Tyler Hobbs is an Austin-based artist who works in algorithms, plotters, and paint. In the past few years, he has become one of the most prominent generative artists in the NFT space, driving the entire medium forward. His most popular projects include Fidenza, Incomplete Control, and QQL.
Learn more about Hobbs and his work in NFTs in our artist guide below.
Hobbs and Generative Art
Generative art is made with lines of code. A computer algorithm is created by the artist to achieve unique, artistic outputs, which also involve elements of randomness. As tools to create generative art have become more accessible, more artists have been drawn to it. Similarly, this format has increasingly caught the eye of collectors, including in the traditional art world.
Hobbs played musical instruments, loved to skateboard as a teenager, and has always been creative. After graduating from the University of Texas, he started his career as a software engineer but took art classes in his spare time. He mostly studied traditional oil painting and figure drawing.
As early as 2014, Hobbs started writing about experimenting with randomness in art. His art career began to slowly grow by selling work through his website and doing commissions and murals. He first tested out selling NFT art on Tezos.
In 2021, Hobbs discovered Art Blocks, a generative art curation platform, and created his first major NFT work, Fidenza. Afterward, his art and fame skyrocketed to new heights. His work has even been auctioned at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
Style and Creative Process
In an interview with Avant Arte, Hobbs said: “I often find myself inspired by natural biological processes. The universe is generative, and everything that’s happening around us is a result of these processes.” Artists who inspire him include Henri Matisse, John Cage and Manfred Mohr, amongst others.
In his own words, Hobbs’ works “strike a balance between the cold, hard structure that computers excel at, and the messy, organic chaos we can observe in the natural world around us.”
On his website, Hobbs outlines the key steps of his creative process in detail. These include idea creation, programming, curating, and creating the digital (NFT) and/or physical object.
Fidenza is the culmination of years of Hobbs’ work. It is a curated collection of 999 NFTs that were released on the Art Blocks platform on June 11, 2021 for a cost of 0.17 ETH each. The name is inspired by a town in northern Italy.
Fidenzas are built from an extremely versatile algorithm. The core algorithm is “flow fields,” and has thick curved rectangles layered over it. Flow fields produce non-overlapping, aesthetic curves. The results are striking works that all look different, yet somehow related. It is one of the most sought-after NFTs for high-end collectors.
Each one is unique and has traits of varying rarity levels. These trait categories are:
- Stroke Styles and Shape Segments
- Sharp Edges and Spirals
- Collision Checking
- Color Palettes
Hobbs used some of the proceeds from Fidenza sales to donate to organizations, including Girls Who Code, the Processing Foundation, and AGE of Central Texas.
The success of Fidenza brought on many NFT derivatives using the iconic color palette and shapes. Hobbs is outspoken about his opinions on derivatives. He has moved to shut Fidenza derivatives down which don’t fall into the “fair use” category.
The top Fidenza sale on secondary was for No. 313 for 1,000 ETH ($3.3 million at the time) in August 2021. The buyer was punk6529, who owns a multitude of rare NFTs, including at least 3 other Fidenzas. The seller had purchased it two years earlier for 0.58 ETH ($1,365 at the time). This sale marked the third-highest on-chain sale for Art Blocks as a whole.
Since its creation, the Fidenza collection has done more than 55,000 ETH (~$88 million in current ETH price) in secondary volume. Hobbs’ creator royalties are set to 7.5 percent. The floor price is currently 95 ETH.
Fidenza No. 313
Incomplete Control is described by Hobbs as “exploring themes of imperfection and how the digital sphere is able to transcend many of the imperfections present in the physical world.” It deals with imperfection and randomness. There are no traits because each output doesn’t really fall into any type of category.
This 100-piece collection was minted at the Bright Moments gallery in New York City during a four-day event in December 2021. In October 2021, there was a Dutch auction that allowed 50 mint tokens to be sold. They were priced between 30 and 80 ETH each.
The remainder of the tokens went at 15 ETH each to random Fidenza holders, random CryptoCitizen holders, the Bright Moments DAO, and 1 for Hobbs himself.
The top Incomplete Control sale was for 80 ETH for No. 32 in May 2022. Like the 1,000 ETH Fidenza, the buyer was punk6529. It appears the seller was a CryptoVenetian holder who bought the mint option for 15 ETH.
Incomplete Control has done more than 1,000 ETH in secondary volume (~$1.6 million in current prices). Like Fidenza, Hobbs’ creator royalties are set to 7.5 percent. The floor price is currently 78 ETH.
Incomplete Control No. 32
Although Hobbs has mostly released curated NFT collections, he also has a few 1-of-1 pieces. These are ultra-rare and owned mostly by renowned NFT collectors or groups.
