Profile picture (PFP) non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have come to dominate the NFT ecosystem. As these generative avatar projects became astoundingly popular in 2021, their significance has only continued to increase as the NFT ecosystem has grown.
At its core, a PFP NFT is a digital token or artwork that is designed to be displayed as a person’s social media profile picture. Many of the world’s most popular NFT collections, such as Bored Apes and Doodles, are PFPs.
PFPs live at the intersection of collectibles and generative art. They’re collectibles in the sense that they usually come in large quantities (10,000 or so) and have varying degrees of rarity, somewhat similar to trading cards. Yet, PFPs are also generative. They are created using a simple plug-and-play method in which users load a variety of traits — like body type, head shape, background color, etc. — into an application that will in turn randomly compile vast quantities of NFTs.
This method has allowed countless artists and developers to launch both original and derivative collections in the image of the original PFP project, CryptoPunks. With so many PFP collections saturating the NFT market, we’ve compiled a list of the most prominent projects — ranked by overall sales volume — to help you understand which ones continue to stand the test of time.
Whether you’re a total NFT noob or a veteran collector, you’re sure to have (possibly even inadvertently) learned a good deal about CryptoPunks by now. A collection of 10,000 unique NFTs, CryptoPunks is arguably the most influential avatar collection ever made.
Launched in June of 2017 by product studio Larva Labs, these Punks were some of the first NFTs ever minted on the Ethereum blockchain. Featuring humans, apes, zombies, and aliens, CryptoPunks pioneered the idea of generative trait combinations that most other PFP projects still draw inspiration from today.
Second only to CryptoPunks in importance is the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Also a collection of 10,000 NFTs, with collectors all over the world, BAYC has become arguably the most beloved and embraced project in all of NFTs.
BAYC launched in April 2021, and although it experienced a slow start, the project exploded in value over the following months. Early supporters who have diamond-handed even one Ape currently have the opportunity to cash out at well over $300,000.
However, the general consensus throughout the NFT space seems to be that the most exciting aspect of the Bored Ape Yacht Club is its community, which in the last year has expanded to encompass collections like Mutant Apes, Kennel Club dogs, and of course the slowly evolving Otherside project.
Azuki is an anime-themed avatar project that launched in January 2022 and quickly burned a hot trail through the NFT charts. Featuring 10,000 NFTs, the goal of the project seems to be to create the largest decentralized metaverse brand, built and owned by the community.
While we’ve seen many a project journey down a similar path — either anime-themed or aiming to become a household name, or both — Azuki was one of the fastest-growing projects the NFT space has ever seen.
However, the endeavor hit a pretty major snag in May 2022 when the project’s founders were discovered to have abandoned at least three previous prominent projects. Just a few days after the news broke, the price of an Azuki dropped by more than half on OpenSea, and it has since struggled to recover.
Clone X is a joint venture between metaverse fashion house RTFKT and renowned multimedia artist Takashi Murakami. Featuring 20,000 NFTs, the Clone X collection has kept the collective NFT community on its toes with announcements about numerous Nike integrations.
Since the initial Clone X PFP collection first sold out in November 2021, the project has evolved to encompass numerous secondary initiatives including Space Pods, MNLTHs, and more. With new and exciting virtual and real-world expansions happening on a near-monthly basis, the initial Clone X collection continues to gain popularity with both new and seasoned NFT collectors.
Moonbirds is a collection of 10,000 NFTs created by prominent American internet entrepreneur Kevin Rose as part of his Proof Collective — a private members-only collective of NFT collectors and artists.
Only a few days after its April 2022 launch, Moonbirds had already achieved upwards of 100,000 ETH (approximately $300 million at the time) in secondary sales volume, immediately making it one of the highest-grossing NFT collections of all time. Aside from the typical PFP NFT roadmap promises, the Moonbirds collection offers a wide range of incentives to its collectors.
Doodles is a project created by a team with a proven track record as builders within the NFT space. Consisting of 10,000 playful line-drawn avatars, Doodles has easily become one of the most popular PFP projects in all of NFTs.
Only a few months after its October 2021 launch, Doodles quickly became an influential project within and outside of the NFT community. Although it received a bit of backlash due to the Doodle devs privatizing the Discord prior to launch, as a laundry list of prominent celebrities have bought in, the community sentiment is improving.
With innovative token mechanics and unique secondary collections continuing to be rolled out, Doodles is winning over the hearts of countless NFT enthusiasts and veteran NFT collectors.
When it comes to community-driven projects, Cool Cats is a tough one to beat. A collection of 9,999 generated and, as the developers say, “stylistically curated” NFTs, the collection launched in June 2021, going toe to toe with Gutter Cat Gang (also included on this list) for the title of hottest new cat-themed PFP project.
Since its launch, Cool Cats has earned accolades in the NFT space as a fun and inclusive project. With the collection floor achieving 10 ETH at one point — propelled by collaborations with Ghxsts and TIME magazine, plus a near viral milk chug challenge — the Cats are a definite fan favorite of PFP projects.
Inspired by Larva Labs’ iconic CryptoPunks, CrypToadz — a collection of 6,969 NFTs — was conceived by now prominent anonymous artist Gremplin during a time when PFP and Punk-derivative projects saturated the market.
Gremplin’s ambitious amphibious collection has racked up impressive sales volume since its launch in September 2021. Beyond becoming one of the most influential PFP projects of the year, Toadz has received praise from some of the most prominent NFT collectors and investors around.
World of Women (WoW) was a refreshing entry on the list of 2021 PFP projects. Totaling 10,000 NFTs, while this collection may be generative, it’s one of the only projects to give a human spin to the avatar craze.
