TOP NFT Artists To Watch And Appreciate In 2022
NFTs are not just about CryptoPunks or Bored Apes - learn more about the top artists making waves in the NFT space.
When you think of NFTs, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is apes, punks, and all kinds of different cets. Yes, those are a few of the most popular and expensive NFT collections, but there’s so much more to explore in the NFT space.
Blockchain technology and the explosion of non-fungible tokens have given artists a great opportunity to try new ways of selling their works and broadening their audience. Many of them have already taken this opportunity and suddenly became best-selling NFT creators, and many others are still on their way.
Curious who they are? Check the list below to find out what top NFT artists to watch this year and beyond. You’ll find some of the most well-known names as well as up-and-coming NFT artists that are definitely worth your attention.
What is NFT digital art?
First of all, let’s quickly go through the concept itself.
Digital art is something that the creator makes using technology. For instance, you can create an illustration using computer programs like Photoshop or similar – that we would call a digital artwork.
Now, how does this change when you add NFTs to it?
At first glance, it's impossible to say whether or not a specific artwork is an NFT or just a standard digital piece. Visually, there are no signs of it. The difference between digital art and NFT digital art lies in using another essential technology here – blockchain – that provides authenticity and an entirely new way of selling it.
Let’s take the same digital illustration as an example. Imagine that you have it finished – it’s a digital artwork. How does it become an NFT art?
There are platforms that allow you to turn that artwork into NFT, or mint it. For this, you will only have to upload the file and have sufficient funds in your crypto wallet to cover the fees. Once done, your artwork gets written to the blockchain and becomes an NFT.
Most popular NFT artists to keep on your radar
Have you heard about the most expensive NFT ever sold? It was a piece called “The Merge” by – you guessed it right – Pak, whose real identity remains unknown. Nearly 30K collectors pitched together to buy parts of this particular artwork, which was then sold for 91.8 million US dollars on December 4th, 2021.
Since Pak is anonymous, some people think that the artist might actually be a team of people or even an AI. Regardless of who he/she/they are, Pak continues to be one of the best NFT artists with a unique understanding of art and, turns out, great marketing skills that also is a big part of his success in the NFT world.
At the time of writing, Pak has already sold 66320 artworks worth nearly $400 million, making him one of the most impactful NFT artists to keep on your radar.
Another artist making waves with his NFT art is Mike Winkelmann, better known as Beeple.
He’s also one of the artists, just after Pak, “responsible” for one of the most expensive NFTs up to date – “The First 5000 Days” (a collection of 5000 images that each represents one day of his life between May 1st, 2007, and January 7th, 2021). The artwork was sold for 42329,5 ETH, or more than 69 million US dollars.
NFT art is not the only area that this American digital artist is interested in – Beeple uses various mediums to express his creativity and is also known for comical, phantasmagoric works that use pop culture as a reference. He's been into graphic design and digital art for over 15 years already, and the growing popularity of NFTs only helped him reach a whole new level on this journey.
3. Tyler Hobbs
Austin-based visual artist, Tyler Hobbs, who previously worked in computer engineering, is best known for his abstract artworks, created using algorithms, plotters, and paint. He mainly explores computational aesthetics, its connection with the natural world, and how all of this is shaped by the biases of modern computer hardware and software.
Hobbs is best known in the NFT world for his signature collection called Fidenza, which was written into the blockchain in June 2021. It consists of 999 art pieces, each depicting different patterns generated via the algorithm. Fidenza was sold for millions of US dollars (to be more specific, it has already earned Hobbs over $177 million in secondary sales) and made him famous in the NFT art space. Worth a follow!
Hackatao is an artist duo based in Italy that joined forces way back in 2007. For more than 10 years, Hackatao has been exploring more traditional ways of art, like sculpture, painting on canvas, and other techniques, building relationships with galleries and curators. In 2018 they discovered crypto art, and, as they say themselves, it allowed them to finally “express themselves in all their creative power outside the rusty dynamics of the traditional art world.”
Since then, Hackatao has been actively shaping the NFT space by participating in various activities and discussions to spread the word about crypto art and contributing to it with their works. The duo is currently one of the most well-known artists in the crypto community, with a total artwork value of nearly 40 million US dollars at the time of writing.
There's no way to leave out XCOPY when talking about the top NFT artists. Although the community doesn't know his real name, the pseudonym he chose is an integral part of the NFT world (some might even say legendary!) as he's one of the pioneers of crypto art and has been active from the very beginning.
XCOPY creates cartoon-like illustrations that can be easily distinguished from other artists if you’re familiar with the crypto art scene. Although his artworks are usually bright and colorful, the emotion behind them is often gruesome. The artist explores "death, dystopia, and apathy through distorted visual loops,” sometimes adding glitches to his artwork.
