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NFT Designs: 9 Lessons From The Most Expensive NFTs

Do you ever feel that the world is moving too fast? Like every day, the internet has some new phenomenon that did not exist in mainstream culture a night ago? This is especially true in the Crypto world.

In addition to the constant memes about the dip, NFTs seem to be the next big thing. 

An NFT design by Kimp

So you might be surprised to hear that NFTs have been the next big thing for about three years now. It’s just that most of us are now catching up. In fact, the interest in NFTs has skyrocketed so much that last year an NFT art piece sold for $69 Million!

While people are investing millions in NFTs, there is still a lot about this world that many of us just don’t get. What is so special about it? And, most importantly, why is one NFT more valuable than another? 

The truth is not all NFTs are created equal. Some go for millions while others barely recover their floor price. 

Are you an entrepreneur who wants to create NFT designs that go for millions? Or, are you a brand that wants to explore this new avenue to increase your revenue and cash in on your branding as well?

Either way, there is something for you in this piece as we explore some of the most valuable NFTs ever sold to derive lessons that can help you. 

Let’s get started.

The Evolution of NFT Designs 

If you think NFT is some new phenomenon, you are in for a shock. The first mention of NFT was back in 2014, and it was not even on the Ethereum blockchain. It was “Quantum” that Kevin McCoy and Anil Dash created to demonstrate monetized graphics as they called it. They registered it on the Namecoin blockchain, and Dash bought it from McCoy for $4. 

After this, the Ethereum blockchain had its first NFT called Etherera in 2015. But, what started all the hype around the blockchain?

The crypto world exploded when two Canadian developers Matt Hall and John Watkinson launched their NFT collection – “Cryptopunks”. Since then there have been innumerable collections launched across blockchains that people have sold, bought, and traded for millions. 

Source: LinkedIn

The Crypto Kitties collection of NFT designs was so popular that it actually slowed down the transaction speed for Ethereum. 

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Source: BBC

The earlier collections were usually pixelated art pieces with very specific connections to the Internet and the cryptocurrency world itself. But, this has changed now. Anything can be an NFT now. Right from 3D art to games, NFTs now span media categories. We are sure you know that digital football trading cards and a video of Lebron James dunking a basketball are also NFT designs now. 

Such a huge difference in styles, right? 

Which brings us back to the original question – how can entrepreneurs and brands replicate the NFT success stories? Is there a formula? 

To understand this, we must first tackle a very important question – why do people invest millions in NFT? What drives these sales? 

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Source: Medium

Why do people invest in NFTs?

For any product, there are two types of value. That is utility value and hedonic value. 

If you measure a product based on what it can do for you – can it help you as a tool, build wealth, and so on – that is a utility-based valuation. But, there is another value system based on your emotional and sentimental attachment to it. If you pick a product for investment because you like it, then you are using the hedonic value system.

NFTs’ success comes from both these value systems and that makes it a very unique commodity. 

But even beyond this, some specific factors make NFT designs desirable to investors.

1. Scarcity 

If you have even consumed a single piece of content on NFTs, you will know that scarcity and rarity are big factors in their popularity. Most NFTs that people buy for millions are scarce, and there is just one of its kind. Or, like in the case of Cryptopunks or Crypto Kitties, there is a limited number such as 100 or 1000. 

So, it makes sense that people rush to own them knowing that limited supply and infinite demand will drive up prices. Owning limited-edition products is also a passion that most people pursue, making these NFTs quite popular.

2. Community 

We must remember that NFT deisgns may look like art, but they are much more than that. They are an entity on the blockchain and bring a horde of opportunities, privileges, and added benefits beyond their monetary value. 

One such privilege is the ability to be a part of exclusive clubs, forums, and communities. In today’s age, success is closely related to access to impressive communities, and some NFTs can help you get that. 

For example, the Bored Ape Yacht club NFT allows access to an exclusive club to the owners. 

Just as FOMO marketing teaches us, people buy these NFTs because they do not miss out on these opportunities.

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Source: New Yorker
3. Art value

We have covered the utility value end of NFTs, let’s move on to the hedonic value. So why are people rushing to buy some pieces in particular? Why can’t every artist create a limited edition piece and become a millionaire? 

Because the crypto enthusiasts are discerning folks. They care about the quality of your art. They look at factors like how long it took for the art to be created, the effort behind it, and the artists’ approach. 

And we know that for our generation, certain art styles appeal more than others. Styles like Pop Art, psychedelic, minimalism, and pixelated art are very popular. In fact, if you look at the most popular NFTs sold to date in the next section, you will see that these feature more than anything else. 

