NFTs, still in their nascent stage of development, have already brought blockchain technology to the mainstream audience through digital art and collectibles.
Since the explosion of NFTs into pop culture and mainstream consciousness, most of the NFT volume has been concentrated in digital assets such as PFPs (profile pictures), digital art, generative art, and memes. While these genres still remain well-known and notable, other genres in the mediums of anime, music, short AI-generated art and performance are emerging from the crypto community. Let's take a deeper dive into each genre and art form.
The overall NFT market has seen a growth in minting and trading volume since the market pullback in March. PFP projects still dominate the NFT market with the highest market cap and trading volume, according to Nansen. Utility is a major value driver in these PFP projects, such as the top blue-chip PFP project Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
However, the crypto art market has championed single editions with significant sales by the likes of Beeple’s Everyday's: The First 5000 Days, Julian Assange and Pak’s Clock, and XCopy’s Right-click and Save As Guy.
On Portion, we are already celebrating works in digital art, digital fashion, generative art, meme, photography and comic art, from artists such as generative artist Monica Rizzoli, digital fashion designer Meggie van Zwieten, 3D afrofuturist DarkMythst, and hundreds of others.
This article seeks to keep up with new digital artists and their works in highlighted digital trends of PFP, digital art, and photography, as well as identify rising NFT genres such as Anime, Music, and Performance in the crypto art scene.
Profile picture NFTs or PFP for short are projects surging in popularity as more and more collectors are using the NFTs as literal profile pictures on social media platforms such as Twitter. These collectibles have the largest share of the overall NFT market, usually issuing a large number of unique images or characters in each collection. Cryptopunks, the leaders of it all, have 10,000 unique avatar NFTs in its collection, similar to Bored Ape Yacht Club, World of Women, as well as the newest PFP project, Moonbirds from the PROOF Collective.
Beyond the artwork itself, there are perks of having a membership in a particular community. Owners receive all the utilities that come with being a holder; the entitlement for future airdrops and access to future project development are more valued by collectors.
The explosive rise of Moonbirds has created something revolutionary in the PFP and NFT space, not only has it raised nearly $60 million USD within one day of its launch, the artwork of Moonbirds is thoughtfully designed. Moonbirds attributed to a diverse background of advisors, inherited the fantastic innovation from BAYC on holders owning 100% of the IP for their PFPs and introduced a future nesting mechanism to reward long-term holders.
Digital art was at the forefront of NFT adoption in early 2021 and is still leading in one-of-a-kind 1/1 NFTs. 3D art is one of the most popular mediums seen on various NFT marketplaces, such as SuperRare and Portion.
3D art combines art and technology resembling the future that is crypto and eventually the metaverse. Perhaps the technological nature and its distinguished aesthetic are the reason NFT collectors are attracted.
A beautiful piece and example from one of our Portion artists is Malineide. Malineide was created by visual and CGI artist Berenice Golmann, expressing this NFT as a liquid flower from the greater North of Brand New World.
The Singaporean 3D virtual model creator, Shavonne Wong, and fashion photographer, Lenne Chai, collaborated on a series to document their lives and curate their fond memories. By Proxy is a 3D model work curated by Quantum that brings diversity and questions if our memories can truly be manipulated and sculpted digitally from our desired version of the truth into a digital asset.
Photography NFTs have been a big theme since late 2021 and are still going strong in 2022. The CEO of Quantum Art and LA-based photographer, Justin Aversano, sold his crypto art, "Twin Flames #83. Bahareh & Farzaneh Safarani," at Christie’s for a landmark result of $1,100,000 as the first photography NFT offered at a major auction house. This 100-piece photography collection is in honor of his fraternal twin and aims to create a body of work focused on the existence of multiple births and the phenomena of twindom through an immersive portrait.
Subsequently, his “Twin Flames #49. Alyson & Courtney Aliano” from the same collection was sold for 871 ETH, about $3,000,000. The work and the 871 ETH fund became the treasury of the RAW DAO, a DAO to support photographers and collect photography NFTs.
Many photographers are shining through Portion, such as photographer Brandt Ryder with his high dimensionality landscape and nightscape works, as well as Ante Badzim who captures the honest beauty of the Middle East in his work Nomad through his minimalist imagery approach.
