While South African artist Fhatuwani Mukheli paints a portrait of a woman in his Johannesburg studio, he is also developing a digital asset that will embellish a virtual environment.

Mukheli promotes and sells her art as non-fungible tokens through The Tree, an online marketplace for South African artists (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.”

Customers of Mukheli receive both the canvas and the NFT, but other artists on The Tree sell up to five limited edition NFTs for each piece, similar to digital prints.

Mukheli has already profited hundreds of dollars from the platform.

“I think it’s vital as an artist and a creative to always play where the ball is going rather than where it’s at,” said Trevor Stuurman, one of four other artists whose work is presently on display on The Tree.

Blockchains, which are digital ledgers used to store information, are criticised by environmentalists for consuming a lot of computer power.

The Tree claims that by running on Polygon, a blockchain that needs a fraction of the power, it saves energy and offsets each transaction by sending money to Greenpop, an environmental organisation that plants trees across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“It’s not just about art and artists and the story, it’s about making sure that this growth in technology for artists doesn’t come at a cost to the planet,” said Dan Portal, co-founder of The Tree.

Virtual Land Prices in Crypto Winter

In the face of severe value losses, virtual land prices and Metaverse platforms have begun to struggle.

Decentraland (MANA Coin), The Sandbox (SAND Coin), and Otherside (APE Coin) tokens have all lost 30% of their value in the previous week. Land values in the Metaverse have also dropped.

Pavia plots on the Cardano network have dropped to $90 in other virtual worlds.

Many metaverse projects’ land prices have dropped by an average of 40% in ETH during the last seven days. During the same time span, Ethereum’s depreciation hit 31%. As a result, the value loss in the metaverse land market approaches 55% in dollar terms!