The Pioneers of NFT - Meet The Artists that Started the NFT Movement

The Pioneers of NFT - Meet The Artists that Started the NFT Movement

You’ve probably heard of NFTs before if you’re from this planet, but what about NFT artists?

The main goal of this article is to connect you with the top NFT artists that started the NFT movements.

We’ll talk about the origin of NFTs, popular NFT artists, and the first NFT that was ever created.

Key Takeaways:

  • The first NFT was created by Kelvin McCoy in 2014.
  • The name of the first NFT artwork is Quantum.
  • Beeple is one of the top three most valuable living artists on earth.
  • NFT artists are creators who put their artwork for sale on the NFT marketplace.

What is the applicability of NFTs in art?

NFTs are Unique

One of the key importance of NFTs is their uniqueness. When an artist decides to turn their artwork into NFT like Doodle #6914 or Beeples' Everydays (worth millions of dollars today), the artwork becomes indestructible and unique. It can be verified on the blockchain at any time in point by the general public.

This is very difficult with NON-NFT artwork.

Artwork History Tracking

Apart from being unique, NFTs can also be used to track the history of an artwork, such as the original artist name, the manufactured date, the bid price, the last buyer, when and how the transaction was made, including the information of the current owner of the artwork.


NFT artists will permanently have credit for their artwork even after putting their artwork for sale on the NFT marketplace such as OpenSea and Rarible. The original NFT creator is entitled to a royalty revenue commission on future sales of the NFT they created, meaning, they keep earning $$ each time their artwork is being resold.

NFTs are Authentic

Another beauty of NFTs is that, as an art consumer, NFTs ensure the authenticity of what you're purchasing, and it helps the artists to prove their ownership as well. Because they're decentralized, NFTs strongly eliminate the possibility of forgery and manipulation of any record. NFTs histories are read-only, confirmed by several blocks, and are visible to the public for validation.

You might wonder, are artists doing this already? Or who will buy a music NFT that can be downloaded for free on the internet? Let me burst your bubble, VÉRITÉ, an American independent musician sold 2.3% of her master recording (single), titled "BY NOW" for $30,226.04 USD in April 2021. The same Music NFT is now worth $703,442.44 USD in 2022. You can check it out on zora

Who is an NFT Artist?

Anyone can be an NFT artist! NFT artists are basically creators who tokenized or minted their artwork into NFTs. Minting is an act of adding data to the blockchain. Artwork such as paintings, sculptures, pieces of writing, music, movies, or a variety of other types of creative products can be turned into NFTs.

Popular NFTs artists are creative and dedicated. They use technologies such as Photoshop, Canva, MS Paint, Corel Draw, or more advanced technology like Cinema 4D, 3D modeling, or even physical tools like chisels, hammers, drills, etching acid, bleach, and explosives.

Becoming an NFT Artist

To become an NFT artist, you don't need to know how to build a DApp or know how to code at all. You can just put your artwork for sale on any NFT market place such as OpenSeas and Rarible. You will be required to provide proof of ownership, and wait till artworks are approved for sale as NFT.

As promised, below are some popular NFT artists.

1. NFT Artist: Mike Winkelmann


Mike Winkelmann

Mike Winkelmann popularly known by his professional name Beeple, is an American digital artist. He is one of the first NFT artists to ever sell the most expensive NFTs, worth 70 million dollars. The digital artwork is titled, "Everydays': the First 5,000 Days", and features a collage of 5,000 digital images created by Beeple himself for his Everyday start to finish series.

Everydays: the First 5,000 Days

The first 5,000 days of making digital images is a 13-year project. Beeples' NFT projects now include "Beeple’s HUMAN ONE" and the "CROSSROAD". Beeple's artworks have brought him to the top three most valuable living artists in the world.


2. NFT Artist: Pak

Pak is credited with introducing Beeple to NFTs. - Wikipedia

NFT Artist: Pak

According to Sotheby's, an American fine art broker, Pak is an artist at the forefront of digital art and crypto media. An anonymous creator. Pak has been active in the world of digital art for over two decades, leveraging evolving technology to create boundary-pushing artwork. The individual NFTs are A Cube (1), Five Cubes (5), Ten Cubes (10), Twenty Cubes (20), Fifty Cubes (50), Hundred Cubes (100), Five Hundred Cubes (500), and Thousand Cubes (1,000).


Pak is referred to as "The Satoshi of crypto art" because of his anonymity just like Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin.

Pak is best known for his work with non-fungible tokens. His highest-selling NFT, and the most expensive in the history of NFT "Merge", generated $91.8 million in sales in December 2021. While still anonymous, Pak's NFTs have been sold on platforms including Sotheby's, Nifty Gateway, MakersPlace, SuperRare, and Async Art.

3. NFT Artist: VHILS

NFT from an exploding building

VHILS an NFT artist

VHILS is a unique street graffiti artist from Portugal. His real name is Alexandre Farto, and has a great desire to paint on building walls. His tools include chisels, hammers, drills, etching acid, bleach, explosives, basically anything that will leave a mark on a wall. He unveiled his Street NFT titled, "Rupture" in 2021 with a blast. He's also putting the 2-second recording of the blast of a portrait to a wall, and the digital rendering of the explosion for sale as an NFT.


The blast was recorded with a slow-motion camera technology at 2000 frames per second. VHILS has sold a total of 1,346 NFT artworks on cryptoart, including debris from the building explosion, all valued at $1,454,636.95 (511.422 ETH).


Woman in NFT

ALEXA MEADE in the self-portrait Double Take

What a man can do, a woman can do much better. Alexa Meade is an American artist popularly known for her body painting skill. Her artwork involves painting portraits directly on the human body and three-dimensional spaces creating the illusion that our reality is a two-dimensional painting when photographed.


