PFP NFTs Explained for Real Beginners (101 Guide)

pfp nfts explained

Profile Picture Non-Fungible Tokens (PFP NFTs) are NFT images that are displayed as profile pictures in the form of avatars on an individual’s social media account(s).

NFTs that started out with little attention have now become some of the most highly sought-after assets. With the recent emergence of PFP NFTs, the concept of NFTs, in general, has been taken to a whole new level.

But what’s all the hype about PFP NFTs? How did this type of NFT come about? Is it even worth owning? Find satisfactory answers to these questions in this comprehensive article as we discuss the following topics:  

What Are PFP NFTs?

Often addressed simply as PFP NFTs, Profile Picture, Picture for Proof, or Picture for Profile Non-Fungible Tokens are basically valuable digital artworks that are used as profile pictures on a social media site.

They are shoulder-length generative or hand-drawn digital art pieces that feature several random attributes that can be seen in characters such as apes, ducks, toads, and humans amongst others. These attributes can be but are not limited to the characters wearing sunglasses, smoking pipes, and so on. 

PFP NFTs do not necessarily need to be NFT minted specifically to be used for a profile picture. Although worth nothing in value (if you’re not the owner) it can also be a random image of an NFT(s) from an NFT collection.

The Rise of PFP NFTs


The use of NFTs as a profile picture did not start all of a sudden. The meteoric rise of the trend is closely associated with the invention of the first  PFP NFT project, CryptoPunks.

CryptoPunk is an NFT collection that features 10,000 uniquely generated characters called Punks. Although developed in 2017, it was not until 2021 that the project garnered attention and became very popular. Holders began using Punks as their Twitter avatars and setting them as profile pictures.

Interest in this trend has soared really high in the past few months so much that buying a punk has become difficult. The high demand for it has led the price to skyrocket, up to millions of dollars.

Thanks to the birth of other PFP NFT projects that have copied CryptoPunk’s approach. As such, anyone interested in owning a PFP NFT now has options.

(Read on, we’ll highlight some of these options in the course of the article)

In the last few months, interest in PFP NFTs has grown so much that the value of some of the digital pieces has gone from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars in a matter of months.

PFP NFTs have become so popular that high-profile crypto enthusiasts, institutional giants, and celebrities such as Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber amongst others own one.

How Are PFP NFTs Created?

PFP NFTs are created in large quantities. They come as a collection, per project. For instance, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) released 10,000 NFT characters at a go. Most PFP NFTs are minted on the Ethereum blockchain.

But that’s not just all there is to their creation. 

Every PFP NFT project has two groups of vital figures behind its invention: an artist/designer and developers.

The creativity and design of the art pieces in a project are made by these artists or artists, as the case may be.

The project team decides the character the NFTs would be such as cats, ducks, apes, and so on. The artist(s) then provide a clear picture, in the form of a sketch drawing or painting, amongst other options of what the NFTs would look like.

Recall that PFP NFTs for a particular project come in bulk, in thousands, to be precise.

Does this mean the artist(s) would design all the thousands of these NFT characters individually? 

Not at all.

Samples of these NFTs are designed. To create the several thousand characters that would form the finished collection, each of the sample NFTs would have to be broken down. As such, the artist(s) would need to design thousands of traits like body type, head shape, facial expression, accessories, arm position, background color, and so on for the NFTs.

The artist(s) would also consider the proper placement of each feature of the NFT character, such as the head suiting on the neck straightly, the eyes evenly aligned on the face, and so on. This they would do by creating the characters in layers such that the finished product would be well assembled.

Once the layers have been sorted out, the developers will take over. They write a bit of code that can mix and match the traits to create single NFTs. Better still, they could choose to load each of the traits into a suitable programming language (such as Python). The program would in turn randomly compile vast quantities of NFTs.

Let’s summarize it in a simple way. 

