There are many NFT artists worldwide, and their NFT art ranges from sophisticated art compositions to fun and exciting craftwork depicting various animals. In this article, we’ll discuss the top five NFT artists you should know about. We’ll also dive into their use cases and where to buy NFT art. That said, if you run into terms and crypto terminology in this article that doesn’t seem familiar, be sure to check out our crypto terminology article for a complete list of all terms used in the blockchain and Web3 space.
Top 5 NFT Artists in 2022
On our list of top five NFT artists, NFT artist is Michael Joseph Winkelmann ranks as the most valuable. Also known as Beeple, he sold the NFT displayed below for upwards of $69 million (38,525 ETH). Beeple continues to make valuable art that is selling at record prices. Further, Beeple isn’t the only one making headlines in the NFT space. Artists such as Kevin McCoy, Dmitri Cherniak, Trevor Andrew, and Trevor Jones are also among our top five NFT artists.
What is an NFT?
First of all, what is an NFT? Why are people around the world paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, for what just appears to be a JPEG file? Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, can be digital assets of just about any kind. Art, music, digital land, and other digital assets. The term “non-fungible” means that the item is one of its kind and is not interchangeable because of its unique features. When someone buys an NFT, they buy all of the rights to that asset as well as the specific token that is etched permanently into the blockchain. So, how do NFTs reach such exorbitant prices?
Usually, two factors can determine the price or, rather, the value of an art piece. One factor is its rarity, and the other is the artist. When only one particular art piece exists, it can become highly valuable because of its rare nature. The art also has a lot of value if the artist is a high-profile one. For example, da Vinci’s painting of Salvator Mundi sold for a record $497 million. How in the world was a painting sold at such an exorbitant price? Well, it’s the only one of its kind and was painted by none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.
NFT art pricing is similar, aside from the fact that it’s a digital asset, not a physical one. Additionally, in the case of Beeple’s nearly $70 million NFT called “Everydays”, it’s a digital art that’s one of its kind and is created by one of the most well-known NFT artists. “Everydays” features a collection of unique work done by Beeple over the last 14 years, wherein the digital artist created a new piece of art every day.
Some NFTs also have utility. But what is utility? The utility is a use case or, in other words, purpose. In some cases, NFTs can be used to raise funds. Since blockchain provides a safe, secure, and easy payment process for anyone in any part of the world, it makes the donation process seamless. One example is when an NFT sold for roughly 16,953 ETH, or about $52.7 million at the time. The proceeds raised at the fundraiser funded the legal defense of the Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange. So, in this case, the utility of the NFT is what made it so valuable and high in price.
What Can Be Done with an NFT?
Essentially, the representation of ownership of a digital asset is one use case of an NFT. Digital assets can be anything from art, music, real estate, and land in the metaverse. Furthermore, no two NFTs are the same. Accordingly, each NFT has unique features and unique ownership and is non-interchangeable. Owners of NFTs are a public record, visible to anyone on the blockchain.
You can use NFTs in a variety of ways. Creating an NFT on the Ethereum network makes it compatible with anything built on that platform. For example, if an artist sells tickets on an Ethereum marketplace, an NFT can be exchanged for it. Additionally, artists can claim resale royalties directly from the NFTs while retaining ownership rights. Moreover, NFTs, like digital artwork, can also be used as collateral in a decentralized loan. The borrower can put up the NFT for collateral, the lender supplies the loan in exchange for a small amount of interest, and if the borrower cannot pay the loan, the loan provider keeps the collateral.
Our List of the Top 5 NFT Artists
Now that we’ve discussed NFTs, what they are, and their use cases, let’s look at the artists behind them. There are thousands of artists worldwide, and we’ll discuss the top five NFT artists you should know.
Digital and media artist, Kevin McCoy, is well known for the first ever NFT minted, “Quantum”. McCoy and technologist Anil Dash created the art piece. Further, it consists of a video by Jennifer McCoy, Kevin McCoy’s wife. McCoy originally registered the NFT with Namecoin and sold the piece to Anil for $4 during a live presentation at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC in 2014. In their presentation, McCoy and Dash referred to this technology as “monetized graphics”. Moreover, Quantum later sold for $1.4 million in 2021.
McCoy originally studied philosophy, then later transitioned to art as he discovered that he liked working with images rather than words. When he first saw art films, McCoy felt, “this is philosophy without words“. That is when McCoy began mixing hybrid media and genres. Furthermore, Kevin McCoy believes that artists are very significant in history, stressing that they should use the media of their time. When he first tried to spread the idea of tokenized art in 2014-2016, he didn’t have much of an audience and took a step back. Eventually, the Ethereum community adopted McCoy’s idea. After that, McCoy’s first NFT led the way for many other NFTs that followed after.
Michael Joseph Winkelmann (Beeple)
With over 2.4 million followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that Beeple is an NFT celebrity. He makes abstract digital art that conveys a variety of topics, including political, social, economic, and blockchain themes. He uses pop culture figures such as Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Donald J. Trump to make social and political commentary. But who is this Beeple guy, and how did he get his NFT fame?
