Who are the Rising NFT Artists?
NFT art, a form of digital art, has disrupted the traditional art world, enabling artists to showcase their unique creations in the NFT space. Through blockchain technology, digital artists like Mike Winkelmann have found fame, and their NFT artwork is now highly sought after in the NFT market. Social media has played a significant role in the rise of famous NFT artists, and collectors in the NFT world vie for ownership of these contemporary digital assets, bridging the gap between traditional art and the innovative realm of NFTs.Below is the list spotlights emerging luminaries in the NFT art realm, innovative individuals who are pushing the frontiers of creativity and technology.
Beeple :Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann, is a celebrated NFT artist who has made a significant mark in the NFT art world. For over 13 years, he has created daily digital art through his “Everydays” initiative. His groundbreaking moment came in March 2021 when he auctioned a collage of his initial 5,000 pieces for a staggering $69 million at Christie’s, making it the third most expensive artwork ever sold by a living artist. Beeple’s NFTs, often surreal and thought-provoking, serve as a commentary on pop culture, politics, and society.
Pak:Pak, an enigmatic NFT artist who prefers to remain anonymous, is credited with pioneering the NFT art movement. Early and influential works by Pak surfaced on platforms like SuperRare and Nifty Gateway. Pak’s minimalist, geometric, and interactive NFTs delve into themes of identity, value, and perception. A collaboration with Sotheby’s in April 2021, titled “The Fungible,” generated a revenue of $17 million and captured the attention of over 3,000 buyers, demonstrating the growing influence of NFT art in the contemporary art scene of New York and the global art world.
Trevor Jones: Trevor, holding an MA Fine Art (Hons) degree from Edinburgh College of Art, has been at the crossroads of art and technology for more than a decade. His journey began with experimental QR code oil paintings in 2012 and augmented reality (AR) in the subsequent year. However, it was his investment in Bitcoin in 2017 that sparked a fresh creative trajectory. This led to the creation of crypto-themed AR paintings and, subsequently, his immersion in the dynamic and thrilling realm of NFTs.
I see myself as a traditional painter with a deep fascination for the intersection of art and technology. I take pleasure in delving into how new technologies can be harnessed in my art to create more interactive and engaging experiences for the viewer or to augment and transform the viewer’s perception of my work.
Krista Kim : Krista Kim is a notable Canadian-Korean contemporary artist and the metaverse editor for Vogue Singapore. She is renowned for her innovative approach, incorporating light, digital technology, and sound into her artistic creations. Her diverse portfolio includes touring installations, displays, and the sale of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), some of which were developed in collaboration with major corporations. Kim describes the overarching concept of her art as “Techism,” employing techniques and media such as LED lights and gradients to craft her works. Notably, she collaborated with Lanvin on a clothing collection in 2018.
In 2021, one of Kim’s groundbreaking projects, “Mars House,” was hailed as the first virtual house sold as an NFT. It fetched over $500,000 in Ethereum (ETH) tokens, a popular cryptocurrency. This NFT was designed using video game software, featured music by Jeff Schroeder of The Smashing Pumpkins, and included interoperable 3D digital files, enabling the owner to integrate the structure into their preferred metaverse platform. Kim is also the founder of the Techism movement, which acknowledges technological advancement as a distinct form of art.
Grimes :In 2021, Grimes, the Canadian musician and producer also known as Claire Elise Boucher, made a substantial income from non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which turned out to be one of her most significant sources of revenue. During an interview with Wired magazine, she was asked if she earned more money from NFTs than from her entire music career, to which she simply replied, “yeah.” During the 2021 NFT hype, Grimes sold her “War Nymph” NFTs on the Nifty Gateway platform, generating around $6 million in revenue. This collection featured a series of digital artworks synchronized with her music and a unique music video that fetched nearly $400,000. While NFTs have seen a decline in trading volume in popular culture since the start of the year, Grimes expressed optimism in the technology’s potential to continue benefiting artists and creators in the future.
Grimes expressed her disappointment with the rapid commercialization and financial focus that impacted the NFTs and crypto space, saying, “I’m sad about what happened to NFTs and crypto because it got polluted fast with people trying to make as much money as possible.” Nevertheless, she emphasized her desire to explore ways of fairly compensating artists, particularly digital artists, in the evolving landscape.