- Reach 0.83 (2018) - owned by Kevin Rose
- Return Zero [Blue] 0.7 (2021) - owned by Art On Internet Collection
- One One Overflow (2022) - owned by Art On Internet Collection
- Elektroanima 0.9 (2022) - owned by Art On Internet Collection
- Days Fade (2022) - unknown owner
Digital to Physical
Hobbs’ work is largely 2D and static imagery, which makes it perfect to display in a physical space. Many collectors have commissioned prints from Hobbs, who uses a high-quality printer in Austin.
A multi-pigment wide format Epson printer is used to print the images, which are rated to last nearly 200 years. Once one print has been ordered, it cannot be ordered again. In addition to prints, Hobbs also utilizes a plotter to bring some works to life.
Hobbs' latest venture is QQL, an NFT project and marketplace.
What Is QQL?
In August 2022, Hobbs announced that he and fellow artist Dandelion Wist Mané had been working on a project since November 2021. This project was QQL, a generative art project that invites the collector to become a collaborator. Hobbs hopes that the project will inspire other artists to experiment with co-creation.
On the create page of the website, anyone can use the algorithm to create their own artwork for free, with no coding skills needed. They are also able to save them and continue to iterate on them.
Just like generative artists, anyone can explore these outputs and curate their favorite selections. These outputs are called “seeds.”
The marketplace allows anyone to list their seed output for sale. At the time of this post, there have been 12 sales on the marketplace, with an average sale of 1.82 ETH. The highest sale has been 4.16 ETH. QQurated, a community-owned site, allows people to rate and discover QQLs.
QQL Seed Output
The actual QQL collection is made up of 999 pieces. Whoever holds a QQL Mint Pass is able to mint a QQL creation (“seed”) into an on-chain NFT in the collection. For the 900 Mint Passes available to the public, there was a Dutch auction starting at 50 ETH. It reached 14 ETH before fully selling out. QQLs Nos. 7, 8 and 9 were selected to be minted as grand prize winners from the #QQLContest.
Another unique part about QQL is that whoever creates a seed that is minted will receive a 2 percent royalty on secondary market sales of that NFT. Just like Fidenza, QQL mints have a Creative Commons Non-Commercial license (CC-BY-NC 4.0).
The letters QQL don’t actually stand for anything. They were selected by Hobbs and Wist by putting together a generative script that produced strings of 3 letters that they liked. They selected about 200 before narrowing it down to QQL.
The QQL project made a strong statement about artist royalties. The project’s smart contract disallowed secondary marketplace sales on sites that have a 0 percent royalty option. X2Y2 was one of these sites. They posted a Twitter thread about being left out of the massive secondary sales volume (now over 7,100 ETH).
In an interview with Decrypt, Hobbs said: “I think [collectors] understand also that giving artists that stability and giving artists a little bit more power is really in the best interest of the artwork, and that everybody will benefit from having that in place.”
QQL No. 70
There are currently 832 Mint Passes remaining out of 999. The QQL site is supposed to be live for a very long time, with no time limit to mint. The Mint Pass floor price is currently 8.25 ETH at the time of this post. The minted QQL collection has a floor of 6.9 ETH at the time of this post. QQL No. 70 sold for 33.33 ETH, the highest sale for a QQL so far.
Pace Gallery Exhibition
In April 2023, QQL will be showcased at a Pace Gallery exhibition in New York City. Hobbs will become the first artist outside Pace’s program to present an in-person exhibition of an NFT project at Pace. The exhibition will be of large-scale paintings depicting QQL outputs minted and curated by Hobbs.
In April 2023, QQL will be showcased at a Pace Gallery exhibition in New York City. It will be called QQL: Analogs. Hobbs will become the first artist outside Pace’s program to present an in-person exhibition of an NFT project at Pace. The exhibition will be of 12 large-scale paintings depicting QQL outputs minted and curated by Hobbs.
Hobbs also has an exhibition at Unit London in March 2023 titled Mechanical Hand. However, this one isn't for QQL. It will be of paintings on canvas and drawings on paper, swinging back to solitude and contemplation.
On his website, Hobbs poses the main question which ultimately drives his work: “What separates man from machine? How are the two artistically related, and when they are inevitably brought closer by technological progress, what will the result be?"
Hobbs’ unique combination of computer engineering and traditional art training has grown his career into one of the most storied in the NFT space. His signature style and color palettes are beloved by collectors and fellow artists alike. Generative art may be made by lines of computer code, but Hobbs’ works are anything but stoic and cold.
With QQL, Hobbs hopes to inspire more co-creation between artists and collectors in the NFT space. The Pace Gallery exhibition in April will bring this message and this medium to a more traditional art audience.
You can find Tyler Hobbs on Instagram, Discord, Twitter, and his website.