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Mike Winkelmann, known professionally as Beeple, is a graphic artist who creates short films, video loops, and a variety of digital artwork focusing on virtual and augmented reality. He is known for selling his artwork as NFTs, many of which have fetched large sums of money.
Who is Beeple?

Beeple’s work generally depicts a dystopian future and deals with post-apocalyptic themes that examine cultural trends. “I’m very interested in politics and technology and the power dynamics between those two, as well as between technology and society,” he said in an interview. He is known for his “Everydays” series, where he creates an image from start to finish daily, in 2007 and has posted an original piece of art online each day since.

The NFT of “Everydays: the First 5000 Days,” a collage of the first 5000 images from his “Everydays” series, was sold at Christie’s auction house for $69 million in March 2021. This sale made it the most expensive NFT sold at the time, marking a historic moment for the technology. “Human ONE,” another work by Beeple featuring a seven-foot sculpture with both a physical and NFT component, sold for $28 million later that year.

Beeple is a significant online personality and has a huge social media following, mostly on Twitter and Instagram. He has also designed concert visuals for multiple celebrities and venues, including Nikki Minaj, Eminem, and One Direction, as well as two Superbowl halftime shows. He also collaborated with fashion brand Louis Vuitton to provide images for a collection, among other projects.

Personal history

Beeple was born in June 1981 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA and graduated from Purdue University in 2003 with a degree in computer science. He chose the name Beeple after a 1980’s yeti-like toy with a light-up nose, a vague reference to the art he was creating at the time.

He briefly designed corporate websites before working as a freelancer in graphics and animations, finding some success with video loops that became popular backgrounds for parties and events. He also designed graphics for commercial clients such as Justin Bieber and Apple.

The “Everydays” series

In 2007, Beeple got the idea to make an original work of art each day from another artist who had completed a similar project. He thought that creating a new daily image from start to finish would strengthen his drawing skills and hold him accountable with a deadline.

Beeple focuses on one skill or medium per year. For example, in 2023, he aimed to examine the fundamentals of color, composition, and value. He is also eager to practice on the various software used for creating digital art.

“In general, art is a numbers game. People don’t have a lack of ideas; they have a lack of deadlines… I think everybody has way more ideas inside them than they realize,” he said in an interview.

The ongoing project has encompassed over 5,800 original pieces. Beeple creates artwork every day even when it’s inconvenient. For example, he has produced work on his wedding day, the day of the birth of his children, and even while being afflicted with food poisoning.

During the project’s first three years, Beeple uploaded the images on his website, but never got much traction. It was when he began posting the project social media that he started to gain popularity in the digital arts world.

Art and composition

Beeple’s art often depicts bizarre, garish, and often grotesque images that feature political and cultural figures and satirize current events. His work examines current trends in society by taking them to exaggerated levels.

For example, works in the “Everydays” series have included: lactating Hillary/Trump cyborgs, Trump as a dominatrix beating the coronavirus, Baby Yoda robots eating children, and President Lincoln spanking a baby Trump.

“My goal is to make something that is so weird and so out-there that it makes you just think of questions instead of answers,” he told a reporter.

Role in the cryptocurrency community

By late 2020, NFTs were exploding in popularity, and Beeple said his fans kept telling him to check out the technology. He was originally skeptical, passing it off as “some weird crypto thing.”

However, he started to recognize the names of some artists selling NFTs and thought more about how it could be an avenue for recognition and respect for digital art. He reached out to Pak, an anonymous NFT artist, with whom he already had a relationship who would eventually walk him through the basics of NFT technology.

First NFT sales

Beeple sold three NFTs of his artwork on the online marketplace Nifty Gateway in October 2020, including the piece “Politics is Bullshit” featuring a bull with diarrhea draped in an American flag surrounded by dollar bills.

He released more artwork in December, including a piece titled “MF Collection,” which was a continuous digital loop of pieces from the “Everydays” collection. It was bought by crypto investor Tim Kang for $777,777. The sale attracted significant publicity and boosted Beeple’s reputation from niche artist to a popular figure in the digital art and NFT space.

Sale of “Everydays: the First 5000 Days”

In February 2021, Christie’s auction house announced the sale of “Everydays: the First 5000 Days,” a collage of images from the “Everydays” series. The work was Christie’s first digital-only piece.

On March 11th, the NFT sold for $69 million dollars, with the auction price increasing exponentially in the final few minutes. The sale was seen as a historic moment for blockchain technology and NFTs. Further, the auction by Christie’s legitimized both Beeple as a contemporary artist as well as NFTs as a technology.

According to the auction house, the sale positioned him among the top three most valuable living artists. It was also the most third-most expensive work ever sold by a living artist.

Beeple essentials

  • Beeple is a digital artist known for selling his work as NFTs.
  • He created the “Everydays” series, where he has posted an original piece of art each day since 2007.
  • “Everydays: the First 5000 Days,” a collage of images from the “Everydays” series, was sold at Christie’s auction house for $69 million in a historic sale.

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