The world of crypto and NFT has surged dramatically over the past year. And NFT art has seen similar growth, exploding in popularity and value over 2021, with expectations of continued growth this year. Digital artwork is quickly increasing in popularity and acceptance, and a new era of art and artists is blossoming.
In 2021, artists emerged all over as NFT art soared to new heights. The art form was accepted by the art world in a new way, with some pieces being sold through auction houses with hundreds of years of history. One artist, Beeple, sold numerous pieces through auction, with one reaching nearly $70 million before being sold.
Now that the viability of NFT art has been proven, there will be far more interest. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on established NFT artists and those making waves in the space. There are many talented artists that are worth paying attention to as 2022 progresses.
It is hard to mention NFT artists without talking about Beeple, also known as Mike Winkelmann. Beeple is a huge name in the NFT art world. In fact, he is a big name in art as a whole right now. One reason for this is the quality of his work, which includes digital artwork with striking themes and impressive displays of motion and movement.
However, what really makes him stand out as an artist is how much success he found last year. The artist made history by selling one of his works for nearly $70 million. And many of his other works reached the million mark and beyond. If speaking about sales alone, Beeple is one of the most valuable artists in recent times, with pieces including:
- Everydays – The First 5000 Days
- Human One
- Ocean Front
Beeple’s work also took part in the movement of long-time auction houses accepting NFT artwork and selling it along with more traditional pieces. Christie’s, an auction house founded in 1766, auctioned multiple major works by Beeple, including Everydays – The First 5000 Days and Human One. Beeple is an artist with plenty more ahead.
There are a lot of things that make Pak interesting as an NFT artist, starting with the mystery shrouding them. There is almost nothing known about the artist, aside from the works they have created and some of what they are involved in. But one thing is certain, Pak is one of the people that have and will continue to change the scene forever.
The way Pak operates demonstrates a unique understanding of art, particularly the young brand of NFT art. They market in a way that most people could not even imagine, such as releasing nine identical works that differ in only two ways: price and name. To an extent, the artist creates more buzz with marketing and community than their art.
But the method is clearly successful, with Pak demonstrating how their unusual approach and use of influence can elevate something beyond reason. The culmination of all of this is the work The Merge. In December of 2021, The Merge sold for $91.8 million, making it the most expensive piece of NFT artwork ever sold.
However, The Merge did not go to a single person. Pak sold the piece of art in units known as “mass”. By the end, over 260,000 units of mass were sold to nearly 29,000 collectors. Pak’s understanding of the market and people makes them someone to keep watching going forward.
XCOPY is another anonymous artist that has made significant noise in the scene. Moreover, XCOPY has been around from the early days, making them one of the original artists in the NFT space. But that is not what attracts people to their art. Instead, the death and dystopian themes common in their work make them stand out.
Additionally, XCOPY has defined an iconic style that makes it hard to mistake their work for that of anyone else. When it comes to XCOPY pieces, you will notice:
- Rough, chaotic artwork that further emphasizes the dystopian theme
- Distorted visual loops that add animation and further chaos to the digital artwork
XCOPY has a massive body of work that exceeds 1,900 pieces. However, some of his most notable pieces are Right-click and Save As guy, which sold for around $7 million, and A Coin for the Ferryman, which went for over $6 million. You can expect to see more of XCOPY’s work in 2022, and it is sure to be as dark and unique as ever.
Mad Dog Jones
Another artist with a taste for the dystopian is Mad Dog Jones, otherwise known as Michah Dowbak. While not as dark-leaning as the previous artist, Mad Dog Jones does have a graphic style that displays a dystopian sci-fi feel. It pulls from the cyberpunk style, and it gained traction immediately when he hit the digital art scene in 2017.
Mad Dog Jones relies on hand-drawn or photography-rendered art. He then illustrates over the drawing or rendering, adding animation and effects to give it an appeal unique to digital art. The artist believes in using the tools at his disposal, taking an approach that leans into the many possibilities that digital art can tap into.
One of his largest works is Replicator, a piece that went for $4.1, making it one of the highest-grossing pieces at the time of sale. It was also one of the first NFT art pieces sold by an auction house.
As someone passionate about his work and excited to see the things to come in the digital world, Mad Dog Jones is someone who is unlikely to vanish from the scene. If anything, expect to see more.
There is no age barrier when it comes to art, and the same is true of NFT art. As long as creativity is there and people are interested in the work, any artist can make a name for themselves. Victor Langlois, better known as FEWOCiOUS, is one such example, finding success at the age of 17. Now, he is one of the top-selling NFT artists worldwide.
While the future is uncertain, especially in the fast-paced world of digital art, it would be surprising if FEWOCiOUS stops there. The young art prodigy is already a big name, selling one work, The Everlasting Beautiful, for over half a million dollars.
