Self portrait of Stephen Lotus. His hand is reaching into the infinite abyss and being transported to a new realm. Lotus says this is a metaphor for reaching his highest potential while having a cosmic and mystic vibe. Credit: Stephen Lotus

Umba Daima’s brand Black NFT Art gets the unknown noticed.

By Allison Joyner

As cryptocurrency becomes more popular and media is increasingly digitized, Umba Daima bridges the gap between up-and-coming artists with buyers who are searching for authentic masterpieces. 

“We originally started in 2020 as an eCommerce store,” said Iris Nevins, co-founder of Umba Daima. “After we launched, we started learning about NFTs through some friends and decided to pivot. It didn’t take us long to realize that selling art in the traditional art market was challenging.” 

Umba Daima co-founder, Iris Nevins speaking during The Crossroads Exhibition Brunch in September 2021.
Credit: Umba Daima

Meaning “create forever” in Swahili, Iris and co-founder Omar Desire, Umba Daima’s goals are to create engaging multimedia content, amplify Black leaders and artists and create opportunities for them in the NFT space.

“We saw NFTs as a great opportunity for not only the artists that we work with but also for our business who entered a new space in the early stages and have a high impact,” said Nevins.

According to Forbes, NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency and are generally encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptos.

“Every single token,” said Nevins, “has a unique identity on the blockchain and that allows you to tie unique assets to it.”

The uber-rich are cashing in on them. Last year, an estimated $4 billion came in NFT sales alone. 

NBA athlete Stephen Curry, late-night host Jimmy Fallon, and Atlanta-based rapper Future have paid large amounts of money for Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs. Actress Eva Longoria and TV creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes have also jumped into the NFT craze and bought from illustrator Yam Karkai from her World of Women (WoW) NFT collection of thousands of diverse female avatars. 

Reese Witherspoon has taken it a step further and became the first star to change her Twitter profile picture to a blue-skinned, blonde-haired WoW avatar late last year.

gm friends! ???? @worldofwomennft

— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) October 21, 2021

One of Umba Daima’s brands, Black NFT Art, introduces African American artists to the NFT space and helps companies and public figures engage with them in a thoughtful and meaningful way. 

“When it comes to Black art in particular,” Nevins said, “I think the reason we started Black NFT Art was that the NFT space success largely comes from, of course, having great art but also having a great network.”

One artist Umba Daima works with is Atlanta native Stephen Lotus. He started in 2018 creating abstract digital artwork and posted them to his Instagram page and his followers loved it. 

Digital artist, Stephen Lotus
Credit: Stephen Lotus

“I make all of my artwork on my phone,” said Lotus using mobile apps that would help him manipulate his photos to his intergalactic-inspired creations. So far, Lotus has sold two NFTs and sold his third one during a Black NFT Art gallery in September.

“I never studied art,” Lotus said. “My brother studied art and he taught me some things like form and color.”

Calling himself the “Celestial Voyager,” Lotus’s works are individual entries from a log of his cosmic journeys. “Stuff I’ve come across on my journey through the stars,” he said. 

Both Nevins and Lotus say now is a great time to buy and sell NFTs and Umba Daima can help future creators or investors find out more about getting started in this new industry.

“There’s been several companies and brands from Netflix to celebrities that have been able to find artists to work with through our feed,” said Nevins. Umba Daima is also doing events three to five times a week and offers educational classes online through their Twitter account for those interested.

“We have a discord community where people come in and ask questions, share their art for feedback, connect and build relationships,” said Nevins.

Lotus suggests that artists create collectible series like BAYC and WoW with different variations of the same piece.

“Hyaline Hyperdrive” Created by Stephen Lotus
Credit: Stephen Lotus

“The point of making the NFTs is to sell them,” said Lotus. “You want to make a statement but if you’re going to mint them and spend money to do that, that’s an investment. So at the end of the day, it’s going to be about how much money you’re making and what is your return on investment.”

“If somebody is an artist or collector who wants to learn [about NFTs], I would highly recommend joining our discord,” Nevins continued. “If someone is a collector, I would recommend joining our rise collectors club and buying one of our NFTs and start participating there. But, most importantly, it is to get on Twitter and start following people in the NFT space because that’s where the community resides. So follow people and check out what they’re saying. Check out what they’re posting. Check out what they’re talking about and that would help someone get up to speed pretty quickly.”

Join the Conversation


  1. I wish this article had at least a token paragraph about the downsides of NFTs. Most of the market is made of people buying their own NFTs as shills. It is also used heavily by people laundering money. The impact on the environment should be considered as well. Please, anyone planning to spend real dollars, either on an NFT or paying someone to create one for you, check out some of the downsides.

  2. Such a beautiful powerful insight into NFTs. Don’t forget the NFTKids. I have two NFT artists. NFTKIDSJANDE are selling their 1/1 originals and their pfps. They’re learning and growing in this vast NFT community

  3. NFT technology has been around for about three years, but only started gaining popularity this year. It was supposed that non-exchangeable tokens would help artists monetize their work and earn money without intermediaries, and fans would be able to support their favorite artists without subscriptions like Patreon. The situation was especially heated by the case of the artist Beeple, ust one success story from the blog, to find more visit website: he put up at Christie’s auction a huge collage of 5,000 digital images that he had drawn daily for 13 years. The work sold for a record 69 million dollars.

  4. It will promote new art works, and it’s bringing the local art scene to a wider audience. I think artists will also benefit from this because people can trust that their artwork is for sale on the platform. This way, artists will know there is revenue coming in from their work, which will help them continue making more pieces. I have heard that there Decentraland Alternatives Worth Trying which I will surely check. It is good to explore new opportunities.

  5. I think NFT technology is the future. NFT is not only very expensive eight-bit pictures, it is something more. This technology allows you to prove ownership, removes unnecessary intermediaries from the transaction and the history of all transactions is open and transparent.

  6. You raise important points about the downsides of NFTs, and it’s essential for anyone considering involvement in the NFT market to be aware of these aspects. While NFTs have gained significant popularity and attention, they also come with certain risks and challenges.

    One major concern in the NFT space is the prevalence of self-purchasing or “shilling.” Some individuals or entities may artificially inflate the perceived value of their NFTs by buying them themselves, creating a false sense of demand and legitimacy. This behavior can mislead potential buyers and investors, affecting the overall trust and integrity of the NFT market.

    Additionally, there have been cases of NFTs being used for money laundering and other illicit activities. Due to the relative anonymity and decentralization of blockchain transactions, bad actors may exploit NFTs as a means to launder money or engage in fraudulent practices.

    Another crucial consideration is the environmental impact of NFTs, particularly in relation to the energy consumption of blockchain networks. The process of minting and trading NFTs on some blockchains, such as Ethereum, can be energy-intensive and contribute to carbon emissions. This aspect has raised concerns about the sustainability and ecological footprint of NFTs, leading to discussions about finding more environmentally friendly alternatives.

    As the NFT market continues to evolve, it’s vital for participants and potential buyers to educate themselves about these downsides and consider the ethical and environmental implications before making any financial commitments. Staying informed about the risks and challenges of the NFT space will help individuals make more conscious and responsible decisions when engaging with NFTs.

    By addressing these downsides and advocating for greater transparency and sustainability in the NFT market, we can collectively work towards a more balanced and ethical landscape for digital art and collectibles.

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