Paintings, engravings, and sculptures have been around in the world from the beginning of mankind. But as technology has progressed, so have the methods for creating and enjoying art, with some artists generating all of their work digitally, their art existing solely as pixels on a screen. But just because we can't hold these masterpieces in our hands doesn't make them any less important.
Digital art may be set to become the most valued artistic expression of our day. With the arrival of non-fungible tokens, commonly known as NFTs, the art market is swiftly evolving. The year 2021 witnessed a surge in digital art purchases, with several high-profile NFT artists and corporations experimenting with new ways of selling their work using blockchain technology.
Even century-old auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's recognize the value of crypto art. At Christie's, the artist Beeple sold a digital collage for $69 million, making this one of the highest NFT art transactions to date, while Sotheby's has now created Sotheby's Metaverse, an online marketplace for interactive digital enthusiasts to bid on selected NFT collections.
So it’s only appropriate to reflect on a year that's been monumental for NFTs, particularly in the art world. But first, it's vital to understand what an NFT is.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are one-of-a-kind digital assets that exist on the blockchain. These digital tokens, which can be any type of digital file, are particularly popular in the gaming, art, and sports industries. Annual NFT sales have consistently risen since their introduction just a few years ago, reaching a total volume of over 17 billion dollars in 2021.
The environment in which these elite NFT artists thrive is intriguing. Continue reading as Read on to discover the top digital artists behind the world’s most successful NFT collections.
While there are several things to consider, successful NFT artists generally have the following characteristics:
They occupy a distinct art niche.
They are involved in the NFT community and have a large following on social media.
Their NFTs collections are verified on large marketplaces like OpenSea.
They maintain a regular NFT launch schedule.
Where it concerns art and NFTs, the possibilities are almost limitless. People have been creating art for about 50,000 years; however, crypto art takes it to a whole new level. Digital art involves expressing ourselves in novel ways using a new and fascinating medium. The best NFT artists, both new and well-known, are playing with this emerging art form, and producing pieces that could not be made by traditional artists.
If you haven't already heard of these leading NFT artists, it’s time to get acquainted. Here is a list of some of the top artists in the NFT world who you should be following.
Total number of artworks sold: 2,281
Total sales volume: $37,871,180.19 (8,046.382 ETH)
Mike Winkelmann, known by his pseudonym Beeple, is regarded by many as today’s top NFT artist. His NFT Everyday: the First 5000 Days, sold for a then record $69 million. The project, which took 13 years to complete, is a collage of 5,000 digital photographs, winkleman photographing and designing one a day for over a decade.
From playful huge flies spinning around a gladiatorial Mike Pence image — an allusion to the 2020 U.S. televised debate — to a basic yet magnificent pixelated Mona Lisa, his digital work is diverse. Top NFT performers like Winkelmann excite, titillate, agitate, and engage his viewers in an increasingly interconnected world, creating works that are unique.
Total number of artworks sold: 7,933
Total sales volume: $62,499,842.31 (13,281.110 ETH)
Pak is an anonymous artist who was previously identified as Murat Pak. Pak, who may be a single person or perhaps a group of artists, has almost two decades of experience in designing, programming, design, and digital art. Pak is arguably best known for developing website, Archillect.com, that searches the web for photographs to upload on social media networks like Instagram and Facebook. Archillect is a combination of the terms "archive" and "intellect," and it refers to the AI system that selects which photographs to broadcast on its feed. Photos are chosen by creative bots that operate as virtual mood boards, selecting images that will garner the most attention.
But Pak is not only about promoting other people's photographs, he also has his own impressive body of work. One of Pak’s early works was Cloud Monument Dark, created in early 202.. He then issued a compilation as a portion of the super rare series with Project X, providing 13 NFTs for just 24 hours, a strategy he would replicate a year later with enormous success. .
After helping to fund Sotheby's Metaverse, a digital design portal to sell and curate NFTs, he began working on his biggest project, Merge, through the Nifty Gateway website. Merge is an NFT that was fractionalized into thousands of smaller pieces which together make up the entire artwork. Sales began in December 2021 for a limited time, during which buyers were allowed to buy as many pieces, called mass, as they wanted. The idea took off and total sales amounted to almost 92 million dollars, which is the current record for a single NFT.
Total number of artworks sold: 1,591
Total sales volume: $18,493,839.93 (3,985.149 ETH)
Mad Dog Jones was once dubbed "the most affordable living Canadian artist" after releasing his debut NFT, Replicator, for an eye-popping $4.1 million. He has since risen to become one of the world's top ten best-selling NFT artists. His aesthetic is best defined as a combination of cyberpunk and Japanese animation, and it may well be the most unique style in today's NFT space. He also innovated a mechanic called The Replicator, which produced seven generations of an original NFT that developed in unique ways.
Total number of artworks sold: 3,189
Total sales volume: $27,495,769.23 (5,854.087 ETH)
This 18-year-old artist has an astonishing 100,000 social media followers and has now sold a mind-boggling 3,189 pieces. He has a vibrant, eye-catching pop-surrealist design reminiscent of children's collage work, but with a decidedly mature edge.
FEWOCiOUS, pseudonym for Victor Langlois, is a Seattle-based artist who has been making art since he was 13 and had his big break when he purchased his first painting at the age of 17. His digital NFT art is an attempt to reflect his personality, and if his NFT releases are any indication, the audience likes him, making him among the most prominent NFT artists. His work currently sells for over $17 million every year, which isn't bad when compared to other top NFT artists.
