NFT Art: Who Is Beeple?

Who Is Beeple

TL;DR
Digital artist Beeple soared to fame after the record-breaking sale of his work Everydays: the First 5000 Days at Christie’s, and has subsequently become highly influential in the NFT space. His prolific, ongoing body of work provides a running commentary on tech, crypto, politics and current affairs, and his newly opened Beeple Studios is an important venue for creative work and live events.

In the world of NFTs and Web3, one name you’ll come across regularly is Beeple, an artist whose influence seems to extend widely and sometimes have a strong impact, meaning it’s always good to keep tabs on what he’s creating, and also on what he’s commenting about and drawing people’s attention to.

That in mind, let’s get an overview of who Beeple is, the kinds of compositions he designs and his recent news, and how his artwork and ideas reach beyond crypto and Web3.

Who Is Beeple?

Beeple

In the art and design world he’s known as Beeple, but his real name is Mike Winkelmann, and he’s a digital artist and graphic designer who, in 2007 (so, not just pre-NFTs, but pre-Bitcoin), embarked on a project called Everydays. For Everydays, he committed to creating and releasing a new artwork everyday, and he’s currently approaching 6,000 days.

2021 was an important year, as Beeple became critically entangled with NFTs thanks to a piece called Everydays: the First 5000 Days, which was a composite of–as you might guess–the first 5000 pieces of work he released for his ongoing Everydays project. This colorful montage wasn’t Beeple’s first NFT (he sold three individual Everydays pieces in 2020), but it launched him to a higher level of fame.

Beeple
Everydays: the First 5000 Days

Actually, that’s understating the facts: In March 2021, Everydays: the First 5000 Days sold at Christie’s for an incredible $69.3 million, making it the most expensive NFT ever sold to a single buyer (The Merge by Pak sold for a higher total price, but that had been fractionalized and sold in pieces to many buyers.)

With this sale, Beeple (or, arguably, the buyers: Metakovan and Twobadour) helped turbocharge the 2021 NFT bull run, and he became a leading figure in the world of NFTs.

What Is Beeple’s Art Like?

Beeple
Artworks by Beeple

If you look at Beeple’s progression through the long-running Everydays project, you can find various different styles and phases, but what he’s ultimately become famous for is the later work featuring surreal, satirical commentary on current affairs. It’s cartoonish, veers into the grotesque, takes in politics, and is often tech-oriented, frequently referencing what’s happening around social media, crypto and NFTs.

Beeple’s Everydays pieces constitute a huge and sprawling body of work, but it can all be explored on Beeple’s website.

Recent Beeple News

  • In March of this year, Beeple Studios opened in Charleston, South Carolina. The opening event was attended by the great and the good of Web3, and featured the live creation of a commemorative Everydays NFT with physical prints. The studio itself is now a huge venue for exhibitions, events, and, of course, creative work. Or as the website puts it, “this is where we make stuff and meet people.”
  • Last month, a famous piece called Human One went on display at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Sold at Christie’s in 2021 for $29 million, Human One is primarily physical, with an NFT component, the main part being a life-sized video sculpture of a person walking in the metaverse. Beeple is known for often tying together digital and physical items in his work.
  • Despite being such an influential Web3 artist, Beeple is not a collector of PFPs himself. However, in August this year he spent 113.69 ETH on his first PFP: CryptoPunk #4593. Coming as NFTs push through ongoing market crashes, this looked like confirmation that CryptoPunks are unique, with Beeple tweeting after his purchase, “I believe this is a historic work from both a technological and artistic perspective”.
  • Underlining that point, Beeple is hosting CryptoPunks Meetup, an event at Beeple Studios for holders of CryptoPunks and Beeple NFTs, scheduled for September 30th. Related to this, he is also currently soliciting CryptoPunks-inspired artwork.
  • In July, a Beeple NFT and oil painting combo (called FTX Board Meeting) became a permanent exhibit at Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Italy, and this month, a recent Beeple artwork called Future Graffiti (Everydays #5925) was added to the crypto art fund Curated.
  • Beeple will be appearing at The Gateway: Korea, a digital art event which takes place in Seoul on September 7th and 8th, during Korea Blockchain Week.

Commentary Topics

Through his artwork, Beeple provides a running visual commentary on big events in Web3 and tech, and sometimes on wider current affairs. Some crypto and tech-related topics that Beeple has recently focused on include the rise of Friend.tech, Yuga Labs’ feud with OpenSea, and Elon Musk converting Twitter into X.

Beeple
Yuga vs. OpenSea by Beeple

Beeple frequently brings attention to interesting NFT projects by featuring them in his work, with notable examples including Opepen, Nakamigos earlier this year, and, last year, he was very engaged with Goblintown.

This is significant because when Beeple picks up on a project, it tends to provide a boost that can then gather further momentum of its own, as especially happened–for a while–with both Goblintown and Nakamigos.

Additionally, Beeple is no stranger to mainstream media, talking about art and NFTs on platforms from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, to The Joe Rogan Experience, to–last month–Bloomberg TV. In fact, if there’s an artist you can describe as representing NFTs to non-crypto audiences, it’s Beeple.

NFT Art: Who Is Beeple? - - 2024

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NFT Art: Who Is Beeple? - - 2024
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