Neon skeletons and hallucinating frogs and millions of dollars, oh my! Welcome to the dystopian world of XCOPY, an NFT artist whose popularity is breaking the internet. The artist is leading the pack in crypto-art: one-of-a-kind digital art sold as an NFT (non-fungible token), backed by Ethereum’s blockchain. As investors pay millions for art they’ll never be able to hold in their hands, we’re here to help explain why must-know NFT artists are so popular. Without further ado, here’s your guide to all things XCOPY.
XCOPY is the pseudonym for one of the original and top selling crypto artists of all time. His offline identity is anonymous, though he has revealed himself to be London-based.
XCOPY is legendary in the NFT space as an outspoken proponent for the crypto community and as an artist with iconic style. He’s considered a “blue-chip” artist within the NFT art world because he is so well established.
XCOPY’s work is not generative, so does not appear on some popular generative art platforms like Art Blocks. Instead, he mints new collections on multiple platforms like SuperRare, KnownOrigin, Async, and NiftyGateway. His works resell on popular marketplaces like Opensea, or on SuperRare and KnownOrigin’s marketplaces.
The crypto art icon’s style helps differentiate his work from other digital artists. His cartoonish illustrations use bright colors with black outlines, but the theme behind the work is darker. His artist’s bio explains that his work, “explores death, dystopia and apathy through distorted visual loops.” His NFTs come with a flash warning because he uses jarring glitch-based motion in bold colors that could pose problems for epileptics.
Ultimately, XCOPY’s fandom loves the punk feel of his work, which features skulls, fire, psychedelic influence and a lot of neon. The subject matters can be gruesome, with witty and flippant titles and captions. For example, the caption of his piece Froggy’s Big Adventure which features a frog hallucinating, “Big boy Froggy ate some fairy dust and now has too many friends to share with.” The internet loves a meme, and XCOPY’s crude work combined with big sales numbers feels almost like an inside joke for the digital community, pointing out the absurdities of capitalism.
Crypto journalist David Koblesky explains that XCOPY’s unique appeal comes from his flawless integration of motion into his illustrative work: “XCOPY is an excellent illustrator and on the strength of that alone the work is good. The rough-edged, simplistic shapes with minimal colors and glitch elements, almost always on black, is striking. But where XCOPY becomes XCOPY is in the motion. XCOPY varies key elements of the initial drawing over time to where it becomes something new, something with great energy that feels alive.”
XCOPY’s work also has a meta quality, providing commentary on the nature of digital art. For instance, his latest collection is called “Right-click and Save As Guy,” mocking the common phrase circulated by people who fundamentally misunderstand crypto art, “Why would I buy it when I can right click and save as?” The Museum of Contemporary Digital Art points out that XCOPY’s motion uses “the immediacy of glitch to critique contemporary issues and attitudes…The work reflects on the very nature of crypto art.”
There’s a sense of nostalgia to many of XCOPY’s animations, which attracts fans. Koblesky writes that this stems from the GIF format, which was popular at the height of Tumblr from 2009-2014 when many artists were getting their start.
Crypto Art Pioneering and Activism
XCOPY is a proponent for growth and positivity in the crypto art community. He’s known as a friendly voice, often just tweeting out “gm” which is a shorthand for “good morning” used among crypto followers. He encourages the digital community to create authentic friendships with one another and encourages growth in the art world by tweeting out new drops or artists to help them gain traction.
The NFT star has recently been outspoken about crypto art’s ability to provide artists royalties, which the traditional art markets do not. The blockchain technology behind NFT art acts as an ongoing, immutable ledger, which makes it possible for artists to automatically take a percentage every time the art changes hands. Artists are empowered to make money as their work grows in popularity, in a similar way that songwriters get paid royalties every time their song plays on the radio or is put in the soundtrack for a movie. This is a stark difference from the offline art world, which does not traditionally use a royalties system. Once a painter sells a painting, it belongs to the new owner. If the artist becomes popular and the owner resells the painting for millions more than they paid for it, the artist sees none of that money.
XCOPY tweets openly about his own sales numbers to illustrate how royalties benefit artists: “the royalty on this one resale is more than I made on the entire drop back in the day (2020) ”.
Notable Sales and Works
XCOPY has been around for a relatively long time, resulting in hundreds of sales from many different collections. His most notable sales have been nothing short of historic.
In early November, an XCOPY piece titled “A Coin for the Ferryman” sold on SuperRare for 1,330 ETH, worth over $6 million USD. This broke the all-time record for the highest sale on the marketplace. This sale really illustrates the meteoric rise of XCOPY’s popularity. A mere 3 years ago in 2018, SuperRare user @0xclipse purchased the piece directly from the artist for about $139 worth of ETH.
Another bank-breaking sale occurred in October when collector Cozomo de’ Medici paid paid $3.86 million USD in ETH for a piece called “Some Asshole.” The flippant and crude title reflects the relatable nature of XCOPY’s work, turning the sale into a piece of commentary on capitalism.
XCOPY became one of the few NFT artists to have a solo lot auctioned by Sotheby’s. Three of his “Rabbles” from his collection “The Rabble on the TV” were sold by the legendary art auctioneer on their new Metaverse platform launched in late October. Sotheby’s Metaverse deals exclusively with NFT based art, showing that crypto art has permanently changed the shaped of the art world.
Sotheby’s also sold one of XCOPY’s NFTs titled “NGMI” in a lot of curated NFTs from different notable artists. XCOPY’s black and white GIF featuring a man holding his head, which is a bomb, alongside neon pink flames sold for $378,000 USD.