Crypto art vs crypto collectibles

Learn how crypto art differentiates from crypto collectibles


In the burgeoning world of NFTs, there are many different types of assets, but two of them have been in the spotlight: crypto art and crypto collectibles.

As described in the previous section, crypto art is simply defined: it represents digital art tokenized on a blockchain. The pieces are usually unique, although some artists choose to mint multiple editions (numbered) of the same work for multiple collectors to enjoy. Crypto collectibles, on the other hand, refer to items that can be created by a company, for example, and don’t necessarily include ”art”. They hold their value based on their rarity and scarcity. Most of the time, crypto collectibles’ projects will contain only a certain limited number of items, driving the demand up. In the physical world, the price of a collectible depends on how many copies of the same item are available, as well as its condition and the hype it is benefiting from. Examples of real world collectibles include coins, toys, comic books, stamps, cars and antiques. In the digital world, it’s relatively the same, except now you can collect all sorts of items, such as digital pets or avatars. In the past years, three distinct projects have garnered the most attention. Let’s dive into these projects to understand more of the appeal they might have for collectors.

On the CryptoKitties platform, one of the first "blockchain game", users can collect and breed creatures that are named CryptoKitties. Each creature has a unique genome that defines its appearance and traits and users can breed their own Cryptokitties to create new ones or unlock rare "cattributes". As per their site, "[...] CryptoKitties isn’t a digital currency, [but] it does offer the same security: each CryptoKitty is one-of-a-kind and 100% owned by you. It cannot be replicated, taken away, or destroyed."

When this project first started, it was seen as an interesting use case for the Ethereum blockchain and NFTs, and it soon became the project with the most gas used in Ethereum’s history, even going so far as to slow down the entire network.

The team behind CryptoKitties, Dapper Labs, was actually the one who invented NFTs as we know them today with the ERC-721 standard on the Ethereum blockchain.

CryptoKitties garnered the media attention multiple times, such as this article from BBC News: CryptoKitties craze slows down transactions on Ethereum. Back then, approximately $4.5m had been spent on CryptoKitties. Today, that number is up to $160m and still climbing.

The team that brought us CryptoKitties also brought us NBA Top Shots. They first ventured into the sports sector with the Curry Kitty, a Cryptokitty with Stephen Curry’s likeness. This drew the attention of major financiers in the crypto space, including Andreessen Horowitz, and they were able to raise up to $12m to create Dapper Labs.

NBA Top Shots are, in essence, 15 second GIFs showcasing some of the best moments in NBA history. From LeBron’s game winning dunk to Curry’s half court 3 pointers, any moment in the NBA’s extensive televised records can become a Top Shot. Basketball fans from around the world have already poured in millions of dollars into the project to try to get their hands on their favorite players' best moments. In short, they are the 21st century trading card, and they have opened up the door to many like it that will come in the near future. The NFL and NHL are starting to look into it, and soccer has already been conquered by Sorare. Any sport with a sizable fanbase could be the next in line.

Dapper Labs has recently announced a $305m funding round that features several high-profile investors led by Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant in order to grow the Flow blockchain and bring the same experience to other sports.

Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a limited NFT collection of 10,000 ape avatars that has become one of the most important brand in the NFT space. Each individual avatar is used as a ticket to an online social club. So far, the NFTs have brought about $1 billion in total sales.

The NFTs from this collection are particularly unforgettable to look at, mainly because of the popular themes each one address. They are very highly sought after by many, including popular figures like Eminem who bough one for 462,000$, Steph Curry, Logan Paul, The Chainsmokers, Paris Hilton, among many others.

The minimum price of a BAYC NFT starts at around 52 ETH, which equals to approximately 210,000$. They can be especially expensive because, not only is each Ape different and unique, some can own traits that are rarer than others. For example, golden fur and laser eyes can be considered so rare, less than one percent of all Apes have them. Such traits lead their price to drive up compared to others.

Main protagonists of the crypto art scene

Up against the wave of collectibles stands the legions or crypto artists constantly creating and pushing the boundaries of digital art. Here are just a few you might have heard of, since they’ve been featured in the mainstream media for their unbelievable feats.

On February 16, 2021, Christie’s announced that it would offer it’s first-ever purely digital blockchain artwork selling a collage of Beeple’s first 5,000 “Everydays,” the digital drawings he had been creating since May 1st, 2007. Bids started at just $100, but quickly skyrocketed into the millions, before selling for an astonishing $69 million—making Beeple (Mike Winkelmann) not only the creator of the most expensive NFT ever, but also making his way all the way to top three in the list of the most expensive artworks sold by living artists, right behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney.

Anonymous crypto artist Pak (using the pronoun "they") were actually the first big name in the game, breaking into the NFT art market way back in February 2020. In September 2020, a blog post for media brand the Control stated that “No creator has had more success selling their work on Ethereum [...]".

Although Pak have since been eclipsed by Beeple, they once filled two slots on the top ten NFT sales, and also released an NFT with one of the biggest auction house in the world, Sotheby's, in May 2021.

FEWOCiOUS, an 18 years old artist from Las Vegas named Victor, is in his last year of high school. When someone first suggested he try NFTs, he said he was asking himself "what's the catch?" in this article with Decrypt.

His most expensive work to date, The EverLasting Beautiful, sold for $550,000, including the original canvas on which the animation was based.

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