Not so metadiverse: women account for just 16% of NFT art market

ArtTactic report reveals a “winner takes all” market for NFTs, with 16 artists generating 55% of sales

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Men dominate the NFT market, but Grimes bucks the trend—her sales total $8.9m to date

Photo: Serguei/Flickr

Men dominate the NFT market, but Grimes bucks the trend—her sales total $8.9m to date

Photo: Serguei/Flickr

Women account for just 16% of the NFT art market, according to a report published by the research firm ArtTactic this week, which based its findings on primary and secondary market sales on Nifty Gateway over the past 21 months.

Much as in the traditional art market, the “winner takes all” mentality is also pervasive in the NFT market, with 55% of all sales raised by 5% of artists (16 artists in total). Overall, the top 25% of artists account for almost 90% of total values.

The analysis will hardly come as a surprise. Despite the metaverse being touted as an inclusive and diverse space, the NFT market has been dominated by the likes of the US artist Beeple (aka Mike Winkelman), Pak and Canadian-born Mad Dog Jones (the trio take top three spots). While Pak’s nationality, gender and age remain undisclosed, the only known woman to make it into the top ten NFT artists is the musician Grimes, whose sales total $8.9m to date, compared with Winkelman’s $50.8m. Overall, male artists account for 77% of all primary and secondary sales, at $258.3m.

Even some of the content of Winkelman’s record-breaking NFT, a collage of 5,000 digital drawings which sold at Christie’s for $69.3m in March, was found to be racist, misogynistic and homophobic—charges for which he apologised during a podcast with Lucas Zwirner in May. “If you are offended by [the images] I am sorry, my intention is never to offend. There’s tonnes of garbage in there,” the artist told Zwirner. “My social values are the same as the rest of the art world, I’m liberal. People say, ‘Oh Beeple is alt-right’. That is some Q-Anon shit… what the fuck are you talking about? Of course I want everything to be inclusive and diverse.”

Geographically speaking, the NFT market is heavily concentrated in the Global North, with US, British and Canadian artists accounting for 73% of NFT sales totals. Since February 2020, 174 US artists have generated $167.5m (50.1% of the total sales), followed by 40 British artists (13.1% of total sales) and 15 Canadian artists (9.9% of total sales). Though Nifty Gateway is a US-based platform, with findings likely to be skewed as a result, the report highlights a distinct lack of diversity in the NFT market, with just 3.6% of artists coming from countries in Africa and Latin America. Artists working in the NFT sphere are concentrated in Los Angeles, where 51 artists raised a total of $35.2m, compared with 50 artists in New York who generated $31.5m and 22 artists in London raising a total of $24.8m.

Though predominantly white males have dominated the NFT market to date, the majority of them millennials or Gen Zers, there appears to be some movement towards collaborations and collectives, which now account for almost a quarter of NFT sales. This is part of a broader cross-over by artists working across several industries including music, design, sport, technology and entertainment. Overall, $90.6m, or 23% of sales on Nifty Gateway, have so far been raised through collaborative projects.

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