But what really makes the young artist stand out is the emotional journey detailed through his work. For FEWOCiOUS, art was a refuge, and his success is just proof that his talent and determination are taking him places. He is one of the next generation of artists, and what he does next is sure to be as exciting as what he has already done.
Not every piece of art is directly created by an artist. In fact, with generative art, the artist is only responsible for creating the process by which the art is created. In some cases, it is a machine, while in others, it is a computer program. The possibilities are limitless, and the same is true with Dmitri Cherniak’s art.
Cherniak is known for two NFT collections, with one being Ringers, a collection of 1,000 pieces of generative art. The basic concept of the collection is “strings and pegs”, but it gets more interesting when you learn there is a nearly limitless number of ways to wrap a string around pegs. The variation between the pieces in the Ringers collection include:
- Number of Pegs
- Wrap Orientation
- Color Flourishes
The Ringers collection also stands out due to Ringers #109, which sold for around $6.9 million. Cherniak has also seen success with his other collections. And he is still continuing to create art, primarily focusing on automation. It is worth watching for what he will create next. Then, you have to see what art his creation makes.
Hackatao is a duo that has been creating art since 2007. It was not until 2018 that they made a move to the blockchain, where their work took on a new form as NFT art. However, the duo hit the ground running, becoming heavily involved with the scene and gaining many fans and followers in the process.
One thing that makes Hackatao worth watching is the difference between the two artists. Their differences come through in their work, melding together to create something truly incredible. It makes sense, too, especially when you consider that “tao” refers to yin and yang, hinting towards the balance they find as a duo.
The artwork also contains a great deal of social commentary, spanning topics from art history to the environment. It is also common to find a contrast between black and white and vibrant color, which causes their detailed pieces to pop.
Larva Labs is another duo formed by a team of Matt Hall and John Watkinson. However, they are not primarily artists. Larva Labs does a number of things, including things like genomics analysis software. They like to experiment, and it just so happens that one of their experiments ended up as one of the most popular NFT projects ever.
If you are familiar with the world of NFT art, you likely know CyberPunks. The collection of 10,000 unique characters is among the rarest and most sought-after in the NFT world. In fact, in the past few months, many CyberPunk characters have gone for millions of dollars.
The duo continues to make art, too. A recent project called Meebits features 20,000 unique 3D voxel characters. Moreover, just like the CyberPunks collection, the Meebits are made using an algorithm, falling into the category of generative art.
Trevor Jones went to art school in his thirties, and he struggled to stay afloat as he pursued his creative aspirations. Originally, he created his works on canvas, but that gradually changed. His obsession with the connection between art and tech drove him forward, and innovation took over from there.
Some of Trevor’s earlier works include paintings of QR codes, and he delved into augmented reality as well. Moreover, Trevor’s love for putting dynamic animation in his art fits right in with the NFT art scene. While the artist himself thinks of his success as something crazy, it almost seems inevitable when his work and passion are considered.
Trevor is not someone to be satisfied with doing more of the same. His desire to explore and expand his creativity led him to collaborate with the artist Pak. Their clashing styles ended up blending into something simply breathtaking. He even started working with Ice Cube on quite the artistic journey.
Data is his pigment, and his painting brush is assisted by artificial intelligence. That is how Refik describes his process, though there is far more to it than that. Refik is an artist looking to explore the boundaries of what can be created. He has worked with architects, data scientists, musicians, and more to do that.
Refik even worked with NASA to create his Machine Hallucinations collection. Over two million images were used for the piece, all of which were collected by various space institutes. The images were then turned into six paintings created by AI data, an AR sculpture, and an NFT room.
The NFT room, in particular, is worth noting. It redefines art with immersive technology that allows it to be experienced and interacted with in a new way. Refik is an artist intent on taking art into the future. His artwork might reflect what one might see in a dream rather than reality, but it is here, and it can be experienced in incredible ways.
SlimeSunday is an artist that focuses on the bizarre and erotic. The topics explored in his art might teeter on the edge when it comes to mainstream media, but the world of NFT art has welcomed him with open arms. In fact, his success has led to the sale of around 6,800 pieces of NFT art and more than half a million followers on Instagram.
While SlimeSunday has seen a great deal of success with his digital collages, he does not only take on solo projects. He has also seen success as part of the ssx3lau duo with music producer and NFT artist 3lau. The partnership has led to some of SlimeSunday’s highest-selling pieces, showcasing his animation skills in the process.
Artists are always at the forefront, using their creativity to push boundaries and usher in a new wave of innovation. NFT artists are the same, creating a world of digital art that is redefining the definition of art itself. Moreover, with how quickly the art form is finding acceptance, more and more artists are flocking to the NFT space.