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South African company helps hang local art in virtual world

Artist Fhatuwani Mukheli makes use of The Tree, an online marketplace for South African artists to promote and sell their art as non-fungible tokens (NFTs)

As South African artist Fhatuwani Mukheli paints a portrait of a woman at his Johannesburg studio, he is creating not just the work before him but is also creating a digital asset destined to adorn a virtual world.

Mukheli uses The Tree, an online marketplace for South African artists to promote and sell their art as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). “There’s a virtual world where people are buying land in it,” said Mukheli, referring to the metaverse, a three-dimensional digital reality that tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook say is the future of the internet.”People have properties there … and your art can be on those walls.”

Mukheli’s customers get both the actual canvas and the NFT, while other artists on The Tree sell up to five limited edition NFTs for each piece, akin to digital prints. Mukheli has made thousands of dollars aready by using the platform. “I think it’s important as an artist and a creative to always play where the ball is going and not necessarily where it’s at,” said Trevor Stuurman, one of the four other artists currently showcasing their work on The Tree.