Put an ETH on it!

Crypto Art Aug 27, 2020

One particular element of crypto art that many find especially weird is why are there so many cryptocurrency logos in the art?

There is an almost religious devotion to the Bitcoin logo or the Ethereum logo in crypto art. It is as though the only real differentiator in the visual media between a piece of regular old digital art and crypto art or rare digital art is the presence of one or more logos.

Put Ethereum logos everywhere, and now you can open for business...

Perhaps the finest and most completely absurd example is right here.

Robness. "ETHEREUM," 2020 (SuperRare)

What can even be added as commentary? It is literally just an Ethereum logo a readymade released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license, and for sale as the equivalent of an NFT urinal artwork.

This NFT was originally minted by Robness on the SuperRare v2 contract as token ID 7247, but Robness was banned from the platform (presumably for such absurd artworks and various other perceived infractions), and so now that URL is a 404. SuperRare is a centralized platform with terms and conditions of use, and they do not have to necessarily acknowledge the existence of any token created on its platform, so while the token exists, it is no longer welcome there since the artist is not either.

The token is still for sale on OpenSea, however— for 10,000 ETH or about 4,274,781 in USD. Okay, sure.

Look Yonder — An Olde Master Approacheth!

If your art tastes run more serious and traditional, like super traditional, like old dusty cubism type of traditional, then there is also an Ethereum logo for you too, friend.

Jones, Trevor and Money, Alotta. detail from "EthGirl," 2019, (SuperRare)

This piece is great at mocking the Braque-casso palette and cubist feel, coming across as completely dusty and shady in a super authentic sort of way. The NFT is actually an animated GIF, but due to the large file size and in the name of conserving resources, it is not shown here and you are instead encouraged to view it elsewhere in its original form.

There it is, though! More ETH than girl, really...

A looming and yet slightly subtle Ethereum logo dominates the work. Yes, the old familiarity taking it to Picasso town is here too; the piece was originally an oil painting, and the artist Trevor Jones collaborated with Alotta Money to add an element of modernization by stylishly animating the NFT version. The collaboration certainly helped as the piece set a record all time high sale of 72.1 ETH (about $10,000) on SuperRare at the time.


Everything old is new again when you apply a simple logo transformation. Pick any iconic work of art that has already paid its dues and simply attach a logo. Did you see this painting before? No, I didn't- it was once famous and eventually only an artistic novelty, but now it has an Ethereum logo on it!

obxium. "Art & Crypto Art," 2020 (Rarible)

More an explanatory diagram than artwork, this is a typical prankish response piece by obxium that riffs on this very topic well enough. At left, old reliable "Son of Man," Magritte's staple attractor appears as boring old art. After some cunning and prankish crypto artist comes along with their cyber rattlecan however, the result at right is transformed instantly into crypto art. 💥

How can the notion of crypto art exist if there is no differentiator? The art lacks value proposition as a unique movement the very moment it is detached from both the use of a cryptocurrency token and that cryptocurrency's branding or iconization.

After all, stripped of all cryptomumbojumbo, it becomes just art.

More logos, please!

So why does this brand fetisihization occur to the extent found in the crypto art space? Why do so many artists feel compelled to include this imagery in their work?

There are several possible motivators for inclusion of these cryptocurrency logos in the art to consider.

  • Devotion is one explanation; some artists are deeply respectful and thankful to both the cryptocurrency itself and to the associated figureheads and legends. They use the logos to pay homage to this aspect of the art.
  • Hype is yet another- to both build and maintain momentum for the cryptocurrency itself,  and draw in onlookers and outsiders.
  • A small collector subset that strongly believes crypto art is not really crypto art unless it contains the cryptocurrency logo, related imagery and otherwise shouts out to the blockchain, Vitalik, or some other Ethereum hero.
  • Conspiracy theory says that there are approximately 450 crypto artists, but 350 of them are actually Vitalik himself and 50 of the remaining artists are merely sockpuppets of Vitalik's CryptoKitty. 🤣

Why all the ETH crypto art hate? What have you got against rainbows and unicorns anyway?

Dear reader, it is not even hate and the art associated with other cryptocurrencies display the same phenomena. It just happens to be that Ethereum has the largest active crypto art community at the time of this writing, so it makes for the best example.

Don't take our word for it, and the numbers are not really even that frightening overall if you prefer to look at unscientific search result numbers instead of pictures.

  • KnownOrigin currently features 13,991 NFTs, with 484 containing "ETH" in their metadata.
  • MakersPlace currently features a healthy 31,077 NFTs, with only 413 containing "ETH" in their metadata.
  • Rarible shows an astounding 4,037,769,285 NFTs (?!), with a paltry 371 containing "ETH" in their metadata - the best ratio yet. 🤣
  • SuperRare currently features 12,386 NFTs with 345 containing "ETH" in their metadata.

So, overall the representation of Ethereum logos in Ethereum based crypto art is  statistically pretty low. Still, it is an interesting and unusual trend that will likely continue on until it surpasses art made about Rai Stones!

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Senem de Kroon

I am a passionate writer and consumer of art. The cryptoart space is exciting and breathing fresh air into the tired art world's life support system. My first collected NFT artwork is by XCOPY. 🖼🎉

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