Even if it is not a popular NFT with a lot of demand in the crypto market, if you can target the right audience with these art/design styles, your NFT designs will succeed.

4. Industry-specific value

Did you know that NFT designs or NFT art surrounding some industries are more successful than others? Yes, because these industries have spent decades building and nourishing communities and a trading culture. Still, confused about what industries we are talking about? 

We are obviously referring to the sports, comic books, anime, and allied industries. 

Do you remember trading WWE or football cards when you were a child? How about collecting comic book merchandise or anime caricatures? Do pokemon cards trigger a memory?

These are memories that the current generation very fondly remembers and has a lot of nostalgia associated with. 

NFTs, in the industry, take this nostalgic experience a step ahead and allow consumers/fans to actually profit from these habits. So rare is an NFT marketplace for football card NFTs that people can trade in real life. What an exciting time to be, isn’t it? 

By digitizing these vintage cards, the crypto world has allowed people to truly invest in what gives them joy. Who would say no to that?

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Source: So Rare

9 Lessons from the most valuable NFT designs ever sold 

Every day, a new NFT piece goes for millions. The most expensive NFTs list keeps changing every other week. We know how it must feel to see new art pieces getting everyone’s attention. We can feel that FOMO too. Because most of the designers and even brands have NFT aspirations. Everyone wants a piece of the pie.

But what is the secret to cracking that list? How do you ensure that your NFT makes it to one of these lists one of these days? Or  at least brings you a good return? 

Well, the Kimp team has scoured the Internet and all of its resources to bring you the answers to these questions. 

So, let’s dive right in.

1. Play into a niche audience’s desires 

Do you know what the first rule of business is? Know your audience. Yes, and this applies across verticals. Design, marketing, product building, advertising, customer service initiatives – the list goes on. Everything’s better when you know who you are making it for. 

So, our first takeaway from the most expensive NFT designs ever sold is that they really know their target audience. Let’s consider the most popular NFT collection of all time – the Cryptopunks.

This was the earliest NFT collection that a Canadian studio, run by a developer duo, released and sent the internet into a tizzy. An internet history lesson will tell you that they generated FOMO via limited tokens on Reddit, used community to leverage value, and so much more. 

Yes, they did all this. But, their NFT collection’s design also shows that they really knew what their target audience would like to own. The developer duo said in an interview that this started as a way to create a collection of misfits and non-conformists. People love that, especially on Reddit. 

Moreover, the pixelated design was the first of its kind, something that actually is worth having FOMO over. And, they also knew that this audience does not like generic designs, so they created 10000 characters that are unique in their ways. 

The most expensive NFTs from this collection include the Zombie Cryptopunk, Cryptopunk #5822 ($23.7 million), Cryptopunk #7523 ($11.8 million), and so on. All of them are unique and one of a kind. 

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Source: The Verge

Design Takeaways 

  • If you are launching a collection, ensure the design is unique so that there is value in being the first one to buy it. 
  • Pick a design style that your audience will like, connect with, and appreciate. 
2. Explore aesthetic styles for NFT designs

Everyone just assumes that people who are into the NFT industry are rebels and do not subscribe to the popular design styles of the world. But if you look at some of the most expensive NFTs sold, you will see that this is simply not true. 

NFTs are still one of the most popular investment modules. This means that even if people do not subscribe to an edgy worldview, they want to invest in it. So popular design styles and themes are a good way to go here too. 

And what is always popular with people across generations? It is the basic design principles like symmetry, geometry, aesthetics, proportions, and so on. In fact, geometry we think is the big seller no one even saw coming. 

One of the most popular NFT collections of all time is the art blocks platform which features on-demand, unique and programmable NFT art. It is a project that has seen over 400 million dollar investments from art collectors and investment firms alike. 

The collection has over 1000 pieces, each in a different design theme, style, and color scheme. But what is the one connecting point? Geometry and symmetry. Each art piece has aesthetic lines and popular colors in its usage, appealing to the modern art connoisseur. Many of these art pieces also have dynamic properties, allowing the owner to possess something unique. 

Design Takeaways: 

  • Do not ditch popular design styles just because they feel too mainstream. NFT has gone mainstream too, remember? 
  • The artworld is moving into the NFT world, so showcase your art with complete pride. 
  • Popular design styles like geometry, symmetry, and patterns can help you move your NFT into the popular section. 
  • When you opt for the aesthetic style, pick popular colors like blue, red, yellow, sage green, ocean blue, and so on to grab the audience’s attention.
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Source: Open Sea
3. Satiric takes on society sells 

Do you know how most people these days consume current affairs? What is the most popular social media content? Through memes, of course! Surprised? We can understand but this is the most popular medium of information and even intellectual conversation today! Memes are universally loved. 

