- Niyi Okeowo Mohammed sold his art Indig Child, for 1.2 ETH($4,140) on the popular NFT marketplace SuperRare
- In 2014, Kevin McCoy, and Anil Dash created the first NFT called Quantum.
- Prince Osinachi is known as the first true African NFT artist globally
With Africa steadily embracing digitization, various industries have turned to the Internet, as a means of advertising. In addition to the application of blockchain technology, most organizations can earn directly from their product and services. This trend has engulfed Africa’s art industry by introducing the concept of digital artwork. In the last decade, Africa’s NFT marketplace has significantly grown. Today numerous NFT artists are flooding marketplaces with digital artwork to represent African culture to the world through their NFT art projects.
Who exactly is dominating Africa’s NFT marketplace? Within the same decade, a select few individuals have dominated the marketplace. They are now known for their creativity and zeal to promote Web3 in Africa.
Below are the faces and talent behind Africa’s NFT market. We will highlight how each one constantly competes to achieve the title of Africa’s top NFT artist.
The ever-expanding domain of African NFT artists.
NTF, or non-fungible tokens, is a blockchain application method that generally deals with the “ownership” of any digital content. In 2014, Kevin McCoy, and Anil Dash created the first NFT called Quantum. As it initially represented the first-ever concept of owning a digital item, many were sceptical. Fortunately, after settling several subsequent lawsuits over ownership of Quantum, many entrepreneurs saw the limitless potential of NFT.
One of the earlier versions of digital artwork ran into several problems. At first, counterfeit and fraudulent activities and cyber security significantly plagued the use of digital artwork. As a result, most artists only used digital artwork as an advertising means, rather than a product. Fortunately, blockchain technology steadily advanced, thus bringing in the concept of NFT. To artists globally, this created a gateway to prosperity never witnessed before.
Also, Read How the African NFT market is surviving the crypto crash.
Africa’s NFT marketplace is relatively newer since, like all Web3 applications, it met plenty of scepticism from artists.
Despite this, countries like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya took the front seat in Africa’s NFT marketplace. According to Tokini Petrside, founder of Art X Lago West Africa’s largest art fair, African NFT Artists have an opportunity never seen before. Today, numerous NFT organizations have dedicated their time, resources and ingenuity to promote African culture in Web3. In doing so, it has led to a sudden surge of talented African NFT artists. Each proves time and time again that Africa’s greatest asset is human capital and the ability to adapt to any situation.
The Faces of Africa’s NFT marketplace.
Like any other franchise, Africa’s NFT marketplace led to the creation of defining individuals within the market. The individuals below have proven the usefulness of digital artwork and how it can be a source of income for those with the talent and patience required. In addition, they have represented Africa’s culture in Web3.
One of the few demerits of the global NFT market is that the franchise is flooding. 2021 was the highlight of Africa’s NFT marketplace, with the continent steadily embracing cryptocurrency. Through this, various African NFT art projects significantly rose in price, increasing the trajectory of the entire franchise together. Waves of new collections and tokens have flooded the ecosystem. By 2022 the total value of deals hit an all-time high of $17 billion.
Despite the stiff competition and the flooded environment, these individuals could stand at the pinnacle of Africa’s NFT marketplace.
Prince Jacon Osinachi
Prince Osinachi is known as the first true African NFT artist globally. He ushered in a new age that even he couldn’t comprehend. Prince Osinachi is a self-taught digital artist whose NFT art projects have received global recognition. Born in 1991 in Aba, Nigeria, the first African NFT artist started his digital art career in 2017 during the golden age of bitcoin. At the time, the concept of NFT was essentially unheard of by most of Africa.
Regardless, Osinachi saw an opportunity that others could not and, as such, he developed and honed his skills. In an interview with the CryptoArt Community, Osinachi stated that his love of art stemmed from a very young age. Back when he drew cartoon characters such as Mickey mouse. He stated that the concept of using digital artwork never dawned on him until his father introduced him to computers.Soon Osinachi found his love of different art forms, such as storytelling and poem writing. His primary tool of choice during his early years was Microsft Word. According to him, in the beginning, he was merely enjoying himself trying to tinker with the software. Soon he discovered that he could create digital artwork, through it, and that kickstarted his career as a digital artist.
Prince Osinachi took digital artwork seriously in 2014 after completing his Undergraduate degree. For the next three years before fully diving into being an African NFT Artist, according to him, he was simply filling up his time with something he loved doing.
After years of hard work and honing his skills as an African NFT artist he held his first debut solo show; Osinachi: Existence as Protest, at the Kate Vasse Galerie in Zurich, Switzerland in 2020. His first shot at the global NFT market lace would later earn him plenty of fame that he used to build his brand in later years.
Also, Read Nigerian artists conquer the NFT marketplace in Africa(Opens in a new browser tab)
In 2021 Osinanchi rocked Africa’s NFT market lace by earning $75000 through his NFT in under 10 days. This feat lit the spark of Nigeria’s NFT marketplace. more Nigerian artists could not pass on the opportunity of making such an amount. As his title as the first African NFT artist solidified, he partnered with the Mohamed Amin Foundation to release NFTs for a catalogue featuring 2.5 million photographs and more than 5000 hours of video content.
This NFT art project later launched Afrofuture, an Etheum-based social currency. Today Osinanchi is the Chief creative officer for SocialStack, a social token protocol on Ethereum and Celo. He later launched his very own Social currency, $OSINA.
Niyi Okeowo Mohammed is an African NFT artist who sought a different approach to represent Africa’s culture in Web3. As a multidisciplinary in various forms of Art, he has dabbled in numerous aspects of the industry, from photography to graphic design and 3D animation.
