The 9 Best Artists in Bitcoin
The adoption of this deflationary currency seems to be nurturing a new subculture of craftsmanship. Find out who are the 9 artists leading the way.
Every subculture has its art. The character of that art reveals the shared emotions and values of the group.
The common themes of Bitcoin art are:
Rage at the injustices of the fiat monetary system
A subversive streak of defiant rebellion
An uncommon optimism about the future (in sharp contrast to the nihilism undertone of contemporary art in the mainstream)
A cerebral element that revels in the dorky subject matter of monetary policy and decentralized cryptographic systems.
Perhaps the most notable departure from mainstream art is the commitment to Proof-of-Work. As an engineering design principle in Bitcoin, Proof-of-Work enables the Bitcoin network to converge on a single version of the decentralized ledger. But the Bitcoin community has taken inspiration from the elegance of that system, and in somewhat of a rebellion from the mainstream, values Proof-of-Work as a generalized ethos.
And that is especially true in art. While the last century of mainstream art has been characterized by a trend towards increasing abstraction and minimalism, Bitcoin art celebrates ornate detail and the unmistakable hallmarks of time committed.
It’s no mistake that these preferences of craftsmanship in art and design were last seen in the beginning of the 20th century (e.g., Art Deco, Beaux Arts, Art Nouveau, the Arts and Crafts movement, and Gesamtkunstwerk “total work of art”). This was the final era before the advent of central banking.
Before central banking, we lived in an inherently deflationary world. When money grows in purchasing power over time (deflation), craftsmen are incentivized to produce better work (rather than more work, more easily). In turn, those forces seemed to foster a culture of appreciating craftsmanship and quality.
Since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913, the world has been increasingly inflationary, with the opposite effects on the quality of goods but also on the cultural value of craftsmanship.
What makes the Bitcoin art world notable is that the adoption of this deflationary currency (Bitcoin) seems to be nurturing a new subculture of craftsmanship. With that introduction, I thought it would be fun to share a selection of artists leading the way.
Here are the 9 best artists in Bitcoin:
1. Alex Schaefer
Alex is an oil painter whose body of work ranges from landscapes to street scenes — you know, typical subjects. But he is best known for bringing his deep contempt for banking to his work. In his “Burning Banks” series, Alex paints ordinary retail bank branches engulfed in towering infernos. Here is my personal favorite:
The contrast of these boring corporate outposts with the imposed fantasy of a raging conflagration is striking and uncomfortable. The familiar and innocent medium of an oil panting is transformed into a clear message of not just unmistakable fury, but also subversive rebellion.
By creating these paintings, Alex thumbs his nose at the establishment and sticks his middle finger up at the most powerful industry in the world. This contempt extends to central banks as well. His best-known painting shows the Federal Reserve branch of Los Angeles gutted with flames as a resolute mob exacts gallows justice on the central bankers.
The most badass part of Alex’s method is that he paints these fiery fantasies while standing in front of these bank branches, casually and charmingly painting right there on the sidewalk. And it does not go unnoticed. Alex has faced investigation from law enforcement – local and federal – trying to determine if this constitutes a threat of domestic terrorism. But ultimately, art is free speech.
In many ways, this mirrors the relationship that Bitcoin has with the fiat monetary system. Bitcoin stands in subversive defiance of the traditional system, merely by asserting that the status quo abuses the interests of ordinary people & proffering a fair alternative for individuals to freely opt into.
For these reasons, Alex is the #1 best artist in Bitcoin. You can find more of his work here.
FractalEncrypt is a pseudonymous artist known for making incredibly detailed sculpture pieces directly inspired by the Bitcoin network. Perhaps more than any other artist, FractalEncrypt’s approach embodies the Proof-of-Work ethos at the heart of Bitcoin’s engineering design.
In appreciation for the exquisite detail and sheer number of hours involved in designing, manufacturing, and assembling the many components involved in these sculptures, some of Bitcoin’s largest promoters have added FractalEncrypt pieces to their collections, including Michael Saylor.
