Did you know that in 2020, crypto art based on non-fungible tokens exploded in popularity? Or that some non-fungible (NFT) artworks have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars?
If you think cryptos and blockchain tech are the domain of alternative finance enthusiasts, tech geeks, and digital advertisers looking for an edge, get ready to expand your perceptions. Crypto artists continue to push the envelope when it comes to the frontiers of innovation.
Here's what you need to know about some of the most wildly successful ones to date.
The Rise of Non-Fungible Art
Of all the exciting stories to come out of the past year, NFT art's rise remains one of the most impressive. What denotes some pieces as NFT art? The use of non-fungible tokens to create them.
Once upon a time, the finest digital art was found on video game boxes. But with the rise in cutting-edge innovations such as cryptographic authentication, artists can now rely on digital tools to craft one-of-a-kind, impressive works of art.
What's more, you'll be amazed by the incredible diversity of offerings, from surrealist VR dreamscapes to building programmable art. Artists working in the blockchain sphere continue to innovate when designing the most artistic modes of digital expression possible.
There are few commonalities among this new group of "masters" working in NFTs. They range in age from as young as their late teens to nearly 90 years-old. Their origins prove equally diverse, with some emerging from humble and obscure origins while others already rank as world-famous within the art community.
However, no matter their differences, they continue to have a significant and impressive impact on the future of digital art. Let's highlight a few of these fascinating characters.
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Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Mike Winkelman (a.k.a. Beeple) is a digital artist and graphic designer with a computer science degree. He's best known for creating a Flying Lotus video. But he's also done concert visuals for Eminem and Nicki Minaj.
His crypto sales total more than $2,238,235, and he boasts more than 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Many people rank Beeple as the number one NFT artist today because of his incredible art earnings and recognition internationally.
Beeple continues to show just how lucrative NFT art can be. Recently, he shocked the art world when his crypto art brought in a whopping $582,000 in five minutes!
How did Winkleman build his massive following of nearly two million on Instagram? By posting animations and illustrations for more than a decade.
But he remains best known for his Flying Louie music video, which brought him a significant chunk of change and first introduced him to the possibility of making a living as an NFT artist. Find out more about his latest projects.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Giant Swan is a virtual reality artist who specializes in crafting dreamscapes. Travis Van Zanen, the artist bend Giant Swan, is a 33-year-old who relies on his VR set to create these impressive landscapes.
Van Zanen says he cultivates an interior map of where all of these places are. He likens logging them on a blockchain to writing a story with data about all occurring within a chain.
At first, Van Zanen said he found it challenging to get art galleries to display his creations. After all, most galleries didn't own any VR headsets. Nevertheless, a few innovative galleries decided to invest, and Giant Swan saw his career quickly skyrocket from there.
Many of Van Zanen's pieces sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. He maintains connections to an art gallery in Rome. Through his collectors, Giant Swan has rekindled the artist patron relationship enjoyed during the famed Italian Renaissance.
Giant Swan also notes, however, that the marketplace continues to get more competitive and ruthless. He notes that the number of artists has outgrown collectors willing to fund these NFT artists.
Van Zanen remains committed to not letting concerns about making money get in the way of the art he creates. He argues that one of the fastest ways to compromise your artistic production is by worrying over how you'll make ends meet. Today, Giant Swan cultivates an Instagram following of more than 5,000.
Thirty-year-old, Los Angeles-based designer Blake Kathryn describes herself as a 3D artist with a surreal, futurist aesthetic. She's got a robust following of more than 70,000 on Instagram, and her work focuses on depicting a perfect future that can never exist.
Themes include images of glamorous mechanical women who are powered by roses and clockwork. Her female-themed artwork has landed her lucrative jobs with fashion firms such as Jimmy Choo, Fendi, and even the alcoholic label Smirnoff.
Besides the hefty price tags on these pieces, she's also dabbled in creating 3D renderings and animations, which sell for thousands of dollars each. She also cultivates art gallery relationships, an area where digital artwork previously dragged behind the times.
Another NFT artist that continues to garner attention, is Las Vegas's FEWoCIOUS. An 18-year-old artist from Nevada, FEWoCIOUS makes surrealist digital art sold for upwards of $25,000. He currently has more than 11,000 Instagram followers.
FEWoCIOUS never felt like much a writer, so the teen turned to NFT art to express himself while coming to terms with a tough home life. Themes in his artwork include loneliness and sadness.
FEWoCIOUS also turned to digital art because it allowed him to save money on art supplies. The results are breathtaking and vivid. Of course, the jump to NFTs required a little faith and help from others.
When the teen first got contacted by someone about transforming his art into NFT, he thought it was a scam. Yet, he decided to take a chance, and the byproduct of going out on a limb has been a fruitful art career.
José Delbo, an 87-year-old Argentinian artist, is based in Miami, Florida. He spent most of his career illustrating DC and Marvel comic books before making the recent jump to NFT. Today, his largest crypto sale sits at $111,377, representing a collaboration with Trevor Jones.
Delbo has a small following of nearly 2,000 on Twitter, and his work continues to gain attention. The going rate for his NFT masterpiece rival those of the rare editions of comic books such as Transformers and Wonder Woman that he illustrated earlier in his life.
How did the octagenarian first get into crypto art? He did so during the pandemic when the comic conventions he planned on attending got canceled. Once he got introduced to the NFT scene, creating more art for fans who already appreciate his work proved natural.
His first NFTs premiered in August 2020, and he's also completed numerous collaborations with other crypto artists, including PRIMAL CYPHER and Trevor Jones. Check out Delbo's official site.
Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Trevor Jones is both a traditional and crypto artist. His largest sale to date went for $141,000, a collaboration with EthBoy. He has more than 15,000 followers on Twitter and continues to make major waves in the crypto art world.
How did Jones get into the industry? In 2016, he had extra time and money to burn. So, he started thinking about the possibility of turning to Bitcoin.
By 2017, he invested in Bitcoin before the bull run. That said, he had many highs and lows to ride, not only when it came to investments but also his digital art love. While he believed passionately in what he was doing, getting art galleries to buy represented an entirely different proposition.
He found most unwilling to entertain the idea of displaying MP4 clips or gifs. When he decided to combine his love for cryptos with his artistic endeavors, he enjoyed immediate success. Reaching out to the budding digital currency community, he found an appreciative fanbase.
Although he continues to work in traditional media too, Jones appreciates the unique opportunities provided by NFTs. For starters, NFT art permits artists to sidestep the types of duplicates that often plague artists.
What's more, he also appreciated the opportunity to get a cut of secondary sales and receive payments immediately. Explore his artwork online.
Top NFT Artists
As cryptocurrencies and blockchain tech continue to rewrite our reality, expect to see these highest grossest NFT artists continue to break new records. These non-fungible token artists (NFT) are pushing the envelope on futuristic art available to the budding crypto community.
As their renown continues to grow and art galleries become more adaptive of their work, expect to see these artists' names continue to gain in popularity.