Top 6 Types of Digital Art in 2021

Digital art is defined as artwork that utilizes digital technology as part of the creative or presentation process

Although the lines blur between digital art and other types of experiential art, for the sake of this guide, we’ll be regarding digital art as anything that primarily lives in the digital realm. 

If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering how digital art is different from “crypto” art. The technology of crypto art cuts through any latent subjectivity surrounding digital art. 

Crypto art utilizes the blockchain as a means to acknowledge and authenticate ownership, prove the propriety of a specific art  piece, as well as to facilitate the instantaneous transactions between buyers and sellers. It largely accomplishes this through the use of NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens; these blockchain tokens represent unique, one-of-a-kind assets. 

The following article will explore the top 6 types of digital art, but it comes with a caveat– “top” is merely a handy way to categorize what excites us about the digital and crypto art industry in 2021. 

We acknowledge beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and our opinions below aren’t meant to “rank” artists against one another. If our writing here can inspire other artists around the world to explore creating art on the blockchain, we’d call this one a success. 

Let’s get into the best types of digital art in 2021. 

1. Everydays: the First 5000 Days

Charleston, South Carolina artist Beeple’s ‘The First 5,000 Days’ crypto art piece shocked the world, selling for a record $69,346,250 on March 11, 2021. 

The piece is a collage of artist Mike Winkelmann’s daily releases since he challenged himself to make a picture from start to finish every day starting on May 1st, 2007. His digital designs portray dark, comical phantasmagoric worlds, often using pop culture figures as focal points and references. Many pieces make some subtle, or not-so-subtle, rather, political or social commentary. 

Although the lofty price tag has been a controversial subject for a good majority of 2021, and for good reason, we view Everydays: the First 5000 Days as a testament to Winkelmann’s commitment to his creative journey. It’s also a reflection of his early advocacy of blockchain technology.

2. Nyan Cat

Nyan Cat sold on February 19th, 2021 for 300 ETH, which was worth about $580,000 at the time of the sale.  

Artist Chris Torres created Nyan Cat about a decade ago, publishing a video of the poptart-body flying cat in April 2011. The video grew to over 185 million views, becoming a viral sensation. 

In February 2021, a 1/1 NFT of Nyan Cat sold in an exciting auction with three bidders competing down to the last few minutes.

Nyan Cat makes our list because its sale will pave the way for future creators of viral sensations to directly interact with their audience, rather than having a third-party intermediary platform, YouTube in this case, determine the engagement and monetization.  

3. CryptoPunks


CryptoPunks are early blockchain-based collectibles that regularly attract price tags from between a few thousand to topping over $7.5 million. 

There are 10,000 CryptoPunks, each with uniquely generated characteristics. Each is one-of-a-kind, and can only be owned by a single owner on the Ethereum blockchain. When they first launched, anyone with an Ethereum wallet could claim one for free (all were claimed very quickly.)

We like these 8-bit digital portraits are the closest we have to cryptocurrency antiques– they were the first “NFT” on Ethereum, and were an inspiration for the NFT ERC-721 token standard. 

4. Pascal Boyart’s Murals (and NFTs)

Inspired by an early 19th-century painting by Eugène Delacroix called La Liberté guidant le peuple (Liberty leading the people), a Parisian street artist Pascal Boyart painted a mural homage, but with one interesting spin. 

NFTs of Boyart's mural
NFTs of Boyart’s mural

The mural contains $1,000 of BTC that can be claimed, provided visitors can crack the code the Boyart’s puzzle; the bitcoin has yet to be claimed.

Boyart also began selling NFTs of the mural’s digital version. The pieces are selling for 15 ETH+, or about $32,000 a pop. 

We like Boyart’s murals because they bridge the real and digital world in such a unique way; for example, he frequently adds a QR code for donations in BTC, and has generated thousands of dollars for his work by admiring passers-by. 

5. Hashmask #9939 sex

Hashmasks are unique because they’re the product of a community, rather than a product made to be sold to a specific community. There are 16,000 unique pieces, created by over 70 artists. 

The Hashmask initiative belongs to the Zurich-based Suum Cuique Labs, and the Hashmask creators are anonymous. 

Hashmask #9939 sold for 420 ETH, or about $840,000. 

“We are the exact target audience. We just build what we would like. We didn’t have to do any analysis on people’s preferences because it’s just us,” said one of the anonymous founders. “We hang in the same Discords.”

We like Hashmasks because they demonstrate the efficacy of creative anonymity on the blockchain, as well as the mainstream success that comes about when cultivating a unique relationship with an audience. Being the decentralized world the cryptocurrency industry is, this is particularly important. 


Beeple again, this time with THE COMPLETE MF COLLECTION, a 1/1 collection of all of Beeple’s artwork in video format. 

This NFT sale is awesome because it actually comes with a physical, interface-free, always-on, physical artifact that constantly streams the NFT. The device comes with a signed, numbered titanium backplate with, according to the description, hidden authentication markers. 

It also comes with an “Authentic Beeple hair sample*,” which the creator further qualifies by saying “totes promise it’s not pubes.”

THE COMPLETE MF COLLECTION sold for $777,777.77 on Nifty Gateway

We love this one because it not only broadens the category of “digital art” to film, but it comes with a physical, presentable object that makes for a visually stimulating discussion piece.  

Final Thoughts: Digital Art History is Being Written

With Bitcoin’s 500% growth in price over a few months between 2020 and 2021, a newly minted batch of affluent cryptocurrency millionaires has entered the art collector space. 

