The emergence of NFTs hasn’t just boosted the profile of digital art, but has ushered in a refreshed creator-first ecosystem, where digital artists, armed with the tools of Web3, can newly thrive. And as a platform geared toward bridging artists and the blockchain, APENFT is fully intent on nurturing and developing such an environment. 

Last year, APENFT Foundation established the Art Dream Fund, with H.E. Justin Sun, Founder of TRON, and Sydney Xiong, Director of the Foundation, at its helm. The initiative sets its sights on exploring and cultivating NFT talents and their work — “to support creators who aspire to power the NFT art ecosystem with their creative mindsets and bring about a paradigm shift in the creator economy,” said Sun. Award winners receive funding support for their creations, which will be mapped and permanently stored on the TRON blockchain, in addition to marketing, copyright, and legal guidance from NFT experts. 

In its debut season, Art Dream Fund received more than 500 submissions, with WMD Studio’s Infinite Calling taking the top prize. Image: Courtesy the artist

Following its 2021 debut — which saw more than 500 submissions and WMD Studio’s Infinite Calling taking the top prize — the Art Dream Fund has announced its second open call for entries. This year, the fund is inviting digital artists to create and submit works on the theme “Post-Human Era” to explore the emerging relationships between life and non-life. Submissions can be made by individual creators or teams in an array of mediums, as part of APENFT’s push for a more open digital field.

“The most essential quality that distinguishes us from other calls are our core values — great inclusiveness and openness — which are also the values that govern the world of NFTs,” said Xiong. “Here, every good work has a chance to be seen.”

Running until October 31, this year’s open call is centered on the theme “Post-Human Era.” Image: APENFT

The entries will be put to a judging panel comprised of esteemed experts — not limited to Philip Tinari (UCCA), Jonathan Crockett (Phillips), artist Kenny Schachter, collector Sylvain Levy, and art advisor Josh Baer — who will assess the works based on criteria ranging from artistic expression to technical skill to thematic relevance. Fourteen winners will be selected and share a prize pool of more than $100,000. As well, they’ll have the opportunities to build studios in The Sandbox, within a gamified museum developed by APENFT and TRON, and participate in exhibitions, residencies, and workshops. 

This year’s fund will also see APENFT partner with Async Art for the Async Visual-Audio Award, a $5,000 prize aimed at spurring innovation and experimentation in interactive art. “We invite artists to join us to turn the existing concept of art on its head and pave the way for a whole new category of programmable media,” said Conlan Rios, Founder of Async Art. “This is just the start, but we believe [Async Art’s] simple building blocks will open up a world of possibilities for creators out there.”

“The most essential quality that distinguishes us from other calls are our core values — great inclusiveness and openness — which are also the values that govern the world of NFTs,” said Sydney Xiong, Director of the APENFT Foundation. Image: HUIHUAN, Crossing the Multiverse•Prediction (2021) / Courtesy the artist

As much as the venture finds its focus in cultivating next-gen digital artists, the Art Dream Fund is additionally keen on furthering the discourse around NFT art. Over the run of the open call from August through October 31, APENFT and ArtReview will co-host three upcoming forums to survey the impact of NFTs on the art world, the metaverse influence on art creation, and the state of NFT collecting and sponsorship.

Put together, it’s an initiative that’s bound to shape tomorrow’s digital art landscape. As Xiong emphasized, “We’ve always been committed to nurturing and supporting young artists and creators who are open-minded, daring, imaginative, and able to inject fresh vitality into the art sphere.”

Apply or learn more about the Art Dream Fund at


NFTs & Digital Art Presented by APENFT Projects