XCOPY’s total artwork value currently reaches more than $84 million, and his artworks continue to be hunted by collectors.
Slimesunday, or Mike Parisella, is a digital collage artist known for his courageous exploration of the boundaries in the mainstream media. Mostly erotic and bizarre, his provocative artworks constantly push the limits of what’s acceptable. One of his missions is to trick social media algorithms and avoid being banned for violating guidelines; and up until now, he’s managed to do it with his tasteful artworks that blend nudity and everyday life objects.
Since the start of his career as an NFT artist, Slimesunday has already earned his way to becoming one of the top-selling NFT creators. He’s been part of the projects created together with celebrities like Lana Del Rey, Katy Perry, J. Cole, and more, and currently works as an art director for 3LAU, DJ and electronic dance music producer.
7. Dmitri Cherniak
Dmitri Cherniak is one of those people who can combine coding and art, and this has been working really well for him. What’s different about Cherniak is that he creates generative art, which means that he uses automation to produce his pieces. In other words, he creates the process which can then automatically create art.
Dmitri is best known for his Ringers NFT collection which consists of 1000 pieces of art generated by his unique scripts. The collection features different combinations of string and peg layouts made without his direct involvement. One of the pieces from the collection, Ringers #109, was sold for a solid $6.9 million, putting the Ringers collection in a new light.
Dmitri Cherniak continues to be one of the best-known artists in the crypto space and keeps experimenting with generative art – so it's definitely interesting to keep an eye on what he can come up with next.
8. Giant Swan
Giant Swan (Travis Van Zanen) is an Australian virtual reality painter and sculptor who uses movement, shapes, and colors to build digital worlds. With the help of various VR tools, Giant Swan creates sculptured artworks that combine both traditional and digital mediums, making the final pieces look pretty surreal.
The artist first learned about the possibility of creating crypto art back in 2018, yet his real attempts to get into the NFT space started a year later. Giant Swan then noticed the potential in the emerging market and successfully hopped on the train. Now, he’s one of the top crypto artists shaping the NFT community, known for such collections as Young Demi-God, Soaked, Adorn, Blood Magic, and Don’t Return.
9. Trevor Jones
Trevor Jones is an amazing example of an artist that made a smooth transition from traditional art to digital, making the technology work in his favor. Although he still thinks of himself as a traditional painter first, Jones is fascinated by the value that the collaboration with tech can bring to his work. Therefore, he continues to work in this field, offering some great collaborations with some of the biggest names in the NFT space.
One of them is called Genesis – Jones created it together with José Delbo, a comic book designer from Argentina and a recognized NFT creator. Genesis shows the process of Delbo’s Batman pencil sketch becoming an oil painting, which was sold for $803,972.40.
He is only entering his 20s and is already one of the highest-selling NFT artists in the crypto space. Who? Introducing FEWoCIOUS!
FEWoCIOUS (Victor Langlois) started creating art because of two reasons – he was bored, and he felt that this was a good way to combat the feelings of isolation. Not only his art helped him cope with difficult times in his personal life, but it also made him one of the youngest NFT creators with a solid input in the NFT community. He's quickly gained popularity, even causing one of the auction houses, Christie's, to crash because of high traffic after releasing his NFTs collection.
FEWoCIOUS sold his first artwork in 2017, and this series has grossed him $17 million within a year. He’s now one of the most popular NFT artists who is full of creativity and surprises – and that's why you should stay on top of the latest updates related to this talented young man.
11. Cath Simard
Photography is another popular category of NFT art and is definitely worth making it to this list. One of the top photographers making waves in the crypto space with her breathtaking landscapes is Cath Simard.
She's become active in the NFT community out of frustration with how images and artists are treated online. One of her photographs went viral back in 2017, yet the author wasn’t really credited that much, not to mention receiving some monetary compensation.
She then turned that viral image, which is called #FreeHawaiiPhoto, into NFT and sold it for 100 ETH ($303,481), kickstarting her career as an NFT artist.
Now, when Simard isn’t out in nature, she’s an active member of an NFT community, also using it to raise environmental awareness.
Hats off to the artists!
Whether you're a fan of NFT art or are pretty skeptical about it, one thing is clear – these people are truly the best at what they do.
It's impossible to include all of the top NFT artists in such a list, and there is actually no need to do that. Art is something you either like or not, understand or feel lost about it, and there is only one way to enjoy it – find something that's appealing to you. And, once you do that, maybe even become a proud owner of the artwork by your favorite creator?