Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are all the rave as of the moment, particularly in digital art. NFT collectors and traders spent $22 billion on NFTs in 2021 alone.
OpenSea co-founder and chief technology officer Alex Atallah stated that the Ethereum NFT market in February 2021 generated sales 7450% higher than the same month in 2020. The aggregated sales per month, was roughly $77.5 million. Even popular culture got in on the act in Saturday Night Live, recognizing that NFTs were popular enough to be worth a parody.
Crypto Art has compiled lists relating to NFT sales, both top-selling NFT creators and the most expensive artworks. This list is based on artworks sold by NFT creators on the following marketplaces: Nifty Gateway, SuperRare, Foundation, MakersPlace, KnownOrigin, and Async Art.
In addition to influencer marketing, agencies like NeoReach and others are branching into NFT marketing, taking charge of this new industry development and the space it provides for creative digital campaigns.
As of May 1, 2022, collectors around the world have spent more than $37 billion in NFT marketplaces, quickly surpassing last year’s total transaction activity — and we are yet to enter the second half of the year!
The 14 Best-Selling NFT Creators in 2023:
On March 11, 2021, graphic designer Beeple made history for having sold the first-ever digital art collection as an NFT. Everydays: The First 5000 Days got sold for an incredible $69,346,250 at Christie’s. The collection was so highly prized as Beeple had created art every day for 5000 days. He had no idea that a 5,000-piece collection will establish him as one of the most significant contributors to the crypto art and NFT communities.
Mike Winkelmann, who prefers to go by Beeple online, is a graphic designer from Charleston, SC, USA. He dabbles in a variety of art fields, from digital artwork to short films, loops, and AR/VR content. He has worked on concert visuals for Justin Bieber, One Direction, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Zedd, deadmau5, and many more.
Beeple’s legendary sales from his Everydays collection was a force to reckon with. Aside from forever changing the lives of the graphic designer and his family, the NFT community had a newfound hope in the marketability of digital art and other assets on blockchain platforms. Thanks to Beeple, NFTs reached an all-new appreciation, and more brands are showing interest in adopting NFTs in their marketing and business plans.
Trevor Jones explores how technology, such as AR, NFC tags, video production, and animation can be used to more actively engage the viewer and enhance or alter their experience. The themes informing his work have become more and more intertwined with his cryptocurrency interests in recent times.
Based in the United Kingdom, Trevor Jones makes NFTs out of video clips of AR paintings. Jones has long been interested in testing the limits of technology-infused art. In 2012, the artist explored the compatibility of QR codes and oil paintings. Jones’ investments in Bitcoin back in 2017 has exactly led him to the present, where he has successfully made cryptocurrency, augmented reality, and paintings work together in harmony.
Jones’ The Bitcoin Angel is an excellent example of his passion for portraying crypto-themed AR paintings. The piece sold for at least $3 million on the very same day it was up for bidding. The Bitcoin Angel saved Jones when he was financially worse for wear, having barely enough to pay his bills.
FEWOCiOUS is living, breathing proof that success is not predetermined by age. At 19, Victor Langois is already brandishing an established following and a lucrative career in digital art, thanks to the crypto art and NFT communities.
FEWOCiOUS made a world record in June 2021 with Christie’s website crashing due to the overwhelming volume of collectors interested in bringing home the young NFT artist’s creations. The auction had to be rescheduled to further prepare the system for handling a large number of users. Not to mention, FEWOCiOUS is also the youngest artist to be featured by the prestigious auction house.
Just last April, FEWOCiOUS broke his personal record yet again, selling $20 million worth of Paint Drop NFTs for FEWOWORLD, an upcoming generative art project. Paint units are the fundamental building blocks in FEWOWORLD, and owners of Paint units can purchase NFT art pieces.
FEWOCiOUS’ dreamy and whimsical art style stirs deep-seated emotions in their audience. Making digital art is an escape for them from their rough and abusive childhood; earning a profit from said digital art, on the other hand, makes FEWOCiOUS feel seen and appreciated.
Pak is a successful crypto artist with a veil of mystery to their identity. Little is known about Pak, aside from operating the popular Twitter account, Archillect, and running the Undream Studio. Pak, as elusive and faceless they may be, have long been part of the ever-evolving crypto art space.
Pak released several digital artworks across marketplaces like the Nifty Gateway and Sotheby’s.
Just in time for the Nifty Gateway’s two-day sale special, Pak launched Merge, an NFT project that is expected to grow over time. Despite the ambiguity of the project, at least 28,000 collectors rushed to avail of the newly-dropped units. Pak made over $91 million with the Merge collection, easily bumping them up on the ranks as the world’s most expensive artist (among the living).