Total number of artworks sold: 6,790
Total sales volume: $14,033,525.29 (2,987.859 ETH)
Mike Parisella is now a digital collage artist located in Boston who has sold 6,790 NFT artworks to date. His work, which addresses a variety of frequently difficult and boundary-pushing issues, has earned him more than 500,000 followers on social media. SlimeSunday has also formed the SSX3LAU duet with some other well-known NFT musicians such as 3LAU. They collaborated on Gunky's Uprising, with Parisella developing graphics for 3LAU's music. The Process, as even the name implies, is a work that illustrates the collage-making technique he uses in his NFT art, and is his best-selling solo artwork.
Total number of artworks sold: 2,281
Total sales volume: $37,809,805.89 (8,050.035 ETH)
"Hackatao," like many other famous NFT artists, is a pseudonym. The term "hack" alludes to the excitement of discovering what lies deep within the skin. Because Hackatao is a creative duo instead of a single artist, the term "Tao" relates to the yin and yang of the artistic dynamic equilibrium.
Hackatao has a distinct style. They certainly rate among the top NFT artists today, as a team that plays off each other's talents while also working with their shortcomings. Their digital art NFTs are harmonic, with multicolored whirls, complex designs, and an overall graffiti-like atmosphere that fits nicely inside the crypto world. Each work provides criticism on a different facet of contemporary challenges, ranging from environmental challenges to political commentary.
Total number of artworks sold: 1,915
Total sales volume: $58,588,996.09 (12,474.104 ETH)
Don't be fooled by the bubblegum colors: XCOPY's digital art NFTs are harsh, dark, and dystopian, with flashing graphics that might catch you off guard. The average price of a piece is $7,200, although XCOPY's highest documented transaction was roughly $4 million. The scribbled image, labeled "Some Asshole," depicts a figure dressed in a suit and tie against a bright red background.
XCOPY is a London-based artist with a prolific corpus of work valued at more than $43 million.
Total number of artworks sold: 5,286
Total sales volume: $22,127,161.64 (4,737.065 ETH)
Trevor Jones’ work sits at the intersection of art and technology. Since purchasing his first Bitcoin in 2017, this graphic artist from Scotland has been enthralled by crypto technology. His early work was on canvas, but he has since cooperated with a few of the industry's finest NFT artists, like José Delbo, while selling himself over 5,200 art pieces, with an average price of more than $4,000 for each. He's now working on incorporating paintings and NFTs together.
Total number of artworks sold: 4,821
Total sales volume: $11,239,273.10 (2,406.145 ETH)
Micah Johnson is a retired Major League Baseball player, who is now one of the top NFT artists on our list. Aku: The Moon God, his best known work, is a sequence of digital photos of a little child wearing an astronaut helmet and sneakers, selling just shy of a million dollars. Johnson has sold 1,534 pieces for a totel of over 11 million dollars since the debut of his work. Johnson's NFT art is distinguished by the fact that every NFT is accompanied by a physical equivalent in the style of a sculpture. Johnson, like many NFT artists, also gives back to the community. He works and donates to educate youngsters in poor African-American neighborhoods.
Total number of artworks sold: 2,080
Aggregate quantity of all artworks is $2,144,378.25 (460.473 ETH)
Primal Cypher is a famous NFT artist located in Austria who began his career with oil paintings before entering digital art in 2020. He is the creator of ENCODE GRAPHICS, a crypto-themed comic production firm.
He is willing to experiment with many forms of art. His most lucrative NFT sale was “Forgotten Cats of Falling Leaves Forest” which sold for $93,091.43 (19.99 ETH).
Total number of artworks sold: 867
Total sales volume: $3,849,858.33 (824.192 ETH)
Blake Kathryn's art is distinguished by ethereal scenes, vibrant hues, and futuristic ideas. Kathryn, who is located in Los Angeles, uses colorful colors to create surrealist paintings. She has worked with major brands such as Fendi, Jimmy Choo, and Lil Nas X. Her art ranges from the fashion and music industries, to dreamscapes and natural themes. Her animation visualizer for Lil Nas X's "Panini" is perhaps her best known piece.
Travis Van Zanen, also known as Giant Swan, is a Melbourne-based sculptor and graphic designer. He is creating 3D forms and colors with VR technology. Initially, he struggles to persuade galleries to show his artworks because the majority of them did not own pricey VR headsets. Fortunately, NFTs saved his job.
Total number of artworks sold: 6,479
Total sales volume: $9,985,206.48 (2,125.937 ETH)
Justin Blau, also called 3LAU (pronounced "Blau"), is a Vegas-based DJ and producer who is one of the top NFT artists who is also a musician. 3LAU was inspired to create music NFT by Wu-Tang Clan's seventh album, “somewhere during a Time in Shaolin”, which was published and then sold to a single bidder. The CD was purportedly acquired for $2 million. Since then 3LAU has sold music as NFT’s, with teh album “Waveform” selling on open sea for over 100 ETH. He was also involved in the debut of OMF, the world's premier blockchain-powered music event.
Steve Aoki is a Grammy-nominated DJ, recording artist, and New York Times best-selling author. He sold his first NFT for $3.4 in March 2021. He has since enabled specific NFT owners to attend his concerts. In November 2021, he helped develop the NFT platform OddKey.
José Delbo, is an Argentinian-born artist, who has worked on some of the best known comics series such as Wonder Woman and The Transformers. He created his debut digital art NFT in 2020, at the age of 86!. This original comic, named Death, marked the first of several highly popular NFTs, showing that it’s never too late to transition to digital art!