What are profile picture (PFP) NFTs?
Profile Picture NFT 101
Profile picture (PFP) NFTs are digital items that represent ownership of a unique and collectible image or piece of artwork that can be used as a profile picture. Profile picture NFTs can be used as an avatar, a collectible, or can serve as membership to a community.
What is an NFT?
What defines a PFP NFT?
A profile picture, or PFP, NFT is any NFT thats primary purpose is use as a social media profile picture, or avatar. These NFTs are digital items that are authenticated on a blockchain network, making them verifiably unique. Some PFP NFTs also grant access to designated online communities.
Profile picture NFTs come in various forms, ranging from static images to animated or interactive designs. They may be based on characters, take the form of animals, look like humans, or be abstract.
How are PFP NFTs made?
In many cases, creators use generative art technology to create a library of characteristics (or character features) that can be remixed into endless unique NFTs within a collection.
Generative art refers to art that’s created using an algorithm or set of rules. It can be created using a wide range of techniques and technologies, including code and artificial intelligence. The creator creates a set of rules or instructions that define the parameters for generating the artwork. These parameters can include things like color, shape, size, and movement, among others. Once the rules have been defined, the algorithm takes over, producing a series of images or animations based on the parameters set by the creator. Generative art allows creators to make large collections (for example, a 10,000 NFT collection) that all have unique traits and levels of rarity while retaining a specific art style and look.
PFP NFT collections can also be created in other ways, for example, as individually-drawn art, 3D digital art, photographs, or myriad other methods.
What are the advantages of using blockchains for PFP NFTs?
There are several advantages of using blockchains for PFP NFTs:
Authenticity and provenance
By using blockchain to track the ownership and movement of a PFP NFT, it is possible to establish a clear and verifiable record of the authenticity and provenance of the artwork. This can provide added transparency as the collectible moves from owner to owner.
Ownership and control
By using an NFT to represent ownership of a digital item, creators and collectors can have greater technical control over how their work is used, displayed, and sold.
By using a blockchain to represent and track the ownership of PFP NFTs, it is possible to create a more liquid market for them. The blockchain’s public nature, and clear and transparent record of ownership and sales history can improve the experience for creators selling their work and for collectors buying and selling it.
Accessibility and networks
By using a blockchain to store and transfer PFP NFTs, it is possible to widen who can own, participate, or trade them. PFP NFTs can also grant owners access to online communities for networking, entertainment, or groups of like-minded enthusiasts.
Where are PFP NFTs stored?
Blockchains store NFTs. You can use an NFT-compatible crypto wallet to access your NFTs, and you can view them on OpenSea once you’ve connected your wallet. OpenSea is compatible with multiple wallets. An easy way to remember the role a crypto wallet plays is to think of it as your unique address on the blockchain — it allows you to send, receive, and store items.
Notable PFP NFT projects
In 2017, CryptoPunks became one of the first collections of its kind to launch on the Ethereum blockchain. Matt Hall and John Watkinson, the founders of Larva Labs, used software they developed to create and launch the collection of 10,000 unique NFTs.
According to LarvaLabs, “The CryptoPunks pre-date the ERC-721 standard and are a custom contract, that means it doesn't comply with any standards. They are almost an ERC20 token.” This means that in order to buy and sell CryptoPunks on OpenSea they need to be wrapped.
CryptoPunks are an example of the pixel art style, and were created by remixing various unique traits to create the collection of 10,000 NFTs. The core types of CryptoPunks are categorized as “male,” “female,” “zombie,” “ape,” and “alien.” Each of these types can have up to 7 traits per Punk (called “accessories” in this collection) of which there are 95 total.
CryptoPunks was one of the earliest and now one of the most well-recognized NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain, and it’s now considered the catalyst for the current state of NFT art space.
Bored Ape Yacht Club
Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) has become one of the most popular NFT projects to date. Founders Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow of Yuga Labs launched the collection, which sold out in 12 hours, in February 2021. While it didn’t initially have visibility outside of the world of web3, thanks to gaining traction on Twitter, and celebrity endorsements from the likes of Paris Hilton, Jimmy Fallon, Shaquille O’Neal, Eminem, and Gwyneth Paltrow to name a few, helped skyrocket the apes to mainstream fame.
