their catalog to subscribers in exchange for a small monthly fee, with the files themselves available for purchase on MyMiniFactory or downloadable via a website. file hosting for free subscriber rewards. .

Now, MyMiniFactory has rolled out “Tribes”, where you can choose to support your favorite creators directly from their storefront, either with one-time donations or with a monthly subscription. You can even choose to do so publicly or anonymously, and attach a message – ideally thanking the artist – while enjoying the same loyalty rewards set by the creator. Full transparency is available, and creators have great creative control over how they want to set up their tribe – with the ability to publish upcoming builds, ask for community votes on what they should do next, and announce upcoming sales.

And it wasn’t just the tribes that caught my eye, MyMiniFactory now also offering an on-site crowdfunding platform that artists can use to fund projects and releases, something that previously would have had to be navigated on sites. dedicated crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. Elsewhere on the site, you’ll find tutorials and articles hosted in the dedicated “Stories” section, featuring mostly internal community forums and blog posts, as well as official design contests created by small creators and established faces in 3D printing space. .

While all of these systems are available externally, it’s clear that MyMiniFactory has worked hard to create a versatile space specifically for small creators and designers trying to set up shop and get fairly compensated for their skills.

I spoke to the CEO of MyMiniFactory, Nebo Nikolic, who made it clear that this is a community first venture trying to provide a space for artists to succeed. “If Disney came knocking on the door and asking for a collaboration, we would say no,” he laughed, adding “we are a space for small creators looking to build a sustainable business, even if they don’t. ‘have no prior marketing or e-commerce”. skills. We just want to give them all the tools they need to be successful.”

He also said that despite his roots in the 3D printing scene, he also wanted MyMiniFactory to be a welcoming environment for people outside of 3D artists, such as writers and illustrators.

“We want to cover all digital creators, illustrators creating bespoke maps or character sheets, or writers who might create PDF campaigns for various systems. We don’t want to exclude any media, so where the name MyMiniFactory meant ‘miniatures’, it has since evolved to mean a ‘mini factory’ where small businesses can take full control of their stores and how they interact with customers”.

It’s the beginning, but it seems to work. Creatives are increasingly established on the site and have a growing number of subscribers and loyal fans.

The conversation reminded me of how discouraged I felt many years ago as a young digital illustrator. As a teenager, art was a passion I spent many hours of the day to, but it was never a career I hoped to pursue. Given the recognizable ‘starving artist’ joke, the idea of ​​supporting myself or even just supplementing my salary with my own creativity just didn’t seem viable, a similar story that many young artists tell you would have told at the time.

Banking without Blockchain

Smilessvrs, a collection of 3D sculpted NFTs made by artist Waheed Zai

Smilessvrs, a collection of 3D sculpted NFTs made by artist Waheed Zai (Image credit: Smilessvrs / Waheed Zai)

But what does all this have to do with NFTs? Many of us have mixed feelings about them, even though we are even able to figure out exactly what they are in the first place.

Non-fungible tokens, often abbreviated as NFT, are a way to authenticate digital content on cryptocurrency blockchains, primarily Ethereum. That doesn’t just mean artwork or photographs – in theory, anything can be saved as NFTs, including audio clips and even tweets, but you don’t own the actual asset. Instead, you get some sort of virtual receipt or logbook that proves the NFT is registered in your name.

Given its connection to cryptocurrency, this system can cause people to spend a lot of money to follow the trend, often for investments or just to show off. Those awful Bored Ape NFTs you may have seen used as profile pictures all over Twitter can actually sell for thousands of dollars, though anyone can just…save the actual art to their computer drive.

While I’m sick of seeing low-effort collections like these monkeys all over the internet, there was one silver lining that kept me conflicted: little artists were finally making some serious money using their skills. Years of offering commissions or creating works based on a client’s specific needs could be over, leaving artists to work for themselves, what they love, and still earn a living.

However, it is not without risks. Vice reported earlier this week that 80% of NFTs created on OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, are fake, plagiarized by real artists or outright spam, and many popular digital artists have found their work to be fraudulently sold online by scam artists making a quick buck on the talents of real creatives.

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I still don’t agree with the ecological or social impact of NFTs, but creatives deserve a space where they can make a living, especially without fear of having their work stolen. It’s likely that NFTs will be around for quite a while, but MyMiniFactory offers a compelling alternative for artists to build a growing business that has multiple sources of income, through subscriptions, file sales, and donations.

Strictly speaking, nothing would stop you from getting involved in NFTs if you signed up for MyMiniFactory. I haven’t discussed NFTs or the blockchain with Nikolic, but it was clear that artists using the site are free to use any other platform they see fit, stating “we steer clear of contracts, and we certainly won’t force artists to take their work from other stores, services or galleries.”

I don’t think this will revolutionize the creative marketplace overnight, but as digital content grows steadily, it’s important to ensure that small businesses are well supported as their skills become more in demand. The art theft trend is prolific in NFT sales, and I’m afraid things will get worse as the metaverse gets closer and closer. The kind of service that MyMiniFactory currently provides to the designers it hosts is nothing short of fantastic, and a model that I would like to see more of in order to ensure that artists are fairly compensated for their work.

Marilyn M. Davis