Toronto-based Mad Dog Jones launched his art career with 15 pieces of artwork he worked hard on for over two years. With exposure and a loyal following on Instagram, Mad Dog Jones’ AFTERL-IFE WORLD art exhibit at Diesel Art Gallery in Shibuya, Japan 2019 was a success. His digital artwork featured bright neon colors lighting up the cyberpunk art style depicting technology, suburban surroundings inspired by Japan, and nature.
Mad Dog Jones, or Michah Dowbak, is a digital artist who began by printing physical pieces of his artwork for the world to see and experience. Today, Mad Dog Jones explores the profitable space of the NFT marketplace.
And profit he did. Thanks to his reputation on Instagram, Mad Dog Jones’ endeavors in NFT art were positively met by brands and collectors. Boardwalk was one of his first pieces to be available for bidding on Nifty Gateway in February 2021. It was a video clip of Mad Dog Jones’ signature cyberpunk art style, with flashing neon lights to strike an emotion in the viewer. The NFT art sold for $388,888.
Since then, Mad Dog Jones saw success and growth potential in NFTs. He would go on to explore generative art, which involves an algorithm manipulating ideas, colors, shapes, and the overall composition of the artwork based on the rules you input.
The digital artist’s generative art, REPLICATOR, was also well-received. It depicts a photocopy machine going through the ins and outs of life, experiencing random paper jams- an analogy to getting stuck at some point in one’s lifetime, and a trigger to generate a unique NFT artwork. REPLICATOR was a visual experience, and the first generation of the artwork sold for $4,144,000 at an auction held by Phillips, an auction house for artwork, contemporary design pieces, jewelry, and more.
Italian duo Nadia Squarci and Sergio Scarlet bring to life the elusive work of Hackatao. Hackatao’s name comprises of two words: Hack, for the elation of discovering what’s hidden under the skin, and Tao, for the dynamic balance between Yin and Yang. Hackatao’s art style easily stands out from the crowd in true, Hackatao style: haunting and bewitching.
Hackatao began their career in art in the traditional space: making decorated ceramic figures. From there, they tested the waters of digital art and 3D modeling. Hackatao’s signature bold black lines of doodles contrasting the stark white backgrounds eventually took form and dominated NFT marketplaces.
The striking pieces of Hackatao captivate the viewer with just one glance. Their art would typically revolve around the themes of society, humanity and cryptocurrency, symbolism, gaming, and references to the long history of art.
In 2018, Hackatao published their first NFT, Girl Next Door, on SuperRare. Since then, Hackatao dedicates most of their time to enriching the crypto art community with more pieces, engaging in discourse with other artists, collaborating, and testing the limits of art and technology.
Hackatao immediately rose to fame in the crypto community with their above-average sales.‘Kim Jong Un – “Dead and Alive” Edition was a top-selling piece, having been sold at $360,132.08.
XCOPY is an anonymous crypto artist from London. They have earned a reputation in the crypto and NFT communities with the iconic Right-click and Save As guy NFT. The artwork was meant to be a meme for the crypto and NFT skeptics who believe that purchasing digital art and other collectibles is insignificant when saving graphics is as simple as a few mouse clicks.
The meme, now also functioning as XCOPY’s profile picture on social media platforms, has been the go-to material for crypto and NFT advocates to retort back on antis. When XCOPY put up the artwork for bidding, celebrity and NFT collector Snoop Dogg bought the piece for $7 million.
This wasn’t the first time the celebrity bought an artwork from XCOPY. Snoop Dogg has also bagged Some Asshole for $3.9 million. His high prices raise the market value of XCOPY’s works, and today, the artist is among the best-selling and highly-anticipated creators in the crypto art community.
XCOPY’s art style gives off a vibrant, abstract vibe featuring glitch effects, static overlays, and a dystopian perspective. In 2021 alone, XCOPY successfully sold more than 1900 art pieces. Who knows what 2023 has in store for the artist?
From Boston is a digital collage artist named Mike Parisella, also known as slimesunday to his followers and the crypto art community. Slimesunday is a digital collage artist, sharing most of his design portfolio on Instagram.
Slimesunday pushes the limits of what is acceptable in mainstream media, exploring bizarre and erotic topics. His artworks can be found on publications like Playboy, Penthouse, Hunger, Plastik, and Glamour Magazine.
The erotic nature of a good fraction of slimesunday’s work forces him to face the brunt of censorship issues. Instagram is quick to flag down any content its algorithm deems as inappropriate or potentially harmful to other audiences. To work around this challenge, slimesunday seamlessly blended nudity with everyday objects, natural imagery, and textural elements, successfully evading Instagram's censorship algorithms for over a year.
