The world is witnessing an art renaissance powered by the rise of non-fungible tokens(NFTs.) for the first time in decades; artists are deciding the direction of the world’s economy as they are the current beneficiaries of the crypto revolution.

Over the last few months, NFTs have become a big deal within and outside the crypto walls. Huge numbers have adopted cryptocurrency due to the explosive economic potentials NFTs offer. Recently the flourishing ecosystem of artists, content creators, musicians, curators, photographers, and writers has attracted global corporations to enter into partnership with these figures in a bid to further advance the NFT community.

Former MLB player Micah Johnson has been at the forefront of the NFT craze and now enjoys a career as a crypto artist. For the likes of Johnson, NFTs made it possible to become digital artists, eliminating the barriers posed by the physical world. Via NFTs, artists like Johnson can relate directly with their fans, build a community and monetize their passion for art.

The Partnership

According to reports, the former Chicago White Sox star has entered into a partnership with financial services giant Visa to help educate more people about the world of digital collectibles and the potential it offers. The new partnership would aid digital content creators in learning how to use NFTs and crypto to improve their craft. 

This comes a few months after Visa signified its interest in the NFT market by purchasing a CryptoPunks NFT avatar for more than $150,000 worth of ETH. Following their purchase, the price for Punks skyrocketed and now the finance company wants to extend their success to educating others.

Visa will issue an open request for creators interested in participating in the program and select an initial class of participants. The company will support and consult with the group, as well as work to develop significant partnerships between the artists and Visa’s payment partners.

Reaction to the Partnership

In a tweet, Visa vice president and head of crypto, Guy Sheffield, wrote, “We believe that we are at the beginning of a digital renaissance in the world of art and content creation—a flourishing ecosystem of artists, musicians, writers, photographers, and curators building communities at the intersection of culture and commerce.”

He further added in his post, “New technologies emerging in the crypto ecosystem, like NFTs, have the potential to lower the barrier to entry for digital creators across the world to build their small businesses.”

Johnson’s NFT Journey

Johnson enjoyed a rewarding baseball career, and after his 2018 retirement, he decided to pursue an interest outside of the sporting world and build on his passion for the arts. In 2019, Johnson embraced the growing crypto community and based his interest on NFTs, which at the time were a fringe concept.

His first NFT sale was in 2020, but it turned out to be a turning point in his life. Johnson discovered a way to be part of a new digital community outside of the traditional world. Speaking of the impact of NFTs in his art career, the former baseball star remarked, “NFTs unlocked an opportunity for me to build a community of people interested in supporting my work — in a way that goes way beyond simply liking or sharing. With guidance from the early crypto community, I’ve been able to build a small business around my crypto-native character, Aku, that can grow into a global media company rooted in driving value back to that same community that evangelized my work.”

From discovering a community to belong to, the 30-year-old former sportsman now has a network of thousands of fans and followers who not only love his work but believe in his dreams of breaking down barriers imposed by socioeconomic position, race, and gender, and inspiring children to dream big.