Michael Joseph Winkelmann, better known as Beeple, was born and raised in Wisconsin. He later moved to South Carolina with his wife and two children. As one of the original founders of the “everyday” movement, Winkelmann has been creating digital art every day for the past ten years and posting it online. He hasn’t missed a single day yet.
Winkelmann and his family didn’t have high expectations for the first round of his NFT auction on Nifty Gateway. He spent the day tweeting his next work and answering questions from his potential buyers. Within minutes, his NFT art was selling for record numbers. At one point, the son of John Lennon, Sean Lennon, tweeted: “I can’t manage to do anything but watch these mfing beeple auctions tick down“, later adding, “god d**n Beeple Mania have mercy“.
Additionally, ten pieces sold that day and another eleven the next day. Beeple’s sales were record-breaking. With just one second remaining on the auction clock, Beeple sold his “The Complete MF Collection” piece for $777,777. Now, one might wonder how a digital piece of art can sell for the size of a one-bedroom New York City (NYC) apartment. But when you see his work, it really is a masterpiece of its own kind, depicting today’s news and etching it permanently into history via the blockchain.
Beeple’s collaborations include Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, deadmau5, Skrillex, Eminem, Avicii, One Direction, and many, many more.
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Dmitri Cherniak is a Canadian digital artist and computer scientist based in New York. He is most famous for his most recent work, the “Ringers Series”, and his preferred medium is digital automation. His Ringers Series generated an algorithmic edition of 1,000 unique pieces of generative images on the Art Blocks platform.
Cherniak minted his first NFT in 2019 for Jake Brukhman on OpenSea. Since then, he has created a “p5js” script stored on Ethereum via ArtBlocks, which allows digital artists to generate a unique generation of art via automation. Moreover, his Ringers Series, as pictured below, utilizes a variety of strings and peg layouts that create unique geometric designs without any human interaction.
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Formerly a professional snowboarder and olympian, Trevor Andrew is another NFT artist at the top of our list. He competed in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics before he retired because of an injury. As such, he turned his attention to music and art. In 2005, he signed a deal with Virgin Records and released his album, “Trouble Andrew”.
After coming up with a last-minute Halloween costume in 2012, Andrew “accidentally” created his alter ego, which would become known as “Guccighost”. Now known for his street art and digital designs, Andrew’s Guccighost brand blends fashion, intellectual property, and graffiti-style street art. His designs were so groundbreaking that Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, endorsed Andrew’s work and began a collaboration. The year-long partnership with Gucci included products such as prim pleated skirts with dripping paint, silver skull rings, and graffiti-covered Marmont handbags.
Now, Andrew is retiring the Guccighost brand with a single-sale NFT auction on MakersPlace. The NFT auction will sell a digitized studio called “The Life of Ghost” and include the entire collection, comprising 385 digital pieces, which will all populate in the buyer’s wallet.
Although he considers himself a traditional artist, Trevor Jones is fascinated by the collaboration of technology and art. He likes to paint pictures and then bring them to life through technology. Since his purchase of Bitcoin in 2017, Jones’ paintings have mostly been about cryptocurrency themes, ideas, and people. He sold his first-ever NFT, “EthGirl”, on SuperRare in late 2019 for 72.1 ETH (roughly $10,000 at the time). His collaboration with Alotta Money in creating EthGirl opened his eyes to the endless possibilities of art and blockchain technology.
Both in collaboration with other NFT artists and on his own, Trevor Jones has created some of the most famous and sought-after pieces. One of his best-known NFT pieces is his “Bitcoin Bull” on Nifty Gateway, which sold for a whopping $55,555.55. His most recent collaboration is with rapper and filmmaker Ice Cube.
Where are NFTs Sold?
When NFT sales were just starting, in the time of McCoy, there weren’t many platforms to choose from. Accordingly, McCoy used the only platform available at the time. Now, with the growing adoption of all things blockchain and NFTs, artists and buyers have many platforms to choose from. OpenSea, MakersPlace, Nifty Gateway, and SuperRare are just some of the many marketplaces available.
There are two things to consider when buying an NFT. The platform you choose will require cryptocurrency. Some platforms work with only one blockchain network, so it will be important to understand which network the marketplace links to so you can have the proper cryptocurrency for the exchange. For example, MakersPlace only sells NFTs with ETH tokens. So, both artists and buyers will need to have ETH tokens available to make any transactions.
Top 5 NFT Artists You Should Know About – Conclusion
Our top five NFT artists each have unique backgrounds and stories to tell. They each combine their talents with art and technology to create some of the most historical NFT purchases so far. Are NFTs really a big deal, and are we just witnessing the early stages of it? Or are they similar to the 90s hype of “Beanie Babies”? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, the NFT utility and use cases are promising. They make global fundraisers and events easy to fund, fast, and secure. The top five NFT artists of today may be in the history books as the “da Vincis” and “Picassos” of our time.
How blockchain technology and Web3 will be used and adopted by the masses will be determined over time. The technology is still in its infancy and poorly understood by the average person. The way we utilize NFTs now could be far from how they are utilized by future generations.
Want to know more about NFTs when it comes to development? See all the things you can build with our “How to Build a Web3 Website” article. The possibilities are endless, and you could become the pioneer of the next big trend in blockchain technology.