Grimes is not only interested in NFTs but is also optimistic about Web3. In October 2021, she, along with artist Lil Nas X and influencer Bella Poarch, contributed videos to TikTok’s “Top Moments” NFT collection on the social media platform. Furthermore, in March 2022, she spoke at the Avalanche Summit in Spain, where she outlined her intentions to develop a metaverse children’s book. She planned to receive support from the Web3 artificial intelligence platform OP3N and leverage Avalanche’s $100 million fund to drive development on the network, highlighting her commitment to exploring the potential of Web3 and the metaverse.
FEWOCiOUS :FEWOCiOUS, a rising star in the art world at just 20 years old, frequently emphasizes his passion for creating as a central aspect of his identity. His artworks serve as windows into his memories and emotions, radiating vibrancy and profound sentiments. Originally from Las Vegas and now residing in New York, he embarked on his artistic journey at the age of 13, using digital art as a refuge and means of self-expression as a young transgender artist. At 17, FEWOCiOUS made his first art sale, and within a year, he realized his dream of moving to Seattle, enabled by the success of his NFT drops.
In June 2021, he made history by hosting a groundbreaking and record-breaking auction with Christie’s Auction House in honor of “Pride Month,” which achieved a remarkable $2.16 million in sales. In March 2021, he collaborated with RTFKT, creators of next-gen sneakers and collectibles, bridging the realms of fashion and gaming. Each NFT in the auction included a real-world pair of shoes or other fashion items, amassing over $3 million in sales within seven minutes. Moreover, FEWOCiOUS released “Fabricated Fairytales” in early 2021, a drop created in collaboration with best friends parrott_ism, odious, and Jonathan Wolfe. His journey reflects both artistic passion and remarkable success in the world of NFT art.
FEWOCiOUS has continued to make waves in the NFT art world with his recent FEWOWORLD “paint drop” on Nifty Gateway. This event featured a limited 24-hour public sale of NFTs and astonishingly generated $20 million in sales. It attracted collectors from all corners of the globe and secured the distinction of being the third-highest-grossing auction in the history of the NFT marketplace.
Prior to this, he made a notable appearance in Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Day Sale in London, where he auctioned his very first life-sized physical sculpture. This sculpture, a handmade and hand-painted suit encased in an acrylic box, marked the inception of the FEWOWORLD metaverse fashion and generative customizable character drop. It fetched an impressive $2.85 million at the auction.
With nearly $50 million in art sales to his name, FEWOCiOUS has undeniably established himself as one of the most prominent and influential NFT artists of our time, making a significant impact on the contemporary art scene.
How Much Money are NFT Artists Making?
The first half of 2021 witnessed an astounding surge in the NFT art market, with sales skyrocketing from $13.7 million in 2020 to an extraordinary $2.6 billion, marking an impressive 18,881% increase, as documented by NonFungible.com. Average prices for NFT art pieces also experienced a substantial ascent, climbing from $21 in June 2020 to $1,256 by June 2021.
However, these numbers tell only part of the story. The NFT art landscape is characterized by considerable concentration, with a select group of prominent artists and platforms dominating the majority of sales and revenue. Notably, the top 10 NFT artists collectively accounted for 64% of the total sales volume, and Beeple alone amassed an astonishing $582 million, constituting over a fifth of the entire market.
The influence of key platforms on NFT art pricing and visibility is equally evident. DappRadar.com, a blockchain application observer, highlights OpenSea ($1.8 billion), CryptoPunks ($445 million), and Art Blocks ($328 million) as the three primary platforms for NFT art sales in the past month. These platforms offer a range of features, including curated collections, auctions, secondary markets, and opportunities for interaction.
Earnings for NFT artists are influenced by factors such as their reputation, marketing strategies, the rarity of their creations, and market demand. The successes of NFT artists span a wide spectrum, from those achieving substantial multi-million-dollar revenues to others facing challenges in making sales.
The NFT art market experienced an extraordinary surge in the first half of 2021, with sales and prices reaching unprecedented heights. However, this boom comes with a caveat, as it reveals a notable concentration of power among a few influential artists and platforms. While the top 10 NFT artists dominated a significant portion of the market, Beeple’s massive earnings exemplify this trend.
Key platforms like OpenSea, CryptoPunks, and Art Blocks played a pivotal role in shaping the NFT art landscape, offering diverse features and driving substantial sales. The success of NFT artists depends on factors such as their reputation, marketing efforts, the rarity of their creations, and market demand, resulting in a wide spectrum of financial outcomes within the NFT art space.
The NFT art market remains dynamic and evolving, and its future trajectory will likely be shaped by ongoing developments, new artists, and shifts in market dynamics. While NFTs have brought new opportunities and challenges to the art world, they continue to captivate artists and collectors, and their impact on the broader art industry is a subject of ongoing discussion and exploration.