Alexa jumped into the world of NFTs by turning her body painting videos into NFTs and putting them for sale on Nifty Gateway. You can watch one of her popular NFT videos (Reality Melting) below.

Cool! Isn't it? You just watched an NFT.

5. NFT Artist: José Delbo

The artist behind your favorite childhood comics -Binance

José Delbo An NFT Artist

José Delbo is an award-winning Argentinian artist popularly known for his work on Wonder Woman, Batman, Transformers, The Beatles Yellow Submarine comic book, and much more.

José Delbo

José's grandson, Nick is the founder of Apollo NFT, and together, they both have the vision of creating superheroes specifically for the blockchain.

Like grandpa like grandson

Below are some of José Delbo NFT artwork.

José Delbo NFT artwork****

  • Heroes Playing Poker - Classic Edition #1/109 - Niftygateway -Created by José's

A Boring Game of Poker #105/181

  • A Boring Game of Poker #105/181 - Niftygateway -Created by José's

What was the first NFT ever created?

Generate of artwork -Kelvin McCoy

Kevin McCoy, Quantum (2014-2021). The first NFT ever created

  • Photo Credit: mccoyspace

NFTs have been around for years, dating back to May 3, 2014. The first NFT is named "Quantum," and was originally minted (created) by Kevin McCoy. This was way before the word NFT was coined and exploded into the mainstream.

Kelvin McCoy

Kevin McCoy, the first NFT artist, is a multimedia artist who fell in love with Bitcoin in early 2013.

The first NFT artwork was originally minted on the Namecoin blockchain and was preserved recently on the standard ERC-721 (Ethereum Blockchain).

Animation of the first-ever nft created

"Quantum," the first NFT art ever created, is a code-driven pixelated octagon animation that changes color like a terrified octopus. It was valued and sold for $1.4 million on the 28th of November 2021.

The NFT collections that started the NFT movement

NFT collections are groups of NFT characters with various different meanings and qualities. The first NFT collections are mostly cards depicting a different version of the same characters, no two NFTs in a collection are ever the same.

Below are the lists of early NFT art collections that started the NFT movement.

1. The CryptoPunks NFT Collections (2017)

The alpha and omega of the CyptoArt movement- Noah Davis

CryptoPunks is one of the top NFT projects that inspired the modern CryptoArt movement. It was launched in June 2017 by two Canadian software developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson at the Larva Labs studio.

CryptoPunks is a non-fungible token collection on the Ethereum blockchain with 10,000 unique collectible characters. At first, the CryptoPunks were not yielding values and were given out for free by the creators while they held onto 1,000 copies for themselves.

CryptoPunks NFT Art

  • Photo credit: larvalabs

As of 2022, a single CryptoPunks is valued at around $350,000 to $500,000 based on its uniqueness. There will only ever be 10,000 CryptoPunks.

2. The CryptoKitties NFT Collections (2017)

The future is meow. -CryptoKitties

CryptoKitties is one of the world's first blockchain games that exploded in 2017. It is a virtual game centered around breedable cats running on ERC721. CryptoKitties is a game that allows users to collect, breed, and own a kitty for themselves. Each kitty has a unique genome that defines its appearance and traits, which are determined by its owner.

CryptoKitties NFT Art

  • Photo credit: CryptoKitties

The most expensive CryptoKitties is "Dragon," which is worth $1,732,776.00 (600 ETH) as of 2022.

Dragon CryptoKitties

I love pets. My kitten's name was Lita.

3. The Ether Rock NFT Collections (2017)

Pet Rocks On The Blockchain

The Ether Rock is a game built entirely on the Ethereum blockchain. It was launched in 2017 shortly after CyptoPunks. There are only 100 pieces of the Ether Rocks and all 100 rocks have been sold.

The Ether Rock ID 0

  • Photo credit: etherrock

4. The CryptoCards NFT Collections (2018)

CryptoCards is a 64 item cards collection chronicling important dates in the history of Bitcoin from Jan 2009 to Oct 2017. The NFT artwork is one of the early top NFT collections released dating back to January 7, 2018.

Each CryptoCards contains a date, an illustration, and a short description of a significant past event in Bitcoin's early history.

The CryptoCards Collection

  • Photo credit: OpenSeas


What is an NFT?

NFT stands for non-fungible tokens. They're a form of digital assets, such as music collection, artwork, event tickets, landed properties, soft copies of your birth certificates, etc. Anything can be turned into an NFT. You can check out my Hashnode award NFTs here.

What is Blockchain?

We can't talk about NFTs without mentioning the blockchain, that's rude. And that's because NFTs are built on blockchains.

Blockchains are digital ledgers that contain unique hashes and metadata of NFTs. The metadata(s) are properties of NFTs that differentiate them from one another on blockchain technology.

NFTs, being a non-fungible token, means they can't be exchanged for anything else. This is because each NFT is unique; they are identified by their unique hashes.

Say you have 10 cents, your 10 cents can be exchanged for 1 euro because 10 cents are always equivalent to a euro. This is not the same with NFTs. When you own an NFT, it's never equivalent to any other similar copies or other NFTs.

Fungible entities are assets such as money that can be exchanged for another asset at the same value. Fungible entities hold value. While non-fungible tokens are unique. They hold data instead.


NFTs are here to stay. They have existed since 2014, even though they became the talk of the town recently, in 2021. NFT artists can leverage NFTs to get the credibility for their artwork and take their profession to the next level.

If you're interested in learning Web3 as a developer or want to brush up your knowledge on Web3 technologies. We've got you covered on our Web3 Blog on Hashnode.

See you in the next one.

Bye Bye 👋.