10 Popular Solana NFT Collections (2023)
What is an NFT collection?
An NFT collection is a group of Non Fungible Tokens arranged in a series, most often using generative art to create large quantity of unique NFTs. A Non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital item or asset on the blockchain that can exist as an image, audio file, or video.
In this article, we showcase ten of the best NFT collections on Solana and explain what makes them popular including their teams, utility, artwork, market timing, and roadmap among other characteristics of successful NFT projects.
What makes a great NFT collection?
For a great NFT collection, you need four important attributes: artwork, utility, roadmap, and team. There are a lot of NFT collections on Solana that have one or more of these traits, but the most popular ones posses all four qualities.
1. Good Art
While good art is subjective, NFT projects that have art aligned with their goals present a consistent brand to their community, holders, and potential collectors.
With some projects like Degenerate Ape Academy that launched with 137 traits and 3D images, art made it attractive, whereas Portals, whose art simply features a rotating access card, is popular because of its utility and not its art.
All this said, based on the popularity of Ethereum NFTs, some popular projects emulate popular art styles. For example, the artistic style of Okay Bears has similarities to Ethereum's Bored Ape Yacht Club collection, which may make it more attractive to collectors who like a classic style of NFT artwork.
Some of the first Solana NFTs were simple projects that focused exclusively on artwork for profile pictures on Twitter. Over time, NFT projects that wanted to distinguish themselves from other collections, started providing additional utility to their holders. This utility would incentivize collectors and drive value back to the community.
NFT projects with utility include blockchain games, NFTs that give access to exclusive tools, or NFTs where owners earn a percentage of the revenue from secondary sales or products the NFT project sells. Examples from this list that fall into these categories are Aurory, Xin Dragons, and Quantum Traders to name a few.
Every NFT project should have a couple of goals, and it is helpful when projects have a well-defined plan, or roadmap, to achieve these goals. Boryoku Dragonz, for example, one of the Solana NFT projects in this article, has clear-cut plans for the phases of its collection.
As a potential NFT collector, analyzing the project's roadmap is a part of the due diligence process. Roadmaps show how visionary the founding team is concerning the collection. If the project has a rushed or unrealistic roadmap, it might not be a good collection to mint.
Any Solana NFT collector will agree that the reputation of the founders is important when deciding how popular a collection can become. The founding team should be experienced in the NFT market, have strong developers, marketers, and community managers.
The founding team must know how to build a great community, build hype sell out their collections, be able to deliver on their roadmap, and be trustworthy enough so collectors can trust they won't abandon the project (i.e. rugpull).
What are some of the best NFT collections on Solana?
Some of the best NFT collections on Solana are Degenerate Ape Academy & Degen Trash Pandas, Degods, Aurory, STEPN, Boryoku Dragons, Okay Bears, Taiyo Robotics, Portals, Xin Dragons.
What sets these collections apart is that they exemplify the principles outlined above and have created a strong community for their project.
Solana has a lot of popular NFT collections as can be found on Solana's NFT marketplaces, so this article will highlight 10 examples that teach us how to create and run a successful project on Solana.
1. Degenerate Ape Academy and Degen Trash Pandas
The Degenerate Ape Academy is the original Solana NFT collection that launched in the summer of 2021 for 6 SOL tokens each (~$250 USD at the time). The main idea behind the collection is an encouragement of brotherhood and rebellion against established systems to drive change.
Today, this 10,000-piece collection of 3D apes with over 130 different traits, are the second most traded collection on Solana with over 1.3 million SOL traded on secondary markets.
The team behind Degen Apes vests the intellectual property in each collector, and the ownership of a Degen Ape is criteria for joining the the Degen DAOO. Besides being a desirable NFT for their historical significane, Degen Apes also run a validator and other community initiatives.
A related project from the same metaverse (the Degeniverse), Degenerate Trash Pandas with 30,000 NFTs launched a few months later. These NFTs were minted for 0.1 SOL because the entire community self-organized to bring down the mint price using Metaplex's Fair Launch Protocol (now deprecated).
Degods is a Solana NFT collection with one of the best communities, founded by Frank. As an owner of a Degod, you can stake it to acquire $DUST which is a native token and a governance token of the project. Every day, you get 10 Dust tokens on a Degod that you staked.
However, some holders don’t stake their Degods, and prefer instead to acquire a DeadGod by burning 1000 $DUST tokens. DeadGods are more exclusive, and their rewards are 3 times greater. So instead of 10 DUST a day, you earn 30.
The story of Degods and the leadership of Frank demonstrates how successful an NFT project can become simply by trying new strategies, building in public, and working with the community to create value for holders.
One of the original NFT projects to launch on Solana, Aurory is a blue-chip NFT project that is building a Solana blockchain game. With unmistakeable art, a variety of NFT airdrops to holders, an immersive world of characters, and a native token, Aurory has consistently delivered on their promises.
According to their whitepaper that was released earlier this year, the Aurory game is based on two virtual worlds—Antik and Nefties. In these worlds, players complete tasks and interact with in-game NFT characters. With their play-to-earn business model, the owners of Aurory NFTs use gameplay to get players to earn rewards.
As a top 10 most traded project on Solana, Aurory highlights that even with long roadmaps that require a lot of building like a web3 game, by consistently shipping artwork, airdrops, tokens, mini games, and sneak previews, NFT projects can maintain their value for months and years.
STEPN, one of the top projects from last year’s Solana’s Ignition Hackathon, is a play-to-earn game that rewards users for walking, jogging, running, and generally making active lifestyle choices.