Launched in July 2021, each WoW NFT was created from an array of traits crafted in the unique, colorful style of Yam Karkai. With a portion of proceeds from the primary sale donated to charity and another reinvested back in crypto art, WoW easily became an NFT community favorite. Even Reese Witherspoon has become a fan, showing off #8072 on Twitter.
Pudgy Penguins is a collection of 8,888 penguin-themed NFTs that is said to be a beacon of positivity in the NFT Space. Since its July 2021 launch, the collection has bootstrapped a robust ecosystem of NFT enthusiasts.
Yet, the project also has an interesting and controversial past. In Dec. 2021, a Pudgy Penguins community moderator exited the team, accusing the leaders of the project of being shady and ineffective, and even revealing that one of the project’s leaders had attempted to buy his silence with a bribe of 1 ETH. The project has since been handed over to new management and is still growing and expanding.
0N1 Force was one of the most notable drops of the summer PFP craze. Totaling 7,777 generative NFTs, the collection of colorful side-profile characters sold out in five minutes during its August 2021 launch, with secondary sales skyrocketing in the following days.
The 0N1 Force team has continued to grow and develop its “Enclave” community since its drop. And although collection sales slowed drastically towards the end of 2021, the project’s presence is still felt, leading to many subsequent (and unrelated) anime-themed NFT projects
Mfers is a project launched in Nov. 2021 and created by prominent NFT influencer Sartoshi. The collection features 10,000 NFTs based on Sartoshi’s hand-drawn memes. Mfers is unique in the way that Sartoshi has promised collectors no roadmaps, hidden incentives, etc.
Prior to mfers, Sartoshi had already gained a large following by sharing market insights, memes, and general NFT maximalism on Twitter. With mfers, the pseudonymous artist repurposed the popular “are you winning son?” meme in a crypto-centric way as a commentary on the ups and downs of the NFT market. The main driving factors behind the project are CC0 licensed art and community sentiment.
Creature World is a project based on the Creature character created by multidisciplinary NYC-based artist Danny Cole. At 10,000 strong, the Creature collection is one of the most visually unique PFPs out there.
From a one-of-a-kind minting game to a full playground installation at NFT.NYC, Creature World has captured the imagination of the NFT community. The project, which launched in August 2021, offers an inclusive, friendly community that even impressed basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal enough to want to join the crew.
Fluf World, launched in August 2021, is a collection of 10,000 3D rabbit avatars that were programmatically generated from over 270 traits. Each NFT within the collection is said to be a metaverse-ready avatar that acts as a ticket to a world of exclusive content, digital connectivity, IRL experiences, and more.
Originally launched as a standalone project, Fluf World has since evolved into a complex metaverse ecosystem encompassing numerous secondary collections as well as virtual and in-person events. While the multi-faceted metaverse endeavor is still under construction, Fluf World’s IRL branch, Fluf Haus, continues to hold exclusive in-person events at secret locations around the world.
CyberKongz combines two of the NFT community’s favorite things: pixel-art PFPs and primates. With a current collection supply of 4,439 Kongz, the project is spread out over two types of avatars: Babies and Genesis.
Launched in March 2021, the CyberKongz craze only truly began at the end of the summer, around the same time that CyberKongz VX was announced. As secondaries started to really pick up in the fall, the NFT community witnessed numerous high-profile sales and trades. There is seemingly still a lot in store for long-term Kongz holders.
When Sup Ducks dropped in July 2021, it was as if the entire NFT community took notice. A collection maxed at the standard 10,000 NFT mark, the developers of these Ducks went above and beyond in both art and community building.
Sup Ducks burst onto the scene with interesting, textured art, and a simple “sup” when it arrived. With a robust Discord and numerous events past and future, it seems many collected a Duck for the art and stayed for the community.
Psychedelics Anonymous is a project that has taken an interesting and innovative approach to community-building. Although the Psychedelics Anonymous Genesis PFP collection features 9,595 NFTs, the project as a whole consists of four unique collections.
Each unique collection within the Psychedelics Anonymous ecosystem yields unique benefits for owners. With the Genesis collection, holders have access to limited edition merch, metaverse wearables, IRL events, and more including interoperability between the entire Psychedelics Anonymous NFT ecosystem.
Gutter Cat Gang is another notable project that piggybacked off the massive success of Bored Apes. Capped at 3,000 NFTs, the collection is one of the lowest supply PFP projects available.
The project launched in June 2021 and as previously mentioned, immediately jumped into (friendly) competition with Cool Cats. Taking a page from BAYC, the Gang presented a similar approach to its lore, telling the tale of a future society of Cats with some sci-fi twists and turns thrown in. Gutter Cat Gang differentiated itself from other projects with low NFT supply and the creation of multiple official offshoots such as Gutter Rats and Gutter Pigeons.
Although Deadfellaz is one of many undead-themed projects, it’s one of the most robust and beloved within the NFT community. With a supply of 10,000, this collection of cartoon zombies gives back to its collectors in interesting ways.
Launched in August 2021, Deadfellaz has stood the test of time, losing no steam as Halloween came and went. With collaborations with Steve Aoki, Cool Cats, and more, these Fellaz continue to prosper. This project also completely changed its creators’ lives, making it a win-win for the devs and community.
Forgotten Runes Wizards Cult is regarded by many as one of the most well-crafted and run PFP projects out there. The lore behind this collection of 10,000 pixel-art Wizard NFTs is expansive.
Launched in June 2021, Forgotten Runes quickly gained notoriety via its unique, animated minting process. As the collection evolved, the team behind these Wizards revealed a conceptual realm, a book of lore, a burn mechanism, and numerous other secondary projects and endeavors.