While PFP, digital art and photography are still some of the leading genres within the crypto art world, we are starting to see momentum in emerging genres like Anime, Music, Performance and Video.
Azuki launched in January this year with sales volume surpassing BAYC in April, kickstarting a new demand and trend for Anime NFTs. Arnold Tsang, former character art director at Blizzard Entertainment, is the lead artist of Azuki's 10,000 avatars.
Although Azuki’s role for setting up the Anime-themed trend in NFT cannot be replaced, the recent scandal has catastrophically hit the floor price and the image of this project. On May 10th, a blog post by one of the founders of Azuki named Zagabond revealed the success of Azuki was built on the learning experiences from his past projects, which included CryptoPhunks, Tendies and CryptoZunks. All three mentioned projects were “abandoned” by the original founders, and the growing anger from these communities toward him resulted in a massive sell-off with a floor price low of 8.1 ETH on May 12th, compared to a floor of 30 ETH on May 3rd, 7 days before the news.
Anime fans have an estimated number of 100 million worldwide, according to a recent article written by Alex Leon. The demand for Anime genre NFTs cannot be overstated. Following the success of Azuki, many other Anime genre projects have been seen on the market such as Shinsei Galverse, Anata, Kiwami and many others.
A relatively new but increasingly popular genre in the NFT space, music NFTs are gaining steam within the marketplace and communities. This genre has been heavily lead by collectors and industry leaders such as Grimes, 3LAU, RAC and platforms such as Audius. The direct artist-to-fan interaction provides a new way for these artists to monetize their work without the need for a record label or streaming service, thus making the creative process more captivating and enticing.
NFTs took the digital art world by storm for a clear reason: the art world simply isn’t as burdened by copyright law and industry gatekeepers. Music, on the other hand, has many more difficult obstacles to overcome. Any stream of a song is technically copyright-enforceable, which complicates ownership and distribution. Third parties and middlemen like streaming platforms often sit between a musician and their fans and the music industry is infamous for picking legal battles before simply embracing new technology.
Yet, we are seeing an impassioned community of artists, builders, and a new wave of investors that are committed to an underlying mission to realign incentives, disrupt antiquated industries, and give artists the chance to sustain themselves independently. This isn’t just about circumventing record labels. We’re talking about entirely new revenue streams and engagement models enabled by smart contracts that allow artists to build more successful and sustainable careers.
Many mainstream musicians have joined the NFT game, like Snoop Dogg, RAC, and Kings of Leon. Independent musicians and crypto-native musicians have emerged from this movement, such as Daniel Allan and RŌHKI, and are able to leverage music NFTs to build an audience, community, and financial instrument for their artistic creations.
The most recent drop from Portion, a collaboration of Canadian singer Kiesza, visual artist Luke Didlo and MetaMoves, combines music, 3D visualization, utility, and motion into this 1/1 NFT—PASSENGER.BOT. This exclusive auction piece and musical NFT digital files, in general, continue to present new ways for musicians to collaborate together and connect with their listeners.
Performance / Video
This genre has involved and invited many crypto-native NFT projects, ranging from short films, video art, music videos, audiovisual, and even derivatives of theatrical performances.
Presented as a NFT—the short film The Death of David Cronenberg— is a one-minute film collaboration between the Canadian film director David Cronenberg and his daughter and Photographer Caitlin Cronenberg. In this film, David Cronenberg explores mortality, metamorphosis of life and death to embrace his own death and the circle of life.
A year in the making, the Madonna and Beeple collaboration Mother of Creation is a series of 3 NFTs. The triptych connects Madonna’s original text, music lyrics and Rumi’s poem with Beeple’s 3D visualization in nature’s journey for creation with the backdrop of technology.
The Future for Digital Artists
NFTs and the fast-changing digital world unlock the potential for many different ways of collaboration between interdisciplinary artists and allow them the ability to create digital artworks that are crypto-native; pushing the envelope on new genres and aesthetics of NFTs and the digital art market.
The future depicted by these NFT trending genres is intriguing. While many people are concerned about the ramifications of the metaverse and the progression and evolution of the digital art marketplace, it certainly has a promising future.