While play-to-earn games like Aurory are mainly applicable to gamers, STEPN introduced a game that maximizes the number of people who can participate by aligning the incentives with exercise.
To participate, members need to buy pairs of NFT sneakers, download an app that records activities and rewards users in GST, or Green Satoshi Token, and then start moving!
With over 33,000 shoes in the collection, STEPN was selected as a popular NFT collection on Solana because of how they made NFTs accessible and encourage people to make active choices.
5. Solana Monkey Business (SMB)
One of the original monkey-inspired PFP NFT projects on Solana, Solana Monke Business is a 5,000-piece collection of 2D pixel art that is the 3rd most traded NFT collection on Solana with over 1,100,000 SOL in secondary trading volume.
What started as a simple profile-picture project, has transformed into a die-hard community of builders, creators, and well-connected NFT influencers who are engaged an practically every popular NFT project in the Solana ecosystem.
The MonkeDAO, which is organized by SMB token holders, plan to buy out the original project creators to run the DAO entirely as the community.
6. Okay Bears
With over 1,900,000 SOL in total secondary volume, Okay Bears is the most traded NFT on Solana, beating even the original Solana NFT collections like Degenerate Ape Academy and Solana Monkey Business.
One reason why Okay Bears has ascended to such a high trading volume is because of market timing. Okay Bears launched around the same time OpenSea started supporting Solana NFTs, which allowed more people to buy and sell Okay Bears on their preferred marketplace.
With over 5,000 holders buying into the motto, “It is okay to be okay," and a culture that promotes transforming ordinary people into extraordinary ones, this laid back NFT community intends to create workshops, galleries, boutiques, and even studios.
Okay Bears highlights that market timing is an important element for creating a popular NFT collection. Between OpenSea support Solana and memes about the Bear Market, this NFT collection took over the top spot for most traded NFT on Solana.
7. Taiyo Robotics
The lore of Taiyo Robotics involves protecting the earth from dangerous aliens and monsters. This collection is one of the most phenomenal Solana NFT collections.
Just a couple of weeks after mint, the founders lost interest in pushing the project. The price dipped down to 2 SOL and there were indications that the project would be abandoned. Fortunately, SolportTom, the owner of Solsteads, another popular Solana NFT collection that creates galleries for holders' NFTs, and active member of the TYR community took over the entire collection.
After resurrecting the Taiyo Robotics community, price actions moved up gradually until the NFT collection eventually became a blue-chip collection on Solana. To date, the collection has down over 133,000 SOL in secondary transactions.
Taiyo Robotics is included in this list because the community's resilience demonstrates that having cool art, engaged holders, aligned incentives, and real utility like Solport, an NFT marketplace, can resurrect projects destined to fail.
The Ethereum chain has a lot of mainstream Metaverse projects including The Sandbox and Decentraland. When the Solana protocol launched its NFT support, there was a great demand for its native Metaverse.
Around 5 months ago, the Portals team raised $5 million to create a Metaverse NFT collection on Solana. The Portals metaverse provides virtual real estate property for people to invest in like the team at Audius, a Solana music streaming platform, who bought land property on Portals. In addition, FTX and Binance have created their headquarters in the Portals Downtown.
What makes Portals a popular NFT collection on Solana is it's leadership and dedication to leading Solana's entry into the metaverse. Unlike other projects that are simple Profile-Picture projects (PFPs), Portals' popularity is generated from it's unique utility.
9. Xin Dragons
The Xin Dragons NFT collection on Solana is an example of a project that was rugged (i.e. abandoned) by the original creator, and then salvaged by community members who wanted to lead the project.
Today, Xin Dragons sell NFT tools to other projects including a bot-resistant NFT launchpad and a unique NFT staking mechanism that doesn't require users to remove their NFTs from their wallet.
The original Xin Dragons collection has a limited supply of 887 NFTs and the second generation of Xin Dragons is a collection of 2661 baby dragons. When Dragons with similar traits are staked together, holders receive more $XIN tokens which can be used in raffles or to upgrade the NFT's artwork.
Xin Dragons shows that small teams who build great products can turn a rugged project into a community of holders committed to making the Solana NFT ecosystem better.
10. Solsteins and Quantum Traders
SolSteins and Quantum Traders are two interconnected NFT collections on Solana that are related to Yawww, which stands for "You Are Why We Win," and is a platform that offers multiple NFT tools including escrow, collateralization, Peer-to-Peer NFT trading solutions, and a democratized NFT marketplace.
The SolSteins, which were created first have 2,222 total pieces, and the Quantum Traders NFT collection has 8,888 NFTs. Based on the relative rarity of each NFT in, the holder earns more YAW tokens through Yawww's staking tool. YAW tokens can be used to pay for subscriptions to Yawww's NFT marketplace among other use cases.
Quantum Traders and SolSteins are examples of NFT projects that have strong core teams that are consistently thinking of ways to increase the utility of their product suite to holders and shipping great products.
There are many other high-profile Solana NFT collections that we didn’t list including Solana Monke Business, Famous Fox Federation, Shadowy Super Coders, so many more. The best way to find other popular Solana NFT collections its to use Solana NFT analytics tools like Solsniper.xyz or browse Solana's multiple NFT marketplaces.
If you want to launch your own NFT collection on Solana, learn how to create a successful NFT project, and then start building your project with common NFT tools on Solana like Metaplex and Candy Machine v2.
For user-friendly Solana NFT developer tools, sign up for a free Alchemy account to start building your next NFT project or NFT tool!