Eventually, Instagram caught up and flagged most of his work. In retaliation for the blatant omission of his artwork, slimesunday wrote Banned from the Internet, a book wherein he shares his artwork and sentiments about the Internet’s censorship and privacy issues.
Slimesunday did not stop there. Exploring the possibilities in the crypto art space, the artist tokenized his old works, where he found NFT collectors that appreciate his artistry. Slimesunday also began to explore other art styles, with original texture tool collections for digital painting and reimaginings of classic paintings taking up most of his marketplace today.
Slimesunday also ventures into other forms of NFT art. Together with fellow NFT creator and music producer 3LAU, slimesunday directed the audio for their audio-visual project, SSX3LAU. The project has successfully sold music and artwork for over $7.5 million.
Justin Blau, more commonly known by his stage name 3LAU, stands out as the sole NFT creator whose content revolves around music. As an electronic music producer, 3LAU has taken it upon himself to leverage the profitability and secured data-sharing features of the blockchain and NFT marketplace to sell the world’s first tokenized album.
Ultraviolet, the collection of album NFTs, was positively anticipated, generating over $11.6 million in online sales in under 24 hours during the last weekend in February 2021. One song sold for more than $3.6 million on his custom-made digital-token auction site. The 33 top bidders at his auction each received an Ultraviolet vinyl NFT.
3LAU plans to use the money from his NFT sales to subsidize losses during COVID19 due to canceled concert tours. Despite the lack of concerts, 3LAU is still capable of sharing his passion for music through SSX3LAU, the collaborative NFT project he and slimesunday worked on to bring together visual art and studio in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Musician and multimedia artist Grimes is among the first celebrities to join the crypto art community not as a collector but as a creator. The celebrity’s otherworldly artistry is certain to appeal to crypto art collectors. Sure enough, Grimes is relishing the success of her first venture in the marketplace in no time.
Grimes sold a series of 10 digital artworks on February 28, 2021. Some were one-of-a-kind, while others had thousands of copies. The highest price went to Death of the Old, which includes flying cherubs, a cross, a sword, and a distinct glowing light, all set to play to an original song by Grimes.
Two popular works with thousands of copies are titled Earth and Mars. These short video clips perfectly embody Grimes’ perceptions of the world, always bordering on the fixation on higher-level beings and the endless void of the cosmos.
11. Greg Mike
Atlanta-based mural artist Greg Mike keeps the spirit of graphic design, street art, and skate culture in his much-awaited participation in the crypto art community. His digital artwork features vibrant characters with animated expressions and distinctive features, keeping the perfect balance of child-like wonder and the mischief of an adult.
Growing up, Mike never ran out of creative inspiration. A blank wall was more than enough to keep his mind and hands busy, spraying on color after color to cast a cartoon character from old TV shows to liven up the public spaces.
Intertwined Plasma is Mike’s biggest sale, selling for $50,000 on Nifty Gateway. Successful bidders of Mike’s NFTs also receive customized official freebies from the artist.
12. Dmitri Cherniak
Canadian visual artist Dmitri Cherniak revels in the success of his geometric artworks among NFT collectors. Cherniak leverages the algorithmic genius of generative art to come up with some of the most unique and intriguing compositions to fill a digital canvass.
Cherniak’s art style typically consists of a few bright colors as the artwork’s highlight, with the rest of the elements left in black and white. His artworks are some of the top-selling NFTs, selling at an average price of $112,365.
13. Tyler Hobbs
Tyler Hobbs is perhaps the best at programming algorithms to produce the most appealing and eye-catching art pieces. Once a computer engineer, Hobbs is the creator of the popular 999-piece Fidenza NFT collection.
Hobbs immaculately fills the canvass with shapes of different sizes, fitting altogether like a perfect puzzle. The allure of the different patterns Fidenza can come up with keeps collectors on their toes. Are we even surprised at this point that Snoop Dogg is among Hobb’s buyers?
The Fidenza NFT collection made Hobbs at least $177 million, and that amount is from secondary sales alone. Hobbs’ flexibility with generative art makes him a staple NFT creator in the space. In fact, another of his art collection, Incomplete Control, sold out immediately before the actual artworks could drop. The 100-piece collection sold out at $7 million.
14. Monica Rizzolli
Monica Rizzolli is also one to harness generative art to offer collectors a soft and ephemeral reimagining of the elements of nature. The Brazilian artist places emphasis on color combinations to make sense of the canvass.
Gentle strokes and curves are all that comprise Rizzolli’s artwork, yet each piece comes out just as unique and incomparable. At present, Rizzolli’s highest sale sits at around $30,000.