So if you want to create meaningful NFT designs and are not sure what approach you should take, may we suggest satire mixed with a dose of fun? 

The current NFT audience is, of course, quite edgy. They’re early adopters. And usually, those investing in NFTs are either art collectors or people who grew up with the internet. And for the latter, satire, memes, jokes, and edgy art is completely up to their alley. They can instantly relate to them and would love to own them too. 

Don’t believe us? Well, what if we told you that a satire based NFT piece has gone for $7.09 million? Because that is exactly what happened with the NFT titled “Right click and save as a guy” went for a cool $7.9 Million. The artist feels that the NFT is a take on an average person cribbing about NFT on the Internet. But it can be anything. And that is what makes it so special.

Design Takeaways:

  • We have already covered that the NFT piece is full of satire and meme culture references. But what makes it interesting is the design style. The color scheme is very close to early Pop Art and that makes it stand out. 
  • This NFT’s target audience is the younger generation, and they have nailed it. Besides the color scheme, the design also is similar to GIFs which millennials and Gen Z completely love. 
4. Appeal to your sense of community 

Whenever you read about NFT, you know that people speak about the power of community. If you have a good following and you are popular in the art world, your NFT can make a killing, and there is no point denying it. 

But is having a community alone enough? Does the design play a part at all? Well, we don’t think so, and we think you will agree with us as well. 

We have a great example to prove our point too. It is the Beeple’s most expensive NFT so far. Yes, we are talking about the Everydays: The First 5000 days that went for $69.3 million. What made it so popular that it sold for an amount even Beeple never imagined?

The artist compiled their most popular works and delivered them to the audience on a platter. You do not have to own his 5000 works if you have this. Amazing, right? And who would not want it? Irrespective of who bought it, Beeple’s community got the ball rolling because of the design more than anything. 

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Source: Live Mint

Design Takeaways: 

  • Understand what your community likes so that you can leverage it properly. 
  • Even if Beeple’s NFT is a collage, it is a well-arranged collage. If you look at it closely, you will see patterns and colors emerge. 
  • Collage art, in itself, is a dying art but Beeple showed that you can revive it anytime if you do it well. Do not be afraid to experiment if you believe that a design can work and you have your community’s strength.
5. Dynamic Art is gaining popularity 

Ever since video content exploded all over the internet, static designs stopped being the norm. They are closer to becoming the exception, and that is a take on the art industry that everyone has to watch out for. 

Creating dynamic art is not easy for people who still hold physical exhibitions and work with the canvas. But it is possible in the Cryptoworld, and it is quite popular here too. The presence of dynamic art in the most expensive NFTs list is growing, and this trend is here to stay. 

But the NFT world is taking dynamic art to a new level. It is not just GIFs or videos. No, it is the art that changes as per the environment and evolves with it. This changes with every click and shows you a different side. 

Consider Beeple’s two most famous entries on the list of most expensive NFTs. They both have motion, interact with the environment and change consistently. 

Crossroad is a take on American politics and shows people walking by the President’s imagery. However, Beeple tells us that if Trump had won, it would have shown him as the winner. Now, that is a great piece of dynamic art, isn’t it?

And so is Beeple’s Human One creation. The human in the art piece constantly interacts with different environments to show a comprehensive view of the world. Both are our favorites and set a high bar in the dynamic art industry of NFT.

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Source: Bitcoin

Design Takeaways:

  • Even if the Crossroad piece pushed the boundary in terms of content and technology, the design style is quite realistic. And this tells us that people also like to see the real world reflected online. 
  • Dynamic art is very close to the metaverse experience, so using colors that resemble this works in your favor. Pick colors like purple, red, blue, and other nature-inspired colors for success.
6. Dystopian with a touch of nostalgia works 

Building on the theme that reality works, let’s take a look at what specifically works in terms of design themes too. Now, even outside of NFT, nostalgia works well in terms of design. People love seeing their childhood replicated in art, and it has been a popular design style in advertising, including but not limited to retro, vintage, and Pop Art, to name a few. 

Similarly, NFT designs in these styles also work quite well. In fact, another most expensive NFT of Beeple sold so far is quite close to these styles. This NFT that everyone feels is quite dystopian also manages to hit the nostalgia notes quite well. 