First of all, a specific number of NFTs would be designed (sort of like originals). One by one, through the help of a high-level program or a code, these NFTs are subdivided and thousands of the characters are created. Although very similar in nature, their differences would be seen in the traits they possess. The differences between one NFT from the other could be their color, their facial expression, and so on depending on what the chosen character is.

Note that all NFTs would surely be different from each other, non-identical, no matter how slight the difference is, as that is what makes them unique.

Benefits of PFP NFTs

Most PFP crypto projects come with a defined roadmap (sometimes that doesn’t determine the success of a project). Thus, investors have an outright knowledge of what to expect from the project as to whether or not their investment would be worth it.

An NFT PFP project with a good roadmap holds the potential to perform well. As such, owning it may lead to profit gain. 

Another thing is that some PFP NFTs come with real-life and virtual utilities. This means that by owning a PFP NFT, you’re entitled to get vouchers for real-life events and items such as meals, toys, and games.

With virtual utilities, once the metaverse feature of an NFT PFP project is fully developed, holders of the digital art pieces will automatically be able to access it. 

PFP NFT holders can also choose to monetize their assets through commodities such as beanies, shirts, and mugs. This is possible because most crypto PFP projects feature merchandise stores that allow for creative art monetization. 

For those who love to show off their material possessions, owning PFP NFTs is a good way to do so. With Twitter, you can choose to build a wealthy reputation and announce your presence to users on the platform by purchasing a PFP NFT and displaying it.

Twitter Rolls out Verifiable PFP NFTs

Twitter is a social media platform where users can set NFTs as profile pictures. The popularity of the NFT PFP trend led Twitter to introduce a new system to verify ownership of NFTs displayed in users’ profiles.

The feature, which is available only on iOS devices, for now, uses a crypto-wallet connection app that allows users to choose a PFP from their personal NFT collections and display it as their avatar.

The NFT as a profile picture will appear with a hexagonal border rather than the normal circular border. 

So, even though it is very much possible to set an image of a random NFT as your profile picture on the social media platform, you might get called out or asked to take the image down by the original owners or designers of the pieces.

List of Best Crypto PFPs

The two popular best-performing PFP crypto NFTs are:

  • CryptoPunks

CryptoPunks are the first type of PFP NFT that was created. Launched in 2017 by New York-based Larva Labs, it is a collection of 10,000 unique NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain. The project features 3840 female characters and 6039 male characters with a few apes, aliens, and zombies that sum up to 10,000 entirely unique characters.

  • Bored Ape Yacht Club:

Created in 2021 by Yung labs, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is a collection of 10,000 cartoon ape NFTs, all of which look totally unique and non-identical. Each Ape has a different rarity depending on characteristics such as its background, accessory, and what they’re doing.

Other promising crypto PFP projects include Meebit, Cool Cat NFT, SupDucks, Doodles, World of Women, 0N1 Force, Mfers, Karafuru, Avastar, and Gutter Cat Gang amongst others.

Should You Own PFP NFTs?

PFP NFTs as profile pictures (in a way that verifies ownership and not images) are available only on Twitter and discord, and these artworks already sell for as much as millions of dollars.

As such, there’s a possibility that demand for PFP NFTs might increase once other social media platforms incorporate the feature for their users. Once demand increases, the value of these characters may likely increase. Considering the potential value of and the benefits PFP NFTs offer as discussed earlier, it might seem reasonable to own them.

But like cryptocurrencies, NFTs also have risks. Liquidating NFTs is an issue as consistent buyers of these assets are sometimes not readily available. This can be a much bigger problem if you buy an NFT that over time begins to lose its value. Phishing attacks are also not left out.

Regardless, whether or not you want to own PFP NFTs is your personal decision to make. Weigh the risks and benefits and make your decision.


In this article, we’ve discussed in detail the history of PFP NFTs, what they are and how they’ve grown very popular lately. We’ve also seen some popular PFP NFTs that you can consider investing in if interested.

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