The Best/Worst Blockchain Graphics of 2018
12.31.2018

Cryptocurrency and blockchain tech are hard to understand. Dozens of systems and elements work together to create networks like bitcoin and Ethereum, from public-key cryptography to hashing to difficulty algorithms. And it’s all more or less invisible, making it tough to depict visually in any meaningful way.

But getting someone to click on an article—especially on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter—is a lot easier if it’s accompanied by a snazzy image. Mainstream news outlets have leaned hard on pictures of physical bitcoins, server racks, and trading charts, since many outlets ramp up their coverage when crypto prices make big moves.

But if you report about crypto full-time, you have to get a little more creative. At BREAKER, we’ve tried to let our words speak for themselves, but other crypto-focused sites have come up with an impressive array of approaches, from repurposing punny stock photos to custom illustrations. There’s way too much out there to compile a true “best of” tribute to those efforts, but here’s a roundup of some of our favorites.

(Note: As we’ve demonstrated, many crypto news sites are corrupt, posting favorable coverage in exchange for payments from companies, including scams. We’ve linked stories below from a wide variety of sources, but we cannot attest to the accuracy of any information on third-party sites.)

Best Shark Lawyer: CoinTelegraph

CoinTelegraph is the GOAT of weird crypto imagery, with custom illustrations for nearly every story they publish. They even have their own crypto-character, a cartoon coin who can be spotted doing stuff like lounging on a boat in Dubai.

But they can get a LOT weirder than that. Sometimes they’ll hit you with a guy trimming a bush shaped like a coin, for some reason. Or a guy talking to an ether kite. Or a cult-like circle worshipping a floating chain. For our money, this shark in a suit and briefcase hits the sweet spot between goofy and meaningful—crypto certainly has more than its share of charming carnivores.

Best Superhero With a Head Injury: CoinIdol

Coin Idol has taken CoinTelegraph’s custom-illustration idea and gone wilder with it. Or at least weirder.

Instead of CoinTelegraph’s personified coin, Coin Idol has its own superhero, who I’m just gonna assume is named Coin Idol Guy. Coin Idol Guy has the disconcerting habit of simply repeating the headline of whatever story he’s featured alongside. This makes him seem less like a superhero and more like some poor dude who got kicked in the head by a mule and couldn’t find any job better than being the face of a marginal crypto site.

Best Vaudeville Mind Control: Decrypt Media

The reputation game

Decrypt, a news outlet started by ConsenSys earlier this year, is fairly ho-hum in most of its image choices. But someone over there is a fan of classic Hollywood, throwing a healthy sprinkling of black-and-white film stills from the 1920s and 1930s into the mix. We’re not sure what it has to do with the job market, but this retro-futuristic shot of a woman with a bunch of newfangled ‘vacuum tubes’ attached to her head certainly captures the techno-bizarreness of the cryptosphere.

Best Heralds of The PigPocalypse: CoinDesk

The Era of Central Bank Digital Currencies Is Within Reach

(To the tune of Slayer’s “Angel of Death”)

Secret armies
Bedroom agents
The droning masses clamor for their coins
Train the young
Squeal for loot
Beg for paper money like a beast

Piggy Bank
Servant to the empire of lies
Piggy Bank
Infamous
Deceiver
Piggy Baaaaaaank
(bridge)

(With Apologies to Black Metal Cats).

Best Way Too Accurate: Crypto News Review

Women in crypto: why are cryptocurrency events still ignoring women?

What a conundrum—how to choose an image to run with a report on how women are marginalized in the blockchain industry? Oh I know, a woman with no face!

Best Stock Photo Creativity (Overall): CoinDesk

The Future of ICOs: In the Hands of Regulators or Innovators?

This entire post was originally going to be about CoinDesk’s consistently engaging use of stock photos. The site uses its share of physical bitcoins and chart graphs, but the editors also find some genuinely creative ways to juxtapose off-the-rack stock images with granular crypto headlines. Coindesk even manages to make some genuinely funny choices—though more in a “smirking silently” kind of way than “uproarious laughter.” When things aren’t going great, you might get a sinking boat, or in better times, a bouncing tennis ball. And of course, lots and lots of different kinds of fork.

CoinDesk can also get downright poetic, from super-creepy masks for articles about anonymity to this almost existentialist image of clocks in the sand. Because of course, the main thing everyone in crypto should all be contemplating is how to evade the hungry grip of death.