The collection contains 10,000 apes created using generative art techniques. Each ape has unique characteristics that correlate to its level of rarity. The apes double as both profile pictures and membership keys to the club.
In the year following the launch of the original collection, Yuga Labs has released multiple other collections. In June of 2021, they launched a spinoff collection called Bored Ape Kennel Club (BAKC), and in August of the same year, Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC). In 2022, they launched Otherside, a metaverse gaming platform, and then three new collections connected to Otherside: Otherside Vessels, Otherdeed Expanded, and Otherside Koda.
The collection’s meteoric rise in popularity contributed to a massive new wave of NFT collections being created and new users onboarded into the web3 space. Since its launch, it’s become one of the most valuable NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain.
In June of 2021, Cool Cats NFT was created by Atlanta, Georgia-based artist Colin Egan, blockchain expert Tom Williamson, developer Rob Mehew, and creative director Evan Luzu. The collection of 9,999 cats launched with an accessible floor price and soon took off in popularity.
Similar to Bored Ape Yacht Club, the Cool Cats were created using generative art techniques. There are said to be more than 300,000 possible combinations of traits within the collection. Cool Cats also offered its owners access to a community dubbed Cooltopia, which refers to the full Cool Cats universe. In September 2021, Cool Cats launched a companion project called Cool Pets which consists of 19,999 eggs that hatch and evolve into grass, fire, water, or air.
Doodles, launched in October 2021, is a collection of 10,000 generative NFTs. Doodles’ founders, more commonly known by their aliases Tulip, Burnt Toast, and Poopie, had been in the NFT space for a few years already before they created Doodles, which gave them additional insight into how to launch their collection successfully.
Doodles uses a library of characteristics, or traits, remixed into 10,000 unique combinations. There are humans, cats, balloons, coffee cups, apes, popsicles, skeletons, aliens, pickles, flames, ice cream cones, pink devils, and even a creature made entirely of bubblegum within the collection. Truly, something for everyone.
Since its launch, Doodles has marketed itself as a project centered on the concept of community, first and foremost. They are known for their colorful and immersive live events at South by Southwest and Art Basel, and in June of 2022, Doodles brought Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, and artist Pharrell Williams on as its Chief Brand Officer.
How can I explore and buy PFP NFTs?
You can find PFP NFTs on OpenSea’s PFP NFT category page.
In order to buy an NFT, you'll need a crypto wallet and cryptocurrency (or, in some cases, just a credit or debit card). Using OpenSea, you can instantly buy items listed for sale, bid in auctions, or make offers on NFTs.
NFTs operate on blockchain technology, making it possible to verify their ownership and easily transfer them from one owner to the next. Ethereum, Solana, and Polygon are three examples of blockchains that store NFTs.
A blockchain is a digitally distributed ledger that records transactions and information across a decentralized network. Most blockchains are verified by many nodes (read: computers), which is why you’ll hear them described as “decentralized.” Different blockchains may verify their transactions using different methods but ultimately operate similarly.
Blockchain technology allows users to easily transfer, collect, and verify their membership NFTs. The provenance of a membership NFT is one of its biggest advantages.
Web3 technology is still new and constantly evolving, so while no single action guarantees protection, there are best practices that can help. The best rule of thumb is that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Never share your wallet’s seed phrase, be careful when taking actions using your wallet, and make sure to thoroughly evaluate NFTs before buying.
OpenSea also has an icon visible via a blue checkmark badge on a collection or account. A blue checkmark badge on an account means that account has been verified for authenticity by OpenSea. A blue checkmark badge on a collection means the collection belongs to a verified account and has significant interest or sales. (OpenSea does not endorse verified accounts or badged collections, and OpenSea makes no representations regarding the NFTs in a verified account or badged collection.)
OpenSea makes no representations or guarantees regarding the collections highlighted in this article. Users must do their own research and use their own judgment before buying any NFT, including those included in the collections highlighted in this article. The descriptions of the collections highlighted in this article were adapted from descriptions provided by the NFT creators, not OpenSea.
In web3, the term “gas fee” refers to the payment needed to execute transactions on the blockchain. OpenSea doesn’t control gas fees, set gas fees, or receive any of the gas fees incurred by users on the platform. Instead, they all go to network validators or miners. When you start the NFT purchase process using OpenSea, you’ll see the gas fee broken down by your wallet provider, so you can watch the fee refresh and complete the transaction when it’s low.