As a teenager, Niyi always had a deep awe of the internet and discovered his interest in graphic design. This passion fueled his decision to pursue a career in Mass Communication at Covenant University. Niyi is among the few individuals globally to blur the line between work and play. In doing so he enjoys his work deeply and when the concept of NFT finally took its root in Africa it was a golden opportunity for young artists.Niyi started designing in 2009 and he honed his skills throughout the years. He even describes himself as an art director since he combines different elements to create his art
Unlike most African NFT artists who create digital art using screens and tools, Niyi took a dabble in what is known as collectables. These are long-term NFT art projects goom for hefty prices within Afrca’s NT market.
Since Niyi focuses on collectables, his NFT art projects often take time to create. Although, they compensate for the amount of each one. Niyi is one of the artists that exhibited at Art X’s NFT exhibition project titled; Reloading. He later sold his art Indig Child, for 1.2 ETH($4,140) on the popular NFT marketplace SuperRare.
Also, Read about African Artists using NFTs to promote their culture to the world.
According to Niyi, his artwork is a way of the diversity of Africa’s culture in Web3. His ingenuity and creativity stem from his long successful career in mass communication. Before diving into being an African NFT artist he works as an art director n Apollo, the sophomore album of Fireboy DML.
Niyi stated that the lack of middlemen in Africa’s NT marketplace makes his operations all the heavier. His name and experience have significantly propelled digital art. Today his artwork goes for no less than 1.5ETH($6500). His NFT art project Hello Mr Color is a well know classic and is one of the few digital artworks that placed his name on the Web3 map.
Linda Dounia is a Senegalese NFT artist and visual designer based in Dakar. She is a self-taught content creator who has a passion for artwork. According to Linda, her main goal is to not only represent Africa’s culture in Web3 but also represent the continent in the evergrowing world of technology.
In an interview, she stated that her NFT art projects are more of a conversation between physical and digital mediums by way of AI. In addition, it also utilizes analogue image-making-tools. All these are to provide the means he requires to explore the social construction of power and the cultural implications of the world of NFT.From a young age, Linda was always curious about how things work and how what is their purpose. In another interview with WhiteWall, she stated that being an African NFT artist and designer the entire concept of NFT did not simply exist waiting to be unwrapped like a gift box. Instead, it’s a building block to the traditional artwork we have today. As a result, due to its mechanics, she became curious about it leading to her completely embracing digital art.
Linda is the founder of Cyber Baat, an African NFT marketplace that strives to uplift NFT artists like herself all over the continent. Her organization is a DAO made up of artists, art collectors and curators. This enables artists to collaborate on hosting several exhibitions in Africa and throughout the globe.
Her NFT art projects have gained some reputation within the Web3 space and many terms it unique and peculiar in that some form of originality has never been seen. She has showcased her work in well-known exhibitions such as Art Basel Miami, The Dakar Biennale, Artsy NFT, Art X Lagos, Digital Art Fair Asia, and Art Dubai.
In 2022, Linda managed to work with Quantum Art to release the first large-scale AI collectors by an African woman in the history of digital art. This huge reveal tackled the issues of discrimination in facial recognition technology and the lack of representation of non-western perspectives in the NFT world. In addition to her love of art, she is also a well-known curator within the industry. She has curated shows at SuperRare Labs where she supported her fellow African NFT artist trying to represent diversity and inclusion within the pace. She also curated shows with Zora, Refraction DAO, and the VERSEverse.
Ade Adekola is a Nigerian-born Architech who dived into the World of NFT after receiving inspiration from other artists such as Osinachu. Similar to Niyi, Ade has extensive experience in the Mass communications Industry. His works span photography, installations and interactive art.His experience in the Media Industry significantly contributed to his current stage story as an NFT artist. Adekola is on Ethereum and Celo. He later launched his eye influenced by a blend of his experiences of different African cultures, and, like his NFT Projects have acquired some level of allure that many within the Industry envy. He combines his expertise with various visual languages across the multiple cultures he has experienced.
His love for media has allowed this African NFT artist to utilize his experience to take new and fresh approaches to AFrica’s NFT marketplace. In 2020, Adele made an open call on Instagram for people interested in having their photographers turned into portraits.
Many did not quite understand where he was heading with such an idea, but after more than 80 people his idea began materializing. As a testament to his vast knowledge created 700 different portraits out of 80. He later named this NFT project Lockdown Portraits. Which formed part of his solo exhibition, Dislocation, alongside Anthology of an African Wedding and Diaspora Axis.
These three different exhibitions have gained much fame within Africa’s NFT marketplace and have earned him a place on this list.
The above are a few of the top African NFT artists within the region. Other honourable mentions include:
- Kaysha– a Franco-Congolese musician and graphic designer who stepped into the NFT world to promote not only Africa’s culture but also his music in Web3
- OwO Anietie – a renowned artist who recently ventures into digital art to gain a much wider audience.
- Ahmed Partey – a Ghanaian Artist who draws his inspiration from West African symbols to bring forth his vibrant and culture-rich NFT art projects.
- ABDULRAHMAN ADESOLA YUSUF – An African NFT artist under the alias Arclight who has sold a least 44 NFTs within different platforms.
- Anthony Azekwoh – a digital artist and illustrator that turned to the world of Web3 to expand his horizon. He is the mastermind behind The Red Man which garnered over 46000 retweets and sold for over $53000.
These artists are the light behind the ver growing trajectory of Africa’s NFT marketplace. Their Zeal to constantly produce new and better ideas has propelled them to the eights they now enjoy.