Warm Colors as Value Predictors in NFT, Sneaker, and Art Investments
Warm Colors as Value Predictors in NFT, Sneaker, and Art Investments

Warm Colors as Value Predictors in NFT, Sneaker, and Art Investments

While color alone isn't enough to predict the future value of a painting, NFT, or pair of sneakers, it might help.







If you're interested in investing in collectibles, you know that it can be more of an art than a science. While stock market investors can rely largely on concrete numbers, investors in fine art and other collectibles have to be aware of the influence of more subjective factors, such as aesthetics and "hype."

This might be because warm colors are often said to appear as though they're advancing toward the viewer, making the artwork stand out more.

Thankfully, almost everything can be converted into data nowadays—aesthetics included. If you're investing in an asset that prioritizes aesthetics, whether that's traditional art, NFTs, or rare sneakers, color is a hugely influential factor. As it turns out, there's a good amount of data to suggest that warm colors, and red in particular, might help predict the value of these collectibles.

Top NFTs tend to have warm-toned backgrounds

Image source: OpenSea.io, DourDarcels

Our recent study on features that make NFTs profitable found that the majority of top NFTs, gathered from the most popular collections on OpenSea, use warm-toned backgrounds. This is particularly true of the DourDarcels collection, in which 66% of the top NFTs have warm backgrounds. Most of the highest-priced NFTs in this collection have orange, red, yellow, pink, or brown backgrounds.



Even the CyberBrokers collection, which utilizes neutral backgrounds (68%) far more frequently than warm backgrounds (8%), exhibits this preference for warm colors in its characters. Most of the higher-priced NFTs in the collection feature eye-catching pops of orange, pink, and red.

Image source: OpenSea.io, CyberBrokers

It's worth considering that rarity is an important factor in determining value and looking for NFTs to invest in. A character-based or profile picture (PFP) NFT often increases in value when it contains attributes that are rarely featured within the collection. For example, while the vast majority of CryptoPunks—one of the most popular and valuable NFT collections of all time—utilize a cool-toned background, a number of the most expensive CryptoPunk NFTs are valuable precisely because they feature warm tones that make that particular CryptoPunk rarer.

CryptoPunk 7252, which sold for $2.53 million in late 2021, is one of only 414 CryptoPunks (of 10,000) with dyed red hair. CryptoPunk 8888 is another red-haired CryptoPunk that sold for $2.87 million—she's also one of only 147 to sport a red mohawk.

Image source: OpenSea.io, CryptoPunks

The science behind the color red

There's a reason stop signs and stop lights are red. Red is widely considered to be the most eye-catching color, followed by yellow and orange. Studies have shown that the color red attracts and holds our attention more than other colors in both negative and positive contexts.

In graphic design and digital art, warm colors like red, yellow, and orange are used both to grab attention and elicit positive, passionate, energizing, or happy emotions. In contrast, cool colors are often used to elicit feelings of reservation, relaxation, or seriousness. 

If your goal is to motivate someone to drop a lot of money, you're often going to want to focus on the former. It's no wonder, then, that reds, yellows, and oranges are so common in some of the most successful logos and branding campaigns—from McDonald's and Coca-Cola to Target and Amazon.

The popularity of the color red in collectible sneakers

Image source: Rares.io

Looking at some of the other best collectibles to invest in, such as sneakers, this stands true. Many of the most iconic sneakers highlight the color red. If you look at sneaker resale website StockX's list of the 10 most expensive sneakers in the website's history, you'll find that warm colors are far more common than cool, with over half of the sneakers on the list featuring a red or red-orange color prominently. 

Many of the most valuable sneakers ever sold at auction also feature red. Michael Jordan's game-worn Air Jordan 12s that sold for $104,765 are black and red, and his Chicago game-worn Air Jordan 1s that sold for over $500k are black, red, and white. Kanye West's Nike Air Yeezy Grammy Prototype sneakers, which famously broke records when they sold for $1.8 million, are all black, save for a red lace holder placed front and center.

In fact, sneaker investing platform Rares lets you invest in those very game-worn Air Jordan 1s for as little as $16 per share.


Sports Cards

Fine art and warm colors

From left to right: Still Life With Mangoes by Paul Gauguin, The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso

Image source: Wikipedia.org

Warm colors are the most used colors in traditional fine art. Many of the best artists throughout history utilized warm colors in their paintings to a disproportionate degree when compared to the colors in the subject being painted—with a particular bias toward the color red. In other words, a still life painting of a bowl of fruit was likely to be more warm-toned and include more red hues than the bowl of fruit itself.

This might be because warm colors are often said to appear as though they're advancing toward the viewer, making the artwork stand out more. Cool colors, on the other hand, are said to recede away from the viewer. While some painters will rely more on cool tones to convey sadness or create a more calming aesthetic, as Picasso did during his acclaimed Blue Period, the overall preference for warm tones still stands. 

The fact that these colors tend to pull the viewer closer explains why both painters and viewers alike tend to preference them. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by Vision Research found that not only are the colors in paintings more biased toward red than the natural scenes they reproduce, but viewers who are unaware of this still tend to prefer the red-biased paintings over their cooler counterparts.

This doesn't mean that all the most valuable paintings will be overwhelmingly red or completely warm-toned—contrast is also a big eye-catcher. Vincent Van Gogh, famed for his unique and masterful use of color, was particularly known for using complementary colors to create contrast. Many of his paintings place vibrant red and green or orange and blue right next to eachother, the colors contrasting to such an extent they create tension within his paintings.

All that said, cool colors may be on the rise. Martin Bellander, a researcher at the Swedish Karolinska Institutet, gathered data on over 120,000 paintings spanning from 1250 to 2010 and analyzed their most prevalent colors. Bellander's study on the color of paintings confirms that red and orange have been, by far, the most popular colors in paintings all throughout the last millennium. However, his data also shows that the use of blue has been steadily increasing over the past century.

While simply buying an NFT or blue-chip artwork that features the color red won't necessarily be enough to ensure your investment will increase in value, understanding the use of color in art, NFTs, and even sneakers can help you make more educated investment choices when it comes to collectibles. Whether you're ready to start trading NFTs on OpenSea or you prefer to go old school and invest in great works of art through a platform like Masterworks, make sure your decision is colored by—well, the artist or creator's use of color.