Cryptograffiti is a pseudonymous Bitcoin artist who fuses the politicized street art of graffiti artists like Banksy with the anti-central banking sentiment of Bitcoin. Much of his graffiti work focuses on warning against CBDCs, including unauthorized public signage and exceptionally cool multimedia street art.
Perhaps his best-known stunt was the signage he put up around the First Republic Bank headquarters during its downfall, including this moving billboard parked directly outside.
This one is a bit different. (In fact, it was the inspiration to write this art piece.) Yellow is the invented persona of a Bitcoin meme artist — a yellow cartoonish puppet with a thick Greek accent and lovable (and crude) curmudgeon ways. While most of his efforts are the art of satire through memes and humorous videos, Yellow has stumbled into what I view as the defining piece of art for the last two years in Bitcoin.
Like most Bitcoiners in the heady bull market of late 2021, Yellow was excited for the blow-off top that would surely extend Bitcoin’s price above $100,000. In his euphoric enthusiasm, Yellow pledged to host a Twitter Spaces (an audio chatroom on Twitter) every single day to play Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin” until Bitcoin reached $100,000.
He expected it to take a few weeks. Nearly two years later he is still doing it. Every single day he plays “Don’t Stop Believin,” then lampoons some recent hot topic in the Bitcoin landscape, then plays the song again for good measure. Here’s a recent recording (note: 1:40 of silence at beginning) that features a parody guided meditation in between songs, starting at 6:30.
By bearing this cross, Yellow has turned his overzealous pledge into a piece of performance art. Through the denial, fear, despair, and regret of the 2022 bear market, he publicly vocalized and processed the shared emotions of Bitcoin holders everywhere. Through 2023, his DSB project has become a symbol of the perseverance required of all Bitcoiners to make it to the 2024 halving (and the bull market it will spark).
When the time comes, few Bitcoiners will have earned $100,000/coin more than Yellow and his DSB Proof-of-Work.
5. Bitcoin Apex
Bitcoin Apex is a pseudonymous artist focusing on pencil drawings with a stunning degree of Proof-of-Work. Here is his most popular piece, with the artist’s commentary below.
“In this over 200 hours of work, spread over a whole month, I have drawn a Bitcoin modified version of the bronze relief by Lodovico Pogliaghi. The relief can be seen on the doors of the Duomo di Milano and was masterfully created between 1894-1908. There are quite a few bitcoin Easter eggs lovingly incorporated into the drawing.
With the extinction of hard money, the days of magnificent, masterfully detailed paintings and buildings have also disappeared. With my drawing, I want to pay tribute to the art of that era. I am a strong proponent of achievement, quality and work, much like the lifeblood of Bitcoin: proof-of-work.”
You can see more of his work at his website.
6. Lina Seiche
Lina is a graphic artist who has lovingly cultivated a cartoon comic series centered on her protagonist, the Little Hodler. Comics have a special capacity to distill the essence of an idea and communicate it with clarity. For example, in the first of ~200 comic strips, the Little Hodler grows wealthier by using Bitcoin as a savings vehicle while the purchasing power of a dollar millionaire shrinks by comparison.
See more of Lina’s art at her website.
Tip_NZ is a unique artist on this list because she is the only musician. Tip is a self-styled “Bitcoin rapvocate.” Her songs are thorough lyrical breakdowns of specific facets of Bitcoin education. Each one is a marvel in terms of the sheer amount of work necessary to do the research, writing, music, and video production. My favorites are “TIMECHAIN” and “BANK”. Check out more of Tip’s videos on her website.
8. Brekkie von Bitcoin
Brekkie von Bitcoin is the pseudonym of a Bitcoiner who was inspired by Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work ethos to learn the most unforgiving physical art medium: rock sculpture. Brekkie has documented his journey and become quite skilled with a hammer and chisel. All of his pieces are inspired by Bitcoin, including my personal favorites “Vires in Numeris” (Strength in Numbers) and “Bitcoin Infinity.”
9. Lucho Poletti
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