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Best of 2021: Top 12 NFT Artists and Crypto Art Projects


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Since the conception of art, many paintings, drawings, and sculptures have existed in the physical world. As technology has advanced, so have the ways for making and experiencing art. More and more artists are creating work digitally, and many of their pieces exist purely as pixels on a screen. However, just because we’re not able to hold these artworks in our hands, it doesn’t mean they’re less valuable. In fact, digital art is quickly becoming one of the most valuable art forms of our time. The art world is rapidly changing with the introduction of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. In particular, 2021 has seen a spike in digital art sales, with many high-profile artists and brands exploring new ways of selling their work through blockchain technology.

Even centuries-old auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s see the value in crypto art. One of the first high-profile NFT art sales was auctioned at Christie’s when artist Beeple sold a digital collage for $69 million. And Sotheby’s recently launched Sotheby’s Metaverse, an online platform designed for digital art collectors to bid on a curated selection of NFTs.

As a year that's been huge for NFTs, especially in the art world, it's only natural to take a look back. But before we do, it's important to know what an NFT is.

What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non-fungible token. They are unique and non-interchangeable units of data that are stored on a secure digital ledger (blockchain). Essentially, since they each have their own encryption code that cannot be hacked, they are certificates of authenticity. An NFT tracks the creator of the digital artwork, its market value, and its ownership. This makes it possible to authenticate an NFT just like you could authenticate a traditional painting.

NFTs have existed since 2015, but they didn’t gain popularity until 2020. Then in 2021, the crypto art market really boomed. Read on to discover the best NFT artists and projects of 2021.


Some of the Top NFT Artists and Projects of 2021




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A post shared by beeple (@beeple_crap)

After selling an NFT collage for a record-breaking $69 million at Christie’s, Mike Winklemann—who goes by the artist name Beeple—is now the third most valuable living artist (after David Hockney and Jeff Koons). The digital artwork is titled Everydays: the First 5,000 Days, and features a collage of 5,000 digital images created by Winkelmann for his Everydays series. The 13-year-long project involved creating a new artwork every day and posting it online. The incredibly prolific artist continues to make and share art almost daily, and he’s even worked on concert visuals for Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Childish Gambino, Nicki Minaj, Eminem, and more.

Beeple: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | OpenSea



World-renowned street artist Vhils jumped into the NFT world this year with a project called The End of the Industrial Era. Typically known for his (literally) explosive art that turns crumbling façades into canvases for poignant portraits of voiceless locals, Vhils decided to turn his process into a series of NFTs. He decided to use his unique technique to turn a dilapidated building in Portugal into an ephemeral art piece. The building underwent an explosion, a portrait reveal, and imploding destruction within two seconds. The entirety was captured on video, which was then auctioned off on Nifty Gateway, a digital art auction platform for non-fungible tokens that began a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s.

Vhils: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Nifty Gateway


Alexa Meade

Earlier this year, artist Alexa Meade chatted with us (via the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast) about NFTs and the forthcoming art revolution. She has since held several successful auctions. In this new digital era of auctioning, Meade has found a way to turn her body painting masterpieces into digital collectibles for art connoisseurs. Her work was previously only available as physical, limited edition photo prints, but NFTs have allowed admirers to now own her video art pieces that can be viewed in motion, as the artist originally intended.

Alexa Meade: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Tik Tok | NFTs | Nifty Gateway



Brooklyn, New York-based art collective BREAKFAST is best known for its kinetic art installations that fuse technology and art. Their interactive displays allow onlookers to become part of the art. Now, they've turned a physical kinetic artwork—titled Longyearbyen Warming—into an NFT that seeks to raise awareness about climate change while also providing a portion of proceeds to Teen Cancer America. Artist and BREAKFAST's co-director Zolty says, “What makes this NFT artwork unique is that, while it looks like it was digitally rendered, it is actually a video that was shot of a kinetic artwork at a very important moment in history—the COP26 climate change summit.” Within hours of the auction held by ArtRepublic during Miami Art Week, the NFT sold for $85,000.

BREAKFAST: Website | Facebook | Instagram | NFTs




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A post shared by Hashmasks collectors (@hashmasks.nft)

Hashmasks is a Ethereum-based virtual art gallery collection with 16,384 unique digital portraits created by 70 artists from around the world. Buyers can customize their portrait based on character type, mask style, eye color, and other details. The makers say, “All Hashmasks are rare, but some are rarer than others.”

Hashmasks: Website | Twitter | OpenSea




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A post shared by FEWOCiOUS (@fewocious)

18-year-old Victor Fewocious (simply recognized as FEWoCIOUS) is an American transgender artist that began making digital art in a bid to overcome boredom and feelings of isolation. He sold his first painting at 17; and within a year, he sold a series of NFTs that grossed over $17 million. His artwork focuses on capturing snapshots of his own memories and his feelings around growing up.