The Internet’s newest millionaires and billionaires are showing a warmness to something they’re uniquely familiar with– value stored on the blockchain. 

For one, NFTs don’t come with the trappings and concerns of owning physical art pieces, like security costs, transportation, and physical deterioration. While NFTs do come with their unique set of risks (and digital deterioration, or “bit rot” is still a real thing), they provide an ownership and authentication framework like never before. 

Crypto art backed by NFTs already has some significant success stories, with CryptoPunks, Beeple, and Hashmask as strong examples in their own right. 

Our list of the top digital art is by no means exhaustive, and that’s so motivating to us as creators. There are already dozens of examples of NFT-backed music, videos, and trading card games selling for millions of dollars; the shiny selling prices are less important than the enthusiasm and democracy of investment created in the new era of art. 

Nyan Cat Crypto Art Sells for 300 ETH ($580,000)

Nyan Cat, an animated flying cat with a poptart body leaving a rainbow trail behind it, recently sold for $580,000. 

Welcome to 2021, the first year where an opening sentence like the one above actually makes sense.  While you may not remember Nyan Cat, by its name, you’ll probably remember it as the slice of Internet history it is from its visual:

“Ohh, that thing!”

Yes. Nyan Cat selling for nearly $600,000 may come as a surprise to most, but those following the rapidly-growing market for digital art and collectibles may even consider the selling price a steal. 

Nyan Cat History

Chris Torres created Nyan Cat about ten years ago; the original video on YouTube has a publish date of April 11th, 2011. The YouTube video has since grown to over 185 million views, and the cat has been shared, re-shared, modified, and re-modified in an endless meme-ification across multiple mediums. 

According to Social Blade, the Nyan Cat video could have generated anywhere between $4545 to $72,720 per year for Torres, simply based on the number of views and a wide CPM range. It’s worth noting that this range has no direct relation to the ultimate sale price, but it’s worth including to help bridge the concept of digital art and making money on the Internet.

Rough estimates of the Nyan Cat ad revenue from YouTube

The Nyan Cat Crypto Art Sale

In February 2021, Torres listed a one-of-a-kind version of Nyan Cat for sale on Foundation, a marketplace for digital collectibles and other goods. 

The artwork was initially listed at a modest 3 ETH (a little over $5,000) on February 18th, 2021. The bidding escalated the price to 85 ETH in the first 24-hours. The final 30-minutes of the auction on February 19th was a bidding war between users @zonted, @blackpoolHQ, and an anonymous address, 0x7Eb28B2f14A59789ec4c782A5DD957F9C8F33f6b. 

Nyan cat auction in its heated last moments.

Nyan Cat ultimately sold for 300 ETH, which was valued at roughly $580,000 at the time of the sale to the user solely identified by an address

What Nyan Cat Means for the Internet

The sale of Nyan Cat was a momentous occasion that linked early Internet culture with the nascent blockchain-based economy of today, particularly with the NFT movement. 

As a nonfungible token-based digital asset, the Nyan Cat that sold on Foundation is guaranteed to be an authentic copy of that particular piece of art– a 1/1 NFT of Nyan Cat. It doesn’t mean the new owner owns the copyright, trademark, sole ownership, or a claim to the YouTube advertising revenue– it’s simply blockchain-verified bragging rights of that specific NFT. 

For collectors, the Nyan Cat sale is a data point that makes a very strong argument for the value of a solely digital asset. In theory, if you’re into early Internet culture, such as, Salad Fingers, and Happy Tree Friends, then the auction of Nyan Cat is likely an eye-opening moment that owning part of your favorite Internet moments is a possibility. 

However, arguably more valuable is the ability for creators to directly monetize their creativity and cut out the middlemen. 

For example, rather than relying on a centralized platform like YouTube for ad revenue, a creator such as Torres can auction off their creation directly to his or her fans. 

“But, how is this NFT valuable at all? Can’t I just copy the video or image to my downloads?” 

Sure, there is nothing stopping you from downloading an image or video of Nyan Cat, but there’s also nothing stopping you from buying a replica or poster of the Mona Lisa from Amazon. You wouldn’t “own” the Mona Lisa– you’d own a replica of it, which is significantly less valuable than the original. 

Similarly, the copied photo or video of an NFT is worth much less (i.e., worthless) than the original. The 300 ETH paid for the Nyan Cat NFT is simply for “ownership” of that NFT, and that asset can be stored and traded as such. 

Final Thoughts: What Nyan Cat’s 300 ETH (~$580,000) Sale Means for You

If this article and the Nyan Cat sale is your first exposure to NFTs, you may find yourself at a somewhat confusing crossroads. 

In the grand scheme of things, there are few instances where a digital asset has been sold for anything substantial, and there just isn’t enough time duration to estimate how well they store value.

However, paying seemingly exorbitant amounts of money for things with dubious “brass tacks” value beyond a market-determined price is something human beings have been doing for centuries. For example, in January 2021, a box of unopened Pokemon cards sold for $408,000

NFTs can be viewed as a progression of collecting into the digital realm. Nyan Cat joins some of the top-selling NFTs of 2021, and at the current rate of NFT sales, it’s unsure how long it will be able to hang onto its “Top Sale” crown. 

For instance, digital artist Beeple sold an NFT titled “The First 5000 Days” for a record-breaking $69,346,250 just weeks after the Nyan Cat sale. The buyer was an anonymous Singapore cryptocurrency whale going under the name Metakovan.

NFTs are getting a ton of attention right now and are certainly worth monitoring, but should be considered very risky investments.