CoinDesk’s annual “Most Influential” list recognizes the extraordinary people who defined the year in crypto. And to do their stories justice, we illustrate them with a range of striking original portraits.

Each December we pick the subjects of these profiles through a reader survey and editorial deliberations, hoping to represent the full breadth of the crypto industry.

This year’s list featured the likes of Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX, Gary Gensler of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Trung Nguyen of the Axie Infinity gaming phenom. It also had Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) who fought for crypto in the U.S. Congress, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who, like him or not, showed how tweeting can move markets.

The artists

CoinDesk asked 10 artists to create portraits of the top honorees. We wanted these artists to interpret these pioneers, many of whose images are well known.

The artists took varied approaches.

For his portrait of Bankman-Fried, Pindar Van Arman used a robot “cloud painting” machine to make thousands of minute strokes on a canvas.

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(Pindar Van Arman/CoinDesk)

For “The Melancholic Seer,” an animation of Elon Musk, Federico Solmi used a mixture of 3D rendering, painting and motion capture to create a whimsical look at the space pioneer and huge DOGE fan.

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(Federico Solmi/CoinDesk)

“I wanted to represent him as a great thinker but at the same time in a costume,” Solmi told CoinDesk TV, explaining his process. “He’s like Frederick Nietzsche, a very involved thinker. But then a spaceship leaves Earth, and he becomes like a child.”

Inspired by “Wonder Woman,” Gisel X Florez represented Cynthia Lummis as she’s probably never been represented before.

And Skygolpe did away with Gary Gensler’s face entirely, leaving it to viewers to decide whether the SEC chair is a friend of the crypto industry, or something else.

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(Sky Golpe)

As well as showing their work as part of our package, these artists sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs) of their work on platforms such as SuperRare and Foundation. The artists have collectively raised about 50 ETH so far (about $200,000 at current prices), with roughly 20% of that going to charities of their choice.

CoinDesk thanks our NFT platform partners and The Giving Block, which facilitated the donations.

“We are thankful to partner with CoinDesk to offer the creator community a way to give back to charities and causes they care about while advancing crypto adoption and NFTs as a cultural medium,” said Duke Kim, The Giving Block’s director of crypto partnerships.

Check out the entire Most Influential 2021 list of 50 people who impacted crypto this year.


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