FEWoCIOUS: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | OpenSea


John Orion Young (JOY WORLD)


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A post shared by JOY (@johnorionyoung)

John Orion Young is a 3D artist who sells animated characters and figurines as NFTs. One of his collections is a series of “Joy” characters that are “handmade in virtual reality.” Each collectible NFT looks like a surreal creature from another world and comes with a unique magical power. Young’s most recent NFT, titled The Persistence of Time, is a slug-like creature that is “sliming through the cosmic verses on a thick slick of meta-melting-mucus.”

John Orion Young: Website | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube | OpenSea


Blake Kathryn


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A post shared by (@blakekathryn)

LA-based Blake Kathryn describes herself as a “3D artist with surreal, futuristic aesthetics.” Her eye-catching work is characterized by vibrant color palettes and “ethereal undertones,” and often depicts feminine, robotic characters that look like something from a sci-fi film. Thanks to her successful NFT sales and commercial collaborations, Kathryn is currently one of the leading artists in digital illustration.

Blake Kathryn: Instagram | Twitter | OpenSea


Axie Infinity


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A post shared by Axie Infinity (@axieinfinity)

Inspired by Pokémon, Axie Infinity is a digital pet universe where players use their own cute characters called Axies in games (and earn money while doing so). More than a million users log onto the desktop and mobile platform daily to purchase land, gear, and take care of their Axies who they can choose to sell for crypto cash.

Axie Infinity recently made headlines when a Genesis Land Plot sold for 550 ETH (the Ether cryptocurrency), which was worth $2.3 million at the time of the sale. According to the Axie Infinity team, this is the “largest sum ever paid for a single plot of digital land.”

As of writing, Axie Infinity has had around 10 million sales and is valued at around $3.52 billion, making it the top NFT collection of all time.

Axie Infinity: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | OpenSea




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A post shared by CryptoPunks (@cryptopunks)

CryptoPunks are some of the earliest examples of NFTs. Created by Larva Labs, they are a collection of 10,000 unique, pixel art characters with proof of ownership stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Most of them look like punkish humans, but there are also some rare characters such as apes, zombies, and aliens. CryptoPunks were the inspiration for the standard interface for non-fungible tokens (called ERC-721)—also known as deeds—that now power most of the CryptoArt movement.

No two CryptoPunks are the same, and each one can only be owned by one person at a time on the Ethereum blockchain. All 10,000 are already claimed, so now people are either bidding for or selling their CryptoPunk.

According to the Larva Labs website,  the total value of all CryptoPunk sales is currently 594.2k ETH ($1.69 billion).

Larva Labs / CryptoPunks: Website | Twitter| OpenSea


Art Blocks


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A post shared by ArtBlocks (@artblocks_io)

Art Blocks is a “first of its kind” digital storefront that provides generative art that is stored on the Ethereum blockchain. Each piece of crypto art is created on demand, so the buyer doesn’t know what it will look like until it’s sent to their Ethereum account. Buyers simply choose a style of artist that they like. “The resulting piece might be a static image, 3D model, or an interactive experience,” explains Art Blocks. “Each output is different, and there are endless possibilities for the types of content that can be created on the platform.”

Art Blocks’ top piece of all time is an NFT called Ringers #109. The image—featuring a range of cog-like circles—sold for 2.1k ETH ($6.93 million). The entire Art Blocks collection is currently valued at $1.07 billion.

Art Blocks: Website | Instagram | Twitter| OpenSea


Bored Ape Yacht Club

Launched in April 2021, Bored Ape Yacht Club is a collection of 10,000 collectible ape characters living on the Ethereum blockchain. Each unique NFT generated from over 170 possible traits, including facial expression, fur color, headwear, clothing, and more. Each character doubles as a membership to an online “swamp club” for apes. “When you buy a Bored Ape, you’re not simply buying an avatar or a provably-rare piece of art,” say the makers. “You are gaining membership access to a club whose benefits and offerings will increase over time. Your Bored Ape can serve as your digital identity, and open digital doors for you.”

One of the most expensive Bored Apes was sold for 740 ETH ($2.99 million) and features a sailor’s hat and laser beams coming from its eyes. And a special-edition ape with gold fur was recently sold at auction for a record-breaking $3.4 million via Sotheby’s Metaverse.

Bored Ape Yacht Club: Website | Instagram | Twitter| OpenSea


Related Articles:

How NFTs Are Shaking Up the Contemporary Art World

JPG File Sells for Record-Breaking $69 Million at Crypto Art Auction

Basquiat Painting Sells for Over $50 Million in Sotheby’s Art Auction

World’s Only Carvaggio Mural Is Going on Auction for $547 Million

Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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