While the design of the NFT is a take on climate change, the colors and the design style Beeple adopted is very similar to the yesteryear oil paintings. The strokes and the overall minimalistic imagery combined with the colors bring a very popular impact to the audience. 

Art with a message becomes a very powerful design, and that is what we are seeing here. This NFT will appeal to the art collector and the edgy NFT collector too because of how well it intersects satire and artistic tendencies.

7. Embrace illustration styles 

Speaking of styles for NFT designs, are you confused about what to choose so that you win every collectors’ heart? There are too many styles to choose from and that can be quite a dilemma. 

But if you are an illustrator or a brand with an illustration team, we suggest going all-in with this design style. If there is any design style that has the potential to rule the NFT world after pixelated art and Pop Art, it has to be illustrations. And often, even the other design styles need the assistance of illustrations for impact. 

Do you remember Crypto kitties from earlier in the blog? The NFT collection that managed to stop the Ethereum network in its tracks? Well, guess what design style they chose? Yes, illustrations.

Even beyond the illustrations of Crypto kitties, illustration has been quite popular in the NFT world. A case in point would be the Doodles NFT collection. It is a collection of 10 000 illustrations depicting people, animals, and other elements of the living world. It is an ever-expanding experience and is one of the most popular NFTs to date. The most popular was close to 867k, and the rates are only going up from here.

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Source: NFT Evening

Design Takeaways:

  • Cute art sells, irrespective of the medium. And it is time to invest in this space. 
  • Create illustrations that people can connect with and exploit popular themes like animals, aliens, and pop culture references for the best results. 
  • If you do choose to adopt the cute design theme, light colors and pastels are the way to go. 
8. NFT Videos are big sellers 

Videos have become the most popular content style on the Internet. They are easily the most viewed and most popular of all other styles. So why will the NFT world be any different? Now that we know that videos are valuable, it is understandable that the value translates big in the NFT circle too.

Videos are more engaging and interest the audience easily. Additionally, videos are longer, have more layers, and need higher effort. This is not lost on the NFT buyers. So, if you want to ensure that your NFT designs reach the list of most expensive NFTs, investing in the video is our biggest recommendation. 

Check out the example of this popular NFT video that is popularly known as the replicator. This video is a legend in the NFT circle. It is a minimalist video of a printer printing away while a cat snoozes in the corner. The lights, the sounds, and the visuals are all spot on to show a simple video can be so impactful.

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Source: Open Sea

Design Takeaways:

  • Videos show effort but that does not mean it has to be a long video. Anything between 30 seconds to 1 minute is the ideal length for today’s consumers. This is, of course, unless the video has a message that needs the time. 
  • Soothing white noise videos can do really well in the NFT world. Current generations are completely besotted by ASMR videos, lofi videos, and whatnot. Tapping into these genres can unlock huge potential. 
  • Keep the video design as simple as possible. It has a better chance of impacting the audience.
9. Play into the Pop culture influence 

Last but definitely not least, it is time to explore pop culture’s influence on NFT designs. As we mentioned earlier, it is younger generations that are investing in NFTs and forming a community around them as well. Creating art that can emotionally connect with your audience is what everyone should aim for. 

And if you are in a pinch trying to figure out what it is, we say just lean into the pop culture frenzy. 

By pop culture, we mean “popular culture” encompassing sports, sitcoms, movies, comic books, anime, and so on. 
This is already a very successful and fast-selling theme in the NFT world. So much so that popular leagues like the NBA have their collections out already. Yes, you can now own the most spectacular dunk by Kobe and immortalize yourself in the fandom. Football leagues have gone a step ahead and have an NFT card collection for football fans. You can now own an NFT of your favorite football player and even trade just like old days.

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Source: Euro News

You can create art inspired by these trends and cash in on their popularity. 

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Source: Open Sea

Create fast-selling NFT designs with Kimp 

We know the world wants you to believe that NFT is more marketing than it is about art. But a great product is the right place to begin without a doubt. 

If you are an entrepreneur looking to enter the NFT space or a brand that wants to diversify with art in the crypto industry, Kimp is the solution you are looking for. 

Kimp offers unlimited design services in graphic design (Kimp Graphics) and video design (Kimp Video) with flat monthly fee subscriptions. 

More importantly, we understand art, design, and marketing. All the things that go into making the best NFT designs for you.

Right from illustrations, Pop Art, minimalistic art, retro designs, and GIFs – our teams can whip up any design style you want.

So why wait? Sign up for our free trial to